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197 Chapter 7. Document Formatting and Printing

In this chapter, you’ll learn…

In the last few chapters, we covered the basics of creating documents—entering, editing, and formatting text; inserting graphical elements; and working with sound. All these things apply to specific parts of your documents (such as characters and paragraphs). Now it’s time to look into the formatting features that affect your document as a whole, such as margins, columns, and printing options. We’ll also go over printing, with a brief overview of mail merge. (Merging will be covered in more detail in Chapter 14.)

198 Layout Page

As you may recall from Chapter 4, Nisus Writer distinguishes line wrap (the width of a line of text) from margins (the empty white space around the edge of a page). We saw that margins are adjusted on the Layout Page (Figure 7.1). The Layout Page is where almost all document-level formatting is done, and it has some fascinating capabilities. We’ll look at them in this section. To display the Layout Page, click the Display Layout Page button on your Vertical Button Bar. When the Layout Page is visible, the Layout menu also appears on your menu bar.

Figure 7.1. The Layout Page.

Adjusting Margins

There are two ways to adjust your document margins on the Layout Page. The easier way is to position your pointer over 199 one of the gray margin lines and click and drag it to a new location. The current measurements of the margins are shown in the Status Area, and they update instantly as you change the margins. If you click once anywhere in the Status Area, a dialog box (Figure 7.2) will appear that allows you to enter exact values for any of the margins. The unit of measurement is whatever is currently selected in the Measurement panel of the preferences dialog box (see Chapter 9). This dialog box is also displayed when you choose Set Margins… from the Layout menu. To automatically expand all your margins to the limits of the currently selected printer, click the Expand to Printer Limits button or choose Expand Margins from the Layout menu. If you want to keep the same printable area but center your margins vertically and horizontally on the page, click the Center Page button or choose Center Page from the Layout menu.

Figure 7.2. The Set Margins and Columns dialog box.

Double-Sided Printing and Booklets

The Layout Page can also display two pages side by side, which is helpful if you’re creating a book or newsletter. Click the Display Facing Pages button to do this. (If you have chosen Landscape orientation in the Page Setup dialog box, clicking this button will show your pages one above the 200 other.) When facing pages are displayed, changing the top or bottom margin on either page will change the same margin on the facing page by the same amount; changing the inside or outside margin of one page will produce a “mirror-image” effect on the opposite page (unless Mirror Margins Horizontally is turned off in the Layout Options dialog box—see below). This is probably the effect you want if your document will be printed double-sided and bound. However, you can move the entire printable area for the odd or even pages to a new position by holding the Shift key, clicking inside the print area, and dragging (see Figure 7.3).

Figure 7.3. Moving the printable area separately for the odd and even pages. To do this, hold the Shift key while clicking and dragging the print area of either page.

While you can move the printable area independently for the odd and even pages, the size of the printable area itself must be the same for every page in your document.

To make a booklet or pamphlet, click the Make Booklet button. If your page orientation is set to Landscape, your pages will be reduced to half their original size and placed side-by-side on the sheet of paper; if Portrait mode is selected, the pages will be vertically oriented. The idea is that the pages can be folded in half when they are printed (staples are optional) to create a booklet or pamphlet. If your booklet contains more than two pages, when you’re ready to print, first print the Odd pages, then flip the stack of paper over, put it back in the printer, and print the Even pages. Nisus Writer will automatically print the pages in the correct order so that all you have to do is fold the finished stack in half and your booklet is complete.

201 Layout Options

The Layout Page offers a number of additional controls. First is the Layout Options dialog box (Figure 7.4), which appears when you choose Layout Options… from the Layout menu. Under Margins, check Show to display the margin lines or uncheck it to hide them. Snap to Grid forces your margins to align to the grid defined in the graphics layer when you change them by clicking and dragging. If you click Center Vertically or Center Horizontally, then as you drag one margin, the opposite one will change by the same amount.

Figure 7.4. The Layout Options dialog box.

Under Facing Pages and Booklet, check First Page on Left/Top to display Page One to the left of Page Two on the Layout Page (normally Page One is on the right side). Click Mirror Margins Vertically or Mirror Margins Horizontally to create symmetrical mirror-image margins on facing pages. The Margins Measured From options let you choose the point of origin for margin measurements. Normally, all margins are measured in from the edge of the paper nearest them. This is the meaning of the Edges of Paper option. If instead you click Top Left Corner, all margin measurements will be expressed as the distance from the top-left corner of the page. The Clip Graphics To options refer to graphics that spill into the margins. If Margins is selected, they will be cut off at the margin when printed; to print as much of the graphic as possible, click Printer Limits.

