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Author Topic: Page Numbering in PDFs  (Read 1750 times)
Adam
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« on: March 16, 2002, 10:42:25 PM »

Hey all,

I thought I'd ask people to weigh in their opinion here, since there are a few people who have published PDFs on the web before. :)

I've traditionally built PDF files so the page numbers inside the document don't match the page number in the file -- the cover doesn't count as a page, and the numbering starts at 1 with the second page of the PDF file.

I like this approach because it looks more like a proper publication once printed out, but when it's being read in Acrobat Reader the page numbers obviously display incorrectly, with the on-page number being one digit lower than the page count in the files navigation tools.

Does anyone actually notice this? Any preference either way? I've never had any readers mention it one way or another.

[Messing around with Adobe InDesign 2 tonight - yummy!]
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2002, 09:11:12 AM »

Quote from: Adam

I've traditionally built PDF files so the page numbers inside the document don't match the page number in the file -- the cover doesn't count as a page, and the numbering starts at 1 with the second page of the PDF file.

I like this approach because it looks more like a proper publication once printed out, but when it's being read in Acrobat Reader the page numbers obviously display incorrectly, with the on-page number being one digit lower than the page count in the files navigation tools.



I've a few thoughts on this one.

First, I'll start with the cover. Since PDFs aren't another medium like print or online (they're both ... kinda), then we all really need to think about that medium and, more importantly, how it'll be used by people.

Without any kind of real information about what people are doing with PDFs, I'll have to guess. (By the way, I'd love it if folks would chime in with how they use gaming-related PDFs). My best guess is that folks are printing the PDFs out on their home or work computers. So, at best we're looking at a nice inkjet or a strictly B&W laser printer. Color lasers won't be common. The result is some form of collated, maybe stapled our three-hole punched document that folks use to read.

If that's anywhere near the reality of PDFs and their use, then I'd say you should begin numbering at the "cover". WHich brings me to my next point. Since this is another medium, and one that is likely used differently than others, I thing folks really need to question every aspect of the production, taking nothing for granted as they might with a strictly print or strictly online product.

Take covers, for example. Why produce a glorious cover that chews up memory size, "throws off" the page count, and may not be printed (or printed well) in the first place?

What do cover's do? They give your product a face, an identity. They draw in the customer, encouraging him or her to pick it up, and they give a chance for the publisher to convey in one quick visual what the game's all about. Covers probably do a couple other things as well, but I think you can see what I'm getting at.

So, the quesiton is, if the people are already downloading your PDF, do you need to do any of these things? Hasn't the "sell" already been made. How functional is, say, a nice full-color cover. I think it probably does serve a purpose, but one far less important than, say, a print publication's cover.

Instead, I suggest you can use that cover space for other functions. For example, you can put a quick introduction, credits, and table of contents on the bottom half, with a nice title and perhaps cover image on the top half (or two thirds or whatever).

This, then, becomes page one, though you need not display it as such. Then, number "interior" subsequently, letting people print pages as they see fit acording to both your page numbers and the documents "actual" page numbers.

So, I guess that's a long-winded version of "Start numbering with the cover as page 1." I hope smunched in between is a useful chunk of reasoning for why I think that's so!

Have a good time w/ InDesign 2. I just spent six hours last night re-educating myself on PageMaker (I'm generally a Quark guy) for a freelance gaming gig -- let's just say Godlike Nazis are almost as terrible as the real thing.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2002, 09:18:09 AM »

Hi there,

I'm with Matt on both of his points, namely that people use PDFs by printing them out. Therefore, in my view, the utility of the page numbers occurs at that during-use stage. Whether you start with 1 or 2 or whatever doesn't mean much, I think, but having the page numbers and having them be sequential and easy to use on the printed output is a really important concern.

Oh, and double-ditto on Matt's point about covers. I strongly recommend that the amazing glitz one can achieve on the screen is really not a good priority to bring to PDF publishing, both for purposes of sending the file and of printing it out.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2002, 10:54:48 AM »

The PDF should begin with the credit page, or table of contents page, or dedication page, or whatever.

If you do have a really kick ass cover.  Make it a seperate file.  That way it can be downloaded and printed by those who care, and ignored by those who don't.

I'd give similiar advice to any interior artwork which is more than just a simple line drawing or is an actual illustration of something relevant in the text.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2002, 05:48:09 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
The PDF should begin with the credit page, or table of contents page, or dedication page, or whatever.

If you do have a really kick ass cover.  Make it a seperate file.  That way it can be downloaded and printed by those who care, and ignored by those who don't.

I'd give similiar advice to any interior artwork which is more than just a simple line drawing or is an actual illustration of something relevant in the text.


