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Making a mock zine using MS-Word

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You can use MS-Word for making a zine, or just for formatting a mock print to help you move closer to the all important final print. It’s a challenge using MS-Word compared to using a desktop publisher such as Quark’s Xpress, Adobe’s InDesign, or Serif’s Pagemaker, but it can be done and it is an alternative to the cut and paste method. Most self publishing authors of books will format their manuscript using MS-Word, or a similar word processor to produce a mock book before going to a POD (print on demand) service, or other publisher like Lulu.com, or Amazon’s CreatingSpaces.

First off all measurements used below will be in the format of “inches” to make things easier.

Making your mock book will require 3 basic steps:

1. Formatting your manuscript
2. Estimating your page count
3. Creating a page plan.

You’ll need the following:

* Your manuscript in MS-Word
* Several sheets of blank paper
* Pen or pencil
* Scissors
* Sharpie

Remember: We are not making the actual manuscript layout yet, just the formatting to get an accurate page count and to figure out where things may need to be edited in the layout. Also, this page plan is for the interior of your book only. The cover is always done separately as a different file and on different paper stock.

Formatting your manuscript:

Now that you’ve determined exactly what you’re putting into your zine or book, put all of your text into one MS-Word document and save it before continuing. Now we can begin to style it by putting in the fonts and point sizes you have decided on. Now is also the time to think about paragraph spacing whether you use single-spacing, or a little more like double spacing between lines, etc…

Next, set the margins in your document so that they mimic the page size you will be working with. In MS-Word, you can manipulate the margins from the “Format” menu, under the “Document” option.

For a half-letter scale, or aka “digest” sized zine, the page size in the finished zine would be 5.5 x 8.5 using a standard landscape letter-sized sheet of paper, folded in half. Half-inch margins all the way around would leave you with a 4.5 x 7.5 area for your content to print. In the finished book, your gutter (the blank area in the center of the book where the inner margins meet), should be 1 inch.

That means for a letter-sized MS-Word document, you should set your margins to:

Top: 1.75 inches
Bottom: 1.75 inches
Left: 2 inches
Right: 2 inches

For a half-legal sized zine, the page size in the finished booklet would be 7 x 8.5 on a landscape legal-sized sheet, folded in half. In this larger format, you’ll have a bit more leeway with margins if you want to go larger. This is where you want to tweak your manuscript to the sizes you like. In this example I will use  a 0.5 margin all the way around to make things simple. That will result in a 6 x 7.5 inch area for your content, with a 1-inch gutter in the finished zine.

Using a legal-sized MS-Word document, 8.5 x 11, you should set your margins to:

Top: 3.25 inches
Bottom: 3.25 inches
Left: 1.25
Right: 1.25

This is where to estimate your page count:

Once your text is styled and you have your document margins set to model your chosen page size, you should be able to easily estimate about how many pages your content will be. Print your a sample document and if your margins, text and paragraph styling are not how you like them, play with the adjustments a little more until you like what you print.

Your printed formatted manuscript should now closely resemble the page count of how your finished book will print . Keep in mind that your manuscript is a stack of single sided sheets of paper and your finished book will have four book pages per double-sided sheet, so your stack in this mock run will be thicker than your finished book will be.

You’ll probably want to add some or all of the following:

Front matter - The term for anything that comes before the first page of your manuscript
* Title page
* Contact info/copyright page
* Table of contents
* Acknowledgments – These can go up front, in the back, or be combined with the copyright notice

Back matter - The term for anything that comes after your last page of your manuscript
* Author bio/contributor notes
* Blank pages
* Glossary

If your Table of Contents, contributor notes, credits, or acknowledgments look like they will run more than one page, the safest bet would be to format them just as you did for the rest of your manuscript, to see how long they actually are when styled the way you want them in the final print. Otherwise just estimate one page for each, that is what is ideal.


A simple way to do this would be to, collect printed copies of the images you plan on using and place them on the paper sheet with the same margins as the rest of your document, then add the necessary pages to your estimated calculation. If you have the images already digitized, you can go ahead and use the “Insert/Picture” function of MS-Word and put them in the manuscript right away. You might want to round your page up to make sure you have extra room to play with sizing later.

