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Nov 1990

Desktop publishing: bringing the CPA into the '90s. (Software Review) (evaluation)

by Warner, Paul D.

    Abstract- CPAs can use Aldus' PageMaker 4.0, Aldus' FreeHand, and Timeworks' Publish-IT! for desktop publishing. PageMaker 4.0, which has extensive typography capabilities, requires at least 2 megabytes of memory and costs $795. FreeHand, which is capable of extensive manipulation of text and graphics, requires at least one megabyte of memory and costs $495. Publish-IT!, which combines several features of PageMaker and FreeHand at a much lower cost, requires at least one megabyte of memory and costs $495.

The enormous variety of attractive options to dress up a publication for clients, staff or prospects--and graphics, too! The authors describe major features of three software programs for practitioners who want an appealing, readable and lively professional product. And at a modest cost!

All of us periodically face the task of preparing proposals. Many of us also prepare management reports, publications for clients, and staff training manuals. We typically end up having these typed and often wonder if we could have had better presentations. To avoid this, many resort to having them professionally typeset, an expensive process. Actually, there is a convenient way to circumvent this: use desktop publishing (DTP).

Desktop publishing is a way to produce photo-ready materials, consisting of text and graphics, for a commercial printer. Of course, the final product could be produced with a PostScript printer. Or, there are many services that process photo-ready materials, and these typically charge much less than typesetters. While some word processing programs can also handle graphics, these capabilities are currently limited.

The advantage of using a DTP program comes from its ability to materially shorten the time to produce a finished product. This advantage is heightened if last minute changes are required. It is like using an in-house tax return package instead of a service bureau.

This article describes capabilities of three programs that can be used for DTP: PageMaker 4.0, Publish-IT!, and Aldus FreeHand. PageMaker and Publish-IT! are available for both IBM and compatibles and for the Macintosh. Most users have found the Macintosh easier to use for DTP.

PageMaker and Publish-IT! are DTP programs, while FreeHand is a drawing program that can add pizazz to any presentation. PageMaker is considered by many the standard for high-end DTP. Publish-IT!, on the other hand, provides a lower cost alternative with many of PageMaker's capabilities and some of its own. FreeHand is a high-end program that allows anyone to design graphics for use within presentations.


PageMaker 4.0 is an elegant program and easy to use. It utilizes the "windows" environment, thereby allowing the user to concentrate on what is being done rather than on the program's mechanics. Aldus has provided comprehensive documentation, including a tutorial--that provides an excellent learning tool for new users--a reference manual, and special manuals for tables and templates. Extensive on-line help is also available, although inaccessible when a dialogue box is in use.

A major feature of version 4.0 is the ability to prepare textual materials in its "story editor," eliminating the need to import from a word processing program. This importation option is still available for users who prefer to have another do the keying. Although word processing functions can be performed directly in the layout view, the story editor is much faster: it does not reformat the entire layout view as each word is entered or updated. Instead, the reformatting is done only when the story editor is exited.

Story Editor

The story editor uses a single font and font size for everything, including footnotes. This makes it easier to work with than the layout view, which shows everything in the correct font and size. It also provides the option to display the name of the style sheet associated with each paragraph. Other story editor capabilities include:

* Spelling check using a 100,000 word dictionary to which additional words can be added. Foreign language dictionaries are also available. * Hyphenation. * Search and replace for words, phrases, fonts, point sizes, type and paragraph styles. Search criteria can include type attributes. * Text formatting with style sheets that enable users to store formatting information about text in a paragraph. This includes indentations, font type, size and style, and alignment. Numerous style sheets can be stored for any document. They are particularly good for reformatting imported text or making new text match an existing format. * Access, by scrolling the text in the entire document, not just what is in the current layout view.

PageMaker enables users to create master pages that ensure a uniformity to all pages in the document. Where necessary, a second master page (known as a "facing" page) containing different specifications, can be developed. A master page is the place where users define the columnar layout (e.g., two columns per page), and include any item which is to appear on every page; for example, the client's logo (this is always guaranteed to impress) or a firm's name. Because of PageMaker's flexibility, any elements of a master page can be overridden when required.

PageMaker emulates the layout artist's method by maintaining a permanent pasteboard area outside a document page, known as the "layout." The pasteboard is always saved in the document file. Graphics and text can be stored and modified on the pasteboard and used as needed throughout the document. In addition, PageMaker allows users to change the display size at will so that a complete page or magnified parts of the page can be seen. Users can control the precise portion of the page that they wish to see with scroll bars.