202 Just above the vertical scroll bar on the Layout Page is the Vertical Button Bar but with some new controls. First is the magnifying glass (), which, curiously, does not magnify. If you click this icon, your pointer becomes a magnifying glass (). Clicking this pointer anywhere on the page will take you to that spot in the document window. (Double-clicking with the standard arrow pointer has the same effect.) To return to Document View at your original location, click the Document View () button. To display the document window and the Layout Page side by side, click the Side-By-Side button (). The Info Bar button () displays or hides the Info Bar, which on the Layout Page contains the margin and page setting controls. Also on the Info Bar are shortcut buttons to take you directly to the Page Setup dialog box (the “drafting tools” icon) and the Print dialog box (the printer icon).

Adding a Frame

A frame in Nisus Writer is a border around an entire page. If you add a frame to your document, it will appear on every page. When you choose Set Frame… from the Layout menu, the dialog box shown in Figure 7.5 will appear. Click one of the predefined frame styles to add a frame or None to remove the frame. If you click Custom, you can set the line thickness, corner curvature, and position of the outer line (Frame A) and inner line (Frame B) separately. However, be warned that custom frames with rounded corners do not print on PostScript printers.

Figure 7.5. The Set Page Frame dialog box.

Frames print in the margin just outside the text area. Therefore, your margins must be wide enough to fit the frame. You may also want to adjust the left and right line wrap so that your text doesn’t come too close to the frame.


Your document can have any number of columns from one to eight. All columns will be of equal width, however, and the number of columns you choose will apply to your entire document. To change the number of columns, choose Set Columns… from the Layout menu. The dialog box shown in Figure 7.6 will appear. Click a number from 1 to 8 to set the number of columns for your document. To change the gut-203ter width (space between the columns), click and drag the Gutter Width Handle. (To enter an exact gutter value, choose Set Margins… from the Layout menu and enter a value in the dialog box.) Nisus Writer can center a vertical line in the gutter to separate the columns if you wish. To change the height of the separator line, click and drag the Separator Line Handle. Click a line thickness to apply it to the separator or click None if you don’t want any line at all.

Figure 7.6. The Set Columns dialog box.

If your document has multiple columns, they will appear side by side only on the Layout Page. In Document View, you’ll only be able to see one column at a time.

204 Page Setup

The Page Setup dialog box (Figure 7.7) is displayed when you choose Page Setup… from the File menu. This dialog box is where you tell Nisus Writer the size and orientation of the paper you’ll be printing on, as well as printer-specific information like the maximum printable area. The top part of the dialog box is specific to the printer you currently have selected, and the options available vary somewhat. (Options for a LaserWriter are shown in Figure 7.7.) In general, you’ll be able to choose the paper size, layout (how many pages will be printed on each sheet of paper), scale (reduction or enlargement of the whole page), and orientation (portrait or landscape).

Figure 7.7. Page Setup dialog box with LaserWriter 8 driver selected.

In the lower half of the window are options specific to Nisus Writer. To use a custom page size, check Custom Paper and enter the dimensions in the Width and Height boxes. The custom size you enter must be no larger than the actual paper size chosen for the printer. You can choose to have this “virtual page” centered on the paper or placed in the upper-right corner by clicking one of the Position buttons. Click Print Cropping Marks to print guide lines for trimming the paper just outside the page area. If you want the numbering of your pages to start at something other than one, enter the number in the Start page 205 # box. If you have one or more preliminary pages (like a title page) before your text begins, you can even set this number to zero or a negative number so that your text itself starts on page one. Click Note Placement to set footnote/endnote attributes (refer to Chapter 4 for a complete description).

If you have the Language Key installed, additional options may appear in the Page Setup dialog box. See Chapter 13 for more information.

Nisus Writer does not yet support any of the special printing features of QuickDraw GX.


After you’ve adjusted document formatting to your taste on the Layout Page and specified printer and paper options in the Page Setup dialog box, you’re ready to print. Choose Print… from the File menu to display the Print dialog box (Figure 7.8). Like the Page Setup dialog box, the top half of this window contains controls specific to the printer you’re using. But for all printers, you can select the number of copies to print and a starting and ending page number (if you want to print only part of your document). You need not always fill in both the From and To boxes—if you leave the To box blank, Nisus Writer will print to the end of your document, and if you leave the From box blank, it will print from the beginning of your document. Depending on the printer you use, you may also be able to select from multiple paper trays, save your file to disk as a PostScript or EPS file, or set print quality.

Figure 7.8. The Print dialog box with the LaserWriter Pro 630 printer selected.

206 At the bottom of the dialog box are several additional options. If you click As Numbered in Document, then the page range you enter in the From and To boxes is based on the Page Number variable used in your document. If it is unchecked, it will print based on the physical page number. For example, suppose you have set the starting page number to 25 in the Page Setup dialog box. If you check As Numbered in Document with a range of 25 to 26, the first two pages will print. However, if you uncheck it, then in this example pages 49 to 50 would print. Whether or not you check this option, you can choose to print only Odd Pages, only Even Pages, or both Odd & Even Pages. Click Cross References to make sure all cross-referenced text is up to date when you print, and click Time & Date to update any time or date variables in your document at print time.

