Designing Ideas

Designing Ideas

Free To Do It Your Way

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This is a guest post by Beth Frede from Creative Revelations. She helps women entrepreneurs who want to make a positive impact, but who struggle finding their purpose and balancing work and their personal life.

Beth Frede PhotoFreedom.

I love that word in all its forms.

We are so free in America. We’re free to choose our own paths, and even create our own jobs if we’re motivated to do so.

Happily, our views about work have transformed. The traditionally held belief that “work can’t be fun or you’re doing it wrong” has given way to a new paradigm: “Do what you love and the clients and money will follow.” Can you feel the freedom in the second mindset, as compared to the first?

Yes, hard work is still required of us, but taking consistent action doing something we feel passionate about is the very opposite of drudgery! More and more, we’re looking for work that not only pays us, but fulfills us.

So what happens when you find work that not only pays you, but fulfills you?
Most of the time you’ll feel…

Happy and satisfied in your work. Even if you’re dealing with less-than-happy clients, you genuinely feel good about your part in helping them.
Energized and alive. Your work challenges and invigorates you, and you know your contribution is making a difference.
Peaceful inside. There’s an unshakable contentment that goes with you everywhere. You feel grounded and centered.
Patient and loving with the people around you. You’re feeling good, and that goodness spills over into your relationships.
Healthy and well. Your energy is balanced. You take time for yourself. You have a good sense of control over your life while being flexible when you’re thrown a curve ball.
Plugged in. You’re awake, aware, and connected in your relationships and your daily activities.
And When you’re not plugged in to meaningful work, you’ll find yourself…

Frustrated or bored. Your work is too easy and there’s no juicy challenge to sink your teeth into, or it’s just the wrong work for you. Either way, your heart’s not singing.
Antsy and irritable. You’re not spending your time the way you’d like to. You’re snappish at your family, or resentful when something slows you down. You’re jealous of your friends who seem to be happy and successful.
Feeling crummy. You get stress headaches. Mystery ailments that come and go. That knot in your stomach when you think about Monday.
Feeling flat. You’re drained. No enthusiasm. You’re not super up, not super down… just hanging out in the middle. Meh.
Zoned out, numbed out, checked out… You look forward to wine-thirty, Netflix, or other distractions more than you enjoy the rest of your day.
If you’re in the first group, congratulations and a big ol’ Woohoo for you! And if you’re in the second group, take heart–you are free to choose another path, and it can be much easier than you realize.

Here are three simple steps to help you get to a more purposeful, enjoyable work situation:
1) Create a clear picture of what you want for yourself. What does your ideal life look like? Who would you spend your time with? (Who would you spend less time with?) What would a typical in your ideal life look like? Get as specific about your ideal life as possible, and don’t just think about it… write it down, because this helps your brain root it in reality.

2) Get happy now. Being “in flow” requires you to know where you desire your life to go (which you’ve just clarified in step #1) while being happy and grateful for where you are now. What are you grateful for? What are all the reasons you have to be happy right now? Be clear, specific and detailed about all the ways you are happy and grateful, and again, write them down; writing them as opposed to just thinking about them will help you feel into them.

3) Find the common heartbeat behind your values, challenges, experiences, and gifts. Why were you given all of these pieces? What have they taught you? What do they mean to you? Finding the common heartbeat that ties them together helps your purpose rise to the surface like cream rising to the top of a milking pail.

You are meant for something special… you’re here for a divine purpose! It’s up to you to put your stake in the ground and claim it.

PFL Customer Project Showcase: Not just a flat football

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Event announcements are a great way to get the word out, and generate buzz and interest about the event, your company or product. Most of us have seen some good, some bad, some just boring. Who wants to attend an event when you see a ho-hum invite or announcement?
Drinker Biddle & Reath, a PFL customer, recently printed up a very cool-looking piece that is easy to spot, recognizable and is a fun way to announce an annual football event. Football fans will gravitate towards it, and it begs to be opened. Go long…

Sometimes You Need That Custom Printing Project Done Right, *$(@(%&!!!

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There are many tools that shield us from the messes in life. We have bibs, napkins, and latex gloves. But new to the world of anti-mess is the NOSMUDGEE Company!  Demonstrating elegant ingenuity, they have solved the problem of mascara smudges which inevitably smear our eyelids when we are applying the beauteous goo.  Eureka!  A solution at last.

And speaking of solutions, the NOSMUDGEE Company needed one when it came to a professional printer. They had a great idea, a refined design, and a printing problem.

                  

NOSMUDGEE Company searched for professional printing services that could meet their specific printing need.  PrintingForLess.com was able to meet the need and exceed performance expectations.  Jeffrey Burkey, NOSMUDGEE Company C.E.O. was searching for a business printing company that was able and willing to meet the exact printing specifications he had for his new product. PFL employee Amber Gatewood was the designer on the project. “This project presented several challenges; the key was to listen to the client to understand exactly what was needed.”

