Author Archives: cfraser

The 7 Sins of Bulletin Editing

Despite our best efforts, everyone makes mistakes sometimes.  After all, we are only human! That being said, there are several common bulletin errors that impact the readability and beauty of your publications. Avoid these “sins” in order to create a bulletin design that is more heavenly for parishioners.

1) Underlining

Please DO NOT underline! Underlining is unattractive and difficult to read. The practice of underlining dates back to the days of the typewriter, when it was used to emphasize text because typewriters lacked bold and italic styles. Therefore, it is unnecessary in today’s age of modern technology. Underlining is also confusing for your readers since Web addresses are typically underlined, so text with a line underneath makes the words appear to be hyperlinks. Keep in mind that most professional publications such as books, magazines, and newspapers tend to avoid underlining, so it is wise to follow this best practice.

2) Line and border art overload

lines and boxes

Lines and boxes are distracting and unappealing to readers.

Like underlining, the use of lines and boxes causes the bulletin to look very messy. It can be confusing to readers, as it is unclear where to look first and which section is being emphasized when all text boxes are competing for attention. Keep lines minimal, and try separating content with color and white space instead for a more attractive, clean layout.

 

 

 

 

3) Dark on dark

Never put dark text on top of a dark background. Whether the publication is printed on offset, a digital press, or your office inkjet, dark on dark is very difficult to decipher, especially for seniors and visually impaired individuals. A general rule of thumb is that the background color should be only 30% tint or less to ensure it is light enough that text can be read. When inverting your text (white text on a dark background), make sure your background color is at least an 85% tint so it is dark enough to provide contrast for the white text.

The top example is too difficult to read.

The top example is too difficult to read. 30% tint or less for the background or inverted text is preferable.

 4) Online images and clip art

Images found through search engines like Google Images and Bing are often copyrighted. Using such online graphics without written permission from the original author or owner is illegal. In addition, many pictures found online are saved at a low resolution (72 dpi) for a faster download speed. Low resolution graphics may look nice on a computer screen, but they do not print well, and result in pixilated, blurry pictures. LPi requires a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch (dpi) in order to produce the best quality printed images. If you need a photograph, visit a stock photo website, such as istockphoto.com to purchase the rights to download the high resolution image.

Clipart

Steer clear of Microsoft Clip Art for professional printing purposes.

 

Microsoft Clip Art is formatted as a Windows Media File (.wmf), which is not the correct file type for high quality printing at LPi. Files saved in .jpg, .tif, and .eps formats are preferable. LPi’s Art & Media Portal offers many beautiful, high resolution images that we strongly urge customers to choose instead.

 

5) Minimal or no white space

White space is a beautiful thing! Unfortunately, it is a design element that is often overlooked by editors, who strive to fill every bulletin with as much information as possible. Cramming the publication full of content can overwhelm parishioners and potentially discourage them from reading. Here is a great analogy: “Let’s say you’re in a store. It wouldn’t be a comfortable or pleasant experience if you had trouble moving around due to the overcrowded aisles, alongside the sales assistant constantly prompting you with their special offers. There’s just too much to look at and you have neither the time nor the patience to find what you originally came in looking for.” Think of your bulletin in the same way. Paring down the text is like clearing the aisles. Cutting some content will greatly improve the overall look and organization of the publication, making it easier to navigate, which should in turn encourage reading.

6) Unnecessary repetition

Duplicating the same information week after week discourages parishioners from reading the bulletin more than once. Rather than taking up valuable space by reposting static content like a list of Parish Council Members, move it to the website and direct readers to look there for such information. This will free up room for more dynamic, interesting articles within the bulletin to keep parishioners engaged.

7.    Too Many Fonts

Multiple fonts can make a publication look messy and unprofessional. Stick to three or less styles for a more cohesive, appealing look.

 

Are you guilty of any of the “sins” above? Post your confessions here.

 

Inspirations for Publications

Creativity can be very elusive, especially when you are working on a deadline and need an idea as soon as possible!  Many of the world’s greatest thinkers developed unusual habits in an effort to spark their minds.  Maya Angelou made hotel rooms her workspace of choice, while Igor Stravinski got his innovative juices flowing by standing on his head.

