Seven Tips for Building a Better Bulletin

Posted on July 3, 2014 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Bulletin Cover1. Use boxes sparingly: Cluttering a bulletin with lines and boxes makes it difficult for your parishioners to know where to look. Keep lines to a minimum and separate content with color or white space. Try adding images to help illustrate the content allowing for a more attractive, clean layout.

2. Use white space: It is a design element that is often overlooked by editors, who strive to fill every bulletin with as much information as possible. Cramming the publication full of content can overwhelm parishioners and potentially discourage them from reading. Paring down the text is like clearing the aisles. Cutting some content will greatly improve the overall look and organization of the publication, making it easier to navigate, which should in turn encourage reading.

3. Avoid underlining: The practice of underlining dates back to the days of the typewriter, when it was used to emphasize text because typewriters lacked bold and italic styles. It is unnecessary in today’s age of modern technology. In addition, underlining is confusing for your readers because Web addresses are typically underlined. Text with a line underneath makes the words appear to be hyperlinks in print. Keep in mind that most professional publications such as books, magazines, and newspapers tend to avoid underlining, so it is wise to follow this best practice.

4. Make sure your text doesn’t get lost: Using dark texts on dark backgrounds makes them difficult to read especially for older individuals. Try using a lighter background or using white text with darker backgrounds. A general rule of thumb is that the background color should be only 30% tint or less to ensure it is light enough that text can be read. When inverting your text (white text on a dark background), make sure your background color is at least an 85% tint so it is dark enough to provide contrast for the white text.

5. Stick to 3 Fonts or Fewer: Multiple fonts can make a publication look messy and unprofessional. Stick to three or fewer styles for a more cohesive, appealing look. As the saying goes, everything in moderation. The key is not to overuse any one technique.

6. Use Better Images: Images found through search engines like Google and Bing are often copyrighted and using them without written permission is illegal. These images are also often low resolution and so appear low quality when printed. For higher quality images that will print beautifully, we would encourage you to use LPi’s Art & Media Portal or a stock photo website like istockphoto.com.

7. Provide new, relevant content: Recycling the same material from week-to-week discourages parishioners from reading the bulletin. Move this kind of static content to your website and direct readers there instead. This will free up room for more dynamic, interesting, articles within the bulletin to engage your parishioners.

Get Inspired!

Posted on June 13, 2014 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Creativity can be very elusive, especially when you are working on a deadline and need an idea as soon as possible!  Many of the world’s greatest thinkers developed unusual habits in an effort to spark their minds.  Maya Angelou made hotel rooms her workspace of choice, while Igor Stravinski got his innovative juices flowing by standing on his head.

Thanks to LPi’s Art & Media Portal, inspiration is only a click away. Log in to your account and then click here for an assortment of beautiful typographical art to suit any publication.

Here are some ideas for putting that inspirational content to use in bulletins, newsletters, and social networks:

Inspirational PerformationBulletins

Typographic artwork can serve as a permanent staple within your bulletin or used when needed.

  • Use as a Banner or Heading: Combine inspirational art with other content to create bulletin banners.
  • Place on a Perforated Page: Readers can tear out a new inspiration each week to post on their refrigerator or bulletin board.

 

 

 

Inspirational CalendarNewsletters

  • Article Inspirations: Use inspiring images to help springboard inspiring articles.
  • Place an image on your calendar as a monthly reflection

 

 

 

 

 

Social Networks

  • Pin image to your boards
  • Use as a Facebook cover photo on profile picture
    Inspirational Facebook

Now that you have some inspiration to work with, it is time to get started. How else can you imagine using these images?  Please share your ideas in the comments.

 

Creating Event Calendars for Busy Schedules

Posted on March 5, 2014 by - Catholic Tech Talk

Spring will soon be in the air, and Lent is now upon us. Preparing for holy seasons presents a challenge to our editors, who must find a way to squeeze many special events and masses into the bulletin. What is the best way to convey important dates and church happenings to parishioners within a limited amount of space? Depending on the type and amount of information, there are several layout options to consider.

Traditional Calendar Style

Calendar layouts are ideal for displaying very basic details. The following example worked well because only the date, time, location, and event name were needed. One limitation of using this method within Microsoft Publisher is that the table row height expands based on the amount of content in each cell. In other words, unless the content is the same length for each day, the calendar’s rows may vary a bit in height.

