Page layout with what??

“We need to lay out some brochures,” confessed a friend recently, “and – no offense meant – we don’t want to pay someone like you. What’s your software recommendation?”

After cussing out my friend, I started thinking. What would I do if I didn’t want to invest in a graphic design firm, or learn to use a fancy page layout tool like Adobe InDesign (or pay the monthly subscription price to use the software)? The answer is something that is already known by academic conferences everywhere, and that answer is PowerPoint.

Although PowerPoint is designed for slides, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t use it to lay out a regular page. Just change the size of your slide (instructions here) and have at it. 

The one word of caution is: If you’re going to be creating files for commercial printing, make sure your method of converting the files to PDF works. You may need to go back and forth with the printer a couple of times, especially if you have graphics files that need to be printed in high resolution. It’s better to do this pre-flighting as early in the process as possible.