Note: the # of formatted manuscript pages + the # of front matter pages + the # of back matter pages =  the total page count of your finished book, or zine.

Some of you may feel comfortable skipping the steps above and just “eyeball” your page count numbers estimate after you’ve completed your first few projects. I personally wouldn’t skip this step, but some do, it’s just up to the self publisher.

Creating a page plan, for your mock book:

Folded booklets like the ones we’re making have page counts that are in multiples of 4, because each sheet of paper will contain four book pages on it: Two on side A. Two on side B. So round your estimated page count up to the nearest multiple of 4.

Example: 18 pages would need to be 20, 21 becomes 24 and so on…

Now, take your page count and divide it by 4.
This simple formula will give you the total number of sheets of paper per zine (see below).

20 book pages = 5 sheets of paper
36 book pages = 9 sheets of paper
and so on…

Here I have been using a 12-page zine as the example, but the idea is the same for any number of sheets used.

12 book pages divided by 4 = 3 sheets of paper

So, I’m going to take 3 sheets, and label each side: A – B would be the front & back of the first paper sheet, C – D would be the front & back of the second paper sheet, E – F the front & back of the third paper sheet.

Then I’m going to stack sheets A & B, C & D, E & F, with the A, C, E sides facing up and A on top of C on top of E.

Fold them in half, like a booklet, with A on the outside, where the spine will be.

Now, starting from the first page of your mock booklet and with your formatted manuscript as your guide, label each page with the title of the printed piece that should appear there. Title page, copyright page, table of contents, blank, book matter (manuscript) through to the final page.

Holding your mock booklet at the spine, flip through it a several times, read it examine the arrangement of your front and back matter and check it against your formatted manuscript again to make sure you’ve allowed enough space for pieces of matter that run more than one booklet page. Make sure you’ve allowed space for all the elements you want to see in the interior of your finished publication.

When you’re sure your mock book accurately reflects the length and arrangement of your finished book, you’re ready to use this page plan to create your layout!

Layout Part 1, Setting up your layout document

Once you’ve got your manuscript formatted and your mock zine made, you’re ready to start working on your zine layout.

Since you are using MS-Word, this example will be geared towards that software only. I’m going to be talking about a digest sized booklet (8.5 x 11) with a landscape orientation, but the steps are the same for legal-sized paper as well.

Important: You must be sure your mock book “reads” properly and that you’ve allotted space for everything. Your page-count must be a multiple of 4 (because each sheet of paper will contain 2 booklet pages on the front, and 2 on the back).

To set up your layout, all you’ll need is your computer with MS-Word loaded.

Set up your document:

1. Open a new document in MS-Word.

2. Under the “File” menu, select “Page Setup.”

3. In the “Page Setup” window, select your paper size (letter or legal) and the orientation will be landscape.

4. Click “OK.” Your MS-Word document should now reflect your chosen paper size and orientation. Choose “Save” and it is now ready to format.

5. Under the “Format” menu, select “Document.”

6. Set your top, bottom, and left & right margins to your liking from earlier. You must use the same margins you selected for your zine page size in the mock book steps portion above. The examples were for 0.5 (half-inch) margins, so you enter .5 for all margins. If you estimated a wider margin, you should adjust them now. Click “OK”. The click “Save.”

7. Next, you’ll set up your columns. Choose two columns per page for this example, which is adequate for most books. You can use 4 columns per sheet of paper (for 2 columns per booklet page), but the concept remains  the same. Under the “Format” menu, select “Columns.” Click the graphic showing “2 columns,” or type 2 into the box and hit enter. I estimated a 1″ gutter (space between columns where your binding will go) in the mock book step above, so enter 1.0 in that “column box.” The column widths will automatically adjust. Click “OK.” Then click  “Save.”

8. Your layout document is all set up now. You are ready to start pasting in your text. If you plan to do other zines in the future with this same format style, choose “Save As” to save the layout and name something like “Next_Zine_Template.doc,” or something you will easily remember. Each time you want to start a book, open your template and do a “Save As” under the name of the next project. You’ll be ready to paste and print immediately next time you publish a zine.

