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Thread: Suggestions for templates/formatting for general plan

  1. #1
         
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    Suggestions for templates/formatting for general plan

    Greetings,
    I'm eager to hear from folks who have developed comp/general plans and used specific software to generate a well designed final product.

    I'm wondering if there are Word-based templates out there that can be made useful to produce a good looking document. We don't have dedicated staff, and need to have the document in format that is accessible by all, so are not looking to buy dedicated publishing software, unless there was a very straightforward way to translate back and forth from Word.

    Thanks for any suggestions
    Stephanie Weigel, Humboldt County, CA

  2. #2
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by weigelsj
    Greetings,
    I'm eager to hear from folks who have developed comp/general plans and used specific software to generate a well designed final product.

    I'm wondering if there are Word-based templates out there that can be made useful to produce a good looking document. We don't have dedicated staff, and need to have the document in format that is accessible by all, so are not looking to buy dedicated publishing software, unless there was a very straightforward way to translate back and forth from Word.

    Thanks for any suggestions
    Stephanie Weigel, Humboldt County, CA
    I do most of my documents in Word with no problems. When I was really fancy, I used publisher. You don't really need to worry about what program you use, because at the end of the day the best thing to do is to convert it to a pdf with Acrobat Writer. Then pretty much everyone can view it.

    I didn't write our Comprehensive Plan, so I'm not sure what software was used. But I used word to write the Timberlea Area Structure Plan (kind of like a Specific Plan in California).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    InDesign would seem to be the industry standard for page layouts and document creation. Word might suffice for bylaws, but typically an OCP has a bit more of a complex structure or ordering.

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I use Word for comprehensive plans, mainly because I often have to share files with other staff and the public, almost all of which have Word or OS programs that can read Word file.

    I try to find two typefaces that work well together, one serif, one san serif, that aren't part of the normal, overused Microsoft Windows basic fonts. Seems like 95% of what I see out there, even from consultants, is a sea of 12 point Times New Roman, which make the plans seem amateurish.

    With page design, set the page margins for the gutter about an inch wider than the other margins. This makes text easier to read because binding will be farther from the text, and lines shorter. The longer a line of text, the harder it is to read.

    If you have to edit photos in the plan, and you're using MS word, edit using another program. When you edit a photo within Word, the embedded graphic changes irreversably from a JPG to a BMP, dramatically increasing the total file size.

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Another tip I learned - If you need to anchor pics in a word doc, or even a chart, create a 1 cell table and paste it in.

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    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Good points, Dan. I'm a bit of a typeface maniac, and agree wholeheartedly. Serif fonts for easy reading of body text and sans serif for title and heading blocks. I happen to like Garamond as a serif.

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          bluehour's avatar
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    I format 200-500 page documents (Environmental Statements) at work frequently, and I can say that Microsoft Word is an absolute nightmare when you've got a document this big and complex. Its always "helpfully" changing the formatting and header and footers...

    Should I try InDesign? Can it learn it quickly or will this just add another complicated step in finishing up these bastard documents?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    Another tip I learned - If you need to anchor pics in a word doc, or even a chart, create a 1 cell table and paste it in.
    Thanks for this tip. Text boxes were driving me crazy!
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    I used Publisher when I was in the private sector and really liked the end product. That program is not in my current software package so everything has to be produced in Word, with a little bit of Photoshop thrown in. And Dan, I agree with you on the over-use of TNR. I absolutely hate reading reports that are done in nothing but that typeface. Come on people; switch it up a little bit.

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    one vote for Adobe

    Quote Originally posted by nerudite
    You don't really need to worry about what program you use, because at the end of the day the best thing to do is to convert it to a pdf with Acrobat Writer. Then pretty much everyone can view it.
    PDF's are a great common denominator. Adobe is great at making programs intuitive and basic enough for anyone to use, but in depth enough to handle diverse needs. Acrobat writer and professional are proprietary, but Adobe has made it so you can scale Acrobat to your needs. Almost every word processor or publishing program allows you to export a pdf. You can also make digital corrections and comments. Adobe's products should definitely replace word as the standard.

    Wow. I never intended to provide such a plug for Adobe, but another thought: Adobe has pioneered what they call intelligent documents, basically interactive forms that can be sent, filled out and returned electronically. Seems like this would be great for surveys and permit ap etc..

    Anyone familiar with this?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    What I would do is creat a word document and make sure you make use of "styles". It makes numbering, creatring crossreferences and tables of contents really easy. The bonus is that if you decide to change a line spacing or font for a the document, all you need to do is change the template and it does the entire document.

    Also by using styles, and then distilling the document to a PDF, the links are carried forward so you have a partially interactive document.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  12. #12
          bluehour's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    What I would do is creat a word document and make sure you make use of "styles". It makes numbering, creatring crossreferences and tables of contents really easy. The bonus is that if you decide to change a line spacing or font for a the document, all you need to do is change the template and it does the entire document.

    Also by using styles, and then distilling the document to a PDF, the links are carried forward so you have a partially interactive document.
    I use "styles"but they're always automatically "updating" on my and I loose my formating.... Hence the

    The real question is should I bother to learn a new program, or muddle through with Word. Will probably stick with Word only because I doubt my boss will buy anything new.

  13. #13
    We used
    Pages for the text
    GIS for maps
    And some maps we pulled in to Photoshop to make them 3D
    We used Adobe InDesign to do cool layouts.

    It ended up very original looking.

  14. #14
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Yes on Garamond - also Book Antiqua and Bookman are great too

    but I am not a big fan of Adobe - it locks up my computer if I use it with other stuff running and my IT guy says it's not my computer

    and yes, text boxes make me breathe $%^# all the time, unless you are looking for a chaotic page - which sometimes, you are so it's okay

    what drives me crazy is when my assistant uses the space bar or tabs (without setting them on the ruler) on documents she drafts for me - I show her how to do it but she still messes it up - argh - so please use these wonderful 20th (not 21st) century tools so when people edit, the whole document doesn't get f-ed up -

    I'm in editing mode in my plan now and the show changes feature is great - but I have to make everyone pick a different color so I can keep it straight - LOL

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