Must-Read Review of Apple's Pages

by Lesley Pinkett

What is Pages?

Apple's Pages gives you the best of both worlds. It's an easy to use, streamlined word processor and a versatile, cutting edge page layout tool. As Apple says: "It allows you to be a writer one minute and a designer the next, always with a perfect document in the works."

When you first open the program, you get a pop up menu with a selection of over 180 Apple-designed templates for every situation you can think of. Use this Template Chooser to find the best one for your needs.

It doesn't matter whether you're writing a letter, a CV, or a book, there's something there for you to use. Once you have something that you like the look of, simply type in your text, drop in your photos from iPhoto and the placeholders are automatically replaced with your text and pictures.

Need a chart? No problem, copy and paste tables and charts from Numbers (the Mac equivalent of Excel). The data is linked, so when you change the data in your spreadsheet you need only one click to change your Pages document too.

Writing Documents

Write your text and then use a single click to format it. A formatting bar at the top of the page shows you the current settings at a glance. I love the pop out "drawer" that allows you to see how each setting really looks. When you make a change to the format, this is displayed in the "drawer".

Pages has all the features that make using Word so versatile. Spell and grammar checking, proofreading options, and, something that I really love, one click to generate a Table of Contents. Pages looks at your chapter and subheadings and makes the TOC from them. It's easy to add page and section breaks, and you get all the details about your document on the bar at the bottom, so you always know how many words, pages, lines and paragraphs you have.

If you're writing a book or report, use the outlining feature to plan everything out. Organise your thoughts and simply drag and drop to move things around. Expand and collapse the outline as you need to; you're always in control. The full outline feature is available in Pages 09. If you have the earlier versions, then you have to use a numbered list to make your outline. It's still really easy to do. You just can use the little plus symbols to drag things around.

Use the thumbnails at the side of your page to retain an overview of how your document is looking. You can drag and drop the thumbnails too, so it's really simple to change things around.

Desk Top Publishing

Pages is not only a superb word processor it is a wonderfully simple to use desk top publishing (DTP) program as well.

Starting with a blank canvas or one of the many templates, you can create your own stunning page layouts in no time at all.

The Inspector shows you the exact settings for all the default elements and with a few clicks you can customise these to fit your publication. Fonts, images, graphics, tables and 3D charts are easy to add. Control the text, wrap it around your images, move it all around: the sky's the limit. It is just SO easy to work with.

The best part is that you don't have to "learn" how to use the menus because they are all integrated with the other Mac programs. Everything is laid out the same, looks the same, works the same, so Pages has a really small learning curve.

Working with Word

Pages is, in my opinion, a whole lot easier to use than Word, and I love the way that it is so integrated with my other Mac programs. It's such a pleasure to make professional looking documents with so little effort.

I have Word on my computer, too, but I very rarely use it now. Even if I need to send a document to a colleague, I make it in Pages and export it as a Word document. If they send Word docs to me, I can open them in Pages. It's such a fantastic time saver and stunningly simple to use - I LOVE IT!

References: (This is an archived page and loading may be slow.)

©2009 Lesley Pinkett Used by permission

Note from Audrey:I'm a Mac girl. Recently I got a new Mac with Pages. I hadn't used it because I was sure I'd need Word to edit for clients. Although Change Tracking on Pages isn't identical to Track Changes on Word, the changes do show up across platforms. That means I could use either program to edit for clients. It also means clients could use either to submit text to me.

Personal thanks to Lesley for prompting me to move along in my use of technology.

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