Introduction and The Ask
From 2010–2015 MillerCox provided design and print layout services for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s (FRB) year-end annual report. The annual report reviews the Bank’s operations, highlights the Bank’s activities during the year, and presents financial statements. The report is read by leaders of both national and regional financial institutions and must convey permanency, authority, and thought leadership in the national and regional financial communities.
When using Adobe InDesign, page numbers provide readers a way to navigate effortlessly through a document; automated page numbers update as you rearrange, add, or remove a document’s pages. Although page numbering in InDesign can be automatically generated, the actual design and placement requires a bit of preparation and setup on the part of the designer.
While putting page numbers on each individual document page certainly works, most of the time you’ll want to put them on a master page instead. This allows for easy updating whether you want to change a number’s text styling or its position on the page.
Start by placing your page text frame in position on the master page, entering in an actual page number, then styling that number. After you’ve styled it to your liking, it’s time for the automatic part of the operation. Select the styled page number, go up to the Type menu, then navigate to Insert Special Character > Markers > Current Page Number. The number will now display the prefix of the current master page. Any document page using that master shows that particular page’s number.
If you want to include other text, you can add that before or after the automatic page number. For instance, you might want to spell out “Page 1” or use something like “p. 3” as part of the page identification. Back on the master, just enter whatever extra text you want to appear with the page number, leaving the automatic character to stand in for the page number. Whether you add extra text or not, be sure to make the text frame large enough to accommodate anything that might occupy it; you want to avoid overset text.
Though the page numbers by default are standard Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.), you might want another type of number label altogether. To change the styling, head over to the Pages panel menu and choose Numbering & Section Options. In the Page Numbering section, under the Styling pull-down menu, choose from Roman, small Roman, Arabic, or even letters and numbers with leading zeros.
Also in that dialog box is the option to start your current section on a specific page or to use continuous automatic page numbering. By default, there is one section in every new document; if you choose to create additional sections, you’ll make this choice for each one. Indicate a Section Prefix to identify each section in your document. This label can show up in the Pages panel for easier navigation or in the automatic page numbering itself if you check the Include Prefix when Numbering Pages checkbox. If, for instance, you select that option and assign the label “Sec. 1:,” your page numbering will look something like “Sec. 1:1,” “Sec. 1:2,” and so on. Note that if you have “Section Numbering” turned on in your Preferences (under the General pane), you’ll see this numbering convention. Switch to “Absolute Numbering” to view pages in the panel as 1, 2, 3, and the like.
There will be times that you don’t want a page number to appear on a document page. To remove the number’s text frame, you’ll need to override the master page item first. To do that, use Shift-Command/Control and click on the page number on the document page. Now you can delete the text frame as you normally would. You may also run into the issue of a page number being covered up by document page items, such as a full-bleed image. To ensure page numbers on a master page are always visible, employ layers. Create a new layer at the top of the Layers panel and put your page-number text frames on that layer.
Finally, you can create a PDF that will “lock in” any automatic numbering in its current state upon exporting. If you are responsible for paginating the document—organizing it into printer spreads—you’ll need to use the Print Booklet feature from the File menu or employ a third-party pagination tool to ensure the numbering you’ve set up stays put during pagination.
Any questions about getting InDesign to work for your nonprofit? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!
Once the determination has been made for a publication to be printed via offset press or lithography, the next decision is usually whether to print using spot or process color. Knowing how and why to use one over the other will help you make that choice when creating your print collateral design.
Process color (also called four-color, 4-color, or full-color) uses four base inks of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) and halftone printing plates to reproduce a wide range of possible colors. In contrast, spot color uses a pre-mixed color applied on separate printing plates, one for each color needed. Magazines often use process color, which allows the designers to reproduce a full spectrum of color, including accurate photographs; alternatively, business cards that have black type and a logo in black and red would be a prime example of a spot color job.
Spot color is ideal when a color has to be consistent across all media and from one print run to the next. Because the ink is pre-mixed using a standard such as the Pantone Matching System (PMS), there should be no variation between print jobs. When using a spot color, you are limited to shades or tints of that color, giving you a much narrower spectrum. It’s possible to achieve the effect of more colors by combining spot colors or incorporating duotones; however, once you have more than two spot colors plus black (black is often the main spot color used), the process color route tends to be the more cost effective way to go.