Calendar

How To Create a Traditional Calendar

Creating a traditional calendar in Microsoft Publisher is not a straightforward process, but it can be done.  The calendar must be created manually by inserting a table into the document, with 7 columns and 6 rows.  Resize the top row to a shorter height, as that area will contain the days of the week.  Next, number each cell based on the dates within the calendar month.  To avoid confusion, enter all dates first, then go back and type in the events for each day.  See Microsoft Publisher’s Support website, or call an LPi Tech Support Representative if assistance is needed with table formatting.

 

Chronological Event List

Upcoming EventsEvent lists work well when there are only a few events to note, and/or if the time span for activities is shorter than a month.  Alignment, color and white space can help organize the information, as demonstrated in the below example.

Using tabs to align the dates and events balances the information and improves readability.

How to Create a Chronological Event List:

Refer to Keeping Tabs on Your Content  or Setting Tabs in Microsoft Publisher for tips on how to create tabs.

 

Chronological Table

Tables featuring a row for each weekday are useful when there are several daily activities.  This layout offers extra room for event descriptions, if needed.

Chronological Table

How to Create a Chronological Table

Create two separate tables, with three columns and fifteen rows each.  Label the left column with days of the week.  Decrease the width of the middle column, and then type in the numerical date, working vertically down the table. Event descriptions can be placed in the right column.

 

Cluster Parish Events

Cluster Parish EventsJuggling multiple events for more than one church may seem daunting, but using a list or table format makes it possible.  Event lists can be organized by abbreviating the church names, with a clearly labeled key section.  The following is an example of a tabbed event list with key.

Table layouts may work better if each church has many events that are not shared with the other locations.  Simply include a separate column or row for each location.

 

In summary, there are many potential ways to organize event information in a concise, readable manner.  Note that some of the above examples may require an intermediate to advanced level of skill with Microsoft Publisher.  Feel free to contact your local LPi tech support department if you need any assistance with tables or tabs.

Have any alternative methods or tips for managing your events/activity list, besides those mentioned above?  Please comment to share your thoughts. We are always interested in new ideas and suggestions!

 

Newsletter Design Trends: How to Find Your Style

Posted on January 14, 2014 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

All newsletters share a common purpose of communicating a message to a targeted group of people.  The type of information and reason for presenting it will vary, however, because every newsletter is unique.  For instance, the goal could be to build brand awareness, increase an organization’s membership base, educate readers, garner donations, etc.  Regardless of the intention, most publications fit into one of several distinct style categories.

Here are the most common types of newsletter designs:

Covers

Cover Styles One

Inside Pages

Inside-Pages 2

Which style is best for your organization?

Bulletin editors who read other posts will be familiar with some of the following tips, however there are several other considerations to keep in mind when designing a newsletter.

  • When choosing a layout, first and foremost, consider the amount and type of content necessary.  If there is a lot of important information that must be included, use a design that keeps the text clear and readable. If certain articles are a priority, be sure to place them towards the beginning, and set them apart with graphic elements or white space.
  • Next, think about the culture of your organization, and the target audience.  The design should reflect the values and interests of both parties.  If unsure what style is most appealing to your readers, perhaps take a poll and/or ask for suggestions.
  • How is your newsletter distributed?  Mailed, picked up, downloaded online, or emailed?  The method in which the reader receives and views the publication should influence design decisions. For instance, if readers prefer to read your newsletter online instead of receiving a hard copy, it is helpful to use attention-grabbing graphics and colors to keep them interested and prevent unsubscribing.  If the publication is a mailer, it will likely be quarter-folded, with the back page on the outside being the first thing that readers see. Therefore, any logos or branding should be prominent on the back cover, and you may want to place the most important article and/or table of contents there as well.
  • Finally, consider your technical abilities.  As an editor, you are responsible for working within a regular deadline to gather articles and assemble them within your template.  Be honest with yourself about your comfort level in using a more advanced layout, which may include grouped images, master pages, various font styles, tabs, etc.  With practice you will become a pro, but if you feel stressed at the thought, perhaps a simple, traditional layout would be a better starting point.  You can always redesign the publication at a later date once you feel ready to take on a new challenge.

Remember that there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to newsletter design.  Any of the above options can be transformed to fit your needs!

Bulletin Design Trends: How to Find Your Style

Posted on December 11, 2013 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Every publication is unique, but there are several different styles commonly used for bulletin layout.

Covers

Bulletin Covers One

Inside Pages

Bulletin Pages Two

Which style is best for your church?

When choosing a layout, first and foremost, consider the amount and type of content necessary.  Is there a lot of important information that must be included?  Choose a design that keeps the text clear and readable. On the other hand, if you have room to spare, you will probably have more flexibility in your bulletin’s design.

