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Plans Unfolding Quick-Start Instructions

Installation, Quick-Start, Printing and Folding

This page provides instructions on installing and launching the Plans Unfolding application, as well as folding and printing instructions. The software interface is designed to be user-friendly, but very detailed information on populating standard page designs as well as creating custom page designs is given in the Users Manual found in the download zip file or here. The instructions below are also found at the start of this manual.

Plans Unfolding uses the LaTeX typesetting language to produce professional-quality organizer output. Therefore, you must be connected to the Internet to download the LaTeX distribution and the required add-on packages. This installation process takes a bit of time, but the results of using LaTeX are worth it. This application has been extensively tested with the free MiKTeX distribution of LaTeX, so I strongly urge you to use this distribution. The “Basic” MiKTeX distribution requires 255MB of disk space when installed (plus 77MB of download), so don’t download the “Complete” distribution unless you really want it for different uses.

Upgrading a Existing Installation of the Same Letter/A4 Type

Installing a new version of Plans Unfolding of the same Letter/A4 type over an existing version is very quick. There is no need to re-install the MikTeX distribution of LaTeX.

Do not delete any files in the directory where the existing version resides, as some of these files contain your user data that you want to retain.

  1. Copy the folder where you previously installed Plans Unfolding to a temporary folder as a backup.
  2. Open the zip file of the new release and extract all the files into a second temporary folder.
  3. Copy all the unzipped files from this second folder into the original folder where you previously installed Plans Unfolding, choosing to "Yes To All" when asked whether to overwrite files in the original folder.
  4. Starting with Version 1.1 the executable file name is named PlansUnfolding.exe, so any desktop shortcut linking the old PlansUnfolding_10.exe filename must be updated to this new filename. Launch PlansUnfolding.exe in the installation folder. Please verify that the new version number appears in the title bar of the window.
  5. If there are any additional LaTeX packages required in the new version, MikTeX should prompt you to have them automatically installed—otherwise, you have to install it using the Package Manager described in Appendix B of the Users Manual. (Version 1.1 requires no additional packages.)
  6. After you verify that the new release builds its output correctly, you can delete the two temporary folders from Steps 1 and 2.

Switching Between Letter and A4 Versions

When switching between Letter and A4 versions or vice-versa, the original data cannot be retained due to the myriad of differences in the LaTeX code for the pages. Your only action is to download the new Plans Unfolding software and unzip the zip file into a new directory. No windows installation is required, and you can continue with the Quick Start instructions below. Note that you can have two installations simultaneously in different directories, one for Letter and one for A4, which can help when you copy individual page data from your original version to the new version. You do not need to re-install the MiKTeX distribution of LaTeX, even if you specified the opposite paper size when you installed it previously.

Performing a New Installation

1. Download and install the MiKTeX distribution of LaTeX. Go to and click on the latest MiKTeX release (MiKTeX 2.7 assumed here) in the Download section of the left frame. Download and install the “Basic” MiKTeX system. Follow the install prompts, and when you get to the Settings window select “Letter” for the preferred paper and “Ask me first” for installing missing packages. The installation will take some time—don’t worry if it seems to stall at times.

2. Download the Plans Unfolding software and unzip the zip file into any convenient directory if you haven’t done it already. No windows installation is required.

3. Automatically install additional packages required by the application. Double-click on the Plans Unfolding executable file (named PlansUnfolding_10.exe for the initial 1.0 release). Enter a user name at the prompt and click OK, then re-launch the application to load the initial set of default user pages. Then click on the Save and Build button to run an initial build. You should be prompted to download and install the following additional packages one at a time:

memoir symbol was xcolor preprint units factor microtype colortbl ms pgf xifthen forloop datatool xfor fp substr lettrine

Accept each install and wait for the black pop-up window to disappear. After the first one or two downloads, you can uncheck the checkbox in the prompt window so all subsequent package installations are done without stopping to ask. Not all of these additional packages are required today—they represent a useful set that can be leveraged in future releases or by you if you customize your pages.

4. If you are not prompted, or if the package download terminates before you see a final confirmation message, you may have to install the packages through the MiKTeX Package Browser. See Appendix B of the Users Manual for instructions if you need them.

The one-time installation is now complete and the application is now ready for use.

5. At some point after evaluating Plans Unfolding, you may want to install any MiKTeX updates. See Appendix C of the Users Manual for instructions.

Quick Start

1. Double-click on the Plans Unfolding executable file if it is not running already.

2. JUMP IN and edit the pages as you wish. The calendars are pre-populated with common U.S holidays and there is sample text on most pages as hints. If you want to change any page type, use the Pages==>Change Page Types menu command (for example, you can have lists for all 16 pages if you want!). Any background images you select must be stored in the BackgroundImages subdirectory of the main Plans Unfolding directory. As an extra security measure you will have to read the note on the Title Page of the Users Manual (or the Cipher Page section inside) to encode or decode text on the Cipher Page.