The benefits of process color
Process color’s biggest draw is that the wide range of colors means almost any shade you mix in your design software can be re-created using the four-color method. When creating colors, be sure you are working in the CMYK color space, as many colors created with RGB can’t be reproduced faithfully in CMYK’s narrower color spectrum. In the last decade or so, the costs involved in printing process jobs have come down significantly, making them more common than spot color jobs these days.
Combining process and spot in the same publication
You can also combine both process and spot printing in the same publication. You may want the flexibility of using process to deliver a wide range of colors and to reproduce color photos while also accurately presenting your company’s trademark blue logo. In this case, you would end up with a “four plus one” job, using process for everything except the logo, which would use a spot color plate. Another application for a spot plate—either with other spot colors or process colors—is the use of specialty inks or varnishes. A common practice is to print a process job but put a matte varnish over photos or logos to make them stand out. The varnish plate acts as a spot color in this case, and it would need to be set up as such in your page-layout software. If you need colors that can’t be reproduced with CMYK, like metallics or fluorescents, they would need to be run as spot colors as well.
As with all design jobs, knowing what the finished piece needs to look like and what effects you’re after ahead of time will inform decisions you make from start to finish. Once you’ve chosen which color route to take, you can design appropriately for that method.
Preparing a publication for print involves a whole skillset aimed at making sure the results are what you expect. This preparation starts before you’ve hit “New Document” and goes on past the point of choosing “Export.” Open the lines of communication with your print provider early and involve them at key points along the way. Whether or not you create an actual checklist, you should at least have an idea of the items you’ll want to address before you start the project, while you’re working, and just before sending it off to a printer.
BEFORE YOU START
Select a print vendor before you even start creating your publication. You will want to communicate to them what format the final piece will be provided in, as well as any considerations for binding, paper selection, and inks to be used. If you don’t have a clear idea of the finished piece, this is a great time to get the printer’s input. They’ll know best what works and—more importantly—where issues have cropped up in the past and how to avoid them.
Get specs from the printer on how to set up your document, as adjusting partway through the project can be time consuming. For instance, know how much bleed the printer needs to accommodate your full-page items and what size page margins work best.
You will also want to make sure you’re working in the right color mode for printing. At some point you’ll need to convert your onscreen RGB document to one that can be printed using CMYK. This conversion has to happen whether you’re using traditional offset presses, a digital press, or color laser printer. The main question that needs to be answered is whether you will do the conversion or if the printer will handle it.
AS YOU’RE WORKING
When working on a document, you may end up with styles, swatches, images, or other elements that you actually aren’t using. It might seem like a little thing, but it’s a good idea to do some housekeeping to keep your document tidy. Getting rid of colors you’ve defined but haven’t used, deleting unnecessary layers, and organizing your styles can improve your workflow, and you’ll end up with a more streamlined document when you deliver it to the printer.
Keeping an eye on image resolution as you work will also save time when you hit the crunch of a looming deadline. You’ll want to be aware of actual and effective resolution for every raster image in your document. Your printer knows what resolution will work best for their process, but a good rule of thumb for print is an effective resolution of 300 ppi. Remember that you can’t magically add resolution to an image, so make sure you start with images that are high enough in resolution to accommodate the sizes at which you’ll be placing them.
Page layout programs like Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress have built-in pre-flighting tools that keep an eye on your document and its contents while you work. When you input parameters for acceptable resolution, color modes, and type controls, the pre-flight tools will alert you to issues and allow you time to rectify them before you’re under deadline to deliver to your printer.
READY FOR HANDOFF
Make sure you know what file format your printer wants your print-ready file to be in. Most printers will want a PDF, and if you’re lucky, your printer will provide you with either a PDF preset file for you to install or at least a list of PDF preferences for you to manually enter. If you don’t get any instructions, you should know that using the PDF/X-1a standard is a decent baseline for documents headed for print. Be sure to ask if you should paginate the document and which crops and printer’s marks (if any) they’d like you to include.
Send along a hard copy of your output if possible and be sure to include any support files if you expect the printer to fix issues on their end. These might include the placed images and fonts if your font license allows.
