Author Topic: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book  (Read 7793 times)

jvecht

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Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« on: September 22, 2014, 12:03:49 am »
I recently created a small book in Dutch for newcomers to Xubuntu 14.04. Many Windows XP machines are being installed with Linux distributions as they are still in excellent condition, but not meeting the minimum requirements for newer Windows versions. There is not much to be found in Dutch to help these users with first steps so I wrote a 19 page booklet to download and read on-screen. It is very well possible to print it too and I took care it can be printed in decent quality even on simple inkjet printers. It is only available as a download in pdf format.

If Dutch does not scare you, here is a link for those interested: http://bit.ly/1BP3Wp7

It will open in full screen. Hit Esc to leave full screen.

It is a A4 landscape 3 column layout. To be able to insert images on any position in a column I work with three different layers: text, image and captions. I start with creating a text frame in the text layer and let the text in the test frame with the three columns flow around that frame. That frame is nothing more than a placeholder. Then next I create an image frame in the image layer (that fits with the boundaries of the text frame/placeholder) and finally a caption in the captions layer. All text is controlled by styles and thus there is a style for captions too.

Now this works just fine with those three layers as it limits the possibility I mistakenly touch a wrong frame and make a mess of it all. In the end I need to position that combination of the text frame/placeholder, image frame and captions text frame  so that it leaves no widows or orphans. To get that done I move the image frame and the caption up to the text layer, select all three objects and then move them together with the Properties panel as needed.

Now after this first small book I intend to produce a small series of similar books for those distributions popular in de Dutch Ubuntu community.

My question is: any suggestions to get the above done in a better or simpler way? I tried to group the three objects but the group then loses the ability to have text flow around it. That makes positioning a trial and error job.

TIA!

jvecht

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2014, 01:41:58 pm »
No replies yet, but read 55 times.

Nobody with any suggestion? Did I ask this in a wrong way?

regards,

Just Vecht

utnik

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2014, 11:04:29 pm »
hi just

i took a look at you .pdf file – the content may be good or bad, i don't understand dutch…
  • the first eye catcher was for me the coincidental placement of text and objects. i don't like three columns with three different baseline levels.
  • you're writing about widows and orphanes and how to avoyd them. but i see at least ten orphanes on this nineteen pages.
  • some images almost touch the neighbouring paragraphs
  • there is no consistency in distances between images and their sublines (and the sublines touch again almost the neighbouring columns…)
i would like to see publications like this one in a more aesthetically and carefully arranged layout.
…but it's still good to have someone who offers all this infos in dutch!

utnik

jvecht

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2014, 12:53:31 am »
Hi Utnik,

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your efforts! I will have a thorough look at my design with that in mind. I basically agree on what you said, though. I went easy on the details. This is my first try and I did not want to spent much time on getting it all looking really good. It is also is a new design for most readers too.

The publication was highly appreciated by the Dutch Ubuntu community. So it is now clearly worth the effort to spent more time on the next one.

Back to my question: is there a better way to align text (and having it flow around), images and captions than how I did it for this first one? Any suggestions are welcome!

As you said: we really need such information in Dutch here in Holland. Nobody complained about the many errors in the design, but I like to have it as good as I can get it. Please understand I have no design background. I am a retired automobile engineer ... .

utnik

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 08:20:39 am »
hi just

is there a better way to align text (and having it flow around), images and captions than how I did it for this first one?
  • i would work with two layers, the images in a top layer, all the text (incl. captions) in a layer below.
  • the placeholder frame is a strange workaround for the standard text flow controlling methodes. (with the selected image frame use 'properties' (f2) → 'shape' → 'use contour line', then enlarge the contour line by something around 2mm with the 'edit' button and the checkbox 'edit contour line') – you may store this image frame as a template in the 'scrapbook' for further use…
  • use the 'baseline grid' to align the text.
  • use some guide lines to keep the images aligned to the text columns (or place them really overlapping – almost aligned is an absolute 'no go'!)
…but keep going – it's a good idea!

utnik

GarryP

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2014, 04:49:37 pm »
While I can't comment on the content - I can't read Dutch, and my Linux knowledge is limited anyway - I agree with utnik, but I'd also like to add my own suggestions (apologies if I'm repeating/re-wording anything already said):

* Don't be afraid to leave white space at the end of a column/page to remove orphaned text. (Use one of the breaks - menu "Insert -> Spaces and Breaks ->" to start a new column/page. The white space looks much nicer and can help to break the text up a bit.)