3. Save your pages to the user Recovery Point once you have something you want to save as a backup. Changes to individual pages or to all pages since the current launch of the application can be undone via the buttons along the left side of the interface. Saving to a Recovery Point after a successful build is highly recommended.

4. Click on the Save and Build button. After 20 seconds or so of processing during which the window may go blank, the organizer PDF file will appear (if the application returns control without the PDF file appearing, review the build output text for any errors—otherwise the PDF file should be found in the subdirectory named after the user.)

5. Print and fold the organizer. See the following Printing and Folding section.

Printing the Organizer

The Letter version of the software will produce output for the letter-size paper used mainly in the U.S. and Canada. The A4 version will produces output for A4-size paper. You don’t have to have a color printer, but it does make a world of difference in how the organizer looks and how easy it is to use. Better paper designed for color printouts gives a really professional look to the organizer. Colored paper or paper with pre-printed color background designs or marbling will really help a black-and-white printout for this. You may find that your printer will not print to the ¼” border of the organizer; if no content is lost this border loss is not important.

You will want to use the following printer settings:

• Landscape orientation.
• Two-sided without the “flip up” option. You can use a single-sided printer by printing one side, then re-inserting the paper to print on the other side such that pages F and 1 are opposite pages 6 and 7 when you’re done.
• No page scaling or fitting to printer margins!
• No centering or auto-rotation!

You may find that your printer does not align the middle vertical fold line so that the first fold is right along that line. There is an Adjust Printer Margins option under the Options menu where you can add +/- offsets to the left margins of each side in points (1mm = 2.85pt), which can get that fold line perfectly in the middle. It turns out that printer misalignment only becomes noticeable at all in the folded booklet when you get beyond about 1mm error.


Folding the Organizer

It’s actually fast and easy to fold the organizer into a booklet that provides ready access to all 16 pages. The photos below probably make it look more difficult than it really is, but I wanted to be very clear on it. The corresponding photos in the Users Manual are sharper.

Fold Step 1 Fold Step 2 Fold Step 3
Place the paper with pages 6 and 7 face up and located on the left side of the sheet (the finger is pointing to the number “6” on that page. Make a valley fold in the middle (parallel to short sides of paper) and crease.

Fold Step 4 Fold Step 5 Fold Step 6

Make a mountain fold along the outer pages on each sides to fold them backwards over the first fold.

Fold Step 7 Fold Step 8 Fold Step 9

Cut along the long middle line from the right edge but do not cut through the line separating page 6 from page 7.

Fold Step 10 Fold Step 11 Fold Step 12

Collapse the fan fold for the top and bottom halves behind pages 6 and 7, then hold the ends of pages 6 and 7 and fold page 6 (with its fan fold) over page 7.

Fold Step 13 Fold Step 14 Fold Step 15

Crease this new fold between pages 6 and 7, then open the organizer at pages F and B and fold B behind F.

Fold Step 16 Fold Step 16

Align and hold the outer corners as you crisp up the left fold to align all edges. The organizer is finished!


Paging Through the Booklet

Paging Step 1 Paging Step 2 Paging Step 3

All 16 pages are available for use as a little booklet. Open up the first page to view pages 1 and 2, then the next page to view pages 3 and 4. (You can pull out the fan fold at page 4 to use the rulers.) Repeat to view pages 5 and 12.

Paging Step 4 Paging Step 5 Paging Step 6

Fold page 12 backwards behind the stack of pages (to be viewed later). Open the booklet vertically to view pages 6 and 7 as one doubly-long page, then reverse that to return to page 5. Flip page 5 to view pages 6 and 7.

Paging Step 7 Paging Step 8 Paging Step 9
Open the next (doubly-thick) page to view pages 10 and 11. Flip page 11 over to see page 12. Flip page 12 over to see pages 13 and 14.

Paging Step 10 Paging Step 11 Paging Step 12

Flip page 14 over to view the back page B and fold it back behind page F and you have returned to the beginning of the booklet. Every page was viewed with only one cut and no stapling at all! And there’s even a pocket behind the the front page that can hold business cards.

Badge HolderIf you plan on carrying the organizer in your pocket for a long time between updating and printing a new one, you might stick some clear tape between pages B/F on the left edge and and F/2 along the bottom edge. I personally use a large-size soft-vinyl badge holder to hold the organizer in my back pocket. This works great (for letter-size paper only) and lasts a long time. After much searching I found the absolutely perfect holder to be Baumgarten’s “BAU 67880” clear vertical badge holder. Googling the text above in quotes will produce online suppliers—unfortunately, they come in packs of 50, but at about $10.60 per pack plus shipping.

| About Me | Contact Me | ©2006 Ron Doerfler