How to Create Signs in Open Office

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Desktop publishing is within reach of even the most timid computer user thanks to cloud computing and open source solutions like Open Office. Impress is the free Open Office alternative to Microsoft's PowerPoint. With it, you can make slide shows, graphic presentations or even signs and banners with easily downloadable backgrounds to add a little zest to your design. The user interface is straight forward and the suite comes with extensive tutorials to help you along.

Things You'll Need

  • Open Office Productivity Suite
  • Adobe Illustrator (optional)
  • Open the Impress function of your Open Office Suite. There is usually just one desktop shortcut for the wordprocessing, presentation and spreadsheet functions of Open Office. Double click the Open Office shortcut. Choose "Impress" when prompted.

  • Choose an empty presentation and check for pre-loaded backgrounds that came with your software. There is a pretty good selection of colors and patterns, borders and backgrounds. If you just can't find something you like, search for downloadable backgrounds made by other users. There are thousands upon thousands of them available. Choose "Paper" as the output destination rather than "Slide" or "Screen."

  • Use the layout templates on the right to help you design the look of your text. There are one column, two column and three column options, or wide open fields. It's up to you.

  • Enter your text in the text boxes then dress up your sign with pictures, tables or charts by using the "Insert" menu along the top edge of the program to insert these items.

  • Print your new sign. If you have a printer capable of printing on card-stock, use cardstock.

Tips & Warnings

  • For large format printing, or to turn your sign into a banner, save the presentation as a .pdf. If you have Adobe Illustrator, you can use it to open the .pdf and export it as a vector file, such as a .waf. Your printer will need a vector file, rather than a raster file like a .pdf, .jpg or .bmp. If you don't have Illustrator, take your .pdf to the printer and they can convert it for you for a fee.
  • Raster to vector conversion utilities are available, but they are usually pro-level, and as a consequence, very expensive. There are some shareware versions for about $100 if you intend to make a lot of different signs.

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