HOME     Making Pictures   Charts   Stationery   Family   Garden   Stories   Computer   Games   All

Using Publisher 3

Contents of this page

Old but Handy

Publisher Version 3 was already out of date when I wrote this help for a friend nine years ago. Version 3 came out with Windows 95, and seven more advanced versions have since appeared. I've hung onto my copy of Version 3 through four computers and I still use it. For a booklet, a greeting card, a "Found" or "For Sale" notice, or for making repeated copies of an already filled in form, it's all I need.

Everything you do in Publisher can be changed. You can move things around on the page, change the colour of things, move things from under other things to on top of them, make things bigger or smaller, rotate things and make some things transparent. If you import a black and white drawing you can change it to green or blue or grey. A publisher page is like a piece of cartridge paper on which you can arrange and rearrange things until you are happy with the result. You can even move things right off the drawing area and leave them on the grey area outside until you are ready to paste them down.

Many of the things that you can do in Publisher are not mentioned on this page. There are also more ways to do things than the ways described here. Once you're familiar with the program, hunt through the menus for other options—and most of all, have fun!


Not everything in this table has a heading of its own. When you click one of these links, the paragraph that you need should be right at the top of the new window.

Adding new pictures
Adding text
Advertisements, making
Arranging things on the page
Back, send object
Backgrounds, transparent
Borders, fancy
Bringing something to the front
Buttons, miscellaneous
Calendars, making
Changing existing pictures
Choosing pictures
Colouring shapes
Copy an existing document
Deleting existing pictures
Document, copy
Drawing lines and arrows
Drawing shapes
Drawing special shapes
Editing something with things in front of it
Editing text wrap
Fancy borders
Forward, bring object
Furniture van
Help in Publisher
Keeping Word Art consistent
Keyboard functions
Keys in text editing
Line thickness
Lines and arrows, drawing
Lining things up
Logo, making
Mirror objects
Mirroring pictures
Move something
Moving without spoiling alignment
OLE button
Other buttons
Other programs, copying pictures from
Pasting a picture doesn't work
Picture doesn't fit box
Picture, wrap text around
Pictures from other programs
Pictures, adding
Pictures, changing
Pictures, choosing
Pictures, deleting

Rotate 90 degrees
Rotating objects
Save a copy
See all of the page
See the page full size
Select all text
Shapes, colouring
Shapes, drawing
Sizing objects evenly
Special shapes, drawing
Table button
Text editing with keys
Text formatting
Text wrap, editing
Text, adding
Text, colouring
Text, select all
Tool bars
Transparent backgrounds
Wizard button
Word Art
Word Art, keeping consistent
Wrap text around picture


Help in Publisher

While you are working in Publisher, message boxes will pop up when you begin certain operations. This may be startling at first, and your impulse may be to turn them off. However, the messages are useful. They may lead to a demonstration or overview of a procedure, or they may offer step-by-step instructions. Therefore, if you don't need help at that point, simply ignore the message and it will go away. If you are in doubt about what you're doing, stop and read the message and use the instructions offered.

Tool bars

The tool bars in Publisher change according to what you are doing. When you are editing text, you will have a usual sort of formatting bar. When you have a picture selected, tools for working with the picture will be available. Some tool bar items will be described further down, although by no means all.
  TOP    Contents of this page

Saving and editing a copy of a document

Publisher iconOpen an existing document by double clicking it. A publisher document has the extension pub and displays the Publisher icon.

Save a copy

Having opened a file, click File > Save as and enter a new name in the box that comes up. The easiest way is to click into the name in the slot and put a 2 or a b between the existing name and the dot.


Click on a picture or a piece of text. Black handles will appear around it. You can pull the handles to adjust the size and shape of the box. If it's a picture, the picture will grow or shrink. If it's text, you'll get more or less space in which to write.

Move something

If you move your cursor around near the bottom of the highlighted box, you'll see a little furniture van. Press the left mouse button and keep it down while you move the item to a different position on the page.

