Ad-natomy Class • Sept. 24th at 2 pm • Register Now!

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Does your advertising look as good as your competitors’? Don’t waste time or money – Learn the steps to build ads that REALLY work to bring in customers. Make your brand stand out effortlessly.

At the end of the session you will:
– Know the types of ads and their purpose.
– Understand the difference between print and web ads.
– Know the design elements to keep in mind that will aid in your ad building experience.

Duration: one hour (45 minutes of instruction with 15 min of Q&A) • No materials are needed in advance for this class. Laptops are not mandatory but are welcome.

Register NOW! Space is limited. Visit n2designservices.com to register online.

$40 per person in advance or at the door
$20 for college students with valid college id

Call 732-245-7439 if you need more information or visit the N2 Design Services Facebook page for updates and future class schedules.

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Why can’t I find that file I just finished…importance of organization in design

Well, it’s that time of the year again when resolutions are made, projects are started and file back ups are started. In a couple of months, which is always the case, you’re going to reach a major meltdown…that design project is ready for proofing and you need the first draft for file information or art that the customer decided he liked after all. Where did I save that file? After some fruitless efforts to find said file, you grab the remaining specks of sanity and start the long process of looking through all your back up files under the word “proof”. There are 5,625 files with the word “proof” in the title or file. Ugh! After the first 2 hours, you’ve found it…the file titled “artproof#1.pdf”. To think this whole 6 hours of searching is unbillable due to this one file.

Before you waste anymore time, you’re going to have to spend time organizing. This time spent will save you valuable time and mental stability in the long run. We spend countless hours looking for things in our day to day lives. Hours that we can’t bill for and add to our already stressful lives. Start with your computer and please consider some of these ideas for your non-work situations.

Believe it or not, computers start off clean, immaculate and stable environments much like your home when you first move in. The impulse is to fill the space with your stuff in each room…bed in the bedroom, table in the kitchen, couch in the livingroom, etc. After the first couple of months you have your floor plan set and your living in your home and more stuff arrives. Just like the late George Carlin spouted,”… everywhere you go you gotta bring your stuff with you…”.

Folders, sub folders and more folders. I used to think folders were nerdy. I told myself just put the files in one directory and be done with it already. What folders achieve is the ability to generalize and specify all in one sweep.
Designers should consider their working environment before setting up folders, especially when working in collaboration with other designers. You need to converse with your cube mates on the ability to “share” folders and when the need to archive to such folders. This communication is necessary because duplication of folders could lead to file deletion or original, final files to be overwritten which can be devastating to the creative process.
The naming of your folders is important. Simply naming your art scans folder “scanning stuff” is not enough. Try naming the folder with a date and name of the account (i.e. 121211_joesplumbingscans) this folder name gives you the actual date of the scan and the client so when the next set of scans arrive your ability to avoid duplication of scans can help you avoid wasting time scanning images you may already have. If you want to generalize the “scanfolder” and create subfolders, that’s fine. Simply place “121211_joesplumbingscans” in the “2011 scan folder” which can also be placed in the “scan folder”. A simple search for “joesplumbing” will turn up with the file being located in the “scan folder” under “2011 scan folder”.

File names. Simply naming a file with the term “artcopy” is too general file name to use. Unlike the the naming of folders where naming conventions can be general and specific, file names should be a specific process, that when working with other designers, you should have an agreed upon system. For example…

A file completed for the first draft of your company newsletter with which there are multiple files associated including copy written in Microsoft Word in a couple different files. The name of the client is Joe the Plumber and his newsletter is printed quarterly.

I would create a folder for 2012 clients. My subfolder would be Joe the Plumber and the subfolder within this folder would be 2012_joetheplumberNL1. (NL short for newsletter) Art would be placed in a folder named art_joetheplumber2012 and scans, diagrams and other related digital art would be placed here as well. As far as newsletters are concerned, art is sometimes used frequently and in the case of InDesign, is linked to multiple files so care should be taken when moving art to different locations where the process of relinking can be a hassle. Before you proof your first draft of the newsletter, create 3 folders…working_joetheplumberfiles…proof_joetheplumber…finals_joetheplumber. I would name the file JTP_summer2012V1.indd. This naming convention tells me the client, the version of the newsletter, date and version. Do yourself a favor and keep a physical folder for your client and list any important filenames handwritten here…for quick reference. After your second set of revisions is received, save your file as JTP_summer2012V2.indd before you start work. Having that first version may prove helpful in case your client ever refers to this version at a later date or if your present file is ever corrupted or overwritten.

