So What Does an Accessible PDF Look Like?

This entry is part 11 of 17 in the seriesTutorials


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 book. After seeing what a great PDF looks like, you’ll be able to better understand why …
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Layering Your PDFs Using Adobe InDesign CS6

This entry is part 12 of 17 in the seriesTutorials


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, diagrams, and other graphical content.

If it isn’t already available to you, enable the Layers panel. To do …
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Why Accommodating Others is Your Best Investment

This entry is part 13 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

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 Episode #64 of The Web Ahead, which you can access at Continue Reading Why Accommodating Others is Your Best Investment

Uploading Unwatermarked PDFs to DTRPG

This entry is part 14 of 17 in the seriesTutorials


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 them together. Whether you do one, the other, or both, I hope you can learn from …
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Accessible PDFs with InDesign Alternatives

This entry is part 15 of 17 in the seriesTutorials


I have offered a lot of tutorials about how to use Adobe InDesign CS6 to make accessible PDFs. It’s industry standard for a reason, but it’s also really expensive. Even with the new, more affordable Creative Cloud option, InDesign can seem out of reach for a small press publisher who’s on a budget.

In “How to Choose Layout Software,” I mentioned a few InDesign alternatives. Scribus is a free and open source layout program that is powerful, if not the most intuitive. Affinity Publisher is a low-cost alternative that isn’t quite as full-featured as InDesign, but it will get the job done for a fraction of the cost. More recently, I discovered LucidPress, a free web-based layout program, as well.

If you’re using one of these alternatives, you shouldn’t feel left out. Though I don’t have a lot of hands-on experience with these programs, I have compiled a …
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Prepare Your PDF for Print

This entry is part 16 of 17 in the seriesTutorials


Last week, someone asked me a question about preparing their PDF for print. Specifically, they had a question about one part of the process of setting up their files to be ready for DriveThruRPG’s Print On Demand (POD) service. I decided it’d be a good idea to do a tutorial about preparing your PDFs to send to your printer, but then I actually began thinking about it and realized this is a big topic. On the D&D 3rd Edition / Pathfinder size scale, prepping a PDF for print would be Colossal.

Here’s a 336 page book on Amazon that is said to be an introduction to the topic. (This is not an affiliate link; I don’t get paid if you buy this book. It’s just a random book I found and selected to illustrate my point.)

Instead of a step-by-step guide on setting up your print documents, I’m going to …
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Accessible Guide to RPG Layout Now Available

This entry is part 17 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

Accessible Guide to RPG Layout CoverYou may be familiar with our Tutorial Tuesday series which provides a lot of great information about how to create accessible RPG layouts. I’ve been hard at work collecting, categorizing, and updating these tutorials and putting them into a single eBook. Now available at DriveThruRPG, the Accessible Guide to RPG Layout is a great resource for any small press game designer.

The original tutorials will always be available free of charge here on the website, but purchasing the eBook gets you some additional benefits. The articles have been rearranged and grouped into a logical structure, making it easier to work through the process if you’re following along. The content has …
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