 Jeffrey put it this way, “This was not an easy task with one printing company not able to do this, the next company not able to do that. ‘A great idea… sorry we can’t do it’… became the standard reply. Then, FINALLY, after months of frustration, we discovered PrintingForLess.com!  They took the design elements and product specifications then delivered to us a NOSMUDGEE Mascara Shield product and packaging that exceeded our expectations.”

Creative ideas are encouraged at PrintingForLess.com. We specialize in helping custom projects come to fruition. Other custom online printing sources say no when we say YES.

If you can dream it, we can do it! Bring us your challenging projects.  We will shield you from the mess of sloppy printing while meeting your printing needs.

“We are grateful to PFL for helping us to make our NOSMUDGEE dream come true!”          ….Jeffrey Burkey, CEO

It was our pleasure, thank you NOSMUDGEE Company for your business.

 

Ten Business Card Commandments

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When it comes to business cards, it’s all about selecting options that set you apart from your competition. If you’re having trouble getting your creative juices flowing, here are 10 business card commandments to live by.

1. Thou Shalt Not Always Conform

The unique, see-through element gives clear plastic business cards a modern touch. Clear cards can incorporate a number of design elements, from frosting to partial, full color printing; they are perfect for businesses and individuals looking for that competitive edge.

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2. Thou Shall Encourage Interaction

Inventive die cuts are an excellent way to grab the attention of the person you are giving your business card to. This die cut chair card takes the cake when it comes to unique and innovative design. Not only is it creative, but it allows interaction with your card in a whole new, tactile way.

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3. Thou Shall Embrace All Shapes

The more personal you can make your business card, the more your customers will connect with you. This to-go coffee cup is a perfect fit for a coffee shop or café. It can also double as a frequent drink card that your customers are sure to hang on to.

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4. Thou Shalt Not Covet the Square

These cards command attention by incorporating an ultra-unique die cut shape. All of the important information is well placed on the card. The black matte card stock is an excellent base for the silver foil stamping at each of the edges.

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5. Thou Shall Be Multi-Purpose

This dual purpose business card not only looks cool but has a utilitarian design, as well. It has a guitar pick die cut into it. This way you are giving customers something they can use, which will help keep your brand top of mind.

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6. Thou Shall Perforate

You have to stand out from the crowd if you want your business cards to get noticed, and this card stands out in more ways than one. Its creative use of a die cut with a perforated tear off belly not only grabs your attention, but lets you know exactly what this gym can do for you.

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7.Thou Shalt Not Think Bigger Is Better

Small and elegant describes this card. It is a true testament to simple, classic design. This mini business card (1.75 x 3.5) with diagonal rounded corners packs a huge punch. Altering the size or adding rounded corners is an inexpensive way to make a business card memorable.

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8. Thou Shalt Not Be Centered

An off center fold and a creative die cut give this card great dramatic flair. The excellent use of color die cutting and fold placement are simple tactics, but used well in this design to enhance the impact.

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9. Thou Shall Excite With Images

It looks so good you could eat it! If only paper tasted as good as frosting! We haven’t mastered the art of edible business cards yet, but this one comes pretty close. This creative use of a die cut works in perfect harmony with the image. It’s cleaver and a great conversation starter.

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10. Thou Shalt Not Reveal Everything Upfront

These aren’t your standard folded business cards. A simple design element takes this card to a whole new level. The extra die cut reveal at the top catches your eye and makes you want to find out what’s inside.

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Welcome to the Fold

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We all think of the same thing when someone mentions folds.

Sheepfolds, obviously.

But thankfully in the printing world we can venture out of the barnyard when it comes to styling paper in an appealing way.

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Of course there are your standard folds: half-fold, tri-fold, half-then-half . . . and unless you are into origami, we begin to run out of ideas for creative folds. If we dig deeper we realize there is more to the art of folding than first meets the eye.

Self-proclaimed ‘Folding Fanatic’ Trish Witkowski has yet to run out of ideas. Over a span of seven years, she compiled an 850-page book of folds and created the FOLDRite system to aid in folding compensation mathematics (how much space to leave in the margins in order for the paper to fall flat when folded).

Witkowski’s website foldfactory.com has endless ideas for every style and focus: accordion folds, roll folds, gate folds (perhaps for sheep?) and even an entire section devoted to ‘exotic folds,’ which includes the divided ‘barn door,’ the popular ‘iron cross’ and ‘snake’ folds, and even a ‘twist fold,’ where a small square expands into a larger square when you pull on opposing corners.

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Folding allows the product to interact with the customer by attracting attention and then engaging the mind more significantly than flat paper. Like embossing and other special printing techniques, interesting folds also invite a tactile connection, but often offer a more budget-friendly option.

