How to Use Microsoft Publisher

Preparing a birthday card
Vstock LLC / Getty Images
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What Is Microsoft Publisher and Why Would I Want to Use It?

Preparing a birthday card
Vstock LLC / Getty Images

Microsoft Publisher is one of the lesser known programs in the Office suite, but that doesn’t make any less useful. It’s a simple but extremely helpful desktop publishing program for creating publications that look professional without having to learn any complicated programs. You can make just about anything in Microsoft Publisher, from simple objects like labels and greeting cards to more complex items like newsletters and brochures. Here we show you the basics of creating a publication in Publisher. We’ll take you through creating a greeting card as an example, covering the basic tasks commonly used when creating a simple publication.

How to Create a Greeting Card in Microsoft Publisher

This tutorial will take you through creating a simple birthday card as an example of how to use Publisher. We use Publisher 2016, but this process will work in 2013 as well.

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Creating a New Publication

Tutorial graphic

When you open Publisher, you’ll see a selection of templates on the Backstage screen you can use to jump start your publication, as well as a blank template, if you want to start from scratch. To create a new birthday card, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Built-In link at the top of the Backstage screen.
  2. Then, click Greeting Cards on the Built-In templates screen.
  3. You’ll see different categories of greeting cards on the next screen. The Birthday category should be at the top. For this example, click on a Birthday template to select it.
  4. Then, click the Create button in the right pane.

The greeting card opens with the Pages listed on the left and the first page selected and ready to edit. However, before customizing my birthday card, you'll want to save it.

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Saving your Publication

 You can save your publication to your computer or to your OneDrive account. For this example, I’m going to save my birthday card to my computer. Follow the steps below.

  1. Click the File tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Click Save As in the list of items on the left side of the Backstage screen.
  3. Click This PC under the Save As heading.
  4. Then, click Browse.
  5. On the Save As dialog box, navigate to the folder where you want to save your birthday card.
  6. Enter a name in the File name box. Be sure to keep the .pub extension on the file name.
  7. Then, click Save.

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Changing Existing Text in Your Publication

Changing text on publication

 The pages of your birthday card display as thumbnails on the left side of the Publisher window with the first page selected, ready for you to customize. This birthday card template includes “Happy Birthday” on the front, but I want to add “Dad” to that text. To add text to or change text in text box, follow these steps:

  1. Click in the text box to put the cursor inside it.
  2. Position the cursor where you want to add or change text using your mouse or the arrow keys on your keyboard. To replace text, you can either click and drag your mouse to select the text you want to change, or you can use the Backspace key to delete the text.
  3. Then, type the new text.

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Adding New Text to Your Publication

Adding new text

You can also add new text boxes to your publication. I’m going to add a new text box in the middle of Page 2. To add a new text box, follow these steps:

  1. Click the page you want to add your text to in the left pane.
  2. Then, click the Insert tab on the Ribbon and click the Draw Text Box button in the Text section.
  3. The cursor changes to a cross, or plus sign. Click and drag to draw a text box where you want to add your text.
  4. Release the mouse button when you’re finished drawing the text box. The cursor is automatically placed inside the text box. Start typing your text.
  5. The Format tab becomes available on the Ribbon when the cursor is inside a text box, and you can use it to change the Font and the Alignment, as well as other formatting.
  6. To resize the text box, click and drag one of the handles in the corners and on the edges.
  7. To move the text box, move the cursor to one edge until it turns into a cross with arrows. Then, click and drag the text box to another location.
  8. When you’re done customizing your text, click outside the text box to de-select it.

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Adding Pictures to Your Publication

Adding photos

At this point, you might want to add some pizzazz to your birthday card with another picture. To add a picture to your publication, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Home tab, if it’s not already active.
  2. Click the Pictures button in the Objects section.
  3. On the dialog box that displays, click in the box to the right of Bing Image Search.
  4. Type what you want to search for, which, in my case, is “donuts”. Then, press Enter.
  5. A selection of images displays. Click the image you want to use and then click the Insert button.
  6. Click and drag the inserted image to move it where you want and use the handles on the sides and corners to resize it as desired.
  7. Press Ctrl+S to save your publication.

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Printing Your Publication

Printing on Publisher

Now, it’s time to print your birthday card. Publisher arranges the pages of the card so you can fold the paper and all the pages will be in the right place. To print your card, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Print in the list of items on the right side of the Backstage screen.
  3. Select a Printer.
  4. Change Settings, if you want. I’m accepting the default settings for this card.
  5. Click Print.

You just saved several dollars by making your own greeting card. Now that you know the basics, you can create other types of publications, such as labels, flyers, photo albums, and even a cookbook. Have fun!