Thanks to LPi’s Art & Media Portal, inspiration is only a click away… Click here for an assortment of beautiful typographical art, both religious and secular, to suit any publication.

How can these inspirations be put to use? Here are some ideas:

Bulletins

Typographic artwork makes an attractive filler for weeks when content is light, or it can serve as a permanent staple within your bulletin.

Use as a Banner or Heading

Here is an example of inspirational art within the Wedding Banns section.

wedding banns inspiration

Place on a Perforated Page

Readers can tear out a new inspiration each week to post on their refrigerator or bulletin board.  Here is an example of a tear-out flap.

tear out inspiration

Newsletters

Article Inspirations

Include the image and describe how the quote applies to your organization/parish.

christianity inspiration

Place an inspiration on the calendar as a monthly reflection.

calendar

Social Networks

Inspirational art is a quick, easy item to post and share on social networks to facilitate thoughtful comments and discussions.

Pin them

pinterest

Use as a cover photo or profile picture on your Facebook page.

Facebook inspiration

Blog About Them

Post an inspirational quote along with a brief interpretation, and ask for comments on how the words impact readers’ daily lives.

Email Them

Add inspirational art to your email signature to end every conversation on a positive note.

example5

 

Now that you have some inspiration to work with, it is time to get started. How else can you imagine using these images?  Please share your ideas in the comment section below.

inspiration quote

Creating Event Calendars for Busy Schedules

Spring will soon be in the air, and Lent is now upon us. Preparing for holy seasons presents a challenge to our editors, who must find a way to squeeze many special events and masses into the bulletin. What is the best way to convey important dates and church happenings to parishioners within a limited amount of space?  Depending on the type and amount of information, there are several layout options to consider.

Traditional Calendar Style

Calendar layouts are ideal for displaying very basic details.  The following example worked well because only the date, time, location, and event name were needed.  One limitation of using this method within Microsoft Publisher is that the table row height expands based on the amount of content in each cell.  In other words, unless the content is the same length for each day, the calendar’s rows may vary a bit in height.

Lent events calendar design

How To:

Creating a traditional calendar in Microsoft Publisher is not a straightforward process, but it can be done.  The calendar must be created manually by inserting a table into the document, with 7 columns and 6 rows.  Resize the top row to a shorter height, as that area will contain the days of the week.  Next, number each cell based on the dates within the calendar month.  To avoid confusion, enter all dates first, then go back and type in the events for each day.  See Microsoft Publisher’s Support website, or call an LPi Tech Support Representative if assistance is needed with table formatting.

Chronological Event List

Event lists work well when there are only a few events to note, and/or if the time span for activities is shorter than a month.  Alignment, color and white space can help organize the information, as demonstrated in the below example.

upcoming eventsUsing tabs to align the dates and events balances the information and improves readability.

How To:

Refer to “Keeping Tabs on Your Content”  or “Setting Tabs in Microsoft Publisher” for tips on how to create tabs.

Chronological Table

Tables featuring a row for each weekday are useful when there are several daily activities.  This layout offers extra room for event descriptions, if needed.

chronological table calendar layout

How To:

Create two separate tables, with 3 columns and 15 rows each.  Label the left column with days of the week.  Decrease the width of the middle column, and then type in the numerical date, working vertically down the table. Event descriptions can be placed in the right column.

Cluster Parish Events

Juggling multiple events for more than one church may seem daunting, but using a list or table format makes it possible.  Event lists can be organized by abbreviating the church names, with a clearly labeled key section.  The following is an example of a tabbed event list with key.

calendar with key tri parish

Table layouts may work better if each church has many events that are not shared with the other locations.  Simply include a separate column or row for each location. See the example below.

Lenten Calendar table

In summary, there are many potential ways to organize event information in a concise, readable manner.  Note that some of the above examples may require an intermediate to advanced level of skill with Microsoft Publisher.  Feel free to contact your local LPi tech support department if you need any assistance with tables or tabs.

