About E-Journals

What are E-Journals?

J. Hill Hamon introduced a new breed of journal when he e-mailed Whippoorwill E-Comment to several friends in January 2004. He found this non-paper format allowed greater use of color, particularly for photos, and coined the term "e-journal" to describe this type of publication.

After distributing numerous e-journals via e-mail, J. Hill requested that AAPA make them available on its website. Dave Oehlers volunteered to be the first AAPA E-Journal Coordinator, and generously offered free storage space via the Internet Service Provider that he owned. Later, Dave sold his ISP and left AAPA; we no longer can add files to the original archive.

You can visit the Original AAPA E-Journal Archive to see what AAPA members have done with the format. More recent e-journals are available via the Recent AAPA E-Journals page.

E-Publishing Fundamentals

The first steps to producing an e-journal are the same as any other computer-generated paper. Check out the AAPA's Desktop Publishing page for ideas on using a computer to create an amateur journal.

Because e-journal are distributed as files, publishers need to consider what file format to use. It should be something that is freely available to most computer users and allows formatting flexibility. Here are some comments from Dave Oehlers, the first coordinator of the AAPA E-Journal Archive:

"More people will be able to read files saved in plaintext (.txt), PDF (.pdf), Word (.doc), and HTML (.htm or .html) than other formats.

"Of these four file types, plaintext will be able to be read by all and plaintext files are small. The negative of plaintext is that it is plain text: letter art, pictures, and other graphical effects are limited to what can be done with text.

"PDF best preserves the appearance and layout of a document platform to platform, but PDF files can be large and reading them requires the Adobe Acrobat plug-in.

"Word does a good job preserving a document's appearance platform to platform (although not as good as PDF), but a Word file can be large and reading it requires Microsoft Word or the Microsoft Word plug-in for the Internet Explorer.

"HTML is the lingua franca of the web; html files are relatively small; html can be read by all web browsers; numerous applications (Word, WordPerfect, Publisher, Excel, etc.) can save files in HTML format; finally, HTML can seamlessly incorporate a variety of elements (letter art, graphical effects, images, sound, interviews). The disadvantage of using HTML for AAPA journals are 1) exact appearance and layout are not maintained platform to platform, and 2) a journal saved in HTML is likely to comprise a number of files -- representing the HTML, per se, and a file for each image, sound, or other component embedded in the page -- instead of one file, as one gets when saving in Word format, for example."

Using PDF

Adobe System's Portable Document Format (PDF) is widely used because the free Adobe Acrobat Reader works on most systems. It allows documents created with proprietary software to be published in a format that can be read on almost any computer.

Creating PDF files is built into Macintosh OS X (10.2.x and greater). At the bottom of the Print dialog box, choose the "Save as PDF..." button.

Many Windows and Linux applications have the ability to create PDF files. This is usually implemented as part of a "Save as" or "Export" file command.

If you do not have the ability to create a built-in ability to create PDF files, Adobe sells a variety of products. There are other sources of free or low cost software packages that create PDF files. For example:

Most of these products create PDF files by installing a printer driver. After installation, use "Print" from the application used to create your document, and choose the driver from the list of printers. You will then be prompted with a Save As.. dialog box, and you will need to choose a name for the file. For most free PDF generators, when the file is created an advertisement pops open, asking you to pay for the "professional" version of the software. Check product descriptions before downloading.

These low- (or no-) cost packages may not handle every detail in the same way as Adobe's products, so be aware that using them may introduce incompatibilities with the Adobe reader.

Pitfalls

Here are some pitfalls to avoid when creating your e-journal:
Unusual Fonts
If your document uses a font that is not available on your reader's computer, the system will substitute a different font. Sometimes the substitution is minor; other times it's glaringly wrong. You may be oblivious to this problem because everything will look perfect on the computer that created the document. If you have different systems in your household, view it on all of them. Or view it on a friend's computer before making it generally available. Avoid the problem by using mainstream fonts, such as the ones originally loaded on your system.

Large Files
If you're going to e-mail your e-journal, you should usually keep its size to under one megabyte. Even that size may cause problems for people who have limited e-mail disk allocation, or who rely on slow Internet connections. Often the large size is caused by imported high-definition graphics. You may be able to reduce the size by specifying a lower density; this is particularly true of pictures whose dimensions have been reduced, but are stored at the original pixel density. If you're producing a PDF, be sure to check the size of the final file; it may be much larger than the original (e.g. Word) file.

You can use the Smallpdf website to reduce the size of a PDF file. The service is free for up to two files per day.

Distribution

You may choose to distribute your e-journal as an e-mail attachment to your own mailing list. Please be sure the people you send it to are able to receive the file format and size. (Ask your potential readers if they want to receive it before sending.) Send yourself a test copy to ensure everything is set up correctly.

If you want to submit your e-journal to the AAPA E-Journal Archive, e-mail your files to e-journal@aapainfo.org and it will be added to the archive. (It may take several days for this to happen).

The maximum file size for files submitted to the archive is 2 MB.

Once an e-journal is loaded into the archive, it will be announced in an upcoming AAPA Alert message. You can also send an announcement that includes a link to the archive file rather than attaching it to an e-mail message.

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Join AAPA!Amateur journalism is a unique activity. Amateur journalists publish journals on paper & online & come from many perspectives: from deluxe letterpress printed journals, to Xeroxed newsletters, to artistically designed cards and ephemera. We embrace the spirit of being amateurs – loving what we do for pure joy and not financial gain – while creating top quality journals, zines, and homemade publications.

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