Leading Like a Pro

ALL-STAR LEADING

Creating a print project that pops takes more than having the best printer on the block. It also requires stellar design and text that is well thought-out and easy to read.

Have you ever wondered how those professionally designed print pieces look so incredibly clean-cut and crisp? To get that clean, easy-to-read look, professional designers make use of the big three in typography: leading, kerning, and tracking. Although all of them are important, leading can make or break a design.

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What is Leading?

Simply put, the term ‘leading’ (pronounced LED-ing) refers to the amount of spacing between lines of text. (Fun fact: The term originated from hand-typesetting where thin strips of lead were placed into the forms to increase the distance between lines of text.) When you want to save space on a page or use up more space on a page, adjusting the leading is the way to go. Leading can also be used to change the aesthetics of your design, whether your text is the hero of your design or informational only. Mastering this design element will allow you to create balanced, well-formatted text that helps sell your product or service.

First Things First

When you type text into a word processing or graphic design program, you will generally get a pleasing result. Sometimes, though, the spacing may feel a bit “off.” This can be especially true if you’re using a variety of sizes, fonts, or other character adjustments. When you type the same word in a few different fonts, you will quickly see the difference between how the spacing works for individual words, both horizontally and vertically. No fonts are exactly the same, which can cause awkwardness in your design. The cure for that awkwardness is formatting.

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General Formatting

Formatting can be applied at either the character level or the paragraph level. Paragraph-level formatting includes text alignment (left, right, center or justified) as well as spacing before or after paragraphs. Examples of character-level formatting include the style and choice of font, size of the characters, and the leading.

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Application of Leading
While leading is considered a character-level attribute, it should generally be applied at the paragraph level to your text. This is because applying it only to a few lines of the text within a paragraph will only change the lines highlighted — which leaves you with an uneven final product.
Changing the fixed leading in InDesign can be accomplished in a few simple steps:
  • Go to ‘Edit,’ then ‘Preferences’ in previous versions of InDesign, or ‘Preferences’ in InDesign CC
  • Choose ‘Type’ from the left-side of the list
  • Under ‘Type Options,’ choose ‘Apply Leading to Entire Paragraphs’
  • Select ‘OK’
All finished! Now, every paragraph that you begin will inherit these same options, giving you very consistent and clear paragraphs that are easily read by your audience. InDesign is a very smart program, so even if you don’t set a leading value, you’ll find that it defaults to auto leading — which is 120 percent of the current font size. Realistically, that translates into a space between lines of 12 pts if you’re using a 10 pt font.
Want to learn more about how leading and character formatting can make the text in your next printing project really pop? Give us a call to get started!

 

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When Color Matters: Tips for Specifying Colors

LET YOUR TRUE COLORS SHINE THROUGH

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You’re designing a new brochure, flyer, or newsletter and want to make sure it looks great. You’re considering printing it full-color, but aren’t sure if that’s the best option to choose, considering your budgetary needs. Here are some tips to help you decide how many colors to use and how to make the most of the colors you choose.

When to use spot colors

  • You only need one or two colors for the printed piece.
  • Your project doesn’t include any full-color photos.
  • Your corporate colors need to be reproduced to exact specifications and cannot be reproduced faithfully enough by combining cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK)… the four “process” colors.
  • Your project calls for fluorescent, metallic, or other special inks.

When to use process color…

  • You need more than two colors.
  • Your piece includes full-color photos.

When to use both…

  • You want to enhance the colors by including a “bump” plate (an extra printing plate set up in one of the four process colors and meant to enhance that tone).
  • Your project includes full-color photos, but your logo or corporate colors don’t reproduce well with process color inks.
  • Your project includes full-color photos and also requires metallic, fluorescent, or other special inks.

No matter what color combination you choose, there are some things you can do to ensure your project goes more smoothly. For example, as you’re preparing your artwork, make sure you aren’t “duplicating” any colors. Look through the color palette in your page layout software. Remove any duplicate colors you find, and reassign the corresponding objects and layers accordingly.

Also make sure you give your colors the same names in each application you use for the project. For example, make sure you give the color the same name in InDesign as you give it in Photoshop and Illustrator. This will help reduce confusion and ensure the colors separate properly when preparing the piece for print.