Precise placement of text and graphics is easily accomplished with ruler guides, which are created from horizontal and vertical rulers and the "snap to guide" option. PageMaker can automatically flow the text from column to column, or it can be done manually for more precise control. Graphics can be placed where desired and the text automatically made to flow around them. Irregular shapes can be adjusted manually. Graphics can be customized, as to size and shape, as well as cropped to eliminate unwanted details. Another improvement is the ability to link graphics to text. As a result, the location of graphics will automatically respond to changes in the text layout.

PageMaker can produce Pantone and other popular types of color output for those who have access to a color printer or plan to have the output printed professionally.

Text Control

Extensive capabilities have been provided for the control of text (typography), including:

* Rotate text in 90 degrees increments; * Use different fonts throughout the document; * Use different font sizes, from 4 to 650 points (72 points equals one inch) in increments of one-tenth of a point; * Choose plain, bold, italicized, underlined, outlined, reversed, and shadowed fonts; * Kern (to adjust the spacing between letters) individual letters, as well as large sections of text. In addition, PageMaker allows users to kern automatically (this feature is called "tracking") as text is entered. Tracking can be set in one of five levels ranging from very loose to very tight; * Align text (left, center, right, and fully justified), as well as forced justification that will spread a small amount of text evenly across a column; * Stretch or compress type from 5% to 250%; * Control leading (the space between letters and lines). An "align to grid" feature ensures proper alignment of bottoms of text columns; * Customize tab types (right, left, center and decimal); * Automatically attach horizontal lines (rules) above and/or below specific paragraphs without the need to draw them.

Document Handling

The "book" command keeps track of multiple PageMaker files so that they can be combined in a single book or report. This feature is supported by the automatic linking of documents (files) in correct sequence; updating of all related files by use of the "links" command; and page numbering.

Whenever files are imported into PageMaker, two copies of the file result--an original and PageMaker's. Because of the "links" command, both files can be connected, and any changes to the original file can automatically update the PageMaker version. This can be useful when more than one person works on parts of a document.

A table of contents, as well as an index, can be generated for each document. The initial generation of an index has to be carefully planned, as numerous options are available. Changes to documents require regeneration of the table of contents and index.

The user can control how "widows" and "orphans" are handled in paragraphs, columns and pages. These occur when one or more lines of a paragraph that started on one page/column, end up on the next page/column creating an unbalanced appearance.

Because reports frequently contain footnotes, PageMaker's ability to handle them in one step should prove especially useful.

Table Editor

Included with PageMaker is the "table editor," which can be used to quickly develop or modify worksheets and statistical tables for use within PageMaker documents. The table editor can import ASCII data from programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. It can also export data for these programs.

All type attributes available in PageMaker may be used in the table editor to ensure attractive documents. This includes font and line styles, alignment, and fill. These attributes can differ from cell to cell.

A summary of PageMaker's features appears in Table 1.


Many DTP packages lack the ability to manipulate text or graphics to any great extent. A graphics program like FreeHand overcomes this limitation. Although primarily designed to provide graphics artists with computerized tools, FreeHand can improve the professional quality of proposals and reports. For example, it can convert a spreadsheet graph into a three dimensional picture, or, it can manipulate text by bending or otherwise customizing it to enhance its impact.

FreeHand's learning curve is high, but once mastered, it is easy to use. Although a beginner can produce beautiful artwork, FreeHand's unlimited capabilities provide sufficient power to satisfy the most experienced graphic artists. Because FreeHand is the companion product to PageMaker, its menus and dialogue boxes are similar to those in PageMaker and should make a user familiar with PageMaker feel quite at home.

When FreeHand is opened, it looks very much like PageMaker. Surrounding the page is a pasteboard that can be used as a workspace to hold items until needed and a toolbox (palette) that contains tools used to create or modify graphics and text, including:

* Pointer, used to select items; * Text tool for writing; * Tools to create basic shapes: lines, rectangles with square or round corners, elipses, and circles; * Free form tools to draw any shape including French curves (bezier); * Trace tool that can automatically trace graphics. Tracing is used to convert nonpostscript imported graphics into PostScript graphics; * Transformation tools that work with both graphics and text. They can rotate an item to any degree, create a mirror image, scale (change the size), and skew (slant); * Magnifying tool that enables users to view items at seven different levels of magnification, and to quickly switch back and forth between different sizes.