Next, think about your organization’s culture.  Is the parish conservative and conscious of tradition?  Or is the church progressive and up-to-date with current trends?  Perhaps your congregation falls somewhere in the middle?  The design should reflect your parish values and interests.

Third, consider your technical abilities.  As an editor, you are responsible for working within a regular deadline to gather articles and assemble them within your template.  Be honest with yourself about your comfort level in using a more advanced layout, which may include grouped images, master pages, various font styles, tabs, etc.  With practice you will become a pro, but if you feel stressed at the thought, perhaps a simple, traditional layout would be a better starting point.  You can always redesign the publication at a later date once you feel ready to take on a new challenge.

Finally, remember that there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to bulletin design.  Any of the above options can be transformed to fit your needs!

 

Print Preview Using LPi Express

Posted on August 30, 2013 by - Catholic Tech Talk

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” — Benjamin Franklin

Franklin’s adage is just as true today in the cyberworld as it was in colonial times. Before you submit your publication to LPi to be printed, walk through the following steps to prevent any issues.

  • Always preview your PDF file by clicking the Preview your .pdf file link on the Ready to Submit screen. Clicking the Preview your .pdf file link gives you one last opportunity to review your publication.
  • When you click the Preview your .pdf file link, what you will see is what we will print. If everything looks good to you, close the preview window and click the Submit button.
  • If you spot something which you wish to change, close the preview window and click the Reset button to return to your publication.
  • Make whatever changes you wish to make and then print your publication to the LPi Express printer again. And don’t forget… preview your PDF file again before clicking the Submit button. This will eliminate the need to submit your publication a second time.

*If you do need to submit your publication a second time, please call us as soon as possible so that we can intercept the job which you submitted previously.

Logo Design Tips

Posted on July 31, 2013 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Logos are not just for global brands like Apple and Starbucks. They are a powerful tool for any organization aiming to differentiate itself and establish a loyal following. A logo can give religious institutions a recognizable identity that represents the core values and mission of the congregation. What makes a good logo?

Simplicity

There are several reasons why a logo should be relatively simple. Imagine viewing it from afar, perhaps on a sign. It should be clear from a distance. Alternatively, it must be readable at a reduced size, for instance on an envelope or business card. Keep in mind that complex elements may become lost at a smaller size. Finally, simpler designs are more memorable and therefore easier for patrons to recall and identify the organization associated with the logo.

Appropriate Colors

Logo colors should be evaluated and selected carefully, as they lend meaning and symbolism to the organization they represent. Colors can influence emotions and convey various messages depending on the viewer’s culture. In general, bright colors are considered upbeat and friendly, while darker colors are seen as more serious and professional. The logo should also have enough color contrast to be effectively made black and white when necessary (for example, when faxed) without losing important design elements.

Timelessness

Trends come and go, but a great logo should withstand the test of time indefinitely. Avoid designs that might go out of style in order to avoid the need to rebrand the organization too soon.

Unique Design

Steer away from generic logos. Certain trends, although visually appealing, are often overused and end up becoming cliché. Crowdspring has several great examples of unoriginal logos in their post on “Overused, Overdone Logo Concepts.”

Consider what sets your organization apart from the rest. What is your mission? Are there any distinctive architectural elements, or nearby geographical landmarks such as lakes or bridges? Include those unique elements in the logo in order to make it your own.

Church Logo Examples

Below are several great examples of LPi customer logos.

Logos

Logo Usage Suggestions

The logo should be used on all printed communication materials including letterhead, bulletins, flyers, directories and newsletters.  It should also be included in outdoor signage.  Don’t forget to place it online as well; logos must be prominently visible on websites, social media pages and email signatures.

Keep the logo consistent by developing a style guide with directions for proper use to ensure it remains the correct colors and does not become distorted or altered in a way that makes it unrecognizable.

Next Steps

Ready to develop your own logo?  Don’t forget that graphic design services are free for LPi customers.  Feel free to contact one of our designers to get started today.

Are you Linked into “Linking”?

Posted on June 21, 2013 by - Catholic Tech Talk

If you use Publisher, Quark or InDesign to create your publication, one of the options you have when placing images is to link them to your publication file. But what does that mean and why would you choose to do that?

LinkGenerally speaking images files are large and take up lots of storage in your computer. When embedded in a Publisher, Quark or InDesign publication, the file you are working on becomes larger and takes more memory and hard drive space. In most circumstances this is an acceptable practice, and while it will make the program respond slower, the average computer used today is able to process data so quickly you will not likely notice. The same can be said for the space used by larger files in that most computers have very large hard drives and expansive amounts of RAM so that the effect of these larger files is rarely a issue to the average user.

