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Microsoft Publisher Help: How to Create a Great Page Layout!

Updated on June 8, 2012

Need to create a newsletter, booklet, invitation, sign-up sheet, form, or flier? Microsoft Publisher has the tools you need to get the job done.

Microsoft Publisher is a great software system for design and layout. Because it’s relatively inexpensive, several businesses and organizations utilize it. Many professionals, however, are unaware of the tips and tricks to create professional pieces.

Do you use Microsoft Publisher? Does putting together a newsletter or any layout design take hours, give you headaches, and you’re still unhappy with your work? This hub is dedicated to helping you get the most out of Microsoft Publisher! No longer will you feel lost with Publisher’s tools. Soon, everyone in the office will marvel at your skills and ask you for Publisher advice!

Getting Started:

Knowing how to start your Publisher project is the first step toward creating a quality piece. What type of project are your creating? What size? Is it landscape or portrait? How wide do you want the margins? How many pages does it need to be?

One of my pet peeves at work is making changes to a project that has been created in Publisher by someone else, someone who does not know how to begin the project correctly. I’ve been amazed at how many professional employees do not even use the margin tool.

Before you get started on your project, let’s go over some of the basic tools.

Page Setup

Basic Tools:

Page Setup – For this hub, we’ll use a simple newsletter as an example. This newsletter is one that I am creating to thank the generous supporters of our Internship Program. Not only do I want to thank the supporters, I also want to share with them the exciting things that their donations have enabled our interns to do.

I will begin with a new page. Personally, I do not like to use the templates that Publisher has available. They are good tools for someone who doesn’t have any training at all. For me, however, I prefer the control that a blank page can bring.

The default page setup is 8½ x 11 portrait. For my newsletter, this is exactly what I want. For other projects, I may want to choose landscape. But for this piece, I’ll keep the setting as is. (You can find the page set up under file/Page setup.)

Layout Guides

Margins are found under "Arrange/Layout Guides". For my newsletter project, I will set my margins at .25
Margins are found under "Arrange/Layout Guides". For my newsletter project, I will set my margins at .25

Margins – This is one tool that many people fail to use. The default margins are set at one inch. If you want one inch margins, that’s fine. Most people, however, simply ignore the margins and place their work beyond them. This doesn’t work. What may look centered on the page on your monitor, can look odd in print. The only reason you would ignore or delete your margins is if you are sending your project to a professional printer who can give you a full bleed (printing to the edge). If you put your graphics all the way to the edge of the paper, your printer will create its own margin, and they will not be even.

Grid Guides

For newsletters, I like to use the columns as a guideline for the layout. I will change the settings to 5 columns.I'll also change the spacing to .1.
For newsletters, I like to use the columns as a guideline for the layout. I will change the settings to 5 columns.I'll also change the spacing to .1.

Insert Image

I'm only putting the photos where I think I want them. I may have to adjust their location once I place my text.
I'm only putting the photos where I think I want them. I may have to adjust their location once I place my text.

Columns and Rows – This is also found in the "Arrange/Layout Guides” dialogue box. By clicking on the “Grid Guides” tab, you can set the number of columns and rows as well as the gutter width between them. This is very helpful when creating dividers

Now I have my page set up and ready to start!

The first thing I want to do is insert my graphics. I already have a masthead that I want to use for this project. I’ve also located some photos that I want to include. Now’s when the real fun begins!

Images – Don’t be intimidated by using images in your projects. Publisher has several tools to help with image usage. I’ll write another hub dedicated to the image tools. For this project, I won’t do anything fancy.

By clicking on the Image tab and selecting “from file” I can browse through my computer to choose the graphic that I need. Once I find the graphic, I click on the insert button. This will automatically place the graphic in the center of the page.

Using the margins as my guide, I will place my masthead at the top and re-size it to fit. I can do this by dragging on one of the corner points. Do not ever stretch or shrink your graphic by using a point that is not on a corner. This will cause your graphic to lose its proper proportion and look odd. (Also, do not hold down the shift key when resizing your image.)

I also know that I want to add in a couple of photos. This will help personalize my newsletter. I’m not sure where I’m going to put them yet, but for the time being, I’ll go ahead and insert them by repeating the steps above. I can use the column guides to help me determine the size for the pictures. I want each picture the width of two columns.

Text boxes - A big part of my project is the text! Personally, I prefer to write my text in Microsoft Word and then insert it onto the page. You can, however, write directly in a blank text box in Publisher. Word, however, checks grammar along with spelling. I need all the help I can get!

