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Compiled by Randy Neil, author of The Philatelic Exhibitors Handbook, this section features an expanding series of articles to help you prepare competitive philatelic exhibits.


Exhibit Enhancements Using Your Computer

THE COMPUTER brings to philatelic exhibiting the full capabilities of the publishing world—enabling the philatelist to create exhibits that have a far greater visual impact than when any other method is employed to produce them. The exhibitor must be careful, however. It's possible that, by using all of the software at the user's fingertips, overkill can be the result.

SOFTWARE. After having executing over 3,500 pages of exhibits, I now utilize Adobe Pagemaker, Corel Draw, Paintshop Pro, and Adobe Photoshop. Hardware (as of February 2000): Hewlett-Packard Scanjet 6100C, Gateway Pentium/400mhz with 196mb RAM, Lexmark Optra R+ 1200dpi laser printer, and Epson 720 Inkjet Color printer.

PAGE STOCK. Simple 20 lb weight laser or inkjet paper is not conducive to philatelic exhibits. Recommended: 80 to 100 lb weight white page stock. I use Simpson Starwhite Vicksburg, an acid-free, textured stock that is 100 lb weight. Shop around the make sure the stock you buy can be accepted by your own printer.

DRAWING CANCELS. Tools available in drawing programs such as Corel Draw enable you to replicate virtually any fancy cancel or postmark. You can draw circles, boxes and geometric shapes. You can draw on a wealth of type fonts---even most that were used in the 19th century. If a fancy cancel involves a depiction of an animal or other figure, it can either be drawn in the software or scanned for insertion into anything you've drawn. Drawing programs also enable you to replicate maps, charts and graphs, and any type of postal marking. Once drawn, your work can be "exported" to the software you are using to produce your actual pages.

TYPE FONT CHOICES. You can acquire literally thousands of type fonts...and cheaply. Never use more than two different type fonts or styles on your pages. Perhaps one font for your headlines, the other font for body copy. Sans serif fonts, being harder for the eye to adjust to, should never be used in body copy. Use serif fonts instead. Don't make the type sizes too large. You're creating an exhibit, not a poster.

And never, by any means, choose a type font that is either too hard to read (such as script) or eccentric.

With so many choices of fonts available, you have to be very careful to use fonts that are readable and understated. A good rule of thumb is to remember that, in headlines, most publishers use a variation of Helvetica (i.e., Arial shown here) for headlines and some form of Times Roman (what you're reading) for body copy.

BORDERS. Do you put your stamps/covers inside bordered boxes or not? Sometimes they detract—especially when thick lines are used for them. Boxes can also enhance your material. Suggestion: you might put only your most important stamps inside a box. Like printed albums, you may also put a border around the outer edges of your pages.

USING SCANS. This is one of the supreme advantages to using a computer to build your exhibits. Most exhibits require some form of illustrative reproduction (whether a cancel or map, or the reverse of a cover) on the pages. Now that scanners are so inexpensive, you can easily scan anything—thus eliminating the need to use photocopies or hand-done drawings. Best of all, if you employ a good printer, your reproductions will be much clearer than ever before.

PHOTO MANIPULATION. Did you know that it is possible to reproduce the reverse of a cover and bring out boldly only those markings you wish to emphasize—while "graying out" other elements of the cover? Using photo manipulation software you can do this—plus actually reinforce and enhance a poorly-struck cancel, or virtually any other need to help or change an original piece of art. Adobe Photoshop and other such applications do this for you.

PAGE FORMATTING. Using page layout software like Microsoft Publisher, you can create pages that are as good looking as a page in a magazine. With your monitor screen as your work table, you can employ grids, just like editors do, to lay out pages in a tasteful, easy-to-read format.

USING COLOR. With an inexpensive color inkjet printer, you can now reproduce postal markings, maps, and even the reverse of covers in full color. One must be careful not to allow such use of color to dominate a page to such a degree that it detracts from the philatelic material. Color can also be used for emphasis in your headlines and body copy---if used sparingly.

THE INTERNET. I have found that the Internet's World Wide Web is an incredible resource for finding information of every kind. This will be even more important as the body of philatelic literature is being added to Internet databases. And using e-mail, one can communicate with countless philatelic experts. The computer at your fingertips is the exhibitor's essential tool.