When you have chosen all the options you want, click Print to print your document. If you have several open files and would like to print them all with a single command, press the Option key while pulling down the File menu, and Print… will become Print All…. The options you set in the Print dialog box will be applied to all open documents as they are printed.

Mail Merge Basics

Like nearly all word processors, Nisus Writer offers a Mail Merge feature that allows you to create form letters, mailing labels, and other documents that can be “personalized” automatically. A lot of people are put off by mail merge, as though it’s a weird and complex process that ordinary mortals can’t grasp. But trust me, this is not rocket science—it’s actually very straightforward and maybe even a little fun once you get the hang of it. In this section, we’ll take a quick look at the basics of a mail merge operation. In Chapter 14, we’ll look at more advanced merge commands 207 and walk through a real-life example of a moderately complex (and even more fun) merge.

All pontifications aside, Nisus Writer’s mail merge feature lacks a bit in the way of friendliness and ease of use. I’ve provided some macros and a Merge Macros Floating Tool Bar on the CD-ROM to make things a bit simpler.


The first thing you need to decide when preparing to do a mail merge is what fields you need—that is, what information will be changing from document to document. For example, let’s say you’re creating a form letter. The text of the letter will probably stay pretty much the same for each recipient. However, you will want to fill in each person’s name and address individually, and possibly add a personalized greeting. The name, the parts of the address, and the greeting are all variables, and in mergespeak, these are known as fields. You can have as many different fields as you like, but each must have a unique name (without any spaces). You will refer to the field names in both of the documents you use to perform a merge.

The Host Document

The two documents you’ll need to prepare are a host document and a data document. We’ll talk about the host document first. This is the file that contains the body of your letter or the template for your mailing labels—it’s the “form” in “form letter.” The host document contains what you might think of as “blanks” to be filled in with data from the data document.

Figure 7.9 shows a sample host document. You’ll notice that it looks pretty much like any letter, except that there are a few things enclosed in marks called chevrons (also known as international quotes). These are the field names. The funny marks tell Nisus Writer that when it’s doing a merge, it shouldn’t print the actual text inside the quotes but rather should insert a variable from your data document. It knows which variable to use because you’ve used the same field names in your data document and host document.

Figure 7.9. A sample host document. Field names are enclosed in chevrons («»).

To type the chevrons, use Option-\ for the opening mark («) and Shift-Option-\ for the closing mark (»).

208 The Data Document

The data document contains all the variables that get inserted into the blanks in the form letter. This document could be as simple as a list of names or it could be very complex, containing addresses, phone numbers, dates, prices, and anything else you can imagine. No matter what you put in it, however, the pattern will always be the same: every paragraph will contain one or more pieces of information, separated by either commas or tabs. In database terms, each paragraph is a record; each piece of information is a field (there’s that word again). In addition, the data document will have a very special first line—a list of all the field names that will be used. So if the variables you want to keep track of are name, phone number, and birthday, those items will go on the first line, separated by commas or tabs. Then each new line will have someone’s name, phone number, and birthday—in that order. Figure 7.10 shows a sample data document.

Figure 7.10. A sample data document, with fields separated by tabs.

Performing the Merge

Once you’ve prepared your host document and data document, you’re ready to merge. Here’s what happens. When you choose Merge…, Nisus Writer will make a copy of your host file. 209 When it runs into a field name, it will check your data document to verify that the field name is used. It finds out, say, that the field is the third one in the list of field names. Then it picks the third item in the first line of data and puts it in the “blank” in the newly created document. It continues like this, filling in all the fields. When it gets to the end, it creates another new letter, goes to the next line in your data document, and repeats the procedure until it runs out of data.

Here’s how you do it. First, make sure your host document is open and in the foreground. Then choose Merge… from the File menu. You’ll see the dialog box in Figure 7.11. Don’t worry about most of those options; we’ll come back to them in Chapter 14. All you have to do right now is click Printer to send your merged documents directly to the printer or New Document to make them into one big file that you can edit (if you wish) and print later. A dialog box will appear asking you to locate the data file. Navigate to the file and click Open. That’s it! Nisus Writer will take over from there. Not bad, eh? Figure 7.12 shows what the first merged document based on our sample files would look like.

Figure 7.11. The Merge dialog box.

Figure 7.12.A sample document after merging.

Of course, you can get much fancier. You can choose to include or exclude certain information based on the content of some field; you can have Nisus Writer prompt you for a personalized message as it creates each letter; or you can have it skip certain records under the right conditions; and so on. Chapter 14 covers all these frills in detail. But the basic idea is still the same: host document, data document, merge.

210 Summary

By now, you should be able to create basic documents, format them, and get them onto paper. In other words, we’ve just about finished the tedious stuff and are about to move on to the fun things. Our “fundamentals” trip has one more stop—Chapter 8, in which we talk about managing all these files you’ve created and mailing them using PowerTalk.

Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1999 by Joe Kissell

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