Designing to a format
Know thy specs (print specifications)
Publications and Newsletters
Determine the size and format of the publication. Will it need
4 pages, 8? 12? Folded, hole-punched, large format? How much
text will there be? How often will it be published?
Will it be mailed? Check before designing. Deviations from
standards will cost extra, and the number of pages will add
to the mailing weight. A self-mailed newsletter saves the cost
of envelope, but be sure to include space for mailing lables,
How many visuals? More pictures means less gray, which equals
more reader interest. Plan for additional page 'real estate:'
Factor in the tone of the publication when deciding the format.
Chatty company bulletin or comprehensive news roundup?
Before thinking about style, ask the same old questions: who
is my audience? what is the message? Then choose the graphics.
Will it be mailed? Same questions as above.
Folded? How many panels? How will the text and images carry
over multiple panels? One rule of thumb is to tie pages and
panels together by flowing some elements across the folds.
The sequence of information and where it breaks is important.
Does the reader have to turn the piece over to find some key
What kind of fold? Will a sweeping image across multiple panels?
Use an accordian fold. With a roll fold, some pages are always
hidden, similar to a book. Gatefolds are like doors that open
and close to reveal another panel below.
Make a small dummy (or have one made by the paper company with
the actual paper stock). Use this tool to organize the brochure
in blocks of information, based on your heirarchy of message.
Format is set and priced by the target publication. Typically
it's column inches for newpapers; full page, quarter page, etc.
for magazines, which all vary. Be sure to get exact specs.
Bigger is better. You'll have more room not only for
text and graphics, but for the white space that will set them
off, and set your ad apart from the others.
If it's an embarrassingly small ad, keep it simple. Get your
main message across and forget the rest. Except the phone number.
If it's big, like a full-page newspaper ad, you can design
it like a poster, a billboard, or even a brochure with many
chunks of information. It all depends on your goals.
Horizontal or vertical formats provide the structure for orienting
your words and pictures. Sometimes the space feels awkward or
extreme: try to exploit it, or use it to advantage.