In a recent post, I stated that there are four ways to create an adoption profile scrapbook:
- Create the profile out of paper, the old fashioned way.
- Create the profile on the computer using some sort of software. (I use Memory Mixer.)
- Create the profile on the computer using a photo web site, such as Snapfish or Shutterfly.
- Say to heck with it and hire someone else to create your profile.
On Friday, I explained using paper. Today, I’m going to talk about creating your adoption profile scrapbook using software.
Before you choose to use software to create a profile, you must be comfortable using a computer. If you “argh” in frustration every time something doesn’t go according to plan, step away from the computer. You don’t have to be a computer genius, but you do have to be able to troubleshoot basic problems, like “why isn’t the page printing?” or “how do I make this text bigger?”.
If you’re creating a profile of less than 4 pages, you can probably rely on Microsoft Word. In such a short profile, your focus is really the words anyway. However, if you’re creating a longer profile, Word will not produce the desired results without a lot of creative formatting. So, you shouldn’t create a longer profile with Microsoft Word unless you’re a power user, and if you’re a Microsoft Word power user, then you know Word isn’t the best tool for the job.
When you’re combining words and text, as in a profile, you want either desktop publishing software or scrapbooking software. Desktop publishing software includes iWork Pages (for the Mac), Adobe InDesign (Mac & Windows), and the old-school Adobe PageMaker (also Mac & Windows). Pages is incredibly easy to use – again, assuming you’re comfortable with computers in general. I vastly prefer it to Word and PageMaker, which I loved so much I still have my version 6.5 CD. InDesign is expensive, and I think you need to be a higher level user to understand it and use it to its full potential. If you’re an InDesign wiz, though, it can certainly be used to create a professional profile.
When it comes to scrapbooking software, there really aren’t as many choices as you might think. Search the Web for “scrapbooking software” and you get a lot of results. However, a lot of those results aren’t worth your money. I investigated all the free options for Windows and none of them allow you to be in true control of your design. Most of the programs labeled “scrapbooking software” are really “home print creativity” products repackaged with some extra clip art. Similarly, a lot of products that use big names, like Simple Scrapbooks, are really just re-branded versions of those “home print creativity” products. How do I know? I work for a company that publishes some of them.
If you use Windows, Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus is theoretically an option. I really enjoy Creative Memories products, although I am not now, nor have I ever been a consultant. I like Storybook Creator. However, the last time I checked, you could not create portrait-oriented 8.5 x 11 books. You can create landscape 11 x 8.5 books, but the portrait-oriented books are the standard for profiles. It’s possible that the people at Creative Memories have solved this problem. If anyone knows, please comment.
If you use Windows or the Mac, then Memory Mixer is an option. On the Mac, Memory Mixer is the best available option*. I used Memory Mixer for Windows, and now I use Memory Mixer for the Mac. I am very happy with the program. There’s not much of a learning curve, which is lovely. You can use any embellishments or papers that you wish. The customer support team is extremely helpful and friendly. I’m actually still using Memory Mixer 2.0, which has some limitations that the newer Memory Mixer 3.0 does not. If you think you might want to create digital scrapbooks in the future (say, your kid’s baby book?), I think you’ll be happy with Memory Mixer. You don’t have to use their services to print your books, you can export your pages as graphics and have them printed like photos, or you can just print to your own home printer. You can make scrapbooks in just about any size too.
If you’re a power user and want total control, then the digital scrapbooking software of choice is Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE). PSE is powerful graphics-editing software. You need to know what you’re doing to use it to its full potential. It can be daunting. If you’re good with computers, or if this is a skill you’ve always wanted to learn, then PSE may be for you. You can use it to do virtually anything that involves graphics. However, this isn’t a piece of software you can just open up and use without a lot of prior knowledge. PSE is available for both Windows and Mac.
* A word about software on the Mac. When I evaluated scrapbooking software in 2008, Memory Mixer was truly the best option available. There is now a new program available, My Memories Suite. It appears to be a rebranded version of Memory Mixer.
I hope this has helped you in your quest for creating the perfect adoption profile scrapbook.