Information and Communication Technology

Page layout

Using an appropriate page layout for a specific need or task

Most examinations at IGCSE / GCSE level involve either a practical examination or a project. In both cases it is important to use your ICT skills to set your work out in an appropriate manner.

This page deals with practical aspects of using ICT involved in the laying out of pages. It is essentially confined to word processing and desktop publishing techniques, although some of it will be useful for other types of software. e.g. reports in databases or slides in presentation software.

What is meant by appropriate will depend on the subject matter of your project or the scenario set out in the examination. A business scenario will demand a different approach to a social networking based scenario, which will in turn be different to what is need in writing up a Science report..

Columns

Columns are formed by dividing a page vertically.

Most word processors and desktop publishers support columns in one form or another. Even those that don't will usually allow the use of tabs to give pseudo-columns.

Columns have been around since people first started writing words on clay tablets, but they became a common format in the early 1600s when the first printed newspapers started to appear. The articles written in these newspapers were often quite short and the newspapers were more like a collection of letters from different writers than the publications that we see today.


Such articles might only be a few lines long when printed across the width of a page and it is possible that the use of columns was adopted to improve the page layout by making the articles appear as blocks of text. You can see a similar effect in the use of sections and paragraphs on this page..

Why use columns?

1. If an examination question is written to test your page layout skills and it says to use columns. There will be marks for showing your technical ability. Pay attention to what is being asked; how many columns, column width, guttering (space between the columns), whole page, part of a page, in a frame, etc.

2. If It improves the appearance of a page. This is likely to come under 'making a publication fit for purpose'. Newspapers, newsletters, advertising leaflets and pamphlets may all benefit from using columns in their page layout. Even if using columns is not explicit in a question, it may still be a good idea to make some if they improve the appearance of a page.

Margins

Margins are the white space around the edge of a page. Different word processors and desk top publishers will have different default sizes for the margins.

Most word processors and desk top publishers allow the margin size to be changed. Where a simple application, such as Wordpad, does not allow margin changes, use of tab settings can give effective margin settings.

Early, hand written documents often have irregular or very narrow margins, or have margins filled with patterns or illustrations.

Once printing was invented, margins became wider and more regular. One reason for this was to leave a 'margin for error', ensuring that the print would all be on the paper. This idea has persisted into the present day. Default margins now ensure that printers do not print off the edge of a page.


For most documents that you might produce in a practical examination, the default margin size will be all you need. Some reasons for changing ,margin size are:

1. If an examination question is written to test your page layout skills and it says to change margin settings. There will be marks for showing your technical ability. Pay attention to what is being asked, Margin width, left and / or right, top and / or bottom.

2. To fit a piece of work onto a page. If you have a line or two that goes onto a second page, small changes to the margins may allow the whole thing to fit onto a single page. Similarly, if you are a line or two short, making the margins slightly wider can improve the appearance of a document.

Headers and Footers

Headers and Footers are part of the white space at the top and bottom of a page. Where headers and footers are used there will a be a top and bottom margin as well. Different word processors and desk top publishers have different default sizes for headers and footers. Some may have a default of no header or footer when a document is started but with the option of creating them.

Headers and footers may be a fixed size, which you can adjust, or they may automatically expand to fit whatever text you put into them.

Some reasons for having headers and footers are:

1. If an examination question is written to test your page layout skills and it says to use a header and / or footer. There will be marks for showing your technical ability. Pay attention to what is being asked, Content, size, font, etc.

2. In an examination, you need to put information such as name and centre number on each page. Headers and footers are good places for this as they do not change or get moved around when you alter the main text.

3. You want titles, page numbers or other information to appear on every page of a long document. A header or footer, with its contents, will appear on every page once you have set the first one up. With most word processors and desk top publishers, it is also possible to arrange that the header or footer for odd numbered pages is different from the ones for even numbered pages.

Page orientation

Page orientation is, does the page look tall and thin or short and wide.

The tall and thin version is known as portrait, the short and wide version is landscape.

The names come from the world of painting, where pictures of people, known as portraits, tend to be people shaped. i.e. tall and thin.

Pictures of the countryside, landscapes, on the other hand tend to be short and wide because that’s what our normal field of view is like.

Most word processors and desk top publishers will allow you to work with both portrait and landscape pages. Some may require that you choose when creating the document, while others will allow you to change between them at any time.

Some reasons for choosing a particular orientation are

1. If an examination question is written to test your page layout skills and it tells you to use a particular orientation. There will be marks for showing your technical ability. Pay attention to what is being asked,

2.If It improves the appearance of a page. This is likely to come under 'making a publication fit for purpose''. e.g. an image or a graph might fit a page better in landscape than portrait.

3. If the type of document you are making is usually printed in a particular orientation, e.g. a cartoon strip is usually landscape. This does not prevent you from being different, you just need to be sure that your choice works, and that you can justify it if needed.

Page breaks

A page break is a control character that is put into a word processed page. The character forces the creation of a new page and moves the text input down to the start of that new page. When the document is printed.the character causes the printer to stop printing at that point, eject the page and then continue printing on a new page. The concept of page breaks therefore only applies to electronic documents.

Page breaks are available with most word processors. They are usually created by selecting a menu function or by using a keyboard shortcut. Desk top publishers will also allow page breaks but creating them may be more complicated since many desk top publishers use movable frames or boxes to hold text.

Some reasons for using page breaks are

1. If an examination question is written to test your page layout skills and it says put in a page break. There will be marks for showing your technical ability. Pay attention to what is being asked,

2. If It improves the appearance of a document. This is likely to come under 'making a publication fit for purpose'. e.g. Putting in a page break at the end of a chapter means that the next chapter starts on a fresh page.

Page numbering

and other fields

Page numbers are available in most word processors and desk top publishers. They are usually created by using a page number 'field'.

Fields in word processing refer to pre-set pieces of coding which display commonly used items such as page numbers, dates, chapter numbers and authors.


Some of these fields, e.g. page numbers, have a fixed set of values that can be displayed. Others such as Author, take their content from details entered by the user.

Page numbers are usually inserted into a footer, but can appear anywhere on the page where fields may be inserted.

Page numbers are the only fields that are given in the 4IT0 specification, but you may find other fields useful. e.g. Author could be customised with your name and centre number.

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