Stamp Album Pages
by Gray Scrimgeour

from 'The Guideline', June 2013

Most collectors are now using computers to create pages for their stamps and covers, either for exhibiting or for saving in their own albums. Many use page-makeup programmes or word-processing programmes to prepare their pages. There also are programmes one can purchase specifically designed for preparing stamp-album pages.

I'll briefly describe two free programmes discussed recently in Linn's Stamp News by William F. Sharpe. One is a simple programme designed just for making stamp pages. The other is a desktop publishing programme that can be used for stamp pages.

Stamp Page Creator is a free downloadable programme for preparing pages for mounting stamps. downloaded free.

This is a very small and simple programme. Pages are designed by using a toolbar that is at the left side of the screen. To make a page, one starts by entering its title in the box at the bottom of the toolbar page. Next, one enters a 'Group' a row of stamp boxes, and names the group. Individual boxes for stamps in that group can then be prepared; a six-line set of boxes allows one to choose the width and height of each stamp box, enter lines of text above or below the box, and choose the shape of the box (normally rectangular, and this shape is recommended). When stamps are added to the group, one at a time, they automatically are spaced horizontally. Images of stamps can be added if you have them and want them. Page borders can be chosen from a menu that includes none, simple (one line) and legacy (two line). Pages can be exported as PDFs or can be printed.

The programme has limited information but its tools are few and straightforward. Placing the cursor over any of the eight icons at the top of the screen tells its function or role.

The reviewer of Stamp Page Creator (W.F. Sharpe in Linn's Stamp News, May 6, 2013) reminds users to add file extensions to file names (e.g., .pdf or .xml). Without these added extensions, files are saved without extensions.

Scribus is an open source desktop publishing programme that Sharpe (in Linn's Stamp News, August 12, 2012) has used for adding rectangular frames with text below. Scribus can be downloaded free. This programme has extensive online supporting text. An online manual for Scribus is available free. [Three printed manuals are available from Amazon at prices ranging from $30 to $45 (the latter is the 'official printed manual').] Use of Scribus for album or exhibit pages will require one to become adept at page makeup techniques, then use those procedures to make pages individually designed for your own stamps and covers. The same holds true for use of other professional - and relatively expensive - page desktop publishing programmes such as Pagemaker, QuarkXPress or InDesign. If you plan on preparing pages for a lot of collections, or want the best possible methods for page making, learning desktop publishing is the method to choose.

Sharpe describes the process for making pages with Scribus as: "place rectangular frames on a blank page, add text descriptions below them, arrange them attractively, and save the page as a Scribus document."

Here are a few details. Boxes are made by selecting "insert shape" from a drop-down inert menu. Click on the square box in the default shapes. The cursor will become a rectangular box; move it into position and click and drag a rectangle. The exact placement and size of the rectangle can be determined using a Properties box (found by right clicking over the rectangle). Stamp descriptions can be added in text boxes ("insert text frame") placed in small rectangles drawn below the stamp boxes. Suitable boxes can be copied and used in other locations - and aligned and placed using "align" and "distribute" commands.

If you would like to try a simple and useful page makeup programme, try the PagePlus starter programme, which is free download. This programme is easy to learn and use, and may be the answer for you.

I am teaching myself how to use the $100 PagePlus full version for preparing books. I use Microsoft Word for preparing exhibit pages, but will probably eventually switch to PagePlus. I would class PagePlus 6.0 as intermediate between a very simple programme such as Stamp Page Creator and a high-end desktop publishing professional programme. With practice, its features are easy to use and its results are excellent. It has many features that I'll never use.

Proper use of computers for preparing stamp pages has become a standard for most advanced collectors and for many intermediate collectors. Making one's own pages can keep an album up-to-date, and can give one the chance to add blocks, shades, stamps with postmarks, etc. in a suitable place in the album - things that cannot be neatly done with purchased albums.