Tag Archives: Design

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.

 

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!

 

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.

A Matter of Convention

As a bulletin editor, you visit Art & Media Portal on a regular basis for much of your content. To help make navigating Portal easier, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1) Sunday Search: The Sunday Search is the first screen you see after you log in, and shows all the content specifically assigned for that Sunday, organized by media type:

Covers
Clip art (Father Flood, Scripture illustrations, word art, seasonal imagery, etc.)
Text-reflection (Cycles of Faith and Bright Ideas text files)
Scripture verse (Scripture verses formatted as text and tiff )
Text-Scripture readings (weekly chart of readings)
Children’s – Grades K-1 (Growing with the Gospel files)
Children’s – Grades 2-3 (Growing with the Gospel files)
Question & Answer (En Theos)
Non-LPi owned content (content from the USCCB, Catholic Relief Services, Parish Publishing, etc.)

Keep in mind that the amount of content available for a given week varies, so there may be more than one page of results; the top or bottom right of the screen will display whether there are additional pages.

2) Advanced Search: So you found the perfect cover for your bulletin, but Portal doesn’t know that your parish is partnering with a local senior center for an upcoming casino trip—an Advanced Search for keyword “casino” solves the problem. Or maybe the cover options for this week weren’t exactly what you were looking for—an Advanced Search for Media Type “Cover” and keyword “33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time” will show you past cover options LPi has offered (but don’t forget to check the “C” in the Liturgical Cycle box so that the cover art and Scripture match the readings for this year.

3) Lectionary Naming Convention: So what’s the random string of letters and numbers at the beginning of filenames? They’re actually not random, but part of a naming system for easier identification. For example,  an upcoming Sunday Search shows this file: C162ChKing_lg_sp_4c.tif. From the filename alone, one can see that this is a four-color tiff with Spanish text from the readings for Christ the King in Cycle C. As it turns out, it’s a beautiful bulletin cover:

So typing the Lectionary prefix C162 (Cycle C, Lectionary entry #162) in the Keyword field from any screen will bring up all results with C162 in the filename—a shortcut way of going to Advanced Search and searching for keyword “Our Lord Jesus Christ the King” with the Liturgical Cycle “C” box checked (and a convenient way to bring up just files related to the Scripture for a given week).

4) I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: Finally, and most importantly, Art & Media Portal was created with you, the publication editor, in mind; we strive to provide content that is relevant to your community, and we are continually adding to our collection. We do our best to anticipate your needs when we prepare content, but the fact is, we rely on your suggestions and requests to improve our collection and to make sure we continue to meet your needs. So don’t be a stranger! Contact us here, or post a comment to this blog, and let us know what you want to see on Art & Media Portal!

Picture Perfect

I’d like to share three tips with you for creating a picture perfect publication.

Tip #1:

When resizing a picture, always grab one of the corner handles and drag diagonally with your mouse. By doing so, you will preserve the original ratio between width and height. (Note: some programs require that you hold down the SHIFT key while you drag. Always release the mouse button before you release the SHIFT key.)

Tip #2:

pointingWhen positioning a picture to the left or right of a block of text, flip the picture, if necessary, so that it directs the reader’s eye into the text. Watch out, however. If you flip a picture which incorporates words, numbers or a clock, for example, it will be obvious to your readers.

Tip #3:

When centering a picture above a block of text, avoid the temptation to stretch the picture so that it fills the column horizontally. Leave a little white space to the left and right sides of the picture. You’ll be surprised by how much more appealing to the eye it looks.

Please consult the manual for your specific program for detailed instructions.

Adding Hot Sauce to Mild Articles

I enjoy cooking and baking, and of course eating what I just made. I am taking raw food such as vegetables, meat, spices, and oils, and making really great meals out of it all. It sounds like what so many of you do every week or every month when you create your publications out of the emails, notes and verbal messages you receive.

Of course, I can’t make new recipes every week and invariably there are also a few articles in every publication that must be shown regularly (sometimes every week). They are the reminders of the council meetings on Wednesday nights, the requests for food pantry donations, and the advertiser of the week (written June 9, 2009).

These articles are important! You can breathe new life into these blurbs and get them noticed almost every time they print. How? Here are some tips for making sure they get the proper attention:

  • Use or change the border around the article/blurb.
  • If you have the ability to add color, make the heading, shading, border or a few specific words pop!
  • Shade the text box black (or the darkest shade of color) and make the text color white.
  • Write 2 or 3 different versions of the same information and swap them out occasionally.
  • Put a lot of white or blank space around it. Sometimes the absence of printing gets just as much notice.
  • Add some vibrant clip art once in a while. There are a lot of great choices in LPi’s Art & Media Portal.

A really good idea is to look to other publications, even magazines including Bright Ideas, for creativity and inspiration. And if you are wondering how I make those standby meals interesting for my family? That’s easy. I just set the hot sauce on the table.