i don’t know how to make a zine on a computer

ramona is currently napping in her crib, which is something that almost never happens. usually she naps on jared & i, sometimes in a carrier, sometimes not, or on the kitchen table. i’m not sure how long she’s been sleeping, so i’m not sure i have time to write an entire blog post, but i will try.

all week, i’ve been working on the zine i mentioned. i’ve been stealing time when ramona naps, or when jared is looking after her. sometimes i have even just sat her on my lap in the crook of my arm & typed around her while she babbles at me. i’ve almost gotten a draft finished & am now soliciting a few folks to give editorial feedback.

i guess i have more or less always written zines the same way: i just write them. i just start writing & quit when i feel finished. i’ve never sat down & intentionally said, “this zine will be about this topic & this topic & this other hot topic in the zine world.” i just write what i feel like writing. sometimes i edit, sometimes i don’t. my last zine was completely unedited because i typed the whole thing as a draft on the typewriter, & i used that draft & just pasted it into a zine. the zine before that was very carefully & painstakingly edited.

i think my zines are better when they are carefully edited. well, i think everyone’s zines are better if they are carefully edited. i am kind of over the whole “word vomit/zines as catharsis” thing. it’s a little embarrassing for anyone over the age of 17 or so. save it for your journal, folks. so my game plan is: finish the draft, send it to the folks who have volunteered to provide editorial comments, edit accordingly, & then figure out layout.

i am kind of stuck on the layout. i think it would be a million times easier & faster to get this zine finished if i used a computer to do layout. i think part of the reason i have always been kind of slow to make zines is because i make them on a typewriter, & even though my typewriter is electric, it’s a little painstaking. if i make a mistake, i have to get out the correction fluid & fix it. (i do have a typewriter with an eraser ribbon, but for some reason, it stopped working.) it’s just a lot of detail work & i haven’t always had the time or the inclination for it.

at first, i made zines on a typewriter because i didn’t have a computer. for a long time after i did have a computer, i didn’t have access to a printer. or at least, it never occurred to me to save zine work on to a USB card & print it at the library. in fact, that never occurred to me until just now. the typewriter was the tool i had at hand so that’s what i used. & after a while, when i did have access to a printer, it became this weird/obnoxious point of pride for me to say i’d never made a zine on a computer before. that i was keeping it old-school with the cut & paste & the typewriter. dare i say that it became a bit of an affectation? i mean, it’s one thing to use outdated technology because it’s what you have or what you like or how you work best. but when you have other options that would be faster & easier & would improve your quality of life & the quality of your work, it’s just stubbornness not to use them.

so this may be the first zine i make with the aid of a computer. i don’t even really know how to do that. i guess i will just have to play with font sizes & margins & will probably just end up printing out the text & cutting & pasting it all together anyway. is that what other people do? i don’t think so. i seem to recall that when i made that split zine with ailecia a few years ago, she actually laid everything out on her computer & the flat she gave me was just a computer print-out with the images built right in. i don’t know how to do that.

the funny thing is that i actually went to graphic design school. but i went right before everything switched over to being computer-based. so i know how to use a light table & a t-square & a photo pencil, & there were all kinds of rules about who was allowed to keep their own can of rubber cement in their locker & who wasn’t due to huffing concerns, but none of us knew jackshit about computers. combine the study of immediately-outmoded technologies with an already-established predilection for substance abuse in the form of permanent markers & photo developing chemicals, & i bet at least 50% of my former classmates are in jail now.

anyway, i should go check of ramona. her sound sleeping is both relieving & concerning. i was at the pool this morning (i got my laps in right before a big thunderstorm rolled in, which is awesome, because they close the pool when there’s lightning–i got done just in the nick of time) & i have no idea how much she already napped for jared.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

6 thoughts on “i don’t know how to make a zine on a computer

  1. Well, I am not the best person to explain how to do this because I’m old and technology challenged, but I somehow figured out how to type my zine on a computer. Basically, I chose landscape for my page set up and then formatted the pages into columns. The tricky part is remembering page order and when you don’t decide the number of pages beforehand that makes things difficult. And if you’re not sure which way to put the paper back into the printer to do the backside of the page, then you have to print out the pages separately and tape them together with doublestick tape and are you confused yet? I joked with someone once that it took me less time to give birth to my daughter than it did to put together my first zine. Cut and paste is the way to go to save your sanity.

    1. i am the worst at remembering which way to put the paper back into the printer to get it to print on the backside. seriously nine times out of ten, i print on the same side that just printed. i just can’t figure it out. i think printing out the text & then cutting & pasting everything together is going to have to be the way i do this one.

  2. I just print mine then physically cut it up and paste it down onto paper. It would take more time for me to figure out how to do the whole thing on the computer plus I don’t have a scanner for pictures. If you’re using a fancy printer you could probably select “print booklet” in the print options, if you’re happy with half-size.

    1. i’m not wild about half-size. & i don’t know how fancy the printed is (it’s my partner’s, i almost never use it, & i have not bothered to learn its features). i think i’ll just do it the way you described. as much as i think typewritten zines just plain look better (& computer-generated typewriter font is an affront to the senses), it’s just not a practical choice for my current life situation.

  3. I’ve just found you, and at the right time too. Only, I may become somewhat more of a burden, as I’ve just purchased a typewriter for the purpose of making my first ever zine…I like the rusticity & zines aren’t that “out in the open” within my community, yet. So, typewriter vs computer isn’t something too many people will be concerned with, I’m hoping.

    Anyway, I do have a question. What did you find to be the best layout option for your type-written zines? I’m looking to create about 80 of these babies, for an upcoming march against the wrongfulness of Australia’s current Parliamentary ding-bats, and am using zines to meet some of the public in our plans.

    Totally understand if you’d rather not divulge such information, but if yourself or anyone here has any suggestions…I am all ears.

    Thank you,


    1. i’m not sure i totally understand the question…when i’ve used a typewriter for zines, i have always just…you know. typed up my writing, maybe left a little space for a drawing or something, & called it a day. make sure to also leave room for margins (a half-inch all around is a good bet–not sure what that works out to in centimeters).

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