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Answers to Most-Asked Type Questions

Your Most Asked Questions

We've fielded hundreds of questions through the years, but some have surfaced again and again. Whether you're trying to add type in a circle, attach a rub-on, or dive into digital scrapbooking, here are answers to your 20 most common questions.

How do I use my own handwriting without messing up my page?

Writing on a completed page can be nerve-wracking, but there are many ways to ease your anxiety. First -- practice! The more comfortable you are with your handwriting, the more comfortable you'll be putting it on a page. Many scrapbook papers are designed to look like notebook paper or have lines in the pattern. Use these lines to keep your journaling straight. If that isn't an option, a disappearing-ink pen or a pencil can help. Use a ruler to draw lines that disappear or that you can erase once you've written your text. No matter how you choose to include it, handwritten journaling can personalize your album and create a connection between you and future generations.

How do I type in a circle?

It's a lot easier than you think to type text on a path. Most word-processing programs have click-by-click solutions for molding text along wavy lines or around shapes. Instructions vary by program, so follow the tutorial included with your software for how-to information.

1. In Microsoft Word, open a new document and select the Drawing toolbar from the View menu.

2. Click on the WordArt icon (blue slanted letter "A") and click OK to select the default text option. Type your text in the window, select your font and size, and click OK. Select the text with your mouse to bring up the WordArt toolbar.

3. Select the WordArt Shape icon from the toolbar and choose the full circle option. Adjust the size and shape by clicking and dragging on the edges.

How do I print white text?

It's all an illusion! You may think you need a special type of printer or ink, but you don't need anything special. For crisp, clean journaling, try white text placed on a dark background. Here's how:

1. Open a new Microsoft Word document and create a text box. Change the background color of the text box to the color you want.

2. Type your text inside the box in the default text color (usually black). It's easier to read black on screen, so proofread and spell check before changing the color.

3. Highlight the text with your cursor and change the color to white. Print the text box on photo paper, then trim to fit your page.

How do I reverse-print text for hand cutting?

The key to effective hand cutting is getting a backward print of the text you want to cut out. Follow our directions for using Microsoft Word, or adapt them to fit your word-processing program.

1. Choose the Drawing toolbar from the View menu. Click on the WordArt option (blue slanted letter "A").

2. Select the default style of WordArt (outline). Choose your font and type the title. Click OK. Adjust the size of your type by dragging the corners of the text box.

3. Select the Draw option (usually the first item in the Drawing toolbar), click Rotate or Flip, and then pick Flip Horizontal.

4. Make any final size adjustments and print. Print the text on the back of your paper or cardstock so it will be correct once you print.

How do I apply rub-ons?

Unlike stickers, rub-ons can be placed anywhere on your page with little to no outline or halo effect.

1. Draw a light pencil line on your cardstock so you can apply the rub-ons in a straight line.

2. From the sheet of rub-ons, cut out the first item with the backing still attached. It will be attached to a protective top sheet that you'll discard later.

3. Remove the backing and place the rub-on on the cardstock. Use an applicator to rub the letter with even, light pressure. Once it's stuck, remove the top protective sheet. Carefully erase your lines.

How do I line up text stamps?

If you're stamping text in a line, a clear polymer stamp and an acrylic mount make the task much easier. You'll be able to see through the image and place the stamp exactly where you want it.

1. Peel the clear stamp off its backing and place it on the acrylic mount. Ink the stamp.

2. Draw a light pencil line to use as a guide for your letters. Position the stamp along the line and evenly press down, being careful not to rock the image.

3. Once you've finished stamping all your letters, wait for the ink to dry (to avoid smearing), and then erase the pencil lines.

How can I attach see-through elements?

If you're working with vellum, attach the piece with an embellishment (a sewn-on button, a photo corner, stickers, or brads). It will hide the adhesive and will be a cute addition to your page.

You also can use products specifically meant for clear products, including transparent mounting squares, spray adhesive, and Xyron adhesive-machines.

How do I photograph a Camera Shy friend?

It's all about getting her comfortable, says photographer and 2004 Creative Team member Anita Matejka. Here are a few of her favorite tips.

1. Have a relative help lighten her up by engaging her in conversation, a joke, or some other distraction.

2. Talk to her while you're taking her picture. When things are quiet, people are more uncomfortable, and chatting will help lighten the mood.

3. Tell her that you're just adjusting the camera settings. She'll likely ignore you and usually start doing her own thing. You'll be able to snap pictures without her realizing it.