The text for my project is already written. I’m going to create some blank text boxes and lay them out using my margins and columns. The first text box is going to go alongside the first column on the left. This one I will fill in with a light color. I’ll use this text box for information about the interns.

Now that I have four columns still available on my page, I will create more text boxes to stretch across them. I’ll start with two stretching across two columns each. I may need to add more later.

Once I have my text boxes where I think they will go, I can format them. It’s easier to do this in the beginning. With my text tool, I will select the font, size, color, and line spacing on my text. I can always change it later. I prefer to use Gill Sans MT font. A dark gray color looks better and more professional than black.

Line spacing is where you can really set your work apart, especially when you have a text intensive piece such as a newsletter. For this project, I will set the line spacing with 8pts before each paragraph.

Tips & Tricks

Soft Return - Don't leave a word hanging! Wherever you see a word that is broken up by a hyphen, place you cursor in front of it, hold down the shift key, and click enter. This will force the word to the next line and keep it in the same paragraph setting. 

Control-Shift-O - Take a look at your work without your guidelines! You can do this by going to the print preview, but there’s a quicker way. Hold down control, shift, and the “o” keys. The guidelines quickly disappear and you can see your page more clearly. Hold them down again and they will reappear.

Inserting the text

Going to my document in Microsoft Word, I will select and copy what I need for the first text box. Then, going back to my Publisher document, I will click on the text box, select edit, and then “paste special”. This will open up a new dialogue box where I will select, “unformatted text”.

By using the paste special feature, the text from Word becomes formatted to my project specifications.

As I paste in all of my text, I can see if my text boxes need to become larger or smaller. Perhaps I need to adjust the line spacing or move the pictures around. At this point, I can just play around and see what works best. I need to make sure, however, that all of my text is displayed.

I can also add other elements such as lines or background colors for some of the text boxes. Once I have everything in place, it's all just a matter of design.

For this piece, I added one black text box under the masthead for the date and one at the bottom for the contact information. I also put a maroon box behind some gold text for one of the headings.

Now I have a finished newsletter!

How can you use the steps and tools that I described? Try them out in your next Publisher project!

If you use Microsoft Publisher a lot, bookmark this hub. I’m going to be adding more hubs for different project and more in depth instructions. Watch for hubs on images, working with text, postcards, invitations, booklets, and sign-up sheets and forms. If you have a particular project or idea that you need help with, let me know in the comment section below and I’ll try to help the best way I can.

If you found this hub helpful, be sure to vote it up!


Submit a Comment

  • watergeek profile image

    watergeek 5 years ago from Pasadena CA

    Good hub, Lisa - good enough that I linked to it in the product review I just wrote. :) Thanks for writing this. I loved using Publisher when I had a PC.

  • profile image

    glopot 5 years ago from Mauritius

    Thanks a lot lisabeaman, i got help from a friend here. but i appreciate your help. thank you. bye

  • lisabeaman profile image

    lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    glopot - yes, go ahead and send me the menu. I'll be glad to help! You can contact me on my profile page.

  • profile image

    glopot 5 years ago from Mauritius

    That's totally awesome help lisabeaman. I am helping my husband to set up a menu, but i do not kw much about publisher. i already have a menu format. i need to get the price on the same line as the food and of course aligned all price. my problem is that i could take a course but i have no time. YOur respond here answer to one of my problems but hav more..:) How can i send you this menu on the hub or by email? you can understand exactly what i mean. thank you very much in advance.

  • lisabeaman profile image

    lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    glopot - thanks for the comment! You can align text for a menu with pricing by using the tab function. If you want your menu items to the left and then a dotted line going to the price on the right, you can set that up in the tab menu.

    When you are in your text box, click on the ruler at the top where you want your price to go. That sets a tab. Double click on that tab and a new menu box appears. Select "right" in the alignment. And if you want a line or a dash or dot, select that under "leader". Click "set" and then "ok".

    I hope that helps!

  • profile image

    glopot 5 years ago from Mauritius

    hi,thank you that's really helpful

    please i need help with a menu aligning text and price etc.

  • Seeker7 profile image

    Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi. What a fantastic hub. This has made Publisher so much easier. Many thanks for sharing.

  • lisabeaman profile image

    lisabeaman 7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Thanks K9 and Killer Ideas! I appreciate the comments!

  • KillerIdeas profile image

    KillerIdeas 7 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

    Thanks for a great Hub on this topic.


  • K9keystrokes profile image

    India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

    Very well presented hub.