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Software to design and print planner layouts



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Hey all, I'm hoping the more computer-oriented here can help me with a computer-assisted DIY need: I want to figure out how I can design my own planner layouts and arrange them in the right order (pagination?) so that when I print them out, I can assemble them into a single-signature booklet with the pages in the right order. Basically, I want to make my own Midori TN-style planner insert, from scratch. 

 

I've got the booklet-making part down. I'm already making most of my inserts myself, the ones that have just lines or dots or sketching paper. I can make one in like 15', so I've kinda become spoiled by the convenience of not having to anticipate when I'm going to be running out of space on my current one to go out and buy a refill (or worse, re-order online & hope it arrives in time). The only insert I can't make yet but also can't replace with something I can is the planner, unless I draw it all out bullet-journaling style, and for a variety of reasons that's just not practical. 

 

So I need some sort of an application that would let me 1) design the layout (quickly draw straight lines, boxes, etc and repeat them as needed, input things like dates and days of the weeks, that kind of thing) and 2) arrange them in the right order so that when I print, it's not all out of order with eg march following September or whatever.

 

Ideally, it would also have a built-in allowance for cutting - there's actually a technical term for this, I just can't find it right now, but basically it's a little extra space at the edges of some of the pages that are going to get bound into a booklet that accounts for the way that, to make a signatures edges all equal, you trim them after binding - the allowance is there to ensure you don't wind up cutting off content on any of the pages that come out shorter (seems really nit-picky described like this, I know, and this doesn't matter when you're just printing off dots or a grid for writing paper, but for a planner layout it could matter). 

 

I'm definitely not opposed to paying for software, but I would rather not spend more than $100, absolute maximum (staying under $50 suits my budget better, but I can stretch it up to 100ish if you really think it's perfect for my needs). I'd also rather stay away from any software/application that's a little too indie/artisanal :P because it'd be a bummer to go through the hassle of learning the ins and outs of it only to find it's no longer available or not being updated in some critical way because it was just a side project for some programmer to stay busy during the lockdowns or something lol. 

 

I appreciate all ideas though. I often find in these situations that the best solution ends up coming out of some more lateral sorts of paths 🙂 

 

 

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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you guys, did I misfile this? Maybe it should be in diy/repairs or even in Chatter??

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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17 hours ago, Plume145 said:

I want to figure out how I can design my own planner layouts and arrange them in the right order (pagination?) so that when I print them out, I can assemble them into a single-signature booklet with the pages in the right order.

Have not yet read the rest, will adjust my reply after doing so, if needed.  The easiest program I know for doing this is Microsoft Publisher (though the most recent version I've used in 2013 (I think) and in my experience, products like this are made worse with age, not better).

 

Off to read the rest now...

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17 hours ago, Plume145 said:

Ideally, it would also have a built-in allowance for cutting - there's actually a technical term for this, I just can't find it right now, but basically it's a little extra space at the edges of some of the pages that are going to get bound into a booklet that accounts for the way that, to make a signatures edges all equal, you trim them after binding

While Publisher will print crop marks, and you can control the margins (and have different margins for odd and even pages), I don't think it can anticipate how much would be chopped after binding like you describe.  But if you can anticipate that, it's easy enough to do page-specific margins (as I recall, you can do all, odd/even, and you can just make each page unique.

 

Also, Adobe Acrobat has good booklet-printing options, so you could try just printing to Acrobat and then using it to send to the printer...

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1 hour ago, LizEF said:

Have not yet read the rest, will adjust my reply after doing so, if needed.  The easiest program I know for doing this is Microsoft Publisher (though the most recent version I've used in 2013 (I think) and in my experience, products like this are made worse with age, not better).

 

Off to read the rest now...

Yeah, it's kind of long, I know, I was just hoping to save people time by giving extra detail up front instead of piecemeal in various replies to suggestions later on!

 

AFAIK Publisher has an equivalent in Pages for Mac, right? If so, do you know if Pages can be used the same way? I already have Pages (the latest version), and have even used it to design simple leaflets for community events etc, so if it's capable of doing that sort of work it would actually give me a familiar place to start. 

1 hour ago, LizEF said:

While Publisher will print crop marks, and you can control the margins (and have different margins for odd and even pages), I don't think it can anticipate how much would be chopped after binding like you describe.  But if you can anticipate that, it's easy enough to do page-specific margins (as I recall, you can do all, odd/even, and you can just make each page unique.