FreeHand permits editing a previewed version of art--the view that shows how it really looks--so users can see changes as they are made. For executing many changes on a complex picture, however, it is faster to switch to the "keyline" view, that shows outlines only and redraws the screen faster. The method for the correction of errors has even been simplified. Not only can users erase as they draw, but since FreeHand has 99 layers of undo and re-do, users can retrace steps to an any stage and reinstate if it was right, after all.

Precision is what users get in FreeHand. A horizontal information bar keeps users informed, among other things, as to what layer they are on, the vertical and horizontal position of the tool cursor, the location and angle of the object drawn. Users can employ the "snap to grid" option for accurate placement of text or graphics, or use the pull-down, non-printing rules as guides, as in PageMaker. With the alignment option, objects can be aligned top, center, or bottom in relation to each other.

Text Handling

FreeHand has excellent text handling capabilities. When using the text tool, a text block is created. Not only can fonts, sizes, styles and colors be mixed within the same text block, but the leading, and the letter and word spacing can be varied, and the base line shifted. Text can also be adjusted by using the pointer tool and changing boundaries of the text block by dragging with the mouse while holding down different combinations of the option and shift keys. The text can even flow upside down and backwards. The outline of the font can be a different color from the inside. As mentioned earlier, all the transformation tools can also be used with text. Custom effects such as zoom, which creates a three-dimensional look, and character fill, which fills each letter with smaller versions of itself, are just two of many ways that text can be customized.

Blending effects can be between two colors, line weights, or shapes in as many steps as desired. Fills may be solid, graduated, radial, patterned, tiled, or customized through use of PostScript files included with the program. Color can be applied to both outlines and fills. FreeHand can duplicate, move, and transform an object in one step. Text or a graphic can be framed within the boundaries of another graphic or enlarged letters. This can be extremely useful for highlighting specific features on a graph.

FreeHand uses the print quality of PostScript, resulting in clean, crisp art work. Paint programs use pixels (dots), but PostScript consists of lines and curves with sharp resolution using mathematical formulas. Pixels, no matter how carefully drawn, result in artwork with a jagged appearance. Another advantage of PostScript is that images can be enlarged without losing clarity. The resolution of a PostScript image depends upon the printer, which can range from 300 dots per inch (dpi) of a laser to 2540 dpi of a Linotronic.

To simplify the task of learning FreeHand, Aldus has provided:

* Interactive tour to introduce its features; * Step-by-step tutorial; * Well-organized, clearly written user's manual; * Quick reference to simplify the task of remembering commands; * Clip art and a portfolio of printed samples; * Advanced techniques documentation.

FreeHand enables the user to create a whole spectrum of colors including Pantone. In addition, FreeHand will print separate pages for each color (color separation) for commercial printers' use.

A summary of FreeHand's features appears in Table 2.


Timeworks presents an interesting alternative, Publish-IT!, combining many features of PageMaker and FreeHand at a significantly lower cost. It permits business communicators to write, design, and produce high quality documents quickly and easily, without extensive training. It can be operated on a Macintosh with only 1 mb of memory.

Publish-IT! even contains unique features. The first difference that users see is the palette (toolbox), divided into four distinct grouping, namely:

* Main tool palette; * Current settings palette; * Drawing tool palette (object-oriented graphics can be produced directly); * Paint tool palette (bit-mapped graphics can be produced directly).

The last two palettes give Publish-IT! graphics capabilities not usually found in DTP programs.

Publish-IT! has extensive word processing capabilities including both a batch and interactive spell checker. In addition it contains a 240,000-word thesaurus. It includes the usual find and search and replace functions found in word processing programs.

Publish-IT! can open as many documents as memory allows. The advantage is the ease with which users can switch among documents. It allows users to move text and graphics from one document to another through the Macintosh clipboard. In addition to having objects placed on a master page appear on all pages, it has a "replication" command that allows users to selectively specify that items appearing on one page appear on one or more successive pages. Another difference between this and the master page feature is that any changes made to the master page items will automatically be reflected on all documents pages. Replicated items remain unchanged, but may be modified individually.

Publish-IT! can print up to seven different color layers for each page for commercial printers.