You have the information on the piece; but how do you want people to perceive that information? And in what order? Many of Witkowski’s folds include ‘hidden panels’ that allow the customer to ‘explore’ as they work their way through the material, encouraging them to hold onto it longer. The type of paper used is essential to the tactile experience of the piece, for weight, stiffness and texture.

Other ideas can be found in Cut and Fold Techniques for Promotional Materials and Folding Techniques for Designers: from Sheet to Form by Paul Jackson. These books give step-by-step instructions on how to create three-dimensional eye-catching products, although they tend to be more complicated than most of Witkowski’s folds.

The versatility of folding allows designers in many areas to exercise more freedom when adapting to specific needs. Although Jackson’s folds are mostly used to teach design students, he claims his ‘practical concepts of folding . . . can be adapted infinitely by any designer from any design discipline, using any sheet material.’

Most people do not give folding enough credit. The physical design of a printed piece is often the first thing people notice, long before their eyes scan the words or images, and sometimes before they even pick it up.

Perhaps the fold’s greatest asset is its affordability: when compared to Pantone and metallic ink, die cutting, embossing, etc., adding a creative fold to a piece can be one of the most cost-effective ways to enhance tactile response.

PrintingForLess.com offers standard folds on most items for only one cent more than the base price, and complex folds which have to be folded by hand begin at six cents over the base price, depending on the intricacies of the fold and the weight of the paper.

Ideas from Witkowski and Jackson are only the beginning in the vast realm of folding techniques. The versatility of the fold allows every designer to fit his or her needs and incite greater interest for viewers in a cost-effective manner.

Consider Your Options when Binding Multiple Pages

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Are you in a bind trying to decide how best to present multiple pages of information?

This is your guide to organizing your ideas in a presentable way; namely, through any one of the four main types of binding. These four categories range in cost-effectiveness and professionalism. Once you have a goal for your piece in the crosshairs, you will know where your piece falls on the grid.

Saddle stitching is the most cost-effective option when it comes to binding your piece. This is the type of binding that you often see in calendars and brochures: usually two or three staples along the spine, halfway through the sheets. The staples will show through on the opposite side, but for many pieces this does not pose an issue. Saddle stitching gives a casual feel while still presenting your information in a well-organized manner.

SquareBackBindingSamples

 

Square-back binding, shown above, is a cross between saddle stitching and perfect binding, which we will cover later. Square-back is similar to saddle stitching in the way it is produced, and only slightly more expensive: the pages are still stapled on a saddle, but then pressed until the piece resembles perfect binding, with the addition of a few staples showing along the outside of the spine. Square-back binding is slightly more professional than saddle stitching, but still maintains the value pricing. This type of binding works well for short children’s books and short-run magazines.

Plastic coil and wire spiral binding are similar in price, but have varying appeals. Both are durable, and can open 360 degrees. On the aesthetic scale these types of binding lean more toward the side of the casual brochure or booklet for a meeting or conference. Using wire binding gives your piece a slightly more finished look than plastic. However, plastic coil can be purchased in a variety of colors to further compliment your brand consistency.coilboundbooklets2

Perfect binding grants the best value, and is ideal for pieces with a larger page count. Although square-back binding might work for shorter volumes, perfect binding can be used for anything with 40 sheets or more, and provides the finest finished look for many pieces. Perfect binding uses a durable, strong adhesive inside the spine to hold your pages together, and is ideal for many larger magazines, books, manuals and catalogs.

When it comes to binding, price often dictates choice. Binding is an afterthought in most printed pieces, and its value is not considered at the forefront. You may have the perfect design for your pages, but binding is necessary to complete your multi-page project.

Keep an eye on the piece as a whole when first considering your target price during the design phase—don’t get to the last phase and leave yourself in a bind about the bind. Hold it together with a choice that supports the quality and goal of the rest of the piece.

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Looking Beyond the Printed Piece

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What is your goal?

It goes hand-in-hand with ‘motive’ and ‘purpose.’ It is an all-encompassing mindset that looks beyond a single printed piece and engages the outcome of an entire business as well. While the content of a printed piece is important, the impression it leaves with the consumer has a far greater impact.

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blog_modified-iron-crossIf your piece is mostly informational, you may consider a brochure. A creative fold, such as the popular ‘iron cross,’ encourages exploration of the piece, such as in PrintingForLess.com’s HR recruitment piece. On the other hand saddle stitching or perfect binding can encourage a customer to walk through the piece in a more orderly manner.

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As much as we don’t like to admit it, we as humans develop impressions, values and sometimes stereotypes based on a first glance at almost any situation. That’s why the choice of the format for your printed piece is so meaningful: it directly affects how the customer sees the product in the long-term.

 

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diecut This charging rhinoceros, die-cut and UV-coated, is the logo for Shirt Rhino, an online T-shirt company for custom screen-printing. The powerful design of this business card is sure to lead with a roar.

