Monthly Archives: August 2011

Getting exactly what you want–spec sheets, what did you think?

Sending a spec sheet with your print job is the best way to eliminate errors and get what you asked for. Send the spec sheet to your print rep if there is one and with the files to the printer herself/himself. A spec sheet need not be fancy, it can be as simple as please print this on yellow paper and it can be as complicated as paper color, weight, inks, folds, counts, on and on. If you are doing something different you want to include a note saying so. For instance, I am creating a brochure with a mail–in form. I set–up the brochure so that the form is on the back of the inside cover. Not typical and can confuse the printer into thinking the brochure was set up incorrectly. It wasn’t. I will send a spec sheet and indicate in my email the unusual set up and why. A spec sheet can be a form or it can be a note written in a word processing document. Send it as a document with the emailed files even if it is word for word in the email. Here’s the information I will put in the spec sheet for my non–typical brochure:
File name: Event Brochure 2011.ind
Size: 8.5h x 11w pre–fold
Color: Process
Special instructions: file is set up so that return form is on the back of the cover and mailing panel is the center back, folds down as per postal regulations.
Contact information: Lisa Belloli, etc.
Now I can go on and spec paper, special things like foil stars, what ever I want. I’m handing this off to some one else and I don’t know how many are being printed. I don’t know where they are being sent after printing. If you do know those things send it along you can never provide too much information.


Sailing over the bounding main

Bounding, binding as in documents. There a all sorts of ways to build a book. But what kind of document gets bound? Typically, things like training manuals, annual reports, user guides and presentations. What type of binding depends on your budget, size of the document and how fancy you want to go. Here’s a brief overview of six types of binding:




  1. Plastic comb–Like a plastic spiral. It will open to lay flat and will hold 12 to 425 sheets of 20 lb paper.
  2. Perfect bind–stacked sheets with a glued tape bind. It will store flat and is stackable.
  3. Velo bind–metal strip front and back. Usually punched with 3 to 4 holes, held together with prongs and holds 1 to 3 inches of paper.
  4. Coil–wire or plastic. It will open to lay flat and the pages can be flipped back. Coil binding can hold 20- 230 sheets of 20 lb paper.
  5. Loop wire–Very much like above except each wire is loop rather than a single wire spiraled. It too will lay flat and pages will flip back. It will hold 20 to 200 sheets of 20 lb paper.
  6. Saddle stitch–the most common. Folded sheets of paper stapled down the middle. This type of binding will hold up to 40 sheets of 20 lb paper. Saddle stitch books are always in multiples of four pages.

Helping out and helping yourself

So you find your company sponsoring an event. And said event is preparing a program book. And the event organizers want you to provide an ad. Fantastic. Do these ads bring in business? Probably not. Do they give you some publicity and name recognition? Possibly. But you have to stand out. Your ad needs to be different than the standard, “Congratulations to the Blank-Blank Society.” Sometimes you can send your logo and who ever is putting together the book with construct something for you. It will not be original, unique or stand out. Your option is to do it yourself, which is not much of an option. What you can do however, is send your logo and your copy. Check first to see if there is an extra charge for layout of your ad. It can differ. Okay, you’re putting on your copy writing hat, now what? Here are some dos and don’ts for small ad copy writing:

  • Don’t be overly clever or oblique. Quotes from Moby Dick at a fish fry for the Boy Scouts will likely go unappreciated. Note I didn’t say not to be clever, just not too clever.
  • Don’t be funny for a serious event. Do I need say more?
  • Don’t have lot of text, be brief, it’s a party. People flip through the book because they are bored and waiting for something, food, drink, speeches–they don’t want to read a novel
  • Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Look at the bright side, no matter how bleak the cause, be positive.

  • Do include your logo fairly large–request this
  • Do say what your company does, “Smith and Associates Financial Services, serving all your business portfolio and investment needs.” Smith and Associates Financial Services, doesn’t say enough.
  • Do mention the event, otherwise you look really self-serving.
  • Do include contact information, web site and phone number. Address isn’t really necessary and takes up space.

That’s all fine, but what do you write in that ad? Look at the appeal letter, it tells you what the event is and what or who it’s benefiting. Is it to honor someone? Look them up mention their contribution to the community. Still lost? Look up the hosting organization’s mission statement, quote or paraphrase from that. In a nutshell, say something nice. For example, you are sponsoring an event for an organization that helps recovering addicts. You don’t say, “Blank Company is glad to help Helping Foundation get those junkies off smack once and for all.” You say, “Blank Company is proud to be a part of Helping Foundation’s efforts to help those who lost their way back to being a part of the community.” See? Be nice. Is it a person? Don’t say, “Congratulations to Mrs. Jones on twenty-five years of service to the community.” Say, “Congratulations Mrs. Jones for providing the least among us with books, hot lunches and winter coats for twenty-five years!” See?

Avoiding grid lock

Using a grid to layout pages such as a newsletter is standard design practice. A newsletter or a multi-page document, even a one page document such as a resume can benefit from a grid. A grid is the structural framework for page design. Nearly everything you see on screen or printed has a grid as the underlying structure. A grid provides unity. Unity can be achieved through consistency, page number placement, type, space between columns to name a few instances. What’s important about understanding a grid is how you can use it to enhance your layouts. If you produce flyers, or newsletters chances are you use a ready-made template. That’s fine. But what if there is a special event or issue and you want to break out of the grid? Understanding the grid can help you do that successfully. The grid creates unity, unity creates flow and flow aids in understanding. This blog is based on a very simple grid. The upper left hand corner always has an image and the text wraps around it. On occasion there is a table or bulleted or numbered list, an adjustment to the grid. Below is my grid and examples of the grid modified.

My advice is to play around with your grid. If photos are always one or two columns wide make it three, make it larger. Look for pages whose layout you like and save for inspiration; maybe you like the photo treatment, or perhaps the headline design or word treatment. I love the Salvation Army’s trucks. The text on the side says, “Donate Goods”. The “D” and “O” plus the word “Good” are in red while the rest of the words and letters are in black. You see the words, “Donate Goods” and “Do Good”, great design, great idea.

Tis a gray area that heeds the irreproachable value of nuanced color

I have no idea what that means but it sounds important and uses the two words I want to get across: value and color. What I mean by value are the shades of a color or more often than not, shades of gray. Value can do a few things to your piece. Using a light value next to a dark will add emphasis to an idea or suggest opposing concepts. Using similar values can create the idea of unity or compatible ideas. Value can create flow through a document. It can act as a guide and keep the reader on track. Value can be used to create mood. Values of red can transverse from love (pink), to passion (red), to fury (dark red/maroon). Shades of blue and gray can be soothing and cooling. Green can begin bright and represent renewal, birth and shade into decay and rot. Think about how you can use color and value to give your document drama. Color and value can give a two color document impact.