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Kompozer Explained, in Recto-Verso

While checking to see if Kaz (Fabien Cazenave) has released Kompozer v0.8 (not yet!) I ran across a very nice free user guide to Kompozer written by Charles Cooke and released under Creative Commons. I’ve been using Kompozer for a couple of years now for all my new Web content, and although definitely unfinished, what’s there works very well. I figured it out by beating my head against it, but Cooke’s manual will obviate a lot of the beating if you’re coming to it for the first time. (The document is available in both English and German.)

And in downloading the PDF, I ran across a term I hadn’t seen in quite awhile: recto-verso. Most people use the term “mirror margins” these days, and that’s pretty much what it means: You lay out a book so that the wide margin is alternatively left and right on the printed sheet. Page 1 has the wide margin on the left, page 2 has the wide margin on the right, page 3 on the left, and so on. What this allows you to do is print the book on both sides of the sheet, so that the wide margins all end up on the left and form the “gutter” through which you punch the book for binding.

If you lay the book out in 2-page spreads, how this works is obvious, and most desktop-publishing templates for duplexed material take it into account. If you’re laying it out as single pages in something like MS Word, you have to specify “Mirror Margins” in the File | Page Setup menu and give yourself some space in the Gutter field. Cooke’s book is also available with wide margins on the left of every page, for printing on one side of the sheet only. The two versions are separate PDFs available from the same Web page; make sure you download the correct one.

One interesting thing about Cooke’s guides is that the PDFs are in color, with color highlighting, pale blue tips boxes, full-color screen shots, and colored arrows on screen shots to point out UI features. I guess it makes sense; almost everyone I know has a color laser by now, and I bought my first only about a month ago. I duplexed the recto-verso PDF, and made myself a duo-tang manual. I have quibbles with the layout, in that he packs way too much material on each page…but then again, with the cost of color laser and inkjet ink, printing only 61 pages is a lot cheaper than printing 150.

This was the first significant duplexed color job I’ve run on my new HP Color LaserJet CP1518ni. My one gripe is that there’s no fold-down single-sheet/duplexing tray in the front of the printer, as there is on the LJ2100 line. You can feed single sheets through a slot in the front of the printer, but for duplexing a stack, you have to pull the main paper tray and place the stack in the tray after you run the first side.

I guess that’s a nuisance, but the quality of the printing is very good, and in as dense a layout as Cooke hands us, the use of color does help a little.


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