After the revision process, move your final “proof” version to the final folder you created earlier. You can move this file by simply renaming your final version JTP_summer2012FINAL.indd under the “final” folder. InDesign can do this process for you but it’s an extra set of steps but it’s great for prepping method for sending a disk to your company’s printer. For CS versions and higher, go to file, package file and follow the options available including exporting art files linked to the document and fonts. The folder can be duplicated, compressed and burned to disk but you should consider this process only when your shipping files out to other companies…this process used for the simple process of archiving will take up valuable hard drive space after a while and often the files are redundant if your doing this process every time you complete any project…especially when it comes to the process of exporting fonts and art.

Back up files. Decide when the process of files is necessary. At one point, my computer started to slow when faced with storing and retrieving files. I was working at a seasonal business part time and projects would change when the art was no longer applicable. Summer projects would backed up on a separate hard drive under folders with the following titles…SUMMER_Layouts2011…ART_summer2011…etc. So when the time came to retrieve this files and folders I would simply bring them back and rename them with the current date thus keeping the “original” files on the hard drive in case the day came when I would ever need to bring to another computer or review for a future ad campaign. Don’t be a victim of lost files…Back up your files. I once lost a years work when an IT person overwrote my entire drive…I was in the fetal position for days, overwhelmed with the possibility that all that hard work would never be regained. It was awful!

Other things to think about. Whatever naming convention you decide to use, be consistent. Don’t rely on time/date searches and file formats to find files in your system. If you’re working with other artists, make sure communicate the system so they use the same system or your system won’t function properly. If your colleague needs to use a separate hard drive, keep your own drive with all of your and her’s files on it, just in case the hard drive is ever lost stolen. The time you put into better organization pays in the long run in time, money and positive attitude.

Importance of disclaimers

They’re a necessary element to your sales event print advertising. Disclaimers.

Often overlook because of it’s location and “small” print, disclaimers offer retail businesses protection against profit loss, financial liability and customer service issues. Whatever the offer of your print ad campaign, your disclaimer should be consistent and extensive. By not including a disclaimer, you’re sales event could fail before and after the customers come through your door.

When developing your disclaimer, make you follow these rules.

1)  Look over your layout and write down your offers in the order they appear on the layout. Under every offer, list what you would want excluded from the offer (i.e. excludes all special order items, clearance items, etc.), maximum quantities purchased and financing information.

2) Have someone else read over your ad and ask questions your customers may ask. Consider these questions when it comes time to write your final disclaimer. You may want to write a synopsis for your sales staff to review to prepare for this sales event so they are prepared for these questions…such preparedness allows for a more confident consumer.

3) Decide the expiration date of your offer. A shortened time line may be more of an incentive for consumers to react. On the other hand, the extra time allowance may give consumers the chance to work with sales staff and increase the sales opportunity.

4) Refer to competitor disclaimers to decide if your offer can compete with theirs. Are their offers, restricted too much? Can customers benefit from the overall offer? Could you offer more to your customer or do you need to consider another element?

5) Write your disclaimer. Include your expiration date in the beginning of your disclaimer in bold so customers see this first and feel compelled to read the disclaimer. Signify your disclaimer applies to certain areas of the ad by adding an asterisk. Set off your disclaimer with asterisk at the bottom of your ad below your contact information. Point size of your disclaimer copy should be no smaller than 6, newsprint production cannot guarantee print smaller than 5.5 point.

“See store for details” does not cover your bases. This statement only causes doubt to your potential customers when you don’t disclose your business’ intentions. If consumers have to ask for the details they may go elsewhere like your competitor. Disclaimers may seem like a big buzz-kill but their important to the integrity of your advertising and your business’ reputation that they be as accurate and specific to the offers as possible.

Importance of proof-reading

How many times have you sent an e-mail to your contact only to see moments later in your reply that you had errors and misspellings. Well, the unfortunate event that happens in advertising is misspellings and grammatical errors. Errors in copy-writing can land your advertising on late night talk shows and in hot water with your clients. Potential customers are sometimes willing to look past the occasional “i before e” misspelling but when whole paragraphs are unreadable or nonsensical, they’ll be looking elsewhere.