* Try using a slightly different font on some paragraphs that are more important than others to break the text up a bit. (E.g. Make important paragraphs semi-bold, or similar.)

* Keep your headings/sub-headings aligned to the left of your body text. (E.g. On page 12 the indentation looks odd, as though the headings are trying to "escape" from the column.)

* Try and get screen-shots as clear as possible and then use a compression tool to squeeze them down. (Good to reduce overall file size for people with limited internet connections.)

* Don't be afraid to have an image flow over more than one column if it will allow you to show the content better. (But, as utnik said, make sure the sides of the image are aligned to the edges of the columns you go over. And don't stop an image in the middle of a column. That only works under certain "arty" conditions.)

* If you use guide lines, don't use more than you need. (Using too many can get you in a real mess; create them as you need them.)

* Putting guide lines on the master pages - rather than each "normal" page - makes them easier to manage on documents like this which use the same format throughout.

* Create Character Styles for your body/heading/sub-headings/links/etc. first and then create Paragraph Styles which are based on them to format your text. (You can then change the formatting of the whole document using only a few clicks if needed.) You might have done this already though, it wasn't clear which type of style(s) you were using. (This is more of a general tip for anyone reading this.)

* Personally - and this differs to utnik's suggestion, sorry utnik - I'd keep the captions and images on the same layer. This makes it much easier to move them together, grouped if necessary. However, you'll need to manipulate the contour line of the image frame manually and give the caption text frame its own contour line. (Otherwise the contour line of the image frame would interfere with the text of the caption.) Both ways have their pros and cons. You'll need to experiment as to which you prefer.

* And I probably wouldn't align the text in the captions to the baseline grid. (A slight movement of the image+caption pair could cause the text to jump around trying to re-align itself and you end up trying to arrange the image to suit the caption, which is the wrong way round.)

That's probably enough babble from me for now I think, but I'd like to add my own congratulations on a good first edition.

Nermander

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2014, 11:27:09 am »
* And I probably wouldn't align the text in the captions to the baseline grid. (A slight movement of the image+caption pair could cause the text to jump around trying to re-align itself and you end up trying to arrange the image to suit the caption, which is the wrong way round.)

This is very true.

I haven't looked at the document until now, the one thing that first caught my mind was: There are way to many indentations.

For the contents listing, there is both indent AND a dash. For paragraphs there is an indent AND space between paragraphs. I don't know know about dutch typography but in swedish typography you use indents OR space between paragraphs (and I prefer space, because indent shouldn't be used after a heading so using indents I need to paragraph styles), never both.

I also think there is way to much spacings after the different headings. A heading belongs to the text below, thus it doesn't make sense to separate it more than necessary from the text below. If the heading is bold there is really no need to have a larger spacing than the regular line spacing. Larger space before a heading may be useful sometimes (but when using the baseline grid you automatically get more spacing if the font size of the heading is larger).

I also think the font is a bit to big, making the lines unnecessarily short.

One single drop cap at the start of the text? Why? :)

The "in column" images have been mentioned before, that's how most people writing in word processing programs do, because they don't know anything about how you can "place images":) This documents looks a lot like a "Word document poured into three columns".

I generally try to place images "around" the text, rather than "in" the text.

Sometimes I use empty frames to force text to wrap.