Layout Part 2: Placing your text

Now that you have formatted your manuscript, made your mock book and set up your document layout, you’re ready to place your text in place.

To complete your layout, you’ll need:

* Your formatted manuscript open on your computer desktop
* Your layout document from the layout, Part 1 open on your computer desktop
* Your mock book at hand
* A printer that works
* Tape, paper clips, a stapler if you choose to staple.

Using your mock book as a page plan:

Take your mock book apart and arrange the sheets on the table in front of you. Your mock book spreads are your page plan. Spread A of your Mock Book shows you what needs to be on Spread A of your Layout document. Spread B of your mock book tells you what to put on Layout Spread B, and so on.

Using your disassembled mock book as your guide, you’ll know exactly where to place each piece of text into the layout document, copying and pasting it from your formatted manuscript.

Copying & pasting your text:

Note: In your formatted manuscript, each page = one booklet page. So each layout of your page spread will contain 2 manuscript pages, 1 in each column. These pages do not appear in the manuscript in the order you will be pasting them. You will see here what I mean.

1. Look at Spread A and the notes you’ve put on each side.

2. In your formatted manuscript, find and highlight the text you want to place in the left column. Under the “Edit” menu, select “Copy.”

3. In your layout document, place your cursor at the top of the left column. Under the “Edit” menu, select “Paste.”

4. In your layout document, click “Return” until your cursor appears at the top of the right hand column.

5. Go back to your formatted manuscript and “copy” the text you want to place on the right side of this spread, as before.

6. Go back to the layout document, and “paste” the text in, as before. Compare with mock book spread “A” to layout spread “A.” The content you’ve pasted should match your mock book notes.

7. In your layout document, under the “Insert” menu, choose “Page Break.” This will add another page to your layout, and you’re ready to paste in your text for page spread “B.”

8. Repeat the steps above as necessary until you’ve created a layout spread for each lettered mock book page spread. For your blank pages, use “Insert/Break/Page.” Click “Save” after each paste and compare your page layout spreads to your mock book page spreads to make sure they are still matching up, check often.

9. Print your page layout spreads. If you like them, label them with their spread letters to help you compare to your mock zine one last time.

10. If your layout spreads match your mock book spreads, you’re golden. Save your layout. Close your manuscript document, you’re through using it.

OPTIONAL: If you would  like, you can make sure you’ve got everything where it should be by making a new mock book with your printed layout spreads: tape, paper clip, or staple it to resemble a finished zine. Use “Layout Spread A” to “Layout Spread B,” facing back to back, to imitate a double-sided printed sheet in your zine. Do the same for C – D, E – F, etc. Then you can stack them in order “A, C, E,” facing up with “A” on top and fold the stack along the gutter. See below.

11. Holding your new printed mock zine at the spine, read it for an order check and for flow. Are pieces that are running more than one page appear in the right order? Does the layout contain the correct element you want in your finished zine? Are you happy with the spacing, fonts and layout? If so, then you are ready for printing, or photocopying.

Printing and/or Photocopying

As you’ve probably realized, once you’ve got your layout done, the rest is relatively easy. You’ll have finished zines in ready for print in no time.

Now we will discuss your two basic reproduction options: printing off the originals, or photocopying from a single original.

You will need:

* Your formatted layout document on your computer
* Your printer online
* Plain paper to test and to make your original for photocopying
* And a photocopier, unless you are printing each copy
* Your interior paper stock ready

Converting your layout to a PDF is optional:

This step is optional, but I recommend it because making your layout a PDF locks your formatting, page setup, and fonts into place, and that means you can print your books from any computer with the same perfect results. Printing from a PDF also provides insurance against accidental nudging and re-flow. Most newer versions of MS-Word have PDF capability built-in to the Print menu. Once you make a PDF you cannot edit your text, so make sure things are exactly as you want them.

Open your layout document on your computer. Under File, select Print. From the Print menu, click the “Save As PDF” choice.

Note: If you have blank spreads in your zine  layout, you should choose “Create Blank Spreads” from the “Options menu” to process these pages into your design.

-The Zineiac

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