Have any alternative methods or tips for managing your events/activity list, besides those mentioned above?  Please comment to share your thoughts. We are always interested in new ideas and suggestions!

Newsletter Design Trends: How to Find Your Style

All newsletters share a common purpose of communicating a message to a targeted group of people.  The type of information and reason for presenting it will vary, however, because every newsletter is unique.  For instance, the goal could be to build brand awareness, increase an organization’s membership base, educate readers, garner donations, etc.  Regardless of the intention, most publications fit into one of several distinct style categories.  Here are the most common types of newsletter designs:

Covers

newsletter cover designs

Inside Pages

newsletter inside page designs

Which style is best for your organization?

Bulletin editors who read my previous post will be familiar with some of the following tips, however there are several other considerations to keep in mind when designing a newsletter.

When choosing a layout, first and foremost, consider the amount and type of content necessary.  If there is a lot of important information that must be included, use a design that keeps the text clear and readable. If certain articles are a priority, be sure to place them towards the beginning, and set them apart with graphic elements or white space.

Next, think about the culture of your organization, and the target audience.  The design should reflect the values and interests of both parties.  If unsure what style is most appealing to your readers, perhaps take a poll and/or ask for suggestions.

How is your newsletter distributed?  Mailed, picked up, downloaded online, or emailed?  The method in which the reader receives and views the publication should influence design decisions. For instance, if readers prefer to read your newsletter online instead of receiving a hard copy, it is helpful to use attention-grabbing graphics and colors to keep them interested and prevent unsubscribing.  If the publication is a mailer, it will likely be quarter-folded, with the back page on the outside being the first thing that readers see. Therefore, any logos or branding should be prominent on the back cover, and you may want to place the most important article and/or table of contents there as well.

Finally, consider your technical abilities.  As an editor, you are responsible for working within a regular deadline to gather articles and assemble them within your template.  Be honest with yourself about your comfort level in using a more advanced layout, which may include grouped images, master pages, various font styles, tabs, etc.  With practice you will become a pro, but if you feel stressed at the thought, perhaps a simple, traditional layout would be a better starting point.  You can always redesign the publication at a later date once you feel ready to take on a new challenge.

Remember that there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to newsletter design.  Any of the above options can be transformed to fit your needs!

What’s your style? Bulletin layouts for every taste

Every publication is unique, but there are several different styles commonly used for bulletin layout.

Covers

cover layouts

 

Inside Pages

inside pages

Which style is best for your church?

When choosing a layout, first and foremost, consider the amount and type of content necessary.  Is there a lot of important information that must be included?  Choose a design that keeps the text clear and readable. On the other hand, if you have room to spare, you will probably have more flexibility in your bulletin’s design.

Next, think about your organization’s culture.  Is the parish conservative and conscious of tradition?  Or is the church progressive and up-to-date with current trends?  Perhaps your congregation falls somewhere in the middle?  The design should reflect your parish values and interests.

Third, consider your technical abilities.  As an editor, you are responsible for working within a regular deadline to gather articles and assemble them within your template.  Be honest with yourself about your comfort level in using a more advanced layout, which may include grouped images, master pages, various font styles, tabs, etc.  With practice you will become a pro, but if you feel stressed at the thought, perhaps a simple, traditional layout would be a better starting point.  You can always redesign the publication at a later date once you feel ready to take on a new challenge.

Finally, remember that there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to bulletin design.  Any of the above options can be transformed to fit your needs!

 

Virtual “Meet and Greet” with LPi’s Milwaukee Prepress Department

LPi held an open house this fall at our Milwaukee, Denver, Cromwell, and Cuyahoga Heights locations.  Many fantastic customers toured our facilities, attended seminars on a variety of LPi products and services, and met other local editors and advertisers.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who joined us!

For those who were unable to attend the event, here is a quick behind-the-scenes look at the Milwaukee center’s prepress department.  Consider it a “virtual open house.”
Prepress is responsible for making sure your publications are printed and delivered on time.  We have several different roles in this department:  customer service, tech support, design and processing.

