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  1. Computer Skills
  2. Pages
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How to Create a Pages Template

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:

Pages lets you write and design documents easily. Whether you’re publishing a glossy newsletter, writing essays, sending letters or more, chances are you head back to Pages time and again to create the same document. 

If you are setting up fonts, heading style, layout, headers and footers, spacing, and so on repeatedly for every document, you are bound to lose time and focus. Templates setup a document’s formatting so you don’t have to fuss with paper orientation, pre-positioned formatted objects, text and images and page layout schemes. This will allow you to get started on a document quickly so you can concentrate on the content instead of worrying about the layout. 

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how you can use Pages’ built-in templates as a starting point for your own custom templates and create a demo template from scratch by starting with the Blank template.

Introduction

Don’t let the name template terrify you because basically they’re just plain old documents. It begins with text, pictures, tables and so on like any other document. 

To create a new document, launch Pages app from the Applications folder and click the New Document button. 

In the next screen you will be given an option to choose a template from Template Chooser. The Template Chooser is divided into seven categories, and each category shows you a miniature preview or thumbnails, of each template. To start working with a chosen template, either double-click its thumbnail, or click the thumbnail once and then click the Choose button.

pages-template-chooser
Template Chooser in Pages make template selection fun and easy

Most of the Pages’ built-in templates offer sophisticated designs stocked with sample content and a mix of fancy things like images, tables, and shapes. But templates don’t have to include any content at all. 

For example—The basic templates do not have any content yet they come loaded with text styles and slew of settings such as page margins, page numbering, headers and footers and more. Infact you can simply prepare an empty file with chosen settings and styles, and then save it as a template (File > Save as Template). 

Next time when you choose this template from the Template Chooser, you get a blank, untitled document with the text and object settings as you want them.

Every template contains an array of formatting attributes that instruct Pages how to display each and every element of the document. These attributes are: 

  • Text styles
  • Document formatting settings
  • Placeholder text and images
  • Headers and footers
  • Background images. 

You can choose to leave these attributes in their default state, or you can modify any or all of them to create your own defaults.

Prerequisite Consideration

The templates that come bundled with Pages are the gateway to creating an instant, polished, and professional design. Apple’s already done the heavy lifting by creating some inspiring visual designs with different fonts, colour palette, areas for images and text, and more. This does not mean that you are solely restricted to these templates. You can modify them for your different kinds of projects and can even create them from scratch.

However, they are not quite as simple because of two reasons: 

  1. Pages has two inherent capabilities: word-processing and page-layout which confuse a lot of beginners and 
  2. A considerable amount of planning, trial and error is required before you start designing your own template. 

Addressing these distinctions and complications will certainly help you in long run, but also make sure to meet certain pre-requisite considerations.

Collect Written Materials

Collect all the written materials for your template in advance because this will help you to focus on design and structural aspects of the layout. For example - If you are designing a brochure of places to visit in Paris then you are likely to collect some written material, slick marketing text and contact information beforehand. 

Writing and designing are two very different discipline, and it’s best not to tackle them at the same time. Write your text ahead of time in a plain-old word processing document so that you are not distracted by stuff like image or text placeholders and master objects.

Collect the Images

Collect all the images in a single folder, put them into iPhoto if you haven’t already. Media Browser gives you a fast, organized access to your iPhoto collection from any iWork program, and having your images in iPhoto is the most efficient way to work with templates. 

Create an album in iPhoto to hold all the images you think you might use in your project, tag or rate them if necessary. Don’t focus too much on whittling down the selection, because we don’t know yet which image will fit in your layout appropriately.

Sketch Ideas

You might be tempted to modify or design your own template once you have collected all the materials but I would highly recommend you to resist your urge. Take a few minutes to sketch some design options on paper. The objective here isn’t to draw anything nearly refined. 

Instead, just keep your focus on big-picture for blocking out page layout, identifying the page elements you want to include: headlines, text, images, shapes, and so on. As you make more and more sketches, focus on keeping the layout as simple and uncluttered as possible.

Layout

The overall layout of your entire document depends on document formatting. Before you  start entering text and inserting images, work out the requirements and make the necessary adjustment in following aspects. Consider:

  • paper size
  • portrait or landscape layout
  • document margins
  • page numbering
  • sections
  • table of contents

Many institutions and organizations have their own formatting rules—title, table of contents,endnotes and/or references. Address these different requirements and fine-tune the document settings accordingly. 