And finally, if you decide to go with process printing, use your design software to convert any spot colors you have to their CMYK equivalents. When doing so, double-check the values the software assigns, to ensure good printability. For example, if Photoshop gives a color a 1% magenta value, you might want to do some tweaking to eliminate the need for that value. We’ll be happy to help you optimize your files for print and answer any questions you have while producing your files.

Boost Your Marketing Prowess with Perfect Postcard Design

POW! PUNCH! POSTCARDS!

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Postcards are an excellent way to grab attention, partly because you can get your message across to the reader without requiring them to take action like opening an envelope or an email. With a postcard, your message is always front and center as soon as the printed piece hits their hand.

However, readers can easily be turned off by an unattractive postcard design or miss key information if it’s not well-presented. Keep these perfect postcard design tips in mind to boost your marketing power and encourage your audience to take action on your message.

Get to the Point

You should have one obvious call to action for your postcard and create the rest of the design around driving home that point. Do you want customers to take advantage of an expensive offer for a high-end brand? Or are you looking for a fun response to a social media inquiry?

Understanding your audience and what you’re trying to accomplish will help drive design direction for your postcard. Each detail of the postcard, from the fonts and colors used to the size of the card itself and the finish, should all build the look and feel that will reinforce your brand and message.

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Attention-Grabbing Design

Even the classiest of postcards can be attention-grabbing, whether it’s font size, bright colors, or added pops of foil or other special treatments. Try experimenting with different cardstock options or graphics and put them together in creative ways. Look at your design in real size from across the room. Are you able to easily tell the main point, and does the postcard design look like something that would catch attention at a glance? If not, try again!

Don’t Be Boring

People receive dozens of pieces of mail in a week, and you have only a split second to catch their attention. One of the best ways to do that (other than the design) is to have fun with the message and the layout. A bright pop of color is great, but having that integrated around a fun message will keep them reading once they’ve picked up the postcard. Don’t overstuff the postcard space with text, but look for a good balance that provides enough information for the reader to take action. Here are some quick tips that will help:

✔ Be brief: Less important details can be relegated to the back, to keep the front clutter-free.

✔ Be unique: Consider postcard designs that are extraordinary such as odd shapes or sizes.

✔ Be clear: Providing a specific call to action and benefits to your audience will help them engage with your message.

✔ Be engaging: If one postcard is great, a series of postcards can provide you with an even greater impact.

If you liked these tips, our postcard pros have tons more. They’re standing by to help you design the right postcard to meet (and exceed!) your business goals. Contact us today at 856.429.0715 to learn more and get started writing your postcard success story!

http://www.sjprinter.com

 

4 Illustrator Hacks You Didn’t Know You Needed

EASY-PEASY DESIGN TRICKS

Whether you’ve been using Adobe Illustrator for years or are just getting started with it, you might not know about these often overlooked functions that can help take hours off of any given project.

Check out these four Adobe Illustrator hacks to make your next project a breeze, while allowing you to still get that good spot for your five o’clock exercise class.

Copy & Paste & Paste & Paste & Paste & Paste & Paste

Let’s say you’ve created a selection that you want to paste repeatedly in multiple areas of your project. Yes, we all know about > Command-C and > Command-V…But really, how fun is it to keep scrolling back to the same content to copy…. and then scrolling back to your new spot to paste? Pretty much less fun than visiting the emergency room after showing your co-workers your side plank on top of that exercise ball you use as your desk chair.

Next time you want to copy and paste the same content repeatedly, choose Select > Save Selection. Name your selection something clever so that you can reselect it at any time from the Select Menu, and conveniently paste that selection into as many parts of your project as you need to, without losing your data.

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Erasing In A Straight Line

Your newest project involves some majestic free-form design work. It’s got some rough edges, though, and your scheme requires some clean lines. You’re ready to start erasing using the free-form eraser tool, but quickly realize you forgot your morning triple shot cappuccino and you’ve got the shakes.

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Before you reach for that can (or cup) of liquid fuel, here’s an option that won’t jar your nervous system. You can easily erase in a straight line in Illustrator by pressing and holding the Shift Key before you start dragging with the eraser. Problem solved.

Creating Color Harmonies

You may not be able to create harmony amongst your family or rival sports fans, but you can do your part to promote world harmony through your designs. Check out this little hack to make them think you spent an entire afternoon contemplating complimentary hues.

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To create an instant color harmony based on a single color, choose color harmonies from the Color Guide Panel. What may have taken hours before, you can now accomplish in 37 seconds.

