Tag Archives: Layout

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.

 

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.

Keeping Tabs on Your Content

Looking for a neat way to keep things in line within your bulletin?  Give your space bar a break and consider using Tabs, a convenient method for organizing your information in a clean, easy-to-read format.  When set up correctly, all you need to do is press Tab on your keyboard, and Microsoft Publisher will automatically position your text in the location you want.  You have the option of lining everything up to the left side, right side, center, or at the decimal points.  Search for “Tabs” in Microsoft Publisher’s Help menu for more information and detailed instructions.

Tabs are very useful for laying out your mass times and intentions, activity schedules, contact information, and many types of lists and forms.  Check out the following examples and try these quick tutorials for your bulletin or newsletter!

3-Column Weekly Activity Schedule

List activities for the week, using columns for date, event, and time.

Before

After

Steps:

  1. Create a new text box with the heading “Upcoming Events.”
  2. Enter a date, then press tab.  Enter an event name, then press tab again.  Finally, enter the event time.  Press Return or Enter to begin a new line.
  3. For example, Type Nov. 27, then hit tab.  Type Choir, then hit tab.  Type 9:00 am.  Press Enter.   Repeat this process for several lines.
  4. Highlight all of the text you inserted, and then click Format, Tabs.
  5. Click Clear All to remove any previous formatting.
  6. Click in the field under Tab stop position.  Type 1.15 as your measurement.  This will determine the placement of your tab.
  7. Select Left alignment.
  8. Click Set to apply your selections to your highlighted content.
  9. Click in the Tab stop position field again, and type 3.5.
  10. Under Alignment, click Right.
  11. Click Set.
  12. Click Ok.  You’ll notice that your lines are now reformatted.  If things are not lining up the way you want, just start at step 3 again, and adjust your tab stop measurements and alignments as needed.

Contact Information

Use tabs and leaders to organize names and phone numbers so readers can easily find the specific information they need.

Before

After

Steps:

  1. Create a new text box with the heading “Contacts.”
  2. Type a first and last name, then hit tab.  Next, type that person’s phone number or extension.  Press Return or Enter to start a new line. Repeat this process on the next several lines, until you have typed all names and phone numbers.
  3. Highlight the text you inserted, and then click Format, Tabs.
  4. Click Clear All to remove any previous formatting.
  5. Click in the field under Tab stop position.  Type 3.3 as your measurement.  This will determine the placement of your tab.
  6. Select Right alignment.
  7. Under Leader, select Dot.
  8. Click Set to apply your selections to your highlighted content.
  9. Click Ok.  You’ll notice that your lines are now reformatted, and should include dots between the names and phone numbers.  If things are not lining up the way you want, just start at step 3 again, and adjust your tab stop measurements and alignments as needed.

Weekly Collections

Use the decimal alignment tab to position collection amounts in your Stewardship area.

Before

After

Steps:

  1. Create a new text box with the heading “Church Support.”
  2. Type “Previous Balance,” then press tab.  Type your previous balance amount in this format: $x,xxx.xx.  Hit Enter or Return to begin a new line. Type “Contributions,” then press tab.  Type your parish’s contribution amount in this format: $x,xxx.xx.  Hit Enter or Return to begin a new line.  Type “Total,” then press tab.  Type your total donation amount in this format: $x,xxx.xx.
  3. Highlight all the text you inserted, and then click Format, Tabs.
  4. Click Clear All to remove any previous formatting.
  5. Click in the field under Tab stop position.  Type 3.2 as your measurement.  This will determine the placement of your tab.
  6. Select Decimal alignment.*
  7. Under Leader, select Dot.
  8. Click Set to apply your selections to your highlighted content.
  9. Click Ok.  You’ll notice that your lines are now reformatted, and all numbers should be aligned at the decimal point.  If things are not lining up the way you want, just go back to step 3, and adjust your measurements and alignments as needed.

*You can also try using the right alignment setting for this example.

Although it may seem daunting at first, with just a little practice and some determination, you can master the above techniques and use them to make your publications more attractive and helpful for your readers!  Remember that all of the above examples can be adjusted to fit your needs.  For instance, if you typically use different categories for your church support section, name them accordingly.  Or, if you’d prefer a 2-column activity list, just create one set of tab stops, instead of two.

Have you tried using Tabs in your publications?  Please comment about your experiences.  Would you recommend Tabs, or is there a different method that works better for you? Share your tips and tricks!