Category Archives: Design & Inspiration

Do you use a style sheet?

Do you use a style sheet? Style sheet? What’s a style sheet?

A style sheet is a set of criteria defining the layout and appearance of a publication. Style sheets impose margins, fonts, point sizes, alignments, and other criteria to give text a uniform appearance. It includes rules for using artwork and conventions for specifying names, titles, places, numbers, dates, times, etc. Who should receive a copy of a style sheet? Whoever is responsible for your organization’s internal and external communications and anyone who contributes to your publication(s).

What follows is a sample style sheet for a fictitious organization:

The Community of Like-minded People

Please follow these guidelines when creating your publication. We are trying to create a uniform, professional look with all our printed materials.

Approved fonts:

  • Main headings, Times New Roman, 22 point
  • Sub headings, Arial Bold, 14 point
  • Body copy, Times New Roman, 10 point
  • The alternative font for styled headings or body copy is Verdana. Use it for text with our approved logo. Verdana should be used very sparingly. It can be any point size

Clip art:

  • Our approved logo
  • Please contact the main office for a camera-ready or a digitized copy of the logo
  • Please obtain reprint rights for any copyrighted materials
  • Please obtain release…

Usage:

  • Main headings, left aligned, ragged right
  • Sub headings, left aligned, ragged right
  • Body copy, left aligned, ragged right
  • Times should be specified in the following format: 9:00 am, 10:00 pm, 1:30-2:00 pm
  • No abbreviations may be used anywhere in the publication
  • Acronyms are permitted

Other issues:

  • The formal name of the organization is “The Community of Like-minded People.” In the first reference the full name is preferred. In subsequent references the name may be shortened to “The Community” or alternatively “Our Community”
  • Do NOT underline or use ALL CAPS
  • Always use the area code when specifying telephone numbers. Telephone numbers should be specified in the following format: 999-999-9999
  • Spell-check and proofread all copy before submission

These guidelines are subject to periodic review and change. Please contact the main office for the most current style sheet.

Date published or revised

By using a style sheet you can ensure that all your publications conform to your organization’s custom identity.

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!

 

What Is a Thumbnail Image?

By definition at Merriam-Webster Online:
thumb·nail noun [thuhm-neyl]

1. the hard covering at the end of a thumb: the fingernail of a thumb
2. computers: a very small copy of a larger picture on a computer

Since we all understand the first definition, let’s talk computers. A thumbnail image is a tiny graphics file. It is a small-scale, low-resolution image generated from the original image. Thumbnail images are created from standard size images and are used on webpages. The small size allows Web surfers quick access to webpage content. People would find retail shopping nearly impossible if it weren’t for the use of thumbnail images, and surfing pages with multiple images would simply take too long.

In many cases, thumbnail images are clickable, causing a larger image to load at the user’s discretion. This makes webpages user-friendly, saving the user from having to download large image files that he or she doesn’t need or want to see. With a page of smaller images, the user can click on only those images of interest and then download the large, original, high-resolution image file and not the small, low-resolution thumbnail image.

So, when designing your print documents, be sure to download the high-resolution image and not the thumbnail for the best quality image.

Time for “Spring Cleaning” of your bulletin

Spring is here—time to spruce up your house, get rid of clutter and get things organized. But this year, go beyond your home and yard when you do your spring cleaning and look for ways to rejuvenate your bulletin. And springtime is as good a time as any to take a fresh look at your bulletin. So consider these suggestions:

* Dispose of things that aren’t working. Whether it’s a burnt-out computer, a non-vacuuming vacuum cleaner, we all own things that are no longer useful. And the same may be true of some areas of your bulletin. Look through your bulletin from the cover to the last page. Can you utilize the space better?

* Get rid of duplicates. If you went through everything in your bulletin, you might find several items that do the same thing. Do you really need a staff directory on the cover and also on the inside pages? If you took it off the cover, would you have more space to add a new photo to the cover? Or if you keep it on the cover and remove it from the inside page, you might find you do have room for that fundraiser article you just didn’t have room for before. I mean, how many radios do you really need and do you even use them? If you looked at your bulletin in this same way, you might be surprised to find some redundancies. Always look for ways to diversify your information and get your readers attention.

* Put things back in order. Over time, and inadvertently, the spaces in your home can get “out of balance.” Perhaps you have too many chairs in one corner, your flat-screen television is crowding out your family pictures, or your new desk takes up too much space in your home office. With some rearranging, however, you can usually get things back in order. And the same need for rearrangement may apply to your bulletin, which might have become unbalanced with all your articles looking exactly the same. Restore your bulletin to its proper balance—use consistent size headers but have an article go across the whole bottom of the page instead of just two columns running up and down the pages or simply rearrange a few articles and add some new clip art.

Spruce things up by designing a new front cover. And if you need help with this new look, contact our designers at your local LPi service center for some additional help and ideas.

Spring cleaning really puts a smile on your face. I think it’s because we know that summer is right around the corner but a fresh new look to your bulletin can too. By giving your bulletin an annual spring cleaning, you can help make sure it reflects the current needs of your church community. And you won’t even have to get near the dust cloths or furniture polish.

Is Anyone Reading Your Church Bulletin?

What is the life span of your church bulletin? About as long as the service, and then you find it in the garbage can outside? Breathe new life into your bulletin and make it an effective communication tool for your church. Think of it as a mini-newspaper, packed with need-to-know and need-to-grow information.

An attractive bulletin will draw readers. Is your bulletin wall-to-wall typewriter type, or is the print easy to read? The fewer typefaces (or fonts) you use, the better, so when you begin to add text, choose two or three at most that complement each other.  It’s best to mix serif type, (those with small lines on the end of letters, like Times Roman), with sans serif type (those with no small lines, such as Helvetica or Arial).  Always use the serif type for body copy, as it is easier to read when there are many words. Save the more elaborate artsy typefaces for short headlines or subheads—and remember, use three at most. Too much type in any font makes the page look too gray, and people won’t want to read very far.

Find different ways to break up the text. Add graphics to your church bulletin.  Just go to http://www.portal.4lpi.com, Liturgical Publications Inc Art & Media Portal. Pictures, photos, illustrations and clip-art are eye-catching and draw the reader into the text. Use moderation and choose graphics that create visual harmony.

Put only the most important information in your church bulletin.  If there’s too much, you’ll overwhelm today’s too-busy-to-read person.  Worse, they’ll end up reading it during the sermon!  Keep it brief, and refer readers to your website for more information.

The bulletin is the best and easiest way to help attendees, especially newcomers, know what to expect in the service, and to educate members on small groups, ministries, prayer groups and other activities that define your church. Include information that is important for your congregation to get through the week ahead.

You should include:
•    Ministry news
•    Small group meeting information
•    Approaching church events and outside events like concerts or trips to local amusement parks
•    Recap past week’s important events, and use names. People love to see their name in print
•    Excerpts from books or periodicals that relate to real life issues, such as parenting, relationships, finance and other topics that will provide spiritual growth
•    Pictures, if possible.  If you have the scanning technology to reproduce a high-quality photo, use it!  You’ll have more success in this area if you start with a photo that has good contrast and brightness. As much as people like to see their names, they like to see their pictures even more. (Don’t forget to have the individuals in the photos sign a release to use their images in the bulletin).

And finally, ask your congregation what they’d like to see in the bulletin. Add a simply survey or questionnaire. By giving them a simple survey, which can be collected during the offering or at the end of the service, you’re conveying your desire to meet their needs better. They’ll be glad you asked and so will you!