Customer Service

Customer Service is our first point of contact for new customers, and also your source for information on scheduling, delivery, quantity, account changes and hardbound books.  Our customer service representatives are cheerful, outgoing individuals who love to chat with and assist new and existing customers.

Tech Support

Technical Support Representatives are our problem solvers, ready to jump into action with a friendly phone call and the click of a mouse to help resolve computer-related issues.  They provide training and assistance on a variety of programs and software.

Graphic Design

Graphic Designers are the creatives who work with fonts, colors, and graphics in order to lay out beautiful templates, directories, special covers and flyers to fit your needs.

Processing

Processers are the magic-makers behind the scenes, working directly with tech support and the press operators to ensure that your files are received after you submit them to us and adjusted when necessary to print correctly.

Milwaukee Prepress Contacts 2012

Now that you know a little more about our prepress team, we’d love to get to know you better as well!  Please don’t hesitate to call or email to touch base and introduce yourself.  Looking forward to connecting with more of our editors and advertisers as we work with you to “Connect Your Community.”

Piecing Together the Puzzle: 6 Tricks to Make Your Content Fit

Last week I shared several ideas for making use of extra space in your publication.  On the flip side, what happens when you have too much content and not enough room?  Here are some suggestions:

1) Determine what articles are absolutely necessary and what can be cut or postponed until a future date.

If you have repeated the same article for more than three issues, it can most likely be removed (at least for the time being) to clear space for something new.  Consider also waiting on event announcements that occur more than two months in advance.  Being selective with your content will help free up room for the most important pieces to be included in the current issue.

2)    Resize or reformat your clip art.

Reducing the size of your images may add just enough room to make an article fit.  Changing the wrap boundary on pictures can also help do the trick:  Select the image and then click Format, Picture.  Click the Layout tab and select Tight. Then click OK. This will ensure that text flows closely around your image.  For more information on text wrap options, see our previous post, “How Does it All Fit?  Working with Clip Art.

Tight text wrap
3)   Add a featured article to the cover.
Need to make an important announcement?  Try temporarily shrinking or removing your cover art to make room for a featured article on the front page.  This should only be done every once in awhile to draw your readers’ attention.

4)  Change text box margins.
Microsoft Publisher applies a default margin size to every text box that you create.  This margin keeps text from flowing to the edges of the box, and is meant to add a little extra padding between articles to make your publication more visually appealing.  You don’t always need that much margin space, however, and sometimes just a minor adjustment can make a big difference.  To change the margins, select the text box and then click Format, Text Box.  In the formatting menu, click the Text Box tab and change the text box margins for Left, Top, Right, and Bottom to .02”, for example. Then click OK.  Note that your text box stays the same size, however a little more text should now fit inside.


5)   Adjust the spacing between articles.
Are you in the habit of pressing Return or Enter to add space after each paragraph and/or every article? If so, there is an opportunity to maximize your space while still creating a visual separation between lines.  To do this, click on the blank line between your articles or paragraphs.  Next, click inside the font size menu, and note that the current size is the same as the rest of your text.  Erase the current size and type in a new one, decreasing the current font by half (i.e. if you’re using size 12 font, type in 6).  Press enter.

You should notice that the space between your lines decreased by half.

6)   Reduce the font size.
Decreasing your font size by 1 or 2 points can help free up a few lines of space, but before using this technique, proceed with caution.  Although making the text smaller is the first thing many editors try, it should actually be a last resort.  Making your text too small will impair your audience’s ability to read it, defeating the whole purpose of adding extra content.  Never use a font smaller than size 9, as it becomes too difficult to print and read clearly.  Ideally, size 10 and larger is best.  Therefore, if you normally use a size 12 font, you have some “wiggle room” to reduce the size when necessary, but if your normal font is already small, try some of the above tips instead.

Are there other methods to make your content fit?  Please comment and share your ideas!

Use Humor and Wit to Bridge the Gaps

Do you have extra space available in your publication?  Take advantage of the perfect opportunity to add a comic or some puzzles for your readers.  There are many benefits to incorporating humor/amusement into your newsletter or bulletin.  Studies suggest that engaging in brainteasers such as Sudokus and crossword puzzles can help prevent dementia.  Not to mention that making your publication more interactive will encourage readership, keeping your audience coming back for more.

