Getting Your Publication Ready for Design and Production
by Karen Tibbetts, Customer Service
Here are a few tips that will make your next publication a success. Preparing publications for production can be a very stressful task if you don’t plan ahead and have a schedule. There are many procedures that need to take place after the copy leaves your desk, so it is best to consult with your graphic artist and your printer to make certain that your publication is to be produced on time.
Make Up a Production Schedule
Decide upon a delivery date and consult with your graphic designer and printer to determine the amount of time needed to produce your publication. This should include time for design, proofing, making revisions, print production, and mailing.
Set a deadline for anyone supplying you with articles and photographs. Make them stick to it. Schedules are dependent upon everyone doing their part at the correct time. A single late article or picture could drastically affect your deadline. There are certain parts of the production process which simply cannot be pushed back if you need to make an important mail date.
Create a Dummy to Plan Your Layout
Always provide your graphic artist with your dummy and hard copy (lasers). This will allow you to review the articles together. Notes can be written in regards to any special editing that might be needed. It should also give the location of photography or clip art. Preparing a dummy can help indicate problems with fitting information within a specific size area before the design begins.
The dummy will also help you to determine how many pages your publication will be. This will enable you to get accurate estimates for price and press schedules. A four page publication will require less time to produce than an eight or 12 page publication. Obviously it will also cost less to design and print. When making your layout dummy, also remember that, in most types of publications, pages may only be added or removed in increments of four.
When putting your dummy together use sticky notes with the names of your articles on them. This will allow you to move the articles from page to page until you feel comfortable with your placement. Giving this dummy to your graphic artist will help save time and confusion.
This layout dummy will also help to determine your priorities for placement of articles and other information.
- What should be featured on the front cover?
- Where should the editor’s notes or manager’s letter appear?
- Designate a page for the calendar if you have one.
Once you have put your dummy together you will be able to clearly see how much information you can fit and still have room for clip art and photos. This is very important because you want your publication to have some style and to be pleasing to read.
Edit Your Content
Articles that go on too long can often become very boring to your reader. It is best to have quick little tidbits that get them excited about an event. Remember to follow the old newspaper formula when supplying information: who, what, where, when, and why. Always supply the date, time, place, and a snappy headline. Adding some clipart or photos can bring life to an event.
If you have a lot to say in one article try to break it up a little by editing and putting important issues in bulleted copy form. Three or four bulleted points together are usually the most effective.
Submitting or Saving Your Copy to Disk
You may submit you copy files on disk or by email. Please do not use floppy disks, there are few modern computers capable of reading them. If you cannot figure out how to get your files to your designer please give them a call. They can help you work out a successful method that works for both of you.
Whether you use email or disks always remember to follow these simple rules when submitting copy for your project.
- Save each article separately with its own name.
- Save as a text only file.
- Absolutely No Extra Formatting! This means: Use only one space after a period and no extra returns in the copy. Hit one return after a headline or at the end of a paragraph.
- Do not type copy in ALL UPPER CASE. This is very difficult to read and is the equivalent of shouting at your reader. This also creates a nightmare for your graphic artist because it can take a lot of time to fix, not to mention increasing your costs. Don't use all lower case either.
- Always run a Spell Check and proofread your articles before sending them on their way. This can cut down on many changes which could determine if you meet your press date or not. Changes because of spelling, grammar, or other types of accuracy errors can be very costly.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. Check your dates, times, names, phone numbers, permit numbers, and the position of dates in calendars. Don’t assume anything. It is easier and cheaper to fix things before you submit them to the designer than after the process has begun.
- Always let the artist know if more copy is coming. They can allow for it in the layout in the beginning rather than trying to squeeze something in at the end which could ruin a layout.
Design, Clip Art, and Borders
Starting from scratch with a publication will take more time the first time around. Creating a style with which your artist can work with on future issues will cut down time significantly. Your publication is a work in progress.
Your first issue and the issue produced six months later may be slightly different. Over time it will begin to develop a style all its own. It does take time, and communication is vital in its development.