Now, I recognize much of what has been pointed out is probably "beginner mistakes". I know documents I made 10 years ago look awful compared to what I create today, and then I'm still an amateur:). I have read books and web pages about graphic design and typography and learned a lot over the years, but I'm still learning. It's easy to learn how to spot mistakes, it's harder to learn how to avoid them:) I have also had many of my layouts criticized, and learned a lot from that too. So don't take all this as "you suck on design" but as "you can improve" :)


There are positive things to say too, for example there is not an excessive use of different fonts, there is a lot of air around the text.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 11:29:22 am by Nermander »

GarryP

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2014, 01:00:43 pm »
Nermander makes an excellent point about image placement which I feel silly about missing completely. Somehow I was "blinded" by the earlier conversation and assumed - for whatever reason - that Just (the original poster) wanted the images "in-column".

I totally agree that having images placed around/within the text - and not within columns - looks much better for most documents of this type. (It makes the page look more "dynamic" and - I think - easier to read.) Thanks Nermander for pointing this out.

(I realise this contradicts something I said in my previous post but that was for layouts with "in-column" images.)

In case anyone reading this doesn't know what is meant by not placing the images "in-column" I've attached a quickly-created PDF showing the difference. (It's not a design classic by any stretch of the imagination, only a quick example.)

Also, after looking at the document again, I agree that the font size is a bit large. However, for printed documents it can sometimes be better to err on the side of large text if you think that some of your readership may have reading difficulties - e.g. dyslexia, or long-sightedness, etc. (For on-screen reading there's always the zoom function.) But for most cases, use a smaller font unless you know you need a larger one.

And using the baseline - with different font sizes - to create spacing between text and headings is a great tip that can save time and effort.

One other thing I didn't mention earlier is that - to me at least - the page "header" is a bit near the text and sometimes the logo seems to "merge" with the text. You might like to try experimenting with spacing or some kind of rule - e.g. a 2pt grey line going across the page - between the header and the text. This could look better or worse but it's worth trying to see what works best.

I hope Just doesn't see these replies as only a long barrage of criticisms. I think I speak for both utnik and Nermander when I say that we're only trying to help. If we didn't care we probably wouldn't bother typing all of this into the forum if the first place.

All said, I've probably made all of these "beginner mistakes" myself, and I'd be willing to bet that I'll make some of them again in the future. Some of my early documents now look - to my mind - quite awful. Some of them actually make me cringe to look at them. And I'm sure I could come back in a few years and say exactly the same about the stuff I'm making today. No-one is born with experience; everyone is a beginner at the start.

I look forward to seeing the next version of the document.

P.S. I also sometimes use an empty frame to force word-wrapping. It's often quicker for simple layouts where you want to wrap around a group of objects without manipulating their contour lines individually. There's no hard and fast rule; use whatever is best for you in the circumstances.

Nermander

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2014, 04:11:13 pm »
Your example PDF was very good, maybe we should look into giving the wiki some examples of good vs not so good layouts. We don't have to say which one is good or bad, just show examples :) I think I have a few documents I can use for examples if I just change the contents to lorem ipsum and free images.

With the font size, my concern was the line length. I just did a quick eyeballing and ended up around 40 characters. In texts with long words that can mean each line is just 2-3 words and it makes reading very "jumpy".

utnik

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2014, 11:09:31 pm »
hi garry

…and this differs to utnik's suggestion, sorry utnik - I'd keep the captions and images on the same layer.

no apologies, please! – you have to correct my writing, when it contains stupid things…
i meant the titles, not the captions (i would place the latter on the image layer as well…)
…don't know what (or even if) i was thinking yesterday…

utnik

jvecht

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2014, 09:52:27 am »
Hi all,

Thanks for all the comments and all the time it took you all to write them down! I am now planning to make a second book for Mint 17 XFCE for the Dutch Community, so all this information comes at the right time to improve the entire design. Basically this Mint and Xubuntu 14.04 are quite similar, so creating the text itself is probably not that hard. I estimate it will not take that much time.

I am considering to improve the current book too, if only to see the difference.

Apart from the obvious errors there are some design choices I like to discuss here if I may.

regards,

Just Vecht

GarryP

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2014, 03:00:41 pm »
utnik:

I'll try to hold back on the apologising but my up-bringing sort of hammered that kind of thing into me from an early age. Sorry!