4. Try to be unobtrusive. Stand farther away from your friend and use a longer lens. Or try a different angle (not straight on) so she's not as apt to look directly at you.

5. Bring a whoopee cushion. Sounds silly, and it is!

6. Make her look her best. If your friend is uncomfortable with her body, use a "cover-up" technique. For instance, have her wrap her arms over her husband's shoulders from behind so more of him is showing.

How do I come up with a cool title for a page?

Titles are an important part of any design but are often the thing you leave for last. Here are thoughts from 2006 Creative Team member Lisa Storms.

Inspiration is everywhere -- you just have to be on the lookout. I dedicate a section of my idea notebook to jotting down title ideas so I always have a place to go when I'm at a loss for words. I find the most inspiration in magazine article titles, especially in sports and baby publications.

Songs are a good source, too. A quick Internet search for "greatest love songs," for instance, yields a list of possibilities.

Titles can be simple! In my layout, I used a single word. Have fun with the treatment by layering, adding a transparency (I typed "happiness" and "simplicity" in a circle-shape to sit on my "O"), or placing stickers or rub-ons.

How about using a pun ("Snow Business"), a quote ("I Have a Dream..."), a TV show name ("Friday Night Lights"), or a song title ("A Crazy Little Thing Called Love")? These are silly and fun.

How do I dive into digital scrapbooking?

Digital scrapbooking has never been easier! As long as you have a basic photo-editing program and are familiar with it, you're ready to begin.

Candi Gershon, a contributing editor, has a lot to say on this subject.

The easiest way to start is to use a digital kit. You'll be able to create a quick layout while you familiarize yourself with your photo-editing program. You can find tons of freebies online.

I'm a 12x12" scrapbooker, so I start out by opening a blank document that's 12x12" and 300 dpi. Then I add photos to my blank canvas -- simply open the photo file and drag the image into your work document -- and resize them as needed.

Next comes the fun part -- adding the "paper." Choose a pattern. Open the file and then drag that paper onto your canvas. Add embellishments using the same drag-and-drop process. Once you've placed all your pieces, play with the order of the layers (under the Layer menu, choose Arrange then Send to Back) to make sure your photos are visible and things are where you want them. Layers in a digital file are just like layers on your page. Each item you add to a layout should be its own layer.

Start slowly and experiment. Before you know it, you'll have the confidence you need to take it to the next level and try some of the more advanced techniques.

Photos With Clashing Colors How can I use photos with clashing colors without converting them to black-and-white?

Brightly colored photographs make for layouts that pack a punch. But they also can be challenging to unify in one design. Dana Smith 2006 Creative Team member recommends that you keep three things in mind:

1. Neutralizing color: When your photos have lots of color in them, use neutral tones like black, tan, or white for your background. Throw in some splashes of color but keep them to a minimum so they don't compete with the colors in the photos.

2. Using patterned paper: Patterns can be used as accents to add small amounts of color to your page. Search for a paper that echoes the colors in your photos to help unify them.

3. Embellishing: Include elements that are not too large and that complement the colors in your photos.

How do I find the middle ground in journaling?

There is no right or wrong way to journal, and clearly your best journaling is going to be the writing style you are most comfortable with.

A journaling nut herself, Contributing Editor Candi Gershon offered these suggestions.

I always journal as if I am telling the story to someone else. I never focus too much on the "who, what, when, where, and why," although those basics always seem to naturally fall into place. When you sit down to journal about a photo (or series of photos), write as if you are telling your very best friend (or your child, spouse, etc.) about it. This way, you are "talking" to someone you are comfortable with instead of an unknown person who may someday look at your scrapbook. This immediately will set a casual tone to your journaling and help you be yourself. When you write as if you are having a conversation with a loved one, the details will come naturally and the emotions behind them will follow.

What is the rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds is used both in graphic design and photography. It's a simple concept that works especially well in scrapbook pages.

Imagine your page split into three sections, both horizontally and vertically (like a tic-tac-toe pattern). If you have a 12x12" page, imagine a line at both 4" and 8". When you put together your page, try to place items of interest where the lines meet. As you can see on my page, my daughter's eye and the boldest embellishment are located at the intersections. Main photos, titles, and large embellishments are great items to position at these points.

Often this page design comes naturally. Look at a few of your pages and visualize the lines. You might be surprised to see that you're already using this design principle. As with any rule, it's just a guideline and can be broken.

The same principle applies to your photography. Placing the subjects along the grid lines or at intersection points within the photo frame adds visual pop. Even if you don?t take your photo in this format, you can still use the idea when cropping.

