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How I Create My Printables

I’ve had a LOT of questions lately about creating printables and figured it would be easiest to do a ‘blanket’ post that addresses several of the questions that are being asked ~ and who knows, maybe you had some of the same questions!

What program do you use to create your printables?

I work primarily with Microsoft Office 2010 Professional products and my favorite overall is Microsoft Publisher. Before you go into sticker shock over the price of Office 2010 Professional, I’ll let you in on a little secret…if you are homeschooling, you can purchase the teacher/student edition of the software for a LOT cheaper! You do have to jump through a few hoops, but I think that I paid under $200 for the set.

Microsoft Publisher is by far one of my favorite programs to work with ~ much easier to use than Microsoft Word. I can move things around a lot easier and they generally have some good clip art too.

Another program that I use a lot is Adobe Photoshop Elements ~ not as much as Publisher, but sometimes there are few things that I like to do in that program to edit files.

Where do you get your clip art?

Microsoft has a good store of clip art available in the program, so it is the first place I look, since it is free for me to use and also ok to use for copyright. I am VERY careful about the clip art that I use ~ I don’t pick random images off internet searches and do my best to make sure that an image is copyright free before using it.

One site that I’ve found recently and used a lot is Fotolia.com. They have some great clip art {like what I used in my Pirate Preschool Pack} and it only runs me a few dollars for the clip art that I purchase. In the Gingerbread Baby Preschool Pack, I used clip art that I purchased from Stockberry Studios. In the past, I’ve also had a subscription to Clipart.com, but that can get a little pricey too. I will admit that I’m a sucker for good graphics though!

Once I have the clip art, I use my programs like Adobe Photoshop Elements or Microsoft Publisher to manipulate the images by changing colors, creating shadow images, etc… Truthfully, that part can take the longest for me, because I like to get things ‘just so’.

Where do you get your fonts?

Generally, anyplace that’s free! There are a few fonts that I have that I did purchase in a set from Downhill Publishing ~ Fonts 4 Teachers. That is the more ‘teacher/print’ font that you see on a lot of my printables lately.

Other than that set, the rest of the fun fonts I find are all free online. I find them just doing general browsing on sites like 1001 Free Fonts.

What is that font you use to make your calendar printables?

The name of the font is Love Ya Like a Sister {and I love it!}.

Can you tell me how to make a printable?

As much as I’d love too, I’m really not sure how I can show you unless I were with you in person. Much would depend on what programs you are working with on your computer and it isn’t something I can really show you a step-by-step process on how to do. I’m sorry!

What type of a printer do you use?

I am frequently asked this question for ink usage, etc. We have an HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 series. Find out a few of my printing tips for saving money in this post.

I also try to laminate printables that I know we can re-use. I am very much in love with my laminator. :)

Hopefully that will help answer a few questions for you all!

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You Asked! 4: Software and Clip Art

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about what I use to create my documents and printables and graphics….and where I get my clip art.

For most of the printables that I create, I use Microsoft Publisher and then convert the files to pdfs so that you all can download them. Publisher has been a program that I’ve had for years and is part of the Microsoft Office Professional software pack. Many of the pieces of clip art that I use are from the Microsoft clip art collection {you can also access the images online}. Two other sites that I like to browse and use are clipart.com and fotolia.com. Both of those sites require either a membership or that you purchase download credits.

When I make headers, buttons, etc… for blog designs and such, I use Photoshop Elements 8. I actually picked up our software at Costco when they had a coupon for it and have LOVED it! It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the full Photoshop has, but it also has a better price tag for me…especially since I’m just fiddling around. :) I’m still learning about much in the program, but it allows me much more freedom in creating graphics.

Hopefully that answers a few questions for you all! If you have other questions, leave a comment and let me know and I can hopefully answer it in a future post…or point you in the right direction.

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You Asked!: Scribd, Creating Thumbnails, & Clip Art

Quite a few of you have emailed me or commented asking different questions and since they are piling up in my ‘blog questions’ folder, it’s time to answer a few of the questions!

Q: If you don’t mind my asking, I was wondering where you get your photographic clipart for your printables (the consonant cards, color cards, etc.) I have a subscription to clipart.com, but was wondering if there was another source for good clipart?

A: Microsoft, baby.

For most of the documents that I create, I use Microsoft Publisher and then convert it into a pdf file {don’t worry, I’ll explain that in a bit}. I am ever-so-cautious about the graphics I use because of copyright issues. The clip art that is included in the printables will come from copyright free sources {or ones that give permission to use them}.

I do numerous searches in Microsoft {both the program and online} to find the right ‘photo’ or piece of clip art. Sometimes I will edit the graphic {crop, etc…} to make it work, but otherwise, it all comes from Microsoft. The only exception I can think of right off hand were the preschool number cards that used graphics from the public domain site Disney Clip Art.

Personally, I am a little skeptical about doing Google searches, because I just don’t know where the graphics originated. While I might make something for my own personal use, I am careful with what I share so that I don’t infringe on other’s copyrights.

To convert my documents into pdf’s I use a program called CutePDF Writer – it’s free and ever-so-handy!

Q: How do you make the tilted thumbnails of your scribd documents?

A: I use two different things to create my thumbnails ~ screenshots and Picasa. I usually pick a page or two from the document that ‘jump’ out at me the most and use the ‘print screen’ feature on my keyboard to capture a jpeg image of each document page. If your computer has that feature it’s usually located up in the top right of your keyboard. :)

Once I have the jpeg image saved, I use the program Picasa {a free download from Google} to do quick edits and create those thumbnail images that have text on them. Picasa makes it super-easy to add a border around a picture, add text to an image, create collages and even touch up colors and lighting on pictures.

