Tag Archives: graphics

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.

 

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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.