Making a monthly events calendar using seat-of-the-pants design!
May 5, 2009 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I need to make a template for an in-print events calendar, and I'm not sure what the best way to approach this project is. Advice please!

I've offered to create a monthly calendar template for a fantastic small nonprofit that I've worked extensively for in the past. My usual design style is a seat-of-the-pants combo of cut&paste and ill-suited Microsoft products, but because I have to hand this over to someone, I'd like to make it a little less haphazard this time. Help me figure out the best way to accomplish this!

The end result should be a monthly calendar to be distributed in print & maybe .pdf form. It needs to be designed in a commonly available Microsoft product (or open source equivalent; i.e. InDesign won't work), and should automatically populate the calendar with correct dates (probably a pony feature, I know!). It doesn't need to look glossy or high-dollar (their extant aesthetic is decidedly scrappy), but it'll serve as publicity for the organization, and needs to look eye-catching and interesting. So I can't just point them in the direction of a free Microsoft Word calendar template available somewhere online. Data can be entered "by hand," or drawn from iCal (there are few enough events that either are fine).

I'm reasonably tech-savvy (for someone who doesn't own InDesign, I guess), and so are the people who'll be updating/creating the calendar on a monthly basis. So kludges and workarounds are totally fine as long as they're simple (we're all familiar with--and do a pretty good job of--low-fi graphic design).

I'm not sure where to start, so I'm mostly interested in gathering ideas for how to work within the limitations (my own knowledge gaps, creating a simple low-work resource for whoever updates it in the future). Any suggestions or advice would be fantastic! So would any points in the right direction, any anecdotes, any chatfilter disaster stories of your own!
posted by soviet sleepover to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you using Macs or PCs? The mention of iCal crossed with the reliance on Microsoft's office suite has thrown me.

I can't believe I'm recommending this, but if you're on PCs, Microsoft Publisher (part of the Office suite) will generate perfectly decent dated calendars that you can populate with your data and restyle very easily. While I ran to InDesign as soon as my last employer got their Creative Suite activation codes, I actually found making simple publications in Publisher to be a pretty decent experience. It reminded me of using Pagemaker ten years ago! Just stay away from Comic Sans and the included clip art and you'll be fine.

By the way, are you aware that US nonprofits can generally buy InDesign through TechSoup for next to nothing? The "Premium" version of CS4 for Mac is only $160 through them, which isn't much of an expense considering that you get Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, Flash, Dreamweaver, and Fireworks.
posted by bcwinters at 5:45 PM on May 5, 2009

Response by poster: I'm using a Mac, and I don't have Publisher (though I've worked with it before and don't mind it). The reliance on Office is only because we all use our own computers for projects, and it's much easier to plan collaborative work using programs we're all likely to own. Hence my resistance to InDesign--though thanks for the tipoff re TechSoup!

To piggyback on my own question, do you/does anyone have advice for creating Microsoft Word templates to do this, with added background design elements?
posted by soviet sleepover at 6:10 PM on May 5, 2009

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