• Mar

    How to Create Screen Captures and Web Formats for Your Articles


    When creating articles, books or reports, sometimes it is necessary to take screen captures to illustrate a point. You can use the Print Screen option on your computer, but it will capture the entire screen, which you will need to edit.

    A better option is to use a dedicated program. Snagit by Techsmith is one of these and is the screen capture program I use for all of my projects.

    Before you decide to invest in it, here are some things you need to know about images and which capture settings to use.

    First off, you are going to be working with bitmaps, which are saved to one of three file formats – GIF, JPEG and PNG-8. PNG is another format, but I do not recommend it for images because it will bloat your file sizes by five to ten times. That will add a huge amount of overhead, especially if you post your images online.

    Instead, I recommend using JPEG for images and for line art, or screen captures of dialog boxes with few colors, use PNG-8 or GIF.
    Here are some practical examples:


    I saved the image above in the JPEG format. JPEG is great for images, but is not the best for text. Sometimes the text becomes blurred if you use it.


    I saved this GIF image with 256 levels of color. Note how smooth it is. The file size is 106 KB. (You can save the image as grayscale, if there are few colors, as in this image.)


    On the previous page is a screen capture of a dialog box, using the GIF setting and 32 colors. The file size is only seven KB (kilobytes). When capturing dialog boxes with images in them, I recommend using the full 256 colors available in both PNG-8 and GIF. This will help prevent unexpected shifts in color.



    This is the main interface for Snagit. In this program, there are only a few things to learn to create effective screen captures. First off, notice the Profiles section, above. Your choices are: Region, Window, Full screen, Scrolling window (Web Page) and Web Page (keep links).

    • Region allows you to draw out the area you want to capture
    • Window captures the window of a dialog box or program
    • Full screen captures the full screen
    • Scrolling window (Web page) allows you to capture the entire contents of a Web Page
    • Web Page (keep links) will keep the links in a given Web Page

    You will note the heading “Other capture profiles.” That area contains more options but they are unnecessary here.
    Below that is the Profile Setting area. Leave the default settings in place.

    One thing you will want to pay attention to is the Global Capture Settings in the Program Preferences dialog box. To access it, go to Tools: Program Preferences.


    Note the setting under the Hotkeys tab. If you encounter an image where you cannot access the Capture button in the main Snagit screen, this is your next best option. I recommend using CTRL+Shift+P though you could use any of the other settings here.

    In most cases, you can use the red Capture button in the Snagit interface. When you capture an image, the Snagit Editor will appear on the screen:


    In this dialog box, there are many options available to you, but we are only going to look at what is necessary to save your screen captures. First off, you will see several icons beginning at the lower left on the bottom. These are a history of previous captures, in case you need to (or want to) save them again in a different format.

    At the top left of this dialog box, you will see a blue striped button. This will access the dialog box that allows you to save images. Here is how it works. When you click on the blue button (at top left), it brings up the following dialog box:


    There are several options here but the only one we are interested in is Save As. When you highlight that heading, you see one of four options, though we will only use one, Standard Format. Clicking on that option brings up the Save As dialog box.


    What is in this box is of great importance, because it not only allows control over which file to save, it also allows control over the file compression. We will look at each one of these options for GIF, JPEG and PNG-8 files.

    This concludes this except. The full chapter is in my book: Secrets of Profitable Freelance Writing

    You can read all the posts under the Freelance Writing category

    Want the entire program ? Click here to get the book and all the videos in one package.)

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