There’s no shame in having someone check your work. As a creative person, I fear the red grease pencil, as it marks up an otherwise beautiful proof. The frustrating step of going back and adding an “s” here or re-typing a sentence there but at the end of the day, I know it’s necessary.

Here are some ideas for double checking your work:

1) Do don’t do your layout and proof in one day. Proof your layout the next day and look over all your body and contact info. The 12 hours away from your copy allows you to see your proof anew.

2) Give your proof to someone else to look over. Eyes that have yet to see your copy are quicker to point out errors. Admit it. After the third hour of looking at your ad copy on widget factors, your eyes tend to glaze over.

3) Use your spell check function carefully. What may be correctly spelled one way may be inadvertently “corrected” by your computer. Or, in one case, something that is spelled g-o-l-d but spelled g-o-l-f would not be flagged by your computer…don’t depend solely on spell check.

4) When in doubt consult more than one source on a spelling of a world. The Webster’s dictionary, although a very dry read, is a great source of what is “right”. If that source is of no help, try Webster’s online or Google. If it pertains to a proper noun, than you may have to send your query to your client for review. There is also many apps on iPhone and other smartphones that allow you to look words up. Purchasing a writer’s style guide is also an important reference to have; especially when you need to know the correct form of a word (lay, laying, laid) and how to punctuate certain sentences.

5) If you don’t have time to have someone check your work, read your copy backwards, from right to left…from the end to the beginning. This slows your thinking and allows you to read the words slower and carefully. Picking out errors will be easier because your brain is not filling in the blanks for you. Also, after this step, read your copy out loud. Hearing the copy spoken may also allow you to catch grammatical errors and allow you to adjust your readability.

Mistakes happen. We’re not perfect but mistakes can be costly. Don’t turn off your potential client or customer by using poorly written or misspelled copy on your next ad. An important decision about your company can be made in as little as 2 minutes.

Don’t use a hammer to open the mail – Designing with the right tools

Having the right software makes the difference between creating an effective advertisement and a sloppily ineffective space that wastes your advertising dollars.

I recommend a page layout program that allows you to manipulate text size and shape, add photos and allows documents to be converted to either a .PDF, .eps or .jpeg format. Most publications should be able to handle a .PDF document but make sure your specifications are set correctly. (To be addressed in future posting.)

When you’re laying out text, you should be able to change text type, size (by point size), adjust line height (leading) and adjust type spacing (kerning). The ability to adjust type width from expanded to condensed is also good because this allows you to purchase/ use one font (the name of the type family – Arial, Swiss, Century, etc.) a variety of different ways. You should be able to “place” large block of type/copy if you’re designing an advertorial layout.

The ability to place photos in your layout is important. Usually layout programs will allow you to place photos and the file link is established for easy editing without the difficulty or inconvenience of replacing the graphic/photo physically – the link can be simply updated within the layout.
Of course, the program should be user-friendly and final document files should be able to be opened again without format issues.

Programs such as Microsoft Word, Pagemaker and PowerPoint are NOT advertising layout programs. The programs are for word processing programs usually to create memos, notes, outlines, etc. NOT layout and format text. Text formats usually are not saved and will default when opened in other systems if not saved in either a graphic .PDF or .jpeg formats.

The best software on the market now is Adobe InDesign. With it’s easy to use menus, photo linking system and export and file packaging options, this is the best program to do print design layouts. Available through Adobe, I believe this program is available for both PC and Mac.

If you would like information on these programs, like a free consultation or would like a tutorial of Adobe InDesign, please feel free to contact me at nicholenappi@hotmail.com.

Display fonts…The “Pretty” models of the typesetting world

Everyone enjoys a fancy car, be it a Trans-Am, a Corvette or a Porsche but, you can’t go off-roading in a Cadilac.

Just like  some display fonts… They add extra panache and ompf to ad and editorial layouts but, to read an entire paragraph set in Brush Script, for example,  could send your audience running to the local eye doctor. Because display fonts are plentiful and there are so many available, free or inexpensively packaged in publishing software, that typesetters are in a veritable candy shop when it comes to taking them for a test drive. It’s tempting to try them all but such ideas should be saved for personal or nonsensical print art media found in modern art museums not for print ads and editorial spreads where the content is an important element for both advertiser and consumer.