See all of the page or see part of it full size

If you click on View, you can choose to see the page at various magnifications or "zoom levels". If you tap F9 you will go back to the view you had just before the present one.   TOP    Contents of this page


Changing existing pictures

If you click on a picture that you don't want, you can press the delete key and it will be removed.

If you see a picture that you would like to change for a different picture, double click it and you will be offered a list of pictures. Be sure to put a tick in the "Preview File" box so that you can see each picture as you click on it. If you don't like any of these pictures you can navigate to your own picture collection and choose a picture from there.

When you find the picture that you want to use, double click its name and you will be returned to Publisher.

When a picture is being added, Publisher will usually say that the proportions are wrong and ask if it can change the shape of the box. Unless you want the box the shape it is, click OK. If you do want to keep the shape of the box and don't mind having the picture distorted a bit, click "Change Picture to Fit Frame" before you click OK.

Adding new pictures

If you click on this button in the toolbox on the left picture button you may either click on the drawing space to produce a standard picture frame or drag diagonally to make a picture frame of the size you want. It doesn't matter where you put the picture, since you can easily move it later.

You then click "Insert" on the toolbar and choose either ClipArt or Picture File from the drop down menu. If you choose Picture File you will be taken to Publisher's own selection of clip art, but you can then navigate to your own picture collection if you prefer.   TOP    Contents of this page

When you find the picture that you want to use, double click its name and you will be returned to Publisher.

You can also add a picture by opening it in another program and copying it. In Publisher, click Edit > Paste picture. You do not need to have drawn a picture box; Publisher will add it automatically. You can then size and crop the picture in the usual way.

If you copy a picture from Printshop Deluxe—and probably from some other programs as well—leave the other program open until you have the picture pasted into Publisher. This is because some programs clear the clipboard when they’re closed.   TOP    Contents of this page

Drawing shapes

You can easily draw various shapes to put behind text or pictures or to make a diagram or logo. All shapes can be coloured in different ways, which will be explained further down. It doesn't matter where you draw the shapes, since you can easily move them later.

ellipse button This button lets you draw circles or ellipses. After clicking the button, you drag diagonally to make the shape you want. Holding the shift key will force the shape to be a circle.

rectangle button This button lets you draw squares or oblongs. After clicking the button, you drag diagonally to make the shape you want. Holding the shift key will force the shape to be a square.

shapes button This button helps you to draw arrows, stars, word balloons and other shapes. When you click on this button, a fly-out menu will offer different shapes. Choose the one nearest to the shape you want. When you drag diagonally on the drawing area the shape you clicked on the menu will appear. You will quickly find that you can change the size and proportions of the shape by dagging any of the black handles that appear around it after it has been drawn. Some shapes have one or two little grey handles as well. By dragging these around you can change the shape quite a lot. You can, for instance, change the horseshoe shape into an arch, or the pie chart shape into a wedge. Experiment!

line tool This button draws lines and arrows. Click the button and drag a line the length you want. If you want the line to have an arrow head, look up at the right end of the tool bar and you will see that some arrow shapes have conveniently appeared. Click one of these and an arrow head will be added to your line.
  TOP    Contents of this page

Thickness and colour of lines

linesize button This button, which appears on the right hand end of the tool bar, gives a choice of colours and thicknesses for a line that is currently selected. Click on its downward pointing arrow and then on the word "More". Now you will have a box offering a selection of line thicknesses and a box marked "Colour". The bottom thickness box reads "10 points", but you can write over this with a bigger number if you wish to. When you click the down arrow beside the colour box you will be offered a palette of colours from which to choose. You can also choose "Patterns and Shading", which in fact offers shading only.


The line thickness button can also be used to put a border around a shape, a picture or a text box.

For rectangular objects only, there is an item on the Format menu called "Border Art". This offers many different borders, including neat double and triple lines, a dainty rosebud border, and some fairly startling borders. The "Border Art" items can be drawn to a width of your choosing, and some that look rather dreadful in preview are quite nice when slimmed down.