LPi offers a variety of “filler” choices in our Art & Media Portal for those blessed with extra room for content.  Try looking at the children’s puzzles, where you can find weekly coloring book pages, crosswords, mazes and word unscramblers.

Our Father Flood cartoons are great for the adult crowd, and they come in both horizontal and vertical sizes to fit your needs.

Several other websites offer free puzzles for download as well.  Note that these sites are not affiliated with LPi, so if you use one, please be careful to cite your source and give credit to the author to avoid any copyright issues.  Two of my favorites are:

What other fillers do you like to use in your publication? Please share!

computer2

Design Tips: How to Evaluate and Improve Your Publication Layout

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”  So how do you judge if your design is “good,” “bad,” or just average?   If you’ve ever thought about evaluating whether or not your publication could use a facelift, here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind.

Overall Look and Aesthetic Appeal

Is your design attractive? Although completely subjective, one good way to measure your progress is to ask for opinions.  Try to get feedback from your readers, as well as others who have never seen your publication before.  Don’t be afraid to listen to suggestions, and consider any positive comments and constructive criticism you may receive.  LPi’s graphic designers are also more than happy to provide our input as well.  Just give us a call!

Photos

Photos are a great design element when used effectively.  They can capture a moment in time, elicit emotions, and also help to illustrate a point better than words alone.  On the flip side, if you use a cell phone to take your pictures, and/or if they are dark, out of focus, or blurry, they can ruin your reader’s perception of your design.  Picasa is a great free tool you can use to lighten dark photos, remove redeye, add contrast and even experiment with fun filters that turn your pictures into “pencil sketches” and more.

Relevance

Who is your publication meant for?  Consider your audience’s needs in order to keep them engaged and interested in reading.  Think about what your readers find most important, and be sure to place that content front and center.  For example, if the Easter mass times are buried in the middle of the bulletin, perhaps it would make more sense to put them on the cover or first page where they can easily be found.  Also, remember that your advertisers are most likely a source of revenue for your publication.  Be sure to find a way to acknowledge, recognize, and thank them, because chances are, they are reading!  Check the Art and Media Portal for ideas on how to provide an added value for the businesses that support your publication.

Colors

Your choice of colors can really affect the overall tone and feel of your publication. Are your colors readable?  Black text on a dark background is never a good idea.  Are your colors complementary, or do they clash?  Certain colors just do not work together, while other color schemes can be stunning.  If you need some ideas, visit kuler.adobe.com to see popular themes created by artists and designers, and you can use similar colors in your publication.

Do your colors fit your branding?  If you have a logo, the newsletter/bulletin colors should match or complement it, and it’s also a good idea to keep your design elements consistent between your website, newsletter, letterhead and other print materials to build recognition among your patrons.

Fonts

Is your type clear and legible?  Even the most beautiful decorative font is completely useless if it doesn’t serve its purpose, which is to be read!  Specialty fonts may look nice in theory, but before choosing them, stop and think about whether they are practical for your publication.  As with bolding and underlining, special fonts should be used sparingly to draw attention and provide emphasis, but if they are overused, your reader will not know what to focus on and may lose interest.  See our blog post on Using Typefaces Effectively for more info.

Layout/Use of Space

Is your information organized in a logical manner?  Sections with headings can really help readers to easily search for and find the content that pertains to them.  Also, white space is considered an important element in graphic design, as it brings a sense of order to your layout, and makes it appear uncluttered, which can help improve readability.  Therefore, try not to cram too much information into a small amount of space.  Hold some articles for future issues if necessary, in order to keep your publication clean and easy to read.

The above categories should be a good starting point to help you gauge how you are doing with your publication design.  If you decide that you want a new look, keep in mind that LPi provides free design services, so if you’d like, we can work with you to come up with a different layout.  Otherwise, feel free to try making some updates on your own.  Sometimes just a few little tweaks, like changing a color or a font, can make all the difference in helping turn your bulletin or newsletter into a masterpiece.