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You also might try to leave something useful with the customer, such as in Gibsun’s plastic-coated business card with a die-cut guitar pick built into the card itself.

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When deciding on a format, consider your overall goals: Why do you operate your business the way you do, and how can you best communicate this to the customer? What specifics are you highlighting? Use your business essentials to drive your detail choices—not the other way around.

 

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The not-for-profit coalition National Center for Women & Information Technology wanted to cement their idea of ‘The Red Chair’ in consumer’s minds: for NCWIT, this symbol promotes their slogan, ‘Sometimes you have to sit to take a stand.’ They created a business card with four die-cut pieces that could be punched out and assembled into the Red Chair itself: and still maintains its business-card purposes, with NCWIT information (and instructions for assembly) printed on all available faces.

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There are a variety of options for format when it comes to printed material: business card, folder, newsletter, etc. These are fairly standard choices. But you may need to unleash your creative when it comes to details such as size, design and special effects.

 

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WhiteIceThe highly contrasting colors on this White Ice postcard draw the eye to the few white spaces left on the card—namely, the brightness of the woman’s teeth, for which the postcard is advertising. The offer and contact information for the tooth whitener are contained on the back of the card. The simple design of a postcard may be just the thing you need to quickly catch your customer’s eye.

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Greeting cards are an excellent way to relate to customers on a personal level while stilfoill maintaining somewhat of a business mindset. KLOVE radio station made these cards with foil-stamping on a plain black front to highlight on two words, which, when combined, form their main message. The visual contrast between the black and gold again underscores their key phrase.

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Like greeting cards, stationery can address formal issues while keeping your company’s name and logo in plain view. Matching envelopes are always an impressive touch.

 

Bold, Beautiful, and Brand-Centric: Business Cards that Pop

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What’s the one piece of printed material that embodies your company, your company’s brand, and you personally? That’s right, the common business card.

It’s not just an entry ticket for the local deli’s lunch giveaway. Your business card is one of the strongest, most personal pieces of collateral that you can produce. It may be the first piece of your brand that a prospect will see. And it’s an intentional, purposeful connection, delivered directly from your hand.

Your card should have visual and tactile appeal that ties directly to your persona and your company’s brand.  This can be a difficult mix to master, but there are some organizations that get it right—and some that knock it out of the park.

Enter three players: Mitchell’s Garage, a Montana-based creative media agency run by Derrick Mitchell; their client Falkor Defense, the firearm product line for a precision engineering firm and aerospace manufacturer; and PrintingForLess.

Mitchell was working with Falkor to rebrand their line of firearm products. He contacted us to help produce printed collateral for their rebranding. Falkor had an idea of what they wanted in their business cards: a strong aesthetic appeal, distinct, soft touch feel in the hand, and the new Falkor logo.

Through collaborative discussion, we identified the elements that would define success for this project. Thick stock, 24 point black Touché paper would give each card the weight, substance and distinct in-hand feel the client wanted.

The matte finish of the paper stock would act as a foundation. The company logo and contact information would be stamped on with two colors of metallic foil to visually leap off the card. The contrasting black and red foils, on the matte black stock, would produce a card sure to stand out from the crowd.

Falkor BC_2

After the PFL Customer Advocate team spelled out the specifics, production took over. Our press operators worked closely with the design team as they created dies and ran the cards through the foil stamping process.

The final cards were die-cut with rounded corners, with results that exceeded client expectations. The metallic black and red foils catch and reflect the light when the card changes angles, shimmering and shining with an arresting and engaging visual effect.

Memorable? You be the judge.

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Think about your own cards. Do they say what you want them to about you? Do they represent your brand, your company in the best possible way? If it’s time for an update, let us know! We’re happy to help you knock it out of park, too.

Be Seen: Signage Design Done Right

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Need to get your small business out in the open? Signage — indoor and outdoor— is a great way to get your message out there. But where do you begin? The options and best practices may seem overwhelming. But we’ve been helping people get their ideas printed, so let us help you! Ready to turn some eyes your way? Let’s begin your signage journey.

Signage for Different Occasions

First things first: be clear on your needs. There are different signs for different purposes and occasions, not to mention marketing purposes, so let’s break them down:

Brand Awareness: Need to get your logo and tagline known? Banners, posters, yard signs, car magnets and flags are a surefire way to get your contact details, information, branding, or anything else you need, out in the open.

Outdoor Events: Festival goers and craft fair mavens need to know how to get to your goods! Arrows, signs, banners and flags can help attract the attention of potential customers.

Trade Shows: Prepping for an indoor event? We can help you choose the best table tents, banners, foam boards and branding details with ease.

It’s a Sale! Estate, yard, liquidation sales and more. People won’t want to miss out on your mega deals when they can see them advertised!

Window Displays: Posters and decals help attract extra attention and