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My wife is in charge of maintaining the teachers' handbook (a collection of useful documents, forms, relevant laws etc. for teachers) at her school. One item in that handbook is a picture gallery with all the colleagues' pictures (if available), together with their names and the subjects they teach. Quite useful, especially for new colleagues, which is why this document is updated at least once a year.

So far, I've been using Word to do this, but it's a) very slow, b) difficult to layout symmetrically and c) very cumbersome to update (removing retired teachers/adding new teachers means I have to rearrange all the pictures by hand, also I have to scale/crop the pictures I get to fit into the frame.

What I have now looks something like this - ugly, asymmetrical and a pain to maintain:

preview of image gallery

Is there a program that I could load the pictures into, add captions, define a layout (e.g., 3x3 pictures per page), and have the program automatically reorder the pictures when entries are added/removed (e.g., based on the last name)? Then output the picture gallery as a PDF?

Bonus points if I can define a picture size and scale/crop every picture to that size (if the picture is suitable for cropping)...

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I found a workable solution using MS Word and Adobe PDF.

  • First, I created a new document in Word, using narrow margins, but making the left margin bigger than the right one (2.27cm/0.27cm instead of the standard 1.27cm/1.27 which comes to 1/2" each). Why the skewed margins? You'll see in a minute.
  • Then, I added a giant textbox that fills the page (within the margins), formatting it as "in line with text".
  • Within that textbox, I inserted a center-justified, 1-column, 3-row table with invisible boundary lines. The top line is enlarged to hold the picture, the bottom two are filled with 36-point placeholder text. All line heights are set to "exact" so they won't move around if bigger/smaller pictures are used.

Template

Now I have a template I can copy and fill with real data. If an employee leaves, I delete the page, if an employee enters, I add a page in the appropriate location.

For printing, I first have to create a PDF (because Word only allows 8 or 12 pictures per page, not 9) and then print that PDF from Acrobat using the "9 pictures per page" option.

Result: Finished page

Because I used a bigger left margin for each picture, the resulting margin on the page is bigger on the left side as well (to accommodate punch holes).

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