Dec 042012
Photo of Borat from the movie in a gray suit and aviators, giving thumbs up with both hands and smiling

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The holidays have brought a lot of requests for gift certificates from my customers. I pulled out my stash of fancy paper I purchased for this purpose, which is actually 5.5 inch x 7.75 inch blank invitation paper, with a whimsical .75 inch foil border by Great Papers. The package directed me to to download the free template at Mountaincow Printing Software. Well, Mountaincow no longer supports Great Papers, and the template provided was a Word document. Being a staunch believer in open source everything, I do not have Word. I use Google Docs and other Google Drive  A quick search revealed that there are no compatible 5.5 inch x 7.75 inch templates that support a .75 inch border in the horizontal format I desired.

So, returning to my Google Drive, I attempted to make a template for my business, and for sharing, too.

Google Docs does not, as of this writing, have a custom paper size option. I could have modified the rulers on an 8.5 x 11 doc, but seeing as I wanted to make a template, this could get messed up too easily by other users playing with the settings. Also, I was concerned at not being able to place text or an image exactly where I wanted.

Google Drawing has no option for image size that I could find, nor any support for making a Drawing a specific size on their help menu that I could find. Thus, I developed this workaround:

1. Determine the size of the document you want to create. Double check it with your own ruler.

2. Is there a border or pre-printed heading or image feature you need to design around? If so, measure how big it is and exactly where on the document it is located.

3. Open MS Paint, or another image-creating software. I use Paint, so this tutorial will focus on the process for people who use Paint. If you use another painting/drawing software, they are pretty simple and similar, so try to follow the best you can.

4. Go in the menu bar at the top, click “Image” and scroll down and click “Attributes”. Here, you can make your drawing a specific size. Choose Inches, Centimeters, or Pixels, based on your needs.

5. Save it as a .png file if you can (or better if using an Adobe product). A file with the extension .png is the highest quality resolution offered in Paint. Even though its blank/white right now, I think it’s a good habit to get into saving files with the best resolution offered, since if you print it or upload it online and it is saved as a .jpeg or similar, it may appear blurry and lacking quality. Save your drawing with a name something like “giftcertificatetemplate.png”. Note where on your computer you saved it. Close the Paint file.

6. Find the Paint file, open it back up, and again, click “Image” and scroll down and click “Attributes”. Double check that the size you desire is the size it got saved as.

7. Open your Firefox or Google Chrome browser. They make everything work right. Explorer and Safari are glitchy and barfy.

8. If you have a google account (Gmail, Google+, etc.), go to Google Drive. If you don’t have a Google account, why the heck not? Google has superior, free, user-friendly products that make our daily lives so much easier. Open one. And for the love of God, please remember to use your Firefox or Google Chrome browser!

9. Create a new Google Drawing file. From the menu bar, click “Insert” and scroll down and click “Image”. Browse and find your “giftcertificatetemplate.png”. Choose it. It should have inserted into the top left corner of your Google Drawing.

10. Using the sizey corner at the bottom right of your Google Drawing, resize the Google Drawing the same size as your inserted white image. You can tell because the Google drawing background is a gray and white check. So resize until you can’t see the gray and white checkers, only your white image. Do your best to make it close, chances are a tiny bit smaller won’t be an issue.

11. Now SAVE. You’ve gotten this far, so by saving your blank drawing, at least you have a document that is the exact size you need your project to be. I like to go to “File” and choose “Make a Copy” as well, so if I mess up my template, I don’t have to repeat steps 1 – 10.

12. It’s all yours! Create the text, insert logos or pictures you need, and design it.

I find the most helpful features on Google Drawings are all the fonts to choose from. If you don’t see any you like, there should be an option on the bottom of your list of fonts to “Add More”. Browse it!

If you go to “Arrange” on the menu toolbar and click “Center”, you can choose to center your text or image horizontally and/or vertically.

If you are going to print it, you can either download and save it to your computer or print it directly from Google Drive. Be aware, when you print from Google Drive, you are basically creating a PDF copy that gets saved to your computer that you can then print. Make sure you know the location where you are saving it. As a default, Adobe Reader will try to fit it to Letter paper size (8.5 x 11). Once you click the print button, be sure to select “actual size” print if your project is smaller than a normal size of paper, or click “Page Setup” and choose your size project or a size larger. If you are using fancy paper, perhaps run a test print on inexpensive paper to see what side of the printer tray to load your fancy paper into, and what side of the paper it prints on.

If you have the patience, I would strongly encourage you to take the extra few minutes and make a Google Template. To do this, make another copy of your document and take out your personal info. In the text and image boxes, sometimes it’s helpful to type “Name” or “Insert Logo Here”, etc, so future users can get a better gist of how it is set up.

Go to and choose “My Templates” and upload it. Label it effectively and give a thorough description. If we work together and spread the effort around and share ideas, we can make the world a better place! 8-)

 Posted by on December 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm Technology and Web Design Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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