Converting Text to Outlines

If you’ve been in the business long enough, you’ve likely run into this situation: you’ve just finished your design work and sent it off at 4:50 p.m. At 5:05 p.m., you get a call to let you know they don’t have the font you used, but you’re on your exercise mat, leg warmers on. You don’t get the message until the next day and you now can’t meet your deadline.

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You can easily avoid this situation in the future by converting text to outlines by right clicking the selected text and choosing Convert to Outlines for press-ready artwork. By converting text to outlines, it eliminates the need to send font files along with the Illustrator file when sharing with others. Before getting too hasty with this neat hack, though, keep in mind that converting to outlines is a one-way street. This means you’ll be unable to go back to regular fonts after converting. Make sure you’re working from a COPY of your document so that you can easily get the original text back if necessary.

Save yourself some time and frustration – don’t work harder, work smarter with these easy-peasy design tricks.

Unique Forms For You

Your business is like no other, and the forms you use every day should reflect that.

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Add Pizazz
Keep your branding vibrant with forms that are full of color. There’s no reason your forms need to be boring.
Size Matters
Whether you need small, half-size, or oversized forms, we can create the right size form for your unique needs.
Carbonless Parts
Two- and three-part carbonless forms are the most common, but we can also create more parts if you need them. Need four parts? No problem.
No matter what kind of forms you need, we will make sure your forms are a true reflection of your brand.

Sell With Words That Inspire

A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

You’ve just created the most ingenious product that the world has ever seen. It simultaneously makes you lose weight, look younger, have the energy of a two-year-old, all while converting your trash into $100 bills. You’ve created a sales page for your product, with a picture of the product and the words, “A great tool for everyone.” But, the response…well, the silence is deafening. You scratch your head in wonder.

What’s missing on your sales page is, well, a lot actually. Writing sales copy is both an art and a science. Before you put your pen to paper or start tapping on the keyboard, you need to have a solid understanding regarding these three things:

  1. What your product or service does, especially the benefits to the customer.
  2. What sets your product or service apart from the competition?
  3. Who your customer is, particularly what they want in life and how they spend their time.

Truly understanding these three things will make the rest of your job much simpler and help you as you navigate your way through the sales progression.

The Sales Progression

Every piece of sales copy worth its salt, regardless of the medium, has three phases:

  • Grabbers: get the undivided attention of your audience.
  • Description & Benefits: make them physically crave what your product or service can do.
  • Clinchers: get them falling all over themselves to make a purchase.

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Within each of these phases, you want to maximize the impact of your words because people lose interest fast. We’ve gathered some tried and true formulas for making your words count. Let’s take a look.

Grabbers

Because shooting your prospects with a squirt gun isn’t always an option for getting their attention, try one of these:

  • Introducing _________!
  • Exclusive offer for ___________ members only
  • Free _____________!
  • Save up to ___________ %

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Descriptions & Benefits

Here is where you make your prospects really fall in love with your product by telling them how amazing their lives will be if they buy it.

  • Poignant, memorable, your ticket to ___________
  • Grow your _____________
  • Boost your ____________
  • Take control of ___________

Clinchers

This phase is essentially where you want to include a call to action – tell your prospects exactly what you want them to do. More often than not, they’ll do it.

  • All this can be yours.
  • Want to save even more?
  • Here’s how to get started.
  • Why wait another day?

The Takeaway

The key to moving your products off the shelves is using your understanding of your product and your customers to choose impactful words that will grab their interest and make them fall in love with your product.

Wide-Format Printing

When you want your brand to stand out, consider going big! Really big! Wide-format printing allows us to create larger-than-life projects for you to fit almost any occasion.

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New Product
Launching a new product? Use a high-quality banner to announce your new items and promotions. Banners are not just for outdoor use. Get creative! Hang them in lobbies, from balconies, or your entryway ceiling.
POP Displays
Point-of-purchase displays of a grand design are an easy task with wide-format printing. Create life-size images on heavy foam core to bring dimension and attention to your products.

Unique Folds
Imagine their surprise when a customer unfolds your brochure only to have it unfold again and again as it accordions out to reveal an extra-long page of beautifully colored information.

Posters
Feature your products as framed works of art or hang them on your walls as large color posters.
From vehicle magnets to a life-size cutout of your employee of the year, there are endless uses for wide format print technology.