While you’ll want to craft your own pre-printer checklist, these steps will give you the foundation to ensure that the design-to-print process goes smoothly and that the publication you end up with is the one you envisioned while designing it.
If you have publication design needs, please reach out to us for price estimate at 301-933-4062, or fill out our contact form.
When preparing your publication for print, you’ll want to carefully dot your i’s and cross your t’s, as mistakes can be costly and time-consuming to fix. That’s not to say that you can be reckless when working digitally, but the stakes are higher when going to print.
1. Design Within Set Parameters
Work within the proper color space to avoid color shifts and unintended results; you’ll need to end up with a piece that uses the CMYK color space when you’re going to print. Though imported photos can be kept in RGB until export or output (see tip number three), elements you make in your page-layout software should be created in CMYK.
Keep your non-essential, non-bleeding items within a set area—around a 1/4-inch to a 5/16-inch margin—to allow for shifting of material in printing or while it’s being cut. Also, make sure that any elements that are meant to bleed actually extend to the edge of the bleeds. Not “pulling out the bleeds” often requires the printer to move or resize an image to achieve the necessary bleed, sometimes with little regard for design integrity.
Images you create or source should possess the required minimum effective resolution (usually 300 ppi). Remember that if you place the images at a larger size, you’ll lose resolution (and vice versa). Use tools such as InDesign‘s Links panels to keep an eye on resolution.
Many of these parameters can be monitored with built-in pre-flight tools in your page-layout software, so don’t wait until the deadline to realize you need to start over at the beginning.
Typographical errors—or typos—are often the cause of expensive print job re-runs. Whether the copy has been provided to you or you’ve entered it yourself, you’ll want to be sure words are spelled correctly, sentences are properly formed, and text hasn’t been left off the page entirely.
If possible, have someone who is not involved in the project read the publication carefully. Familiarity with the copy (on the part of the designer or personnel involved in the project) leads to filling in missing information. Hire an editor, if time and budget allow. Also, don’t rely on spellcheck except in a cursory, first-pass capacity. This is especially true if your content contains jargon or specialized terms. A great way to focus on each word and its proper spelling is to read the document backwards.
3. Know Your Export Options
When exporting to PDF (as a majority of printers will require), work with a predefined profile. If the printer hasn’t provided a profile, start with a PDF standard, such as PDF/X-1a, and make changes as needed. This printing standard will convert the color mode to CMYK, embed just a subset of the fonts used, and flatten any transparency using the high-resolution setting. The default minimum resolution will be set to 300 ppi for color and grayscale images and 1200 ppi for monochrome ones. If your images are much higher resolution, it will sample them down without quality loss.
If your document has bleeds, you’ll want to make sure you indicate the set bleed amount in the PDF output, and if your printer wants you to include crop marks, be sure they are offset enough to print outside of the bleed amount.
Here’s a bonus tip: If you’re ever unsure about how something might look on press, find out if you can run a small press test beforehand. It’s fairly easy to piggyback sample content into the dead space of a current four-color print job. It could save time and money down the road.
If you have publication design needs, please reach out to us for price estimate at 301-933-4062, or fill out our contact form.
The number-one job of corporate report design is to clearly convey information to current or potential investors, shareholders, employees, donors, or even the general public. But a corporate report of any kind doesn’t have to be a bland piece whose only purpose is to serve up facts and figures. To make your publication fresh, interesting, and really stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to incorporate a variety of design elements.
If an image can convey your point, let it. These days, people’s attention spans are shorter than ever, so you’ll need to grab theirs as fast as you can. A large photo with action in it can often speak volumes. If, for instance, your organization helps build wells in Africa, which do you think is more likely to compel readers to act: a tabular listing of the number of wells built in each country or a photo of smiling children drinking and splashing around in fresh water from their well? Don’t make your readers imagine what your organization is all about, show them!
In a perfect world, you’ll have a hearty archive of photographs taken specifically for your organization by a professional photographer from which to populate your report’s graphic design. And while you will want to incorporate at least a few organization-specific photos, be sure to take advantage of low-cost, highly searchable repositories of stock imagery. Adobe Stock and Pond 5 are just a couple of great resources to find the perfect images to enhance your publication.