Give direction as to what type of clip art you would like to see. Being too specific can sometimes eat up a lot of your graphics time. It takes time for the artist to search through files and files of clip art and borders. Also, don’t overload your publication with too much clip art. Don’t forget that a good balance of art, copy and white space will give your publication a more professional look.
Photography and Digital Photography
Photography is a great way to give life to your publication. People love to see themselves and friends having fun at social events. It can help promote an event and can break up copy to give your publication a lift.
Digital photography can help save dollars when creating a publication. With this technology now available it allows your artist to place the photos without having to scan them first. We still recommend that the photos are reviewed by a professional to make any necessary color adjustments before going to print. This can make a huge difference in the quality you receive on press.
Here are some things to remember to do when planning for or working with photographs for your project.
- Always use the best quality setting on your digital camera. This is the setting that will give you the least amount of photos taken with your camera. The compromise is worth it. Remember, 300 ppi (pixels per inch) at 100% image size is needed for quality printing of your photos.
- When shooting photographs, always have the sun to your back or you will create a silhouette or shadow effect on the faces of the people or object.
- Compliment your subject by coming in close with your camera. Remember people are not always flattering in a full body shot. Also watch for protruding objects when photographing (no trees should be growing out of someone’s head!)
- Try turning your camera into a vertical position instead of always having horizontal shots.
- Your best quality will come from slides and photographs that have good lighting. Don’t be afraid to ask your subject to move. Look around to find the best backdrop and never choose a window. Remember the sun should always be to your back.
- Make a copy of your photo and show the cropping instructions on the copy. Putting sticky notes on top creates confusion because they have to be removed to be scanned and never get placed back in the correct position.
- If you are running your publication in two colors try to stick to black and white for your photography. Running photos in different colors can make faces and other subject matters very unflattering.
- Don’t be afraid to take more than one shot of the same subject. You may not catch a smile the first time around!
Conversely, here are some things that you should not do when working with photographs.
- Enlarging a digital photograph too much will cause pixelation. There are limits to how much a digital photo can be blown up before it loses its quality.
- Enlarging a conventional photograph too much can sometimes make a photo look very grainy.
- Scanning transparencies and slides may be your best bet when you are working on a special project if your digital photographs do not have sufficient resolution. However, professional scans can be costly.
Special Note: Always consult with your print representative when making those decisions. They can advise you before you spend a lot of money on a scan that may not give you the look you were hoping for.
- Never put paperclips on your photographs. This can destroy or scratch a great photo.
- Never write in pen on the backside of a photo unless you cover it with translucent tape. Many a photo has been ruined by laying one photo on top of another and the ink transferring onto a face or important object on the photo underneath.
- Never cut your photos, we have better ways of removing objects.
Some Final Thoughts and Suggestions
Always have your printer provide you with a final proof before going to press. Proofread this very closely. At this point in the production process it is your responsibility to make certain that everything is correct. You will be asked to sign off on this proof. Do not sign if you have not proofed it thoroughly. You will be responsible for any errors.
Keep a binder of previous issues. It will remind you of the progress you have made or if you are getting off track with a style you are trying to project. Refer back to last year’s issue for that particular month. You may be forgetting about an event you need to be promoting that happens every year or a style that was used that got a great response to an event.
You will also find it helpful to keep an idea folder for reference of styles of other publications or photos that may be appropriate for a future publication. These sure do come in handy in a pinch.
If you are not already using 4-color process, but would like to add a little more color without getting into a big expense, consider pre-printing the sheet with your flag (also called the masthead) as a shell. This will allow you to purchase a year’s supply in a volume that will keep your costs down and allow you to imprint your information. Consult your print representative for pricing and options.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is a useful program for viewing PDF proof files that could be emailed directly to you. This application is available as a free download from Adobe.
I hope that these bits of information will help putting your next publication together a little bit easier. I encourage you to build a relationship with the team that you have selected to work with in producing your publication. It is very important to work as a team when you are under tight deadlines. Communication is the key!