Modifying an Existing Template

You can use one of Pages’ templates as a foundation to build your own template by adding, removing, or changing any of its elements. Say you want to modify Business Letter template’s basic layout, with your company’s logo, font, paragraph style, and few other tweaks. Click File > New and choose the Business Letter template.

Probably the most important aspect of a Business Letter template is logo. To add a logo to your document, click the Media button in the toolbar to open the Media Browser, and then click the Photos tab to browse your collection. Find the logo you want to use, and click it once to add it to your document. Drag the logo to move it into position, or resize it by dragging its selection handle.

media-browser-pages
To locate the logo you want to use, click the Media button in the toolbar. The Media Browser's Photos tab gathers your personal photo collections from iPhoto.

If the logo doesn’t seem right to you, then you can mask them right in your document. Editing a mask lets you choose which part of the image you reveal and which parts you keep hidden. 

You may want to resize the image within the mask by clicking the Resize button and then drag the image’s selection handles (which turn black to let you know that you’re editing the image and not the mask). 

Alternatively, click the Edit Mask button, and then drag the selection handles to change the mask dimensions, until you are happy with the outcome.

edit-mask-of-image-right-in-pages
You can mask the photo right in your Pages document. 1. Resize the image within the mask 2. Edit the mask

The Business Letter template comes pre-filled with placeholder text. 

When you click some regular text, you can place your insertion point within it and add or delete characters, but in case of placeholder text, Pages highlights the entire placeholder—which can be a line or a whole paragraph, or the entire document. To replace the placeholder text, select the entire text block and start typing. You will notice that the entire block disappears, and get replaced with your real information.

If you want to adjust the paragraph style, place your cursor somewhere within the text you want to change, and then open the Format panel’s Text tab. The white box at the top of the Text tab is a preview area—called the Paragraph Styles pane. 

Paragraph styles apply to entire paragraphs, letting you paint entire blocks of text with any combination of font, text, and paragraph formatting. Use Paragraph Styles to shape the look of the major structural element of the document. When you’re done, save your update by clicking the blue Update button.

paragraph-styles-in-pages
Click the circle triangled in the figure to open the paragraph styles drop-down menu

When you’ve finished adding details to your template, lock the logo, company name, and contact details so that you don’t inadvertently sweep them to an off-killer location on the page and ruin the whole layout. 

To do so, select an object you want to keep as is, open the Format panel’s Arrange tab, and then click the Lock button. Pages nails the object to the page, replacing its selection handles with the X marks to indicate that it’s unavailable for editing. You can’t edit the object in any way until you unlock them.

lock-objects-in-pages
If you select a locked object, it displays X marks instead of selection handles

Save the document as a Template. Choose File > Save as Template and then click Add to Template Chooser button. Give the new template a name, and then press the Return key to save your template with its new title.

Creating Templates From Scratch

Anyone who likes to cook will have a drawer full of recipes scribbled down on scraps of paper. You can use Pages to collate your most precious recipes into your very own recipe book. It may sound like a lot of work, but if you have a proper plan in mind and proceed as per the prerequisite consideration’s then Pages can take the hassle out of designing your own template.

Start by creating a new document based on one of the Blank template in the Template Chooser’s Basic category. Choose File > Save to save the file as a regular document and not Save as Template because we haven’t started anything yet. 

Set the document styles for files using your template by clicking Document in Pages’ toolbar, and then, open the Document tab. Use the Printer and Paper Size drop-down menu to change the paper size and page orientation options. You can also set the document’s margins in this tab. If the template spans multiple pages then switch to the Section tab and set a preference for handling page numbering.

page-layout-from-scratch
Set the document styles for your blank template. For illustration purpose the paper size was set to A4 with landscape orientation

Shapes add character to otherwise blank template and Pages makes it easy to add shapes to the document. 

Click the Shape button in the toolbar, and select a shape for what you need. They are available in several different colors, and to see them all, click the arrow buttons on the left and right of the drop-drown menu. 

Drag the shape to position it, and drag its selection handles to resize it. Fill the shape with a colour and set the Shadow to None with Opacity at 60%.

adding-shape-to-document
Select a square shape and drag them by its selection handle to resize it

Add another shape but this time slightly smaller then first and a different color. Set the Shadow to None with Opacity at 65%.

add-another-shape-different-color
Add another shape with different color

To give the shape a 3D effect, like an actual paper photograph on the page, add a picture frame to dress it up. 