Compelling photographs are great, but sometimes you have to convey the numbers, facts, dollar amounts, global reach, number of people served, and so on. Using infographics to impart this information is a clever way to give your readers the facts they need while still catering to that shorter attention span. Infographics use graphs, charts, and pictograms to encapsulate data points into a single graphically expressed element or data visualization. A factoid such as “only 38 out of 1,000” might be difficult to conceptualize, but seeing 1,000 tiny dots with 38 of them highlighted in color makes that fact visually come alive in your corporate report design.
THE RIGHT TYPE
Throughout the publication—and on pages with large blocks of type in particular—use a typeface that exudes authority without getting in the way. You’ll want to match the character of the typeface to that of your organization.
Choosing a tried and true serif font such as Adobe Garamond or Century lends a respectability to the publication. That trusted approach will be most felt in places like the CEO’s letter and financial analysis pages. That’s not to say that the content or typeface need to be stiff and lackluster, though; if your organization is more youthful and lighthearted, you might consider a sans serif font along the lines of Gotham or Proxima Nova. Type’s main purpose is to convey the tone of your message and deliver information without calling attention to itself.
EXPRESS WITH COLOR
While you will most likely work within the realm of your corporate color palette, you can always seek out and add colors that enhance your publication even more. Start by adding a couple of colors that complement the standard palette. If you need help picking colors, there are online tools to guide your color choices, such as Adobe Color and PineTools’ Complementary Color Picker.
When applying colors from your newly curated palette, remember to keep colored text to a minimum, letting it signal headlines or items you wish to emphasize. Add in colored graphics or elements—such as callout arrows and divider ornaments—to highlight concepts and add visual interest. When it comes to color, though, remember that less is usually better, and sometimes black and white can make a striking visual impact.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN
The information in your corporate report represents the facts and figures your investors, stockholders, or clients need to have. But how you choose to display this often dry, straightforward data can make a huge difference. Putting time into how your report presented information will go a long way to creating a memorable publication.
If you have publication or annual report design needs, please reach out to our design agency for price estimate at 301-933-4062, or fill out our contact form.
When creating a print publication such as an annual report or policy report, give your font selection as much consideration as you give content, copy, and image choices. A carefully thought-out type plan will serve to convey your report’s message without drawing too much attention to the typefaces themselves. You don’t have to be an expert in typography to make wise choices, as type has been around a long time, giving you plenty of examples to draw from. Remember when choosing the best font for print publications that the main purpose is to offer readability and legibility to easily convey a message; your type should facilitate—not distract from—that message.
If you want to give off an air of traditional class and authority, you might opt for a serif font. These tried-and-true typefaces are easy to read, taking advantage of their serifs—the small, decorative strokes at the end of a character’s main stroke—to guide the eye from one character to the next. One of the most common serif fonts is Times New Roman. Publications with lots of text, from textbooks to newspapers and novels, often employ serif workhorses such as Century, Adobe Garamond, Bookman, or Baskerville. If you want to show that your organization is trustworthy, serious about its mission, and all business, you can’t go wrong with one of these.
However, if you want to show that your organization has a lighter side and can be modern, fun, and less formal, you might opt for another sans serif font. These typefaces often seem friendlier because they tend to have more whitespace within each letterform, and their lack of serifs makes them a little less stuffy feeling. For sans serif examples, check out the type families of Gotham, Nimbus, Proxima Nova, or the ever-reliable Helvetica.
You’ll want to avoid having too many different typefaces in one publication, but you will want to mix things up a bit. A great way to introduce font variety is to create different looks for your header and body copy. Add variety by using different styles or weights—italic, bold, light, heavy italic—of the same type family. For instance, you could put your headers and subheads in varying weights of Gotham Condensed and style the body text with Gotham Light.
Another option is to use an entirely different typeface for your headers than the body, captions, and sidebars. This is known as font pairing. Try contrasting a sans serif type of font with a serif one or using a commonality such as a shared historical context. Good combos include using Trade Gothic Bold for headers with Sabon for body copy. Pairing the sans serif fonts Raleway and Calibri can also be a great choice for print.