This brings us back to the question of when is linking a good idea? Linking allows all high resolution image files to remain in one centralized location such as a server. This is commonly used at companies that work with high volumes of large image files such as newspapers or magazines. The files remain on the server and are not being copied to individual workstations across the company network slowing it down. When the document is finally ready for printing, proofing or final print, the software then finds the original high resolution image file and sends it to the printer.

The drawback to linking files to a page layout program is that, if the link is ever broken the high resolution file can no longer be used when you need to print it. When this occurs you will see a warning like the one in Microsoft Publisher. It states Publisher cannot find the following linked picture. It then lists the image that is missing. Publisher then offers up three options, find the linked picture and update it, print the low-resolution picture currently displayed in your publication, or print an empty space in place of the missing picture. In that instance you will always want to find the original file as printing the low resolution image or an empty space would only possibly be useful for proofreading.

As you can see, linking images is best avoided for the average user of page layout programs since it amounts to more confusion. Simply inserting the high resolution graphic is generally the best bet. The files you will find on LPi’s Art and Media Portal are all designed to keep the file sizes compact to allow for quicker downloading while at the same time making your bulletin or newsletter look great!

Color Makes You Key (CMYK)

Posted on April 1, 2013 by - Catholic Tech Talk

CMYKYou may see the letters CMYK mentioned with regard to printing. While it may seem to be an acronym for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, on closer inspection you’ll note it does not.

The obvious issue is the letter K which oddly enough stands for the “key” as in the key plate. Just as with a keystone, the key plate is a crucial part of color reproduction.

In the subtractive color model, cyan, magenta and yellow inks are used in varying amounts to create a variety of shades and hues that more or less represent all the colors of the rainbow. This is done by the inks subtracting reflected light off of our white paper.

In theory, if you combine equal amounts of those three colors what should appear is black. Smaller percentages of equal amounts would thus create shades of gray. In practice, however, the impurities of mass-manufactured printing inks will produce a dark color, but one that is rarely close to what we would call “black.”

This is where the Key plate comes into play. In printing, the key plate is used with black ink. Since this ink is a purer black than the three process inks can produce added together, images reproduced on press will have richer contrast and darker areas will look neutral.

Black ink can be manufactured less expensively than cyan, magenta, and yellow, so when color separations are made, the three colors are often replaced with certain amounts of black which is an added benefit.

Black ink is also used for type. This has the advantage of producing sharp type with only one impression on press. If we instead used the three color inks, minor changes in alignment would create a blurred effect that made the type unreadable.

So next time you see the letters CMYK, you’ll be a little wiser as to how key the letter K can be in making a good impression in your printed bulletin or newsletter!

Spring Cleaning Your Bulletin

Posted on March 11, 2013 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Spring CleaningSpring is here and it’s time to spruce up your home, get rid of clutter, and get things organized. This year, take your spring cleaning beyond your home and yard and take a fresh look at your bulletin.

Consider these tips for breathing new life into your bulletin:

  • If it’s no longer working, throw it out: Whether it’s a burnt-out computer or a vacuum cleaner with no air flow, we all own things that are no longer useful. Look through your bulletin from the cover to the last page and see if there are items that are outdated, no longer relevant, or just plain don’t belong.
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  • Get rid of duplicates: When you’re reviewing your bulletin, you might find several items that do or say the same thing. Do you really need a staff directory on the cover and on the inside pages? Removing it from the cover can free up space for a fresh photo or cover. Always look for ways to diversify your information and get your readers attention.
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  • Put things back in order: Over time spaces in your home can get “out of balance.” So many chairs pile up in your kitchen that you can’t cook. Your new giant flat-screen TV covers up your family pictures. Simple organization can usually get things back in order. Do this with to your bulletin. Maybe all of  your articles look exactly the same. Try placing an article across the whole bottom of the page instead of just two columns running up and down every page. Shift some articles around, use new images to break up text, and get things back in balance.
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  • Design a new cover: A new bulletin cover is a great way to breathe new life into your bulletin and encourage parishioners to take a closer look. If you need assistance with creating a new look, contact LPi and our designers would love to help.

Spring cleaning really does put a smile on your face. Isn’t it time for a fresh new look for your bulletin? Giving your bulletin an annual spring cleaning, ensures it reflects the current needs of your church community and you won’t even have to get your hands dirty.