 

Also, Adobe Acrobat has good booklet-printing options, so you could try just printing to Acrobat and then using it to send to the printer...

Good to know about Crop marks. That's part of what I need. Unfortunately, I wouldn't know how to do this manually like you describe - I *think* it's something the software calculates on its own, BUT I could be completely wrong. This feature is something I saw mentioned and explained on an Etsy listing for a printable planner, but it was several months ago and although I tried, I've been unable to locate the listing again. I'm still looking, but I decide to post the thread in case it was something obvious to people more knowledgeable than I and someone went like 'oh you mean___? yeah you do that with ____program' :P 

 

I don't understand about Acrobat...? Did you mean 'exporting' to Acrobat where you said 'you could try printing to Acrobat'?

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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1 hour ago, Plume145 said:

Publisher has an equivalent in Pages for Mac, right?

I have no idea.  Haven't used an Apple computer since 1987(ish).

 

1 hour ago, Plume145 said:

Good to know about Crop marks. That's part of what I need. Unfortunately, I wouldn't know how to do this manually like you describe - I *think* it's something the software calculates on its own, BUT I could be completely wrong.

Yes, it does it on its own - you just tell it to, and it does it based on the page size and similar settings.  Really, Publisher is (or at least was, as I said, I haven't tried the latest version) extremely fast and easy to learn.  You tell it paper size, margin size, paper orientation, put in guidelines if you wish to help you position things (these are just lines you see in design, not printed), and then put boxes where you want them - you have complete control.  And, of course, it has calendar wizards that will get you the basic calendar which you can then customize (either via choices or completely manually).

 

1 hour ago, Plume145 said:

I don't understand about Acrobat...? Did you mean 'exporting' to Acrobat where you said 'you could try printing to Acrobat'?

A PDF file is made by "printing" to a PDF printer (a virtual printer that generates a file rather than a physical printer).  It's done exactly the same as printing to a printer in that the application formats everything to a page size and printer capabilities.  Yes, some programs have it built in as an "export" option.  Reality is that it prints to a file, but that's a technicality that won't likely make any difference to the average computer user.

 

Anywho, it's the same end result - a PDF file.  You open the PDF file and choose the Print option and in the resulting dialog, there are options for printing so that the end result can be folded into a booklet.

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2 hours ago, LizEF said:

I have no idea.  Haven't used an Apple computer since 1987(ish).

ooh, bad news: I was convinced, but when I went to get it, it looks like Publisher isn't available for Mac. I probably should have said I'm on Mac, but I didn't think it mattered anymore - I figured most things come with a Mac version these days. 

2 hours ago, LizEF said:

Yes, it does it on its own - you just tell it to, and it does it based on the page size and similar settings.  Really, Publisher is (or at least was, as I said, I haven't tried the latest version) extremely fast and easy to learn.  You tell it paper size, margin size, paper orientation, put in guidelines if you wish to help you position things (these are just lines you see in design, not printed), and then put boxes where you want them - you have complete control.  And, of course, it has calendar wizards that will get you the basic calendar which you can then customize (either via choices or completely manually)

I didn't mean the crop marks - I meant the allowances for page trimming. God I wish I could find that listing that had the technical term, but I still haven't. 

2 hours ago, LizEF said:

A PDF file is made by "printing" to a PDF printer (a virtual printer that generates a file rather than a physical printer).  It's done exactly the same as printing to a printer in that the application formats everything to a page size and printer capabilities.  Yes, some programs have it built in as an "export" option.  Reality is that it prints to a file, but that's a technicality that won't likely make any difference to the average computer user.

 

Anywho, it's the same end result - a PDF file.  You open the PDF file and choose the Print option and in the resulting dialog, there are options for printing so that the end result can be folded into a booklet.

aah, I see! Thanks. I didn't know this use of 'printing'. That actually makes a lot of sense. 

 

So, if I understand this right, Acrobat would be used to finish the product, but not design from scratch - right? In that case, I think I'd probably need to keep looking a little before springing for it, because Acrobat would gobble up over half my ideal budget ($50), which doesn't leave a whole lot for the application that would do the bulk of the work unless I expand to my absolute-maximum budget ($100). 

