Uploading Unwatermarked PDFs to DTRPG

This entry is part 14 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 14 of 17 in the series Tutorials


After the spotlight on Shaintar I wrote a few weeks ago, I received quite a bit of feedback from people who had some misconceptions about DriveThruRPG’s system limitations. I’d like to clear up a few of them with today’s tutorial and walk you through the process of uploading a file to DTRPG without watermarks.

Much of the feedback I received was from other layout artists who, I presume, don’t often upload the final PDFs to DriveThru. Some of the feedback was from other publishers who, again I presume, don’t’ do layout work themselves.

I seem to be in a somewhat uncommon position where I do both. I realized that I have insight drawn from both sides of this issue; from the perspective of the publisher uploading the files and the layout person who puts … Continue reading

Why Accommodating Others is Your Best Investment

This entry is part 13 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 13 of 17 in the series Tutorials

It’s April First, but this is no April Fool’s post.


It’s Tutorial Tuesday, but this week I’d like to step back for a moment and talk more broadly about why accessibility is important. Many of the tutorials I’ve written up to this point have provided steps to help make documents more accessible, and there are many good reasons for that.

But before I get into the details, I wanted to share a link to this great podcast I listened to recently. The episode is about accessibility in web design, but there are a lot (and I mean a lot) of great takeaways that apply to all electronic media, and even a few points that extend into everyday life in general.

It’s a little over an hour long, but if you have the time I’d suggest checking out … Continue reading

Layering Your PDFs Using Adobe InDesign CS6

This entry is part 12 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 12 of 17 in the series Tutorials


Last week, I showcased a PDF that scored high marks in accessibility. It made great use of layers, document structure, and bookmarks to form a PDF that was easy to read in a variety of ways. Layering, in particular, helped the book immensely; by placing backgrounds and images on their own layer, they can be toggled on or off, which means people who find those graphics distracting can hide them, and people who wish to print the book can turn them off for improved ink economy.

This week I’ll show you how to add layers to a document using Adobe InDesign CS6.

Setting Up Your Document

First of all, you’ll want to make sure you have a document imported into InDesign. You’ll also need to place one or more graphic files, such as illustrations, … Continue reading

So What Does an Accessible PDF Look Like?

This entry is part 11 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 11 of 17 in the series Tutorials


Next week, I plan to do a tutorial about how to layer PDFs. It’s simple, painless, and does a lot to improve the accessibility of a document. Layering a PDF allows users to toggle the visibility of certain elements. If a background is causing contrast issues, for example, the user can simply hide the background and the text becomes much clearer.

Layers are just one aspect of an accessible PDF. Bookmarks and tags are just as important, and I’ve already written a tutorial about how to do both of those.

This week, I’ll show off a PDF that scores high marks in accessibility. It’s Shaintar: Legends Arise by Evil Beagle Games, who have been kind enough to allow me to share screenshots of their … Continue reading

Keeping Your Text Flow Flowing: Removing Text Dams

This entry is part 10 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 10 of 17 in the series Tutorials


With a birthday, a new product launch, looming Kickstarter campaign, and a baby on the way, I’ve been pretty busy this week. That means I haven’t had time to do an in-depth tutorial for you, but I’d still like to talk generally about a few things you can do to structure your books to improve both readability and accessibility.

This week’s post may be more fluff than crunch, but it’s still substantial. Readability matters to everyone — a book that isn’t laid out properly just isn’t very useful. It also improves accessibility to people with print disabilities though, so by following some good guidelines you can ensure your book is suited for the widest possible audience.

Readability Concerns

Importing documents into your layout program of choice is usually pretty simple. You import … Continue reading

Making Magic Happen with GREP

This entry is part 9 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 9 of 17 in the series Tutorials


If you have been following along lately, you’ll be familiar with how to access GREP (Global Real Expression Parser) from InDesign’s Find / Change dialog. If not, I recommend reading the last two posts in the series to get yourself up to speed.

GREP is a powerful tool worth mastering. Learning to use it effectively improves productivity and sets you apart from the pack. It can’t make your designs better all by themselves, but it will certainly help you implement your designs quickly, easily, and consistently.

If you’ve spent any time reading GREP tutorials on the internet, you’ll notice a lot of techniques are geared toward general purpose design work. It can be difficult to find expressions that are geared toward the special needs and common design scenarios used by RPG and board game publishers. This … Continue reading

How to Apply GREP Quickly with InDesign Scripts

This entry is part 8 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 8 of 17 in the series Tutorials


If you’ve been following Tutorial Tuesdays lately, you’ll remember that we recently learned how to apply Paragraph Styles to a manuscript with markup using GREP. Even though GREP is a largely automated process, we were still applying the styles one at a time through the Find / Change dialog, and that’s time-consuming

I hinted at a way to automate the process of applying styles using GREP and some of InDesign’s powerful built-in Scripts. This week, I’ll show you how to do that.

But First!

If you’d like to follow along, download the demonstration file and import it to InDesign. Even if you downloaded the file last week, you might want to download it again; I updated it with a few new Character Styles that we’ll be using in today’s example.

GREP and Character Styles

Last week … Continue reading

The Secret to Simple Manuscript Import with InDesign CS6

This entry is part 7 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 7 of 17 in the series Tutorials


Last week I showed you how to import a manuscript to InDesign CS6 using the standard import dialog. You created Paragraph and Character Styles and mapped them to the styles from the imported document.

It was pretty simple, but it doesn’t always get things right. You may have to do some additional tweaking afterward, and that can take quite a lot of time.

If you’ve followed the past few Tutorial Tuesdays, I’ve been hinting at a way to import a manuscript and apply styles that is quick, easy, and largely automated. It does require some forethought and set-up, but once you’ve figured out the basics it’s hard to want to do it any other way.

Create Your Paragraph Styles and Document Markup

Before you begin … Continue reading

How to Import a Manuscript to InDesign CS6

This entry is part 6 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 6 of 17 in the series Tutorials


For the past few weeks, I have been showing authors how to prepare their manuscripts for export to layout software such as Adobe’s industry-leading InDesign. In the following few tutorials, I’ll show layout professionals how to import a properly-prepared document.

There are a few ways to do this, and there isn’t necessarily any right or wrong way. There are slower and faster ways, and generally speaking the faster import methods take more preparation work. In the long run though, all that prep pays off.

In these tutorials I will focus on InDesign CS6 for Windows. Most of these processes are similar on Macs; just substitute any mention of the CTRL key for the Command key and you’ll likely get the result you’re looking for.

Also, some of these processes have not changed over the last few … Continue reading

Prepare Your Game Manuscript to Send to Layout Pt. 3

This entry is part 5 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 5 of 17 in the series Tutorials


Last week I explained some DOs and DON’Ts of manuscript formatting. Today, we’ll take a more advanced look at how you can markup your document for quick, easy, and — best of all — consistent layout.

Markup Basics

If you’ve ever looked at HTML — the code behind a website — you’ll be familiar with what markup is.  By using a series of simple tags, you tell the web browser (or, in this case, the layout person) how to interpret your manuscript.

Markup for a manuscript may look something like this:

<h1>Chapter 1: World History

A bit of information about the history of <strong>My World.</strong> Here’s a list of some of the cool things you’ll find:


Item 1

Item 2

Item 3


Continue reading