From the Inbox :: Tips for Print

My friend Jacob in Eugene, Oregon, sent the following email…

I’m wondering if you have a checklist (mental or otherwise) that you use to critique your work before it goes out.  I print a lot of flyers, postcards, and email promotional materials for events and it seems like I always miss important details, even when I have multiple proofreaders.  It’s so frustrating to pour yourself into a piece only to realize you’re missing key details. Also, any tips on design?

My reply…

At Park we don’t do much print these days, but here’s some general rules of thumb to consider as you design print pieces…

Remember the 5 W’s and H

  • Who – Does it communicate clearly in the language of WHO it’s for? Avoid churchy terms and use a language and style that’s reflective the audience you’re trying to speak to.
  • What – Have you clearly defined WHAT it is? “It” being the event, opportunity, class, etc?
  • Where – Is there a location, address, map, directions, showing people WHERE they need to go?
  • When – Have you double-checked the time and date of WHEN it is?
  • Why – Have you explained WHY it’s important for the person? Don’t just broadcast your information, focus on why it’s important for the individual. Highlight their needs first, then focus on your solution.
  • How – Have you given them next steps on HOW to respond? Have you clearly directed them to a person, website, email, etc to sign up, register, get more information.

Design Elements

  • Logos. Is your church logo or the appropriate ministry logo on it? Your logo should be on every printed piece you create. Think of them as a return address on an envelope. In case it gets lost or placed in the hand of a friend, it should be able to point easily back to where it came from. Be sure to include your web address, too!
  • Fonts. Are there more than two fonts on it? Try to use a standard body font for everything so while design elements may be different, there’s at least a consistency that’s easy to recognize and unify all of your print collateral. You shouldn’t use more than two fonts per printed piece.
  • White Space. White space is good. Less is more. Don’t try to fill an entire space. Give people room to breathe. Don’t let design overpower your message unless the design is helping to communicate your message.
  • Consistency. Try to have a consistent placement of your church logo on all printed pieces… i.e. always on the lower right hand corner, top left hand corner, etc. Having a standard font is good, too.
  • Standards. Set some standards when it comes to dates, times, phone numbers, and web addresses.
    • Tuesday, July 13th or Tuesday, July 13
    • 10 AM or 10 a.m.
    • 312-361-0500 or 312.361.0500
    • or

Double-Check the Small Stuff

Double-check all addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. There was one time I accidentally put my personal phone number on the back of a churchwide publication. I found that out AFTER it was printed! Not good. Double check the small stuff. In some cases, I even copy the email address and send a test email just to double-check and confirm it’s the right one. The things you would easily overlook are usually the things you need to check the most.

Ask Others For Help!

Another set of eyes is sometimes exactly what you need to either catch an error or to get some input on design. The Church Marketing Lab from the Center for Church Communication is a great place to get advice and input from others. They have a flickr group where you can upload your latest project and get advice from others. The Church Marketing Lab has been a lifesaver for me and in addition to getting help, it gives you the chance to help and learn from others.

About Tim Schraeder

Tim Schraeder is obsessed with all things social media. Having worked with some of the world’s largest churches and para-church organizations, he served as an evangelist for social media with a knack for connecting people and spreading ideas that matter. He’s been a consultant and coach as well as a sought-after speaker and author who helped write the book on communication and social media for the church. Today, Tim is passionate to help businesses and organizations connect, engage, and build loyal followers across all forms of social media. He is a die-hard Chicagoan who can be found in any neighborhood coffeeshop that has free wifi.

  • taylorius

    I'm pretty sure you just summed up most high-school educations for writing and graphics. Nice!

    • Tim Schraeder

      I do what I can!

  • Matthias Glastra

    This was a post of Smashing Magazine just today that talks about the same subject. Funny. :) Here's the link. Have fun all.

  • FourTenCreative

    New Link: Tips Before Printing:

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

Ready To Do Some Work? Let's Talk