Feel free to add in script typefaces as well in situations where a touch of whimsy or class is needed, but restrict these fonts to tasteful headlines, infographics, logos, and smaller bits of text. A fun, modern combo of a script and sans serif font is SignPainter HouseScript Semibold and DIN Condensed. If you’re looking for font-pairing inspiration, check out typ.io or typeconnection.com.
When you’re ready to bring some new fonts on board, you’ll need to know where to look for them. If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you have access to their online font repository, Typekit. Font Bros and Font Squirrel both offer many fonts free for commercial use as well.
Once you’ve made some type decisions, be sure to actually print out samples early on to see that the type looks good when printed vs. what it looks like on a computer screen. Print your sample text in 10–14pt for the body text and around 24pt for headers to ensure all type is legible at those sizes.
Think of the cover of an annual report like an announcement; it lets readers know what to expect inside the report. But beyond putting a year and “Annual Report” on the cover, what sort of content should be on the front of such an integral publication?
To begin with the obvious, an annual report’s cover absolutely should show the year being reviewed as well as the organization’s name (or its logo if it’s familiar enough to the readers). The audience should also be defined in some way so that it’s crystal clear who the publication is intended for. That could be as simple as including wording about current shareholders or—if the goal is to gain investment—the organization’s mission statement or tagline. Make the message clear by literally spelling out the intended audience on the cover.
One school of thought is that the annual report should fall in line with the organization’s existing marketing materials and publications. If the goal is to create brand awareness among potential donors, for example, that might be the right approach to take. However, if each year’s report needs to stand on its own merits, an independent, bold look might be the better option. The cover should be the focal point with the main purpose being to engage and draw in the right audience.
The annual report’s cover design should give an indication as to the general feel of the content inside. Is it serious and all business? Is the information of the report presented in a sleek or modern way? Is the content branded with the organization identity on every page? That isn’t to say the report design should be static throughout, but the cover definitely sets the overall tone. Oftentimes—especially in cases of dry, straightforward presentation of data within the actual report—the cover and front matter offer the only opportunity for any real creativity, but there should be a noticeable harmony between the cover and the contents. Perhaps the bridge between the two lies in a common image that occurs throughout the publication or thematic elements such as bold colors or typefaces. The cover can be the lead character in this tale, but it still needs to tell the same story as the report.
An effective cover grabs readers and compels them to dive into the report’s pages. This is often accomplished through the use of imagery to highlight the organization’s activities or by using shapes and colors that repeat throughout the pages to create a sense of navigation or storytelling. Depending on the organization’s intended image (and considerations like the printing budget), using more expensive finishing techniques such as foil, varnish, and embossing could add variety and interest to the cover.
Other than answering the usual questions of “who” and “what,” a professional annual report cover’s content is wide open to the needs and identity of the particular organization. As long as the design draws in the intended readers with clear information then delivers them deftly into the report’s contents, the cover has done its job.
In a previous blog post, we discussed defining the purpose and audience of a publication, which in turn informs the format that would best bring the report to life. These days, discussions of format often result in a print-versus-digital showdown. Oftentimes, clients are quick to jump on the digital bandwagon simply for the reason that it’s new and buzzworthy. While a digital format certainly comes with several advantages, don’t discount the benefits that a printed piece still delivers. It’s also quite possible that your particular publication would benefit from living in both print and digital form, with the help of great design.
TRIED AND TRUE: PRINT
Printed material is such a ubiquitous presence in our lives that most people don’t give it much thought. Because it is everywhere, designers often have to find ways to make a piece stand out from the crowd. When it comes to putting ink on paper, you and the designer—if you’re not one and the same—have the advantage of controlling the piece from start to finish. You can be relatively sure what the final piece will look like, as the resulting report is a physical item that you can quality check. This also allows you to control the physical distribution of the final product. If something goes awry, your team will theoretically know ahead of time and should easily be able to troubleshoot any issues.
One downside to print is that this physical product can mean higher costs as quantities increase. Not only do quantities affect price, but storage and distribution can add to the costs. The issue of distribution means you’re responsible for getting a real-world item into your stakeholders’ hands. In addition, updating or correcting errors can be costly and time-consuming. Depending on the frequency of your content—for example, a monthly fundraising update versus a professional annual report—this may or may not be an issue.