How do the experts choose different font combinations?

The sheer number of fonts available makes for tough decisions. We let 2006 Creative Team member Erin Roe field this question.

I usually start by picking a font that fits the mood or theme of the page. From there, I look for a great complement. I love mixing script and sans serif fonts. I also like using thick fonts with thin ones and slanted fonts with straight ones. The contrast between them can be eye-catching! Trendy fonts usually work best with plain and traditional fonts.

Some fonts are too different to work well together. Try to find ones that have at least one trait in common, such as height or spacing. I like using different versions of the same typeface (such as bold or italic) as long as there's a noticeable difference between them. They'll likely look great together because they're from the same family.

Check out The Font Thing at www.download.com for a great free program to help make font selection a breeze. With it, you can compare fonts and save your favorite combinations to use again later.

How do I add text to a photo?

This more and more common technique can help you fill an empty spot in your photo and add a little splash to your page. Here's what Contributing Editor Carrie Colbert Batt recommends.

Use image-editing software to add a text layer to your photo and print the photo at home or at any commercial lab that can accept a CD or other digital storage device. Annie Weis did this for her layout shown here. But I don't always plan my pages far enough in advance, so I've come up with a new technique.

Align the text you want to appear on your photograph and computer-print it on a blank transparency designed for ink-jet printers. (If you don't have a home printer, visit a photocopy center and ask the staff to print out your saved file, or find a shop that has computers for rent and create your text right there.) Then simply slide the transparency into the page protector in front of the photo or finished layout. It will look just like you printed it directly on the image!

How can I print my text directly onto a 12"-wide piece of paper?

The easiest solution is to purchase an ink-jet printer that can print a 12x18" page format! But here is a more practical solution that doesn't require you to spend lots of cash: Print on a transparency and attach later.

In Candi Gershon's design, she printed her journaling on a transparency and cleverly hid the edges behind photos and with a well-placed brad. It gives the illusion that her journaling is on the background piece, but she didn't have to buy a new printer to get the job done.

How can I use patterned paper without overwhelming my page?

Contributing Editor Carrie Colbert Batt is an expert on this question.

I love using patterned paper and rarely complete a page without it. With all the beautiful choices out there, it can be hard not to go a little overboard at times. Here are some tips to keep in mind when using patterned paper:

1. Use it in small portions, as Leslie Lightfoot did on her page here. Don't be afraid to whittle down those 12x12" sheets. Small pieces of patterned paper (blocks, strips, etc.) make great page accents. In general, I shy away from using patterned paper for the page background.

2. When you use patterned paper as the background of a page, mat photos and journaling with a bold solid color.

3. Select patterned paper in colors that complement your photos. Knowing the basics of color theory and how to use a color wheel will make the task easier, but you can simply place your images on different sheets of patterned paper, step back, and notice the effect each has.

4. Choose patterns that convey emotions consistent with what you are trying to communicate. Even papers that are the same color can evoke very different feelings.

How do I create journaling for heritage photos when I don't have any details?

Even without background information, you can still include a heritage shot in your scrapbook. Your family members will learn about their descendants from your thoughtful recording. Journal everything you know about the photo, no matter how little. You might even relate the tales of your thwarted fact-finding mission.

Creatively set the stage for your mystery photos. Theme papers, die cuts, stickers, and clip art can represent situations apparent in the photo, such as a wedding. Reference the time period of the photo with appropriate icons.

How can I create a monochromatic page that's still interesting?

Monochromatic pages are great for letting the photo shine and for helping you narrow down your paper and embellishment choices. The key is to use different values of the color -- from dark to light. A light blue mixed with a navy won't feel so heavy as an all-navy layout. In the other sense, a pastel blue layout won't have as much weight as if you had added a bit of a deeper blue.

In addition, pick tone-on-tone patterned papers that add shape and interest with their stripes, symbols, or other designs. This is a great way to add a feeling of dimension.

How do I make one photo the focal point?

The simplest way is to enlarge the shot. In most cases, the larger the shot, the greater the impact. Or do the reverse and shrink the supporting shots.

Distinguish your focal shot by singling it out as the only black-and-white or the only color photo in the group. Check out this page by Erin Roe. All four of her shots are the same size, but the sole black-and-white version stands out.

Accents also can bring attention to your main photo. This can be as obvious as a pointing arrow or as coy as a row of embellishments creating a path to it.

For the most impact, combine a few of the above ideas.