San-serif type is very versatile and compatible with certain display typefaces, Serif type is a little more difficult to “match” and especially when using the italicized versions of Times and Garamond.

Using bold/block typefaces should be used sparingly in body copy to help emphasize elements of the paragraph. Using a semi-bold font can be used if the paragraph is a reverse style element (white type on black or dark background) but not for an entire editorial piece.
Display fonts are often difficult to manipulate horizontally and vertically and often the display typeface looks too distorted or incorrect and unprofessional when outputted. To truncate or change the look of a display font, your best bet is to typeset your headline, or line of type, in Adobe Illustrator and convert the text to outline. Then you can manipulate spacing, line height and letter width of each letter. Unfortunately, when you do this type of editing, there is little you can do to correct spelling unless you want to go through the entire editing process again so make sure you check your spelling before you convert your text to outlines.

I guess the best word of advice I can give when it comes to display fonts is to use them sparingly. Just like putting on too much lipstick and mascara looks silly, your layouts could suffer the “Tammy Fae” fate…too much of anything is never good.

Need help typesetting, feel free to contact me here on my ad-vice blog or e-mail me at nicholenappi@hotmail.com.

Deadlines are not just a date to remember

Everyone loves and hates them…but why? Deadlines are just as necessary as toner for your printer. Without them, utter chaos reigns and nothing is achieved. Deadlines don’t have to be painful though, here are some suggestions on how to stick to project deadlines for your business’ advertising schedule.

Get Organized.
Invest in a calendar, Franklin Covey planner (I can’t live without mine) or you can use Google’s calendar for free on the web. You can use any of these options, just start now. Plan out your process from thumbnails, proof deadlines for your customer and your own time. You don’t have to schedule down to the minute but an approximate time for each task should be realistic.

Give yourself more time.
Okay, how long does it really take for you to perform your task? For example, if you think an hour is all it takes don’t let it be the hour before the project is due, lie to yourself and say it will take 2 hours, give yourself double the time it would take to complete the project.

Learn to prioritize.
When you prioritize your workload, what is the project that is coming up first and does the project need to completed early? Ask yourself questions. Does the project have priority over other projects and why? List all your projects and number or letter according to importance.

Don’t try to please everybody.
Just because someone asks you to do a project, doesn’t mean you have to do it. I have turned down projects because I can’t realistically complete them in the time they ask. I rather say no than say yes to a project than disappoint clients with missed or shoddy work.

Delegate.
You don’t have to do all the work. Can someone do some of the time-consuming simple work so you can focus on the important complicated aspects of the project.

Ask for more time before the deadline.
Still find yourself struggling to complete the project? Ask for more time before the deadline, not every deadline is set in stone. Can you do extra steps to help you have more time. Is the camera-ready deadline the drop dead deadline? Can you do without a proof if submit camera-ready? Sometimes project managers install cushions for such a situation and they may be more flexible if they know ahead of time that you may need more time.

Do you enjoy the project?
If you’re not “into” the project from the get go, more than likely you’re going to procrastinate. If it’s a project you have to do, find aspects of the projects you look forward to achieving and set a reward for yourself for when the project is ultimately completed.

Communicate your deadline to others.
When other people know you have to complete an important project or task, they may be more eager to assist you. They can do other jobs for you to give you more time to focus on the work at hand. They may be even helpful for reminding of your deadline or your goal as well.

Whatever the suggestion you chose to go with, deadlines are essential to any workplace. Deadlines are what keep us in check and on goal for whatever we want to achieve and you should strive to stick to them. Don’t beat yourself up for missing them. Learn from your mistakes and just keep moving towards the next one.

Need help with your next deadline? N2 Design Services strategy of plan first and succeed now is how I design. For a free consult for your business’ design needs, please e-mail me at nicholenappi@hotmail.com.

There’s always room for graphics

Yes, folks. There’s always a place to put your company logo, especially on facebook™. Even with the new layout and navigation changes, the facebook™ fan page is one of your company’s free and best “web billboards”…so get your logo, your company information and even your tag line all up in one image. FBML, facebook’s mark up language, uses some basic HTML with some special tags mixed in for good measure, allows users to customize tabs and add continuity to ad campaigns.