Yup. I'm thinking of doing it this way with my future game PDFs. The whole "downloadable image pak" that people can get separately from the actual "we need to print this out to play" rules and info.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Dav
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2002, 09:15:09 PM »

I just wanted to give a nice nod to Valamir on this one.  I had not considered the "separate file" solution, which, of course, is brilliant.

It also enables someone to have three or four versions of the cover, and someone can download and print the one they like the best.  

Great idea!

Dav
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Adam
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2002, 10:54:16 AM »

Thanks for the replies, all.

Quote from: Matt Snyder

By the way, I'd love it if folks would chime in with how they use gaming-related PDFs.

With issue #16 of the Shadowrun Supplemental I asked the question: "Do you normally read the HTML or PDF version of the magazine, or both, and why?"

I will acknowledge ahead of time that the results from a PDF/HTML comparison were flawed, because we released the PDF version months ahead of the HTML version [My HTML guy flaked out on me and I eventually replaced him after giving him /far/ too much time to get it done. My fault entirely]

This led to almost all of the responses being "PDF only" or "PDF and HTML". Nobody said they read only the HTML version, and those that used both usually said they read the HTML and then printed out the PDF version, or at least the parts they were interested in.

I'd say your guesses regarding printing on inkjets or laser printers [mostly at work/school] are dead on.

Quote
Have a good time w/ InDesign 2. I just spent six hours last night re-educating myself on PageMaker (I'm generally a Quark guy) for a freelance gaming gig -- let's just say Godlike Nazis are almost as terrible as the real thing.

I was mostly a PageMaker guy - the jump to InDesign so far has been pretty easy, and the fact that it imported my broken PageMaker template without any problems was a nice touch. Still have to work out some pesky Acrobat 5 issues, though.

As for the seperate files idea, I'm not a huge fan of it; adding another step to the user [Unzipping the files] seems to bump head-to head with the traditionally simple download of a PDF file [In the above survey, several people said they liked the PDF files for the one-stop download and archive.] However, zipping the PDF file would do away with some of the pesky PDF via browser plugins issues.

This brings another question to mind: What constitutes a "big" file now? I have a cable modem, so I don't bat at eye on a download if it's below 10MB or so, assuming I'm getting good 'value' for my download - a 10 page PDF that's 10MB probably isn't, but a 10MB 150 pager isn't so bad [Although it's still probably too big]

I think I'll ask the "Do you care if the file is distributed in multiple pieces inside a zip file?" question in next issues survey...

Once again, thanks guys.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2002, 11:04:24 AM »

Hey,

Just to speak to the zip issue, I've been sending Sorcerer stuff zipped for years, and incurred no complaints. I think part of it is that the size is reduced, but I also think it's mainly that we are talking about a paid product, not a download - hence one can never just click on it. It's not like heading to see a new webpage (like a download is); it's like getting a present in the mail. I think people don't mind unwrapping presents.

Now if we're talking about stuff to be clicked/downloaded and hopped right to, on-line, that might be different.

Best,
Ron
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Seth L. Blumberg
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Posts: 303


« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2002, 12:15:12 PM »

As a consumer (and not [yet] a producer) of gaming documents in PDF form, I have to agree with Matt Snyder re: covers. They're pretty useless. Do it the way he suggests. Please.

I disagree with Valamir, however. Artwork is important in establishing the "feel" of a setting. It engages a different part of the brain than does the text. As such, I consider it important, though I find that most printed games on the market today have too much art for my tastes (White Wolf is an especially egregious offender in this regard).

I also have to say that I often read PDFs online before printing them out (though I more commonly do this with non-gaming-related PDFs), and it is extremely annoying to have to compute the offset between table-of-contents page numbers and Acrobat page numbers every time I want to skip to a chapter. Bookmarks alleviate this somewhat, but not entirely. I vote in favor of consistency.

One entity's opinion, take it as you will.

--
Seth L. Blumberg
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the gamer formerly known as Metal Fatigue
Valamir
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2002, 12:50:20 PM »

I wouldn't remove the art, if you have art that is actually pretty good.  But I would make it availabe as a seperate file.  Either completely seperate with the text in one and all images in another, or with two seperate PDF layouts, one largly text only and one tex + art.

Especially for non purchased PDFs, I'm FAR more likely to look over the game if I get a well layed out text (or simple line art version) than to spend an hour downloading some art laden monstrosity.  If I'm trying to decide whether a game is worth pursueing further, I'm interested in the game, not the pictures.  Once I've decided it is THEN the art has value.

If the art is key to attracting interest, put in on the website.  Leave it out of the PDF.  If I've gotten as far as downloading the PDF, I'm already interested.  Let me pick up the art later if I like the game enough to want to keep it.
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