Nermander:

On the fonts thing you're right again. I'd ignored the content completely because I couldn't read it but looking again I can see what you mean. The font size might be fine if there were fewer columns, thus making the line length longer. I'd say the revised advice would be: "Make the lines longer or the font size smaller (or both)".

As for your idea about a wiki page on layout design I think that would be great. I've had an idea rattling about for a while in the back of my head about a sort of "Beginners Crib Sheets" set of pages/documents giving beginners some general advice on how to start with things like:

* Layout: planning; baseline grid; columns/grids/guides/alignment; justification; etc.
* Fonts: selection; sizes; mixing; sources; things to avoid; etc.
* Colours: selection; palette creation; avoiding clashes; printing issues; etc.
* Images: selection; formats; resolutions; copyright; sources; etc.
* And anything else that will be of some use.

I imagined them to be a list of general guidelines - with visual examples - that would give beginners an idea of where to start, rather than them being scared-off by a totally blank page or making assumptions based on where they've come from.

It wouldn't necessarily be Scribus-specific advice or "hard facts", more of an "If you keep these guidelines in mind you shouldn't go too far wrong for most documents" kind of thing.

However, this might be too adventurous. What do you - or anyone else reading this - think?
I'd be happy to collaborate either way.

Just:

You're welcome, and I'm glad you've taken all of our comments in the spirit of advice rather than criticism.

If you'd like some advice on design choices for this particular document I don't see a problem with continuing this thread. However, if it's more general design advice then it might be best to start a new thread so other people can find it more easily. (For example, most people wouldn't associate "Aligning multiple text frames" in the thread title with "design choices".) The choice (no pun intended) is yours.

jvecht

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2014, 07:06:43 pm »

You're welcome, and I'm glad you've taken all of our comments in the spirit of advice rather than criticism.

If you'd like some advice on design choices for this particular document I don't see a problem with continuing this thread. However, if it's more general design advice then it might be best to start a new thread so other people can find it more easily. (For example, most people wouldn't associate "Aligning multiple text frames" in the thread title with "design choices".) The choice (no pun intended) is yours.

Thanks. On the design choices I will start a new thread.

Nermander

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2014, 08:52:47 am »
It wouldn't necessarily be Scribus-specific advice or "hard facts", more of an "If you keep these guidelines in mind you shouldn't go too far wrong for most documents" kind of thing.

Exactly. Basic stuff, "getting away from the MS Word way" of doing things:)

I really love your tutorials on simple graphic elements, they make me feel "wow, is it that simple?", and my idea was to make it a bit on that level. And not Scribus specific (which means we won't have to update for newer versions of Scribus). We don't even have to use Scribus to create the examples (the "bad" examples can be made in Word:).

Not sure how it would be best structured, but I think maybe something like:

1. 10 most common beginner mistakes (we can probably google for other such lists to pull stuff from:)
2. Beginner's guide
3. More advanced stuff

I think we maybe should start a new topic on this, I was wondering which sub forum would be best... Free discussion maybe? (Since it's really not related to Scribus.)

GarryP

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Re: Aligning multiple text frames and image frames in a book
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2014, 03:31:15 pm »
I'm glad you like my tutorials and I enjoy creating them and releasing them into the wild. Thanks.

I like your idea about having a "top 10 mistakes" at the start - each with a visual example showing the problem. Even if someone doesn't have to time to look at all of the other documentation they should at least get something from that. The other stuff could then be linked from these in a logical "structure" (perhaps).

I'd agree that "Free Discussion" would be a good place to start. Would you be okay with setting the ball rolling by creating the initial post? (I'm not sure what it should be called to get the right kind of replies.)

My main concern is that I'll not be able to commit enough time to this - which is why I didn't take my initial idea further - but if enough people can contribute then hopefully that won't be much of a problem.

P.S. I have a vague memory that there were some people looking at a complete re-design of the wiki a while ago. It might be worth checking first that this mini-project isn't going to be duplicating any of their work - or getting in their way somehow - but I've no idea how that could be checked. Any ideas?

 

palmate