With the new changes in twitter™, however, space to customize has been reduced leaving some with chopped off or mostly covered up backgrounds, which a couple of months ago, were readable. Hopefully, Twitter has some more updates in the near future which will resolve this. To get the logo in the right place does require some trial and error but, it’s well worth it when visitors choose to “follow” your tweets. Just remember to save your graphics as RGB/JPEG files before you go to upload them. (For those who are confused by this terminology…web graphics are saved in the RGB color platform and JPEGs are a file type used for photos on the web – I’ll cover these terms more in depth in future postings.)

LinkedIn, is very restricted but there is an application that allows you to upload graphics as photos. This could be used to show current ad campaigns, web promotions or photos of your storefront. Of course, this site is very restrictive as to who you can connect with but the good thing about the photo gallery options is that your graphic is eye-catching and can be shared through other sources.

Also, other sites that are good to post to is Flickr, YouTube and StumbleUpon. All are very popular and great for storing and displaying graphics and advertising elements. Whatever the social media platform you choose to put your company’s name to, look for ways to make it your own. Being unique will put your business in the front of the line.

If you would like more information or would like a consult, please contact me, Nichole Nappi, at nicholenappi@hotmail.com to discuss.

Thumbnails! No manicure needed.

Yes, a thumbnail or informal sketch is the birth of any type of design. Without this important step, you could be wandering the design Sahara for months without any real direction. Thumbnails can be as intricate as you want them to be; a sketch on a dinner napkin (preferably paper) or a colorized pen sketch on good vellum – your choice, just do one. For any print, web or any design element, a thumbnail is a tentative plan of attack on any design project.

My one important train of thought…failing to plan is planning to fail. Going without a thumbnail means wasted time and money, none of which is a good thing to waste these days.

To learn more about N2 Design Services, visit the N2 Design Services fan page on Facebook or subscribe to this blog for more useful design information.

What do you mean, I don’t kern enough?

When I first started working in the production department of the corrugated box shop, I knew what point size meant, I knew what CMYK meant and I might of known what  the plate process entailed. BUT, I was fresh out of college having just earned my degree in computer graphic design, what more could I need to know? Just click here, drop there and DONE! NOT!

When typesetting, there are terms you must keep in mind. These terms affect the flow and feel of your layout like a good outfit on an interview…first impressions.

Serif: The best way to explain this term is referring to the ornate stems and flourishes on lower case and upper case letters. Times Roman is a perfect example of serif type. This form of type is usually used in editorial print media and advertising. According to Wiki, this style was used since Roman times where carvings and brush strokes when print was composed on documents by hand.

Sans-serif: Is the opposite of serif type in the sense that type is very geometric in structure and “without” flourish. This a more modern form of type usually used in print media and preferred in website text for its ease of readability. Historically, according to Wiki, sans-serif type has been seen used in some Greek and Latin texts. It’s also a more modern “feeling” type and usually appeals to all markets because it’s easier to read and work with.

Typeface: According to Wiki (they better explain it) a typeface is a set of one or more fonts, in one or more sizes, designed with stylistic unity, each comprising a coordinated set of glyphs. A typeface usually comprises an alphabet of letters, numerals, and punctuation marks; it may also include ideograms and symbols, or consist entirely of them, for example, mathematical or map-making symbols. Times New Roman is an example of a typeface.

Kerning: Adjusting the space between characters to make text visually readable.

Leading: The spacing between lines of type (sentences). Usually rule of thumb is a point size or two wider than the overall type-size.

Greeking: The typesetter may need to proof layouts with Greek type or nonsense type which is either in latin or a mix of letters to show how the overall layout will look without the actual text. To repeat the same sentence over and over will not work in some cases because the word spacing will not accurately depict an actual paragraph of text.

Gutter: The column of space between columns of type. Too tight a gutter can cause confusion so usually I leave a 1/4 inch space between columns. Also need to leave, in most cases depending on the layout, a 1/4 inch on either side of a column of type.

My experiences working in the production department and at the newspaper (worked after leaving the production department) have give me the experience to understand and work with type. I have more terms to write about in future blogs but this should help you understand when discussing future jobs with your graphic designer.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment below.