THE DIGITAL FRONTIER
You might think that a digital solution would be the winner in the print-versus-digital debate, but there are pluses and minuses here as well. Because “digital” can mean so many things—from PDFs to web reports to ePUBs to graphic design—the back-end creation and learning curve can add time and expense to any publication. Since the end user might interact with your publication in a number of ways, you’ll need to design and distribute in a format that will serve as much of your target audience as possible.
Sending your piece into the great digital unknown aside, digital distribution gives you great opportunity, as well. Once you’ve dialed in your preferred digital platform, you can easily customize the experience for your end user. Keep in mind that an advantage for the reader—though often a downside for the designer—is that a digital format gives the reader more control over how the final piece will look and how they will interact with it. Again, knowing how and where your audience will read your publication is key. Finding a harmonious digital solution will pay off in the end for everyone involved.
WHY NOT BOTH?
You might think that going with both print and digital sounds like you’d have all your bases covered. Working in both formats will probably force you to maintain two (often separate) workflows or find a smooth way to integrate the two. You might discover that trying to please both digital and print consumers all the time means you never really satisfy either very well. That being said, finding the sweet spot where print and digital work side by side means more eyeballs looking at your publications. No matter where you design, just be sure data visualization is artfully directed by your design agency. Don’t forget to mix bold colors with black and white styling so that the report is designed in an engaging, easy to read way.
THE BOTTOM LINE
As with anything, the pros and cons of producing should be weighed against the needs of those using your report presented. In the end, you know your stakeholders best, so create the publication they’ll want to read and deliver it in a way that works best for both them and your team.
If you have report and publication design needs, please reach out to us for price estimate at 301-933-4062, or fill out our contact form.
Designing your company’s brochure can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. If you know your main purpose in creating a brochure (beyond “because we need one”), the other items will come easily. One guiding principle that should inform your design is the drive to create a piece that will project confidence and put your organization in a competent light.
When deciding what to include in a brochure, also give thought to what not to include; don’t bombard the reader with too much information. Think of the brochure like a movie trailer for your organization. It serves to highlight the main points, create a reaction or emotional response, and give readers a call to action. That call to action may result in readers eventually donating or otherwise supporting your organization in some way, but the brochure should drive them to call or visit your website to get all their questions answered. Don’t feel like you have to throw everything at them in this one piece.
You might consider highlighting one key part of your organization’s story. This could be in the form of a recent client success you helped facilitate, or maybe a photo essay is the best way to illustrate the story. Find the focal point and build the design around that.
When writing the copy, craft unambiguous headlines so that even a quick skim of the brochure will give readers a firm idea of what you do and exactly what you’re asking of them. Present those headlines in such a way that they stand out by using color and a clean, fresh typeface.
Another way to add interest without clutter is to use blocks of color to visually break up the design. You can do this by adding graphical elements that guide the eye from one point to the next or by putting different segments of copy within colored boxes. Be sure to break up that color by using a decent amount of whitespace, though. Give your readers gentle breaks as your copy travels between subjects.
One of the most popular brochure formats is the trifold brochure, which has six panels that fold up to one-third of a letter-sized sheet. But just because there are six panels doesn’t mean that you have to keep your design segmented into those panels. Try treating the interior panels as one cohesive canvas or at least have elements traverse the dividing lines between the panels. This format also lends itself well to wraparound images, which start on the front panel and reveal themselves on the interior panels as the brochure is opened.
If you’re having the brochures professionally printed, you can ask the printer for cost-effective ideas that will help them stand out a bit. Using a matte paper elevates the quality of the piece without necessarily adding cost. You might also think of unusual treatments for images, such as using black-and-white photos with a color tint applied or creating a full-page collage.
If you’re stuck as to what to include in the brochure copy, use your organization’s FAQs as a jumping-off point. These are the questions people have had, and the brochure is the perfect place to address those issues.
KEEP IT FOCUSED
In a time where everyone has a digital presence, a streamlined brochure becomes an eye-catching tool that points potential donors, clients, and others to your info-packed website. Use design elements that match the image of your organization without overwhelming the reader, and you’ll gently steer them in the direction you want them to go.
If you have publication design needs, please reach out to us for price estimate at 301-933-4062, or fill out our contact form.