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Subject: Rules Layout Software rss

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Eric Etkin
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What do you guys all use? I'm getting ready to put together my latest rulebook, and I'd like something that produces press-ready work.

Right now... I'm using CS3, and the process is... uh... tedious, to say the least.

Is there anything out there where I can define a page template (say, two columns) and then just copy/paste the whole bulk of TXT into it, and it paginates/formats appropriately?

What I'm envisioning would then let me throw in a nice backdrop (for a worn page look), and when I add in pictures/icons, the word columns realign correctly either around or underneath the pictures/icons.

Free is preferable (duh), but I'm willing to entertain low-cost options. Ease of use also helpful... anything that operates with a textbox/layer structure like Photoshop would help my learning curve.
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Ron Parker
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What you want is desktop publishing software. I assume by "CS3" you mean Photoshop CS3 - if you had InDesign CS3 you wouldn't be asking this question.

You have a few options.

Free: Scribus
Expensive: Microsoft Publisher ($140 MSRP)
Really Expensive: Adobe InDesign ($660 MSRP)

Features and usability likely scale with price, to some extent, but you'll probably be happy enough with Scribus.

Edit: I left out

Stupidly Expensive: Quark XPress ($800 MSRP)
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Eric Etkin
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parkrrrr wrote:
What you want is desktop publishing software. I assume by "CS3" you mean Photoshop CS3 - if you had InDesign CS3 you wouldn't be asking this question.

You have a few options.

Free: Scribus
Expensive: Microsoft Publisher ($140 MSRP)
Really Expensive: Adobe InDesign ($660 MSRP)

Features and usability likely scale with price, to some extent, but you'll probably be happy enough with Scribus.

Edit: I left out

Stupidly Expensive: Quark XPress ($800 MSRP)


Thanks - I've seen Scribus in passing, but haven't looked at it, since I've been able to get by in CS3 (ahem, Photoshop CS3) until now.

Is Scribus relatively easy to use?

(I have an ancient version of Quark somewhere in my CD caddy, but I suspect that may be too old to be useful...)
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Ron Parker
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MOTHDevil wrote:
Is Scribus relatively easy to use?


Honestly, I haven't done much more than play with it myself, though it seemed pretty straightforward to me.

But I used to use PageMaker pretty regularly, back when it existed, so what's easy for me might not actually be easy anyway.
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Andy Leighton
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MOTHDevil wrote:
parkrrrr wrote:
What you want is desktop publishing software. I assume by "CS3" you mean Photoshop CS3 - if you had InDesign CS3 you wouldn't be asking this question.

You have a few options.

Free: Scribus
Expensive: Microsoft Publisher ($140 MSRP)
Really Expensive: Adobe InDesign ($660 MSRP)

Features and usability likely scale with price, to some extent, but you'll probably be happy enough with Scribus.

Edit: I left out

Stupidly Expensive: Quark XPress ($800 MSRP)


Thanks - I've seen Scribus in passing, but haven't looked at it, since I've been able to get by in CS3 (ahem, Photoshop CS3) until now.

Is Scribus relatively easy to use?

(I have an ancient version of Quark somewhere in my CD caddy, but I suspect that may be too old to be useful...)


For what you describe, fairly straightforward, although it might take a while to get your head around the DTP workflow. The other DTP programs are no easier IMO.
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Eric Etkin
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andyl wrote:


For what you describe, fairly straightforward, although it might take a while to get your head around the DTP workflow. The other DTP programs are no easier IMO.


"DTP...?"
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Ron Parker
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MOTHDevil wrote:
andyl wrote:
The other DTP programs are no easier IMO.


"DTP...?"


Desktop Publishing.

And I agree with Andy: they're all pretty much the same in terms of ease of use, for basic stuff.

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Hugh G. Rection
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Here's the Scribus tutorials which should make getting started a whole lot easier:

Quick Start Guide
Get Started With Scribus (full tutorial)


This is another DTP program I found while doing my own search. It's not free, but inexpensive ($100).

PagePlus
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Rob Steward
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Apple's word processing/page layout application, Pages, is only $20... but it only runs on Mac. (There's also a limited version for iPad.)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pages/id409201541?uo=4&mt=8&...
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J C Lawrence
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I use LaTeX via LyX. An example ruleset written using this way.
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Ron Parker
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clearclaw wrote:


Speaking as someone who used Plain TeX to do even run-of-the-mill abstract algebra homework when I was still in school, I take back my statement about them all being pretty much the same.

Also, you need wider gutters or a smaller font or something.
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J C Lawrence
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Agreed. I didn't spend the time to fiddle much with the gutters, margins, etc values.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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You can get a lot done with Microsoft Word, especially if there's only one main body of text. The only time that I worry about a secondary body if text is when I want to insert a "sidebar" onto a page ... and I can get that done with textboxes in MS Word.

Microsoft Publisher is definitely a step up, and it will allow you to make multiple flows of text, much like having multiple articles flow around different columns and pages of a newspaper. But I haven't seen rulebooks that required that kind of functionality.

I'm not certain if MS Word is available as a cheap standalone anymore. I typically already have it pre-loaded on my computer, or bundled with Excel, Access, and Powerpoint.
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Eric Etkin
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Stormtower wrote:
I'm not certain if MS Word is available as a cheap standalone anymore. I typically already have it pre-loaded on my computer, or bundled with Excel, Access, and Powerpoint.


Thanks, Sturv!

Actually, I'm pretty sure it's not. I was poking along just fine with my trusty copy of Word 97 until MS decided to break it with OS's past XP. Since then, my word processor (and spreadsheets) has been Open Office, with which I'm quite happy.

But... Open office seems a bit finicky when it comes to importing graphics.
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Ed G.
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If I were you, I'd hire a professional to do this. Your time is likely better spent on writing and testing the rules, producing the components, and promoting your game. For probably close to the cost of purchasing and learning to use some software (even informally, as your time is worth money), you can hire a professional and with solid requirements for what you want them to create, have something that looks good and have made progress on other aspects of your project simultaneously. Further, hiring a pro decreases the chance that the layout and presentation of your rules will be found lacking by reviewers and players. Good luck in either avenue.
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