Another great feature of Picasa is that you can rotate, tilt and mix images together when you create your collages. So when you see two of the pages in my thumbnail, I’ve just created a different collage. I LOVE it!!

When I’m done editing and cropping the picture I upload it, copy/paste the code and then link it to Picasa {and I’m aware that some of you are just hearing ‘blah, blah, blah, blah…’ ~ but I promise it’s a great program!!}.

Q: I just signed up with Scribd (cause I saw that was how you do it) and it uploaded fine. I just can’t figure out how to get that uploaded to my blog.

A: Hopefully this screenshot will help you out some. Toward the top of the page {the top red arrow on this graphic points to it} you will see a tab that says ‘Share & Embed’. Click on that tab.

Underneath the blue bar where it says ‘Embed’ you will copy that code and enter it into your blog post while you are in the ‘edit html’ part of writing your blog post.

Hope that helps some of you all out some! Let me know if you have any other questions!


You Asked! ::2::

I answered a few of your questions a few weeks ago and after that had another round of questions that were asked about various things. If your email address is linked to your comment, I do try to reply to you ~ but sometimes the questions are asked by several people so I’ll occasionally answer questions in post form too so everyone can see the answers.

Today’s questions are focusing on blogging tips ~ just a few though. Quite a few of you asked about making your own blog buttons and I’ll have to go through that step-by-step another time {or point you in the direction of another great post about it!}.

Q: How do you change your blog layout or template without messing everything up? I hate using the standard blogger template but I am afraid to mess something up and lose all my work!

A: I have a ‘test blog’ – it’s hidden so nobody can see the mess that it is. My test blog was created so I could freely play around with the html or template and not worry about wreaking blog havoc. On my test blog, I try out new buttons, headers, or layouts BEFORE I actually make the switch on either of my blogs ~ and it has saved me from a lot of trouble. :) Since you can create free blogs with Blogger – it wasn’t a big deal to create it. Once I know it is safe, I can easily cut/paste the html and update my actual blog without worry.

And always be sure to back up your template before making any changes. Always. I have a Word document saved in my files with the current html for both of my blogs. Just in case. And we won’t even talk about the fact that I messed up my blog because I didn’t follow my own instructions once. Nope, we won’t.

Q: How do I add those “you might like…” boxes?

A: This is so very easy. Visit the Link Within website and they will literally walk you through the process. You enter your email, blog address, and what blogging platform you use and click “get widget”.

You can either use the code they provide and add your own widget following their directions, or you can let them do it for you. It’s that easy!

Q: How did you get your blog to three columns?

A: Really, the answer isn’t something you are going to like. How I did it ~ and how I’ll recommend you do it are two completely different things. I have a bad habit of fiddling with my html. Very bad. Especially since I just play and learn and to stop and tell you what I did or how I did it….I’m not always entirely sure.

Here are a few places I would recommend that you check for free templates of 3 column blog templates:

There are a few places to get you going – but you will have to install the code yourself. :) Have fun looking!


You Asked! ::1::

I try really hard to answer any questions that you all have when you either email me or leave a comment. I’ll mention again that it’s SO much easier for me to respond if your email address is ‘shown’ only to me. It’s quick and simple in blogger to enable it {I promise!!}.

I’ve been saving some of the questions you all have had because it would be helpful to reply via a post so others {who might have the same question} can see the answer too. I’m going to try to answer a few of them every now and then for you all.

Today I’m focusing on the ones that related to printables I’ve made and Scribd.

Q: I was able to download all of the printables except one. It still takes me to Scribd, but instead of having a choice to “download”, like all of the others, this one does not – only allows me to print. I was wondering if you knew what the problem might be? Or perhaps you could send me a .pdf of the document??

A: Occasionally I have issues with Scribd and the ‘download’ option does not appear. Please let me know if this happens! I believe that I have fixed all the problems so far, but I really do want to know if you have problems with something I’ve posted. Several readers aren’t able to download things because of where they live, and I will happily send you the pdf via email if needed!

Q: Do you have any new cards coming? (LOL) – they are just SO great, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!!

A: Should I get my bum in gear, I have two different sets of cards coming up along with some workbox tags. For preschoolers I am working on words with four letters {similar to my 3 letter ones} and for geography I have some flag cards coming soon! Of course, I’m always open to suggestions!

Q: How do you upload and publish documents to Scribd so they are multi-page documents. I use Microsoft Publisher to make my documents. HELP!!??!!

A: I use Microsoft Publisher also to create my documents but convert them to pdf files before uploading them to Scribd. I found a great FREE pdf converter called Cute Pdf Writer and love it! It is super-quick and simple to convert any file – you choose the ‘pdf writer’ as your ‘printer’ and it saves it as a pdf within seconds! I am then able to upload the entire document to Scribd as multi-page documents instead of page by page.

Q: How do you get a picture {thumbnail} of your document in your sidebar? Do you do it through Scribd?

A: Scribd is bypassed on this one! I actually use the ‘print screen’ feature on my computer and make a small graphic of the page that I want to feature. I add text using Picasa and then upload the edited graphic to Photobucket. I can use the html from there to create a button that links to the document itself.

Hope that helps you all out! Keep the questions coming – I’ll do my best to answer!