Text Control

Numerous capabilities have been provided for the control of text. These include the ability to:

* Rotate text in 1 degree increments; * Use different fonts throughout the document; * Use different font sizes, from 4 to 127 points in increments of .004 points; * Choose plain, bold, italicized, underlined, outlined, shadowed, and boxed fonts; * Change texture of fonts by using various fill patterns or continuous blending of tones; * Kern individual letters, as well as sections of text; * Align text horizontally (left, center, right, and fully justified), as well as a "letter spacing" feature that will increase spaces between letters so as to reduce wide gaps between words. Horizontal justification may be fine tuned to provide some right margin raggedness. Additionally, text may be justified vertically (top, middle, bottom, and flush). Special slant justifications (right, left, vee, and pyramid) are also provided; * Stretch or compress type from .12% to 800%; * Control leading; * Customize tab types (right, left, center, and decimal); * Speedily format text with paragraph tags that enable storage of formatting information about text in a paragraph. This includes indentations, font type, size and style, and alignment. Numerous paragraph tags can be stored for any document. They are particularly useful for providing uniformity within the document.

Page Layout Control

Publish-IT! provides the ability to create three master pages (layouts), a single page and two facing pages, which will ensure a uniformity to all pages in the document. This is the place where users would define the columnar layout (e.g., 2 columns per page) page numbering, headers and footers. Also any item that is to appear on each page, for example, the client's logo or the firm's name, can be placed on the master page. Because of Publish-IT!'s flexibility any elements of a master page can be overridden when required.

Publish-IT! has a scratch page on which text and graphics can be stored and modified and used as needed throughout the document. In addition, Publish-IT! allows changing the size of the display at will so that users can see an entire page or magnified parts of a page. Also provided is a title page option that does not contain any page numbering.

Precise placement of text and graphics is easily accomplished through either alignment grids or boxes, which are accessed through a pull-down menu. The "place columns" command provides for number and linking of columns, and also provides for complex column combinations.

Publish-IT! can flow the text from column to column, or users can do it manually for more precise control. To achieve automatic flow, users must select (link) all columns into which flowing is to occur. The Macintosh standard multiple select feature is used for this. A unique feature provides the ability to automatically include page numbers in "continued to page X" and "continued from page Y" references. If page locations should change, Publish-IT! will automatically change references.

Graphics, whether uniformly or irregularly shaped, can be placed where desired and the text made to flow around them.

Lastly, Publish-IT! can generate a "thumbnail" display, a reduced version of a page format, of from two to 12 pages, which can be used to make layout changes, if necessary. This feature includes the ability to magnify thumbnails.

Graphics Handling

There are three major categories of graphics, namely: bit-mapped, object oriented and encapsulated PostScript (EPS). Bit-mapped graphics produce the lowest quality output, even on a laser printer, while EPS produces the highest and is typically used on the finest commercial laser printers.

Publish-IT! has the ability to either import or produce bit-mapped graphics using its paint tools, and object oriented graphics using its draw tools. It can only import, crop, and size EPS format graphics. Graphics can be flipped, split, inverted, and rotated.

Numerous paint and draw tools are provided on the palette. These can be used for various special effects that are typically found in graphics programs, including French curves (bezier), diamonds, a grid tool, a radial spokes tool, and various fill patterns (including gray scaling in 1 degree increments). Anyone familiar with a graphics program should be right at home with Publish-IT!

Publish-IT! does have some shortcomings, for example, incorrect placement of the cursor, but these are annoyances, not fatal flaws.

A summary of Publish-IT!'s features appears in Table 1 together with those for PageMaker version 4.0.


PageMaker and FreeHand represent two of the best programs currently available for DTP. Publish-IT! will provide users with a lower cost point of entry with many features present in PageMaker and FreeHand and many of its own. Publish-IT! will be most useful to the occasional user who does not require capabilities provided by PageMaker and FreeHand.

Capabilities of these packages and their ease of use combined with recently announced Macintosh price reductions provide an opportunity that should not be passed up. Tabular Data 1 and 2 Omitted

PHOTO : Sample screen from PageMaker.

PHOTO : Aldus PageMaker desktop publishing software.

PHOTO : Sample screen from Publish-It!

PHOTO : The balance sheet on the left was produced in the traditional manner. There are no striking or notable features about this balance sheet. However, with a desktop publishing package and some training, the balance sheet below was produced. Compare the logo and heading with the old style. Also, important figures are now highlighted, offering the reader a handsome, easy-to-read statement. The new, enhanced appearance can only enhance your firm's image.

Norma C. Warner, MS, is the computer coordinator at the Graham School, Mount Vernon, NY. Paul D. Warner, PhD, CPA, is Professor of Accounting at Pace University, and Technical Editor, Computers, of "The Practitioner & The Computer" department of The CPA Journal.

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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