Colouring text

text colour buttonThe text formatting toolbar includes a large T with a colour swatch at its base. Clicking this and clicking a colour from the palette will apply the colour to selected text. Note that the text itself needs to be selected, either with Ctrl+a for all of the text in a box or by dragging over a portion of the text. If only the text box is selected, but none of the text inside it, formatting changes can't be made.

Colouring shapes, including text boxes

When a shape or text box is selected, click on this button fill button near the right hand end of the tool bar, choose "Patterns and Shading" and investigate "Gradients". You'll be shown many different ways that the program can use two colours to form backgrounds and fills, some of which are quite lovely. By clicking "More Colours" in the colour selection boxes you'll get the opportunity to choose soft, subtle colours.   TOP    Contents of this page

Making objects transparent

If you have something that you want to show behind your text, such as a watermark-type picture or perhaps a lot of little stars or flowers, you will need the text box to be transparent. To achieve this, select the text box, click the fill button button, and choose "Clear".

Arranging things on the page

Lining things up

If you have several things that you would like to have lined up neatly, hold the shift key down while you click each of them in turn. Then go up to the menu bar and click on "Arrange". In the drop-down menu, choose "Line up objects". Click the sort of alignment you want. If you also want the items centred on the page, you should tick the box marked "Align along margins". If you simply want to centre one object, this box will be selected automatically.

It's very easy to get alignment wrong the first few times. If you finish up with all of your objects sitting on top of each other, just hold Ctrl and tap z, or click the "Undo" button undo button on the toolbar. Then try again.

Bringing something to the front or sending it back

send to back or front buttons You may have an item that you wanted to have in front of everything else but find that it has some other object partly hiding it. Either click the object you want to bring forward and then click the button with the yellow square at the front, or else click the offending object and click the button with the yellow square at the back.

Sometimes you may have an item at the back, and that's where you want it to be, but you want to change it in some way. You may wish to alter its size, its position, or its colour. In such a case, send the item covering it (usually a text box) to the back, make your changes and then bring the other object to the front again.   TOP    Contents of this page

Keyboard functions

Many things in Publisher can be done very quickly by holding certain keys.

Moving without spoiling alignment

If, after you select an object, you hold down the Alt key and tap an arrow key, the object will move in the direction of the arrow key. This is particularly useful if you have something carefully centred but want to move it up or down the page.

Rotating objects

While you are holding down the Alt key you can grab a corner handle of a selected object and rotate the object. You can also rotate objects through a dialogue box, but this way is much quicker.

Sizing objects evenly

If you hold down Shift while resizing an object, its proportions will be maintained.

If you hold down Ctrl while resizing an object, its centre will hold its position on the page.

Holding down both Ctrl and Shift while resizing maintains both position and proportions.

Keys in text editing

Almost all of the usual formatting keys: Ctrl+b, Ctrl+u and Ctrl+i, for instance, work in Publisher. However, do not try to use Ctrl+Delete to delete the word ahead of the cursor, as it will delete the whole text box. Should you do this without thinking, quickly hold Ctrl and tap z, or click the "Undo" button undo button on the toolbar before you do anything else.

Other buttons


crop buttonIf you have imported a picture that has too much white space around the edges, or only part of which you wish to display, click this button on the tool bar and then drag inwards from the edge of the picture to cut away the unwanted part.

Ideally, one should crop the picture in a separate graphics program, because the whole picture will be added to the size of the finished document, no matter how little is actually showing. However, if you are rushed, or if the offending area is small, it may be better to save time by using the cropping tool.
  TOP    Contents of this page

Wrap text around picture

box for wrapping text around pictures These two buttons, which appear on the toolbar when a picture is selected, let you choose whether there should be a rectangular space around a picture or whether nearby text should snuggle close to it.

