If you aspire to be employed as a layout or desktop publishing staffer, Pagemaker (along with QuarkXpress) is a program you absolutely must gain proficiency with. Places that produce hardcopy publications will tend to use one package or the other.

As mentioned in previous writeups, Pagemaker is a complex program, but it seems a bit more intuitive than Quark. If you want to learn the program, download an evaluation copy at http://www.adobe.com/products/pagemaker/main.html and go through the tutorial included with the program and read the documentation. The current version is 7.0; if you are using a Mac and have an old copy of Adobe PageMill, beware of running the two programs at the same time, as you may get a system crash.

Below are directions for converting Pagemaker documents that should be useful to people who are creating content for web pages. I created these directions for Pagemaker 6.5, but they should be good for slightly earlier and for later versions.

Preparing HTML from Pagemaker

Pagemaker offers a function (under File:Export) that allows you to export your document as HTML. As with Microsoft Word, Pagemaker 6.5 generates very ugly HTML, and the time it takes to debug the code will exceed the time it takes to cut and paste the text into a text editor such as BBEdit or HomeSite and do the tags by hand.

However, the HTML export function is sometimes useful for quickly creating GIFs or JPEGs of graphics that have been imbedded in the Pagemaker file.

Often, you will find tables in your Pagemaker files that need to be turned into graphics for the web; the HTML export function will not do this.

However, on Macs there is an easy way to make graphics of Pagemaker-created tables.

First, center the table in the viewing window and increase your view size until the table's text and edges are clear. Then, capture an image of your computer screen by holding down Apple-Shift-3. You will hear a little camera click, and an image of your whole desktop will be copied into the top level of your hard drive as a PICT file. Open this file in Photoshop, crop it down and save it as a GIF or JPEG.

If you want to capture an image from Windows, use a screen capture program such as EasyCopy or PrintKey-Pro. Sometimes, if the table you are converting is very large, you will have to take several screen shots and stitch them together in Photoshop.

Creating PDFs From Pagemaker

Pagemaker offers an automatic function under File:Export for creating PDF files that can be read with Adobe Acrobat Reader. In contrast to the HTML export, this works pretty well, but is not without a few bugs.

First, open the Pagemaker document. It's possible your computer will be missing some of the fonts in the file. If so, a dialog will come up as the page is loading. Select similar fonts to replace the missing fonts. Make the substitutions temporary, then click OK.

Another dialog box will come up, this one asking what to do about links and Windows Metafile graphics. Click both "Translate" boxes and select "For printing and viewing" and then click OK.

Once the Pagemaker document is open, save it under a different name. Now you need to clean up the document to make sure it will cleanly convert to a PDF file. First of all, go through the document and replace all curved (or "smart") quotes with straight quotes because the curved quotes tend to turn into non-quote characters in some Acrobat browsers. You can turn off the curved quotes by going to File:Preferences:General, and then clicking on "More" and deselecting the "Use typographer's quotes" option.

Next, go through the document and check the graphics. Make sure that you've got copies of all the linked graphics in the same folder with your document, because if Pagemaker can't find the source images for the linked graphics when it tries to make the PDF, the process will fail. Remove all text and graphics that are on the pasteboard. You can get information on individual graphics by clicking once on the graphic with the pointer to select it and then selecting Element:Link Info from the top menu bar.

Then, save your document and go to File:Export:Adobe PDF to export the document. You will be presented with an "Export Adobe PDF" window.

Make sure all pages are selected. Click on "Distill Now," "Include Downloadable Fonts," and "Override Distiller's Options". Then click the Edit button. You will be presented with a new window.

In this window, make sure the compatibility is set to Acrobat 2.1 and that you've clicked on the "Embed all fonts" function if the document uses uncommon fonts. Then click OK, and click OK again. The document should successfully convert to a PDF.

If you get an error message, it is almost certainly due to a graphics problem. Either you've got an unlinked graphic, or a masked graphic, or a graphic hidden in the background that is messing things up. Go over the document again and try to unmask masked graphics and delete unnecessary graphics. Then, go through the export process again.

Once the document has been successfully distilled, you have the option of viewing it in Acrobat Exchange. In Exchange, you can do things like make minor text changes and add HTML hot links and internal indexes.