This is for those who only use Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and get frustrated when it doesn’t do what you want. The key is to always use appropriate software! Now this doesn’t mean you have to run out and buy Illustrator or InDesign to create good marketing materials, but they are designed for doing this. Most libraries come with Microsoft Office, which includes Publisher, which is perfectly adequate for the job. And if you’re in a library that does not have Publisher there are also a few free online design software that you can use.
I would suggest checking out some of these tutorials first. http://www.gcflearnfree.org/publisher2010
This tutorial provides screen shots and videos that will help familiarize yourself with Publisher 2010. (If you have Publisher 2007, like me, many of the features are the same)
Or if you are using Illustrator you can check out these tips. http://designrfix.com/illustrator
One of the fastest way to start understanding the software is to start by using the templates provided by the software. For Publisher, there are many templates you can use as guides and blank templates for brochures, cards, and others designs. A few things to learn how to use is the Order of elements, More Colors feature for controlling your colors, and Multiple Pages ability in the Print Setup. If you do not have a photo editor, you can use the image tools in Publisher for cropping, coloring, and deselecting a color to cut from the image instead of using an image as is. I do recommend re-sizing and editing with a photo editor, but I understand that this may not be available. I will give examples of photo editors later when I talk about prepping your images.
For the free online software tools check out Canva.com. They give you templates, images, type fonts, and layouts. Most are free, but their are some templates that cost, but you pay per download. It’s a great way to play with aspects of design, to learn what can be done and start to familiarizing yourself with current trends in design.
As librarians we are always teaching others how to use the best tools and resources for their needs. We need to do the same for ourselves.