Click the shape you want to frame, and in the Format panel, click the Style tab. Expand the Border heading section and then select Picture Frame from the drop-down menu. Click the thumbnail in the Border section’s lower left to open a drop-down menu of various picture frame styles. 

Select a style and apply it to the shape. If you like, use the Scale slider to change the picture frame’s size. By default frames starts at full scale (100%), to make them narrow drag the slider to the left or enter a lower percentage.

add-picture-frame-to-shape
Add a picture frame to your shape, to give them a 3D effect

Pictures often play a larger role in the design and in my recipe template, it gives a overall visual impact to my recipe. Pages gives you a variety of tools to arrange and fine-tune your images and for illustration purpose I found this wonderful recipe at allrecipe.com

The first step is to collect all the written materials—ingredients, method and notes—in TextEdit and images in iPhoto.

To add a picture to the document, click the Media button in the toolbar to open the Media Browser, then click the Photos tab to browse the collection. 

Find the picture you want to use, and click it once to add it to the document. Pages adds the picture to the document as a floating object. Drag the picture to move it into position, or resize it by dragging its selection handle. 

Mask the photo if necessary, and then add a picture frame with different style and shadow effects to make them look stylish.

add-and-edit-photos-in-pages
Add picture frame and shadow effects to your photos

If all this feels conventional, you can tip objects—in this case images—askew by rotating them. Select an object and adjust the Arrange tab’s Rotate knob. You can also enter an angle measurement directly into the Angle field, or use the up and down arrows to rotate in one-degree increments. 

The Arrange tab also contains two Flip buttons. You can flip a selected object horizontally or vertically with these buttons and turn this object into its mirror image.

rotate-image-in-pages
To make a precise rotation adjustments, open the Arrange tab and use the Rotate knob

To add a text box click the Text button in the toolbar or choose Insert > Text Box, and then place the cursor inside it. Type the title of the recipe and change the way they look. 

Dress up your title with a new font, make it larger or smaller, mix in some colour, or tweak the type style. Select the text and then start making your formatting changes. The Format Panel offers fast access to the most common formatting settings such as paragraph style, font, alignment, spacing, character style and so on.

To apply a paragraph style, click anywhere inside an existing paragraph, open the paragraph style drop-down menu and click a particular style name from the menu, Pages then applies that style to the text of entire paragraph or line no matter how much or little if it you selected. 

If you just applied a style, choose Edit > Undo to reverse the style change. To change the font, click the font family drop down and select the font you like to use. Change the font size by using the arrow buttons, or type a point size directly into the font size field.

You can use text alignment to enhance the appearance and readability of your text. To adjust paragraph alignment, click one of the four text-alignment buttons to get the effects. 

To change the line spacing, place your pointer inside the paragraph you want to update, or select multiple paragraphs. Click the drop-down menu in the spacing section and choose the new spacing number. If you click the Spacing heading, or triangle next to it, the section expands to reveal extra options.

my-recipe-template
My Recipe Template 1. Update the paragraph style 2. Change font and its size 3. Change alignment for readability 4. Use spacing to give space to your lines

Once you’ve created new styles for every possible element in a document, format the model document with placeholder text and media. To create a placeholder text, type the text in just like you would with any other kind of text. Select the text in blocks, and then choose Format > Advanced > Define as Placeholder Text for each block. 

When selecting blocks of text, be careful not to select the final paragraph break character (¶). Doing so causes the entire paragraph to be deleted when you begin to type in the placeholder text. To see the paragraph break character as you work, choose View > Show Invisibles.

Pages can create placeholders for the images, too. To turn any media object into a placeholder, select it and then choose Format > Advanced > Define as Media Placeholder. When you drop your picture onto the placeholder, it replaces the placeholder image and inherits its picture frame, masking size, rotation, shadow, reflection as well.

placeholder-text-and-graphics-recipe-template
Placeholder text and images in my recipe template 1. Media placeholder icon 2. Placeholder text block and the circled one is a paragraph break character

You’ve successfully created the template, the only thing now remains is to take a print out. Once you have collected your favorite recipes, bind them together to make a recipe cookbook.

Conclusion

Templates have been around for a long time, and for good reason. They save time and allow you to create stylish, professional-looking and consistently formatted documents. 

With this tutorial you learnt the basics of how to modify Pages’ built-in templates and also how to create them from scratch. If you have any trouble in getting started with template modification/creation or have any unique method you want to share, be sure to let me know in the comments below.

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