 

 

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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2 minutes ago, Reconnaissanceman said:

franklin Covey had a software template for this at one time. 

I had a look on their website but I couldn't find it - couldn't find anything related to planners actually! I only know of this company from this forum. Didn't they do mostly Filofax-like organizers with rings?

 

But yeah, there have been a few software templates like that for specific brands! That's partly what put the idea into my head, I was thinking it would be great to have one that is universal and more versatile. For example I think moleskin used to have something like that.

 

Then there's this company (Agendio) I discovered while researching this, and it's pretty much what I'd want except it only works with ring bound notebooks (ie, prints one sheet at a time, recto-verso). Plus they print it themselves, you can't print at home. (but still, if you'd like to design your own planner but don't need it to be in a centre-bound booklet, check it out!)

 

 

 

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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1 hour ago, Plume145 said:

So, if I understand this right, Acrobat would be used to finish the product, but not design from scratch - right?

Yes.  You could design it in, say, a word processor (or any other app), then print to PDF, then have that print it out in the correct sequence (multiple document pages on one physical page, in the right order, printed on both sides).  It would not do the page trimming - I'm reasonably certain that can only be done (if it can be done at all) by a very professional publishing application - either very expensive, or, if there's a developer group with a passion, free, but hard to find.

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Mech-for-i

I would either use Inkscape or some vector graphic editor if the purpose is to do a hard printout. The point to consider is to design a layout that's format neutral ( I mean page size ) , and final design can be exported as PDF or whatever format desired. You can also try Vectr before committing to a vector graphic vs form design vs freehand raster since the app is web based

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Karmachanic
2 hours ago, LizEF said:

Wow, that looks like quite a find, and ridiculously cheap.  Never used it or heard of it, but from the looks of things, it's just the tool!

 

It'll do most of what InDesign does.

 

The full suite includes Photo - similar to Photo Shop, and Designer - similar to Illustrator. The three programs "talk" to each other, as does the Adobe suite.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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18 hours ago, LizEF said:

Yes.  You could design it in, say, a word processor (or any other app), then print to PDF, then have that print it out in the correct sequence (multiple document pages on one physical page, in the right order, printed on both sides).  It would not do the page trimming - I'm reasonably certain that can only be done (if it can be done at all) by a very professional publishing application - either very expensive, or, if there's a developer group with a passion, free, but hard to find.

Okay, that makes a lot of sense! I actually did suspect I might need two separate things, one to design the pages individually and one to arrange them on sheets for printing out. 

 

I would still love to find out how I can do the page trimming allowance thing - even if it turned out to be prohibitively expensive. 

9 hours ago, Mech-for-i said:

I would either use Inkscape or some vector graphic editor if the purpose is to do a hard printout. The point to consider is to design a layout that's format neutral ( I mean page size ) , and final design can be exported as PDF or whatever format desired. You can also try Vectr before committing to a vector graphic vs form design vs freehand raster since the app is web based

Absolutely, yes, the hard printout IS the goal. Basically I want the versatility and convenience of designing my own paper planner, to my own specs, and printing it out on my little home printer, because while there are a lot of planners out there, I haven't yet found one that ticks more than ~80% of my boxes. Because over the last couple of years I've done a lot of DIYing, which helps me get something that's just exactly how I'd like, I've become spoiled so that 70% isn't good enough anymore!. 

 

I like the idea of the free web-based app Vector for a toe-dipping, feet-wetting solution. I wouldn't want to stick with it in case it ends up going away at some point (Inkscape seems steadier by comparison, see: what I said above about indie/artisanal) but it might be just the ticket for getting started. 

 

I admit though, I basically don't even understand the parts I've bolded in the quote! Wondering if I'm getting in way over my head, haha. I'm pretty confident on DIY things, but I've done very little computer-based making other than some (very, very) basic photo editing and writing (a fair amount of that, but JUST writing). 

 

13 hours ago, Karmachanic said:

 

7 hours ago, LizEF said:

Wow, that looks like quite a find, and ridiculously cheap.  Never used it or heard of it, but from the looks of things, it's just the tool!

 

5 hours ago, Karmachanic said:

 

It'll do most of what InDesign does.