Be warned, the effects of choosing the latter option usually need some editing. The wrap may ignore some areas of the picture, allowing text to be over those parts, or you may prefer there to be no text on the margin side of the picture.

box for editing text wrap around objectsTo edit the wrap, click this button and drag handles until the wrap pleases you.

Adding text

To add text to a Publisher page, you must first draw a bounding box to contain it. This makes it possible for you to move the whole passage around the page until you find the place where you feel it looks best.

text box buttonClick the text box button, then either click onto the page to draw a standard text box whose size and shape you can later edit, or draw a box by dragging diagonally over the place where you will initially place the text. Start typing in the box immediately, or just leave it in position until you are ready.

Change text formatting

If you click into a text box and press Ctrl+a, which selects all of the text in that text box, you can go up to the formatting bar and change the size and/or font of the text in that box. Text in other boxes won't be affected, unless you have linked boxes, which is a more advanced step. You can also drag across some text to highlight it and change the formatting of just that bit.

You can paste text from a different program into Publisher. If you are doing this with a long passage—perhaps a whole story—Publisher will offer to add text frames and use "Autoflow". Accept its kind offer.

To learn about formatting text in Publisher, read the excellent typography tips by Suzanne S. Barnhill and Dave Rado. These detailed notes include examples of attractive—and unattractive, for contrast—setting up of pages and explain the use of different fonts and font sizes. Line spacing and paragraph styles are explained, as well as special extras like “call outs” and “pull quotes”.

Word Art

Word Art button This button gives you access to an early version of Microsoft Word Art. If you have one of the later versions of Microsoft Office, you will notice that the possibilities of this version are not as wide as those in the newer version. There is, for instance, no rainbow shading available. If you particularly want to use the latest version, you can make your Word Art object in Word and copy and paste it onto your Publisher page.   TOP    Contents of this page

Most of the time you will probably be satisfied with what this junior version of Word Art can provide.

When you want several Word Art objects on a page, eg Story Name, by, Author's Name, make and format the first one, then hold the Ctrl key and drag to make a copy and repeat this as many times as necessary. Then click on the first copy, edit the text, click outside of the Word Art area and resize the bounding box of the second Word Art object. This not only saves time, but ensures that colours, shading, shadows and so on will be consistent. You can, of course, edit attributes other than the text if you wish to do so.


wizard button This button helps you to create several commonly needed objects—a calendar, a logo, an advertisement and a coupon or application form. After clicking the button, you draw a box to contain the required object. If you wish to make a calendar, it's usually better to begin with an empty page.

Ole button

object linking and embedding button The ole (object linking and embedding) button is a quick way to access the most commonly used ole objects. The choice "Microsoft Drawing" on the ole menu opens, after you draw a bounding box, a separate window in which you can make a simple drawing. The parts of such a drawing will stay together on the Publisher page and can be moved and sized as a group. Text can be used in a Microsoft Drawing.

Table button

table button The table button lets you make a simple table to place on the page. It doesn't have the functionality of an Excel table or even a Word table, but can be handy for making a tidy list.

Rotate 90 degrees

rotate 90 degrees button These buttons rotate the selected object by 90º in the indicated direction. A second click on the same button will result in the object's being upside down, but not as a mirror image.

Flip vertically or horizontally

flip vertically or horizontally These buttons create a mirror image of the selected object, either upside down or to the side. If you want to duplicate the object, hold Ctrl and drag a copy before you click the flip button. Not all objects are able to be mirrored. The flip buttons only appear on the tool bar when the selected object is one that may be mirrored.
   TOP     Contents of this page

Mirroring pictures

If you need a picture facing the other way, select it, copy it, paste it into a graphics program, click "Image", "Horizontal Flip", click "Copy", go back to Publisher and—with the original image selected—click "Edit", "Paste Picture".

These directions apply to Irfan View, which I use because it is fast and simple. Flipping a picture in a different graphics program may require more or different steps.    Contents of this page



Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you. My email address is here.

Return to top