 

The full suite includes Photo - similar to Photo Shop, and Designer - similar to Illustrator. The three programs "talk" to each other, as does the Adobe suite.

Wow, I really don't know much about these things, but this does look amazing!! And it's really, unfailingly cheap at just shy of 28 euros. Thanks! This is the solution that seems closest to what I need. I don't need the whole suite to make planners, though, right? Just publisher?

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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32 minutes ago, Plume145 said:

I would still love to find out how I can do the page trimming allowance thing

I think this is exceptionally difficult and the sort of thing that would jack the price sky high - though I could be wrong.  Just off the top of my head, how in the world would one calculate this?  The software would have to know how many sheets will be in a signature, the size (A4, A5...) of the sheets, how many times each sheet will be folded (and how1), the thickness of the paper (most paper won't tell you this, and I'm not even sure the weight is necessarily the only factor in thickness - couldn't density and material also impact weight so that two papers with the same weight have different thicknesses?), and whatever else I'm not thinking of in order to say how far out the center sheet will jut, and then the next sheet from that, etc.  And then adjust the margin which will be on the outside accordingly, by sheet, not page...  It's staggering just to think about (as a former programmer - but with no experience in this).

 

Obviously, it's been done or the hardback novel I just examined wouldn't have consistent margins on the outside of the pages.  It just seems like it must be something pretty high-end...

 

1I worked at a bindery one summer before college, and they print on huge sheets folded multiple times in the proper sequence, and then after the binding is complete, cut the three non-bound edges.  (The machine used to do that cut on stacks of completed books was impressive and belongs in a murder mystery somewhere as the way the killer chopped the body into bits...)

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6 minutes ago, Karmachanic said:

 

The Publisher application will be sufficient. These'll come in handy:

https://affinityspotlight.com/article/learn-how-to-use-affinity-publisher-fast/

Oh, that was just what I was about to look up now! To see what all there is in the way of tutorials etc. 

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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Just now, LizEF said:

how far out the center sheet will jut, and then the next sheet from that, etc.

But if you're going to use the same paper over and over for this, it seems like you could easily figure this out by simply doing it once on sacrificial sheets of paper and then measuring how much each sheet juts, numbering the pages and on each, identifying the margin that would need adjusting and then just doing it manually on the page design.  Since you'll be doing the same thing over and over, just changing the calendars, it doesn't seem hard to do this manually, once.  You just need a good ruler or calipers.

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1 minute ago, LizEF said:

I think this is exceptionally difficult and the sort of thing that would jack the price sky high - though I could be wrong.  Just off the top of my head, how in the world would one calculate this?  The software would have to know how many sheets will be in a signature, the size (A4, A5...) of the sheets, how many times each sheet will be folded (and how1), the thickness of the paper (most paper won't tell you this, and I'm not even sure the weight is necessarily the only factor in thickness - couldn't density and material also impact weight so that two papers with the same weight have different thicknesses?), and whatever else I'm not thinking of in order to say how far out the center sheet will jut, and then the next sheet from that, etc.  And then adjust the margin which will be on the outside accordingly, by sheet, not page...  It's staggering just to think about (as a former programmer - but with no experience in this).

 

Obviously, it's been done or the hardback novel I just examined wouldn't have consistent margins on the outside of the pages.  It just seems like it must be something pretty high-end...

 

1I worked at a bindery one summer before college, and they print on huge sheets folded multiple times in the proper sequence, and then after the binding is complete, cut the three non-bound edges.  (The machine used to do that cut on stacks of completed books was impressive and belongs in a murder mystery somewhere as the way the killer chopped the body into bits...)

That's a good point, and it could well be that the person who created the printable I saw on Etsy that mentioned this in the description IS, in fact, using a high-end piece of software like that. I think the pool of people selling printables on Etsy includes all kinds of skill levels. But I wonder if there's a program out there that does a sort of 'close enough is good enough' version of this,  calculating it using a formula based on stuff you feed in manually. After all, I CAN manually supply much of the info you listed, like the size, number of sheets in a signature, approximate weight, etc. Like, for a sort of intermediate-level user?

I'm not affiliated with ANY of the brands/retailers/shops/ebay sellers/whatever I mention or recommend. If that ever changes, I will let you know :)

 

Looking for a cheap Pilot VP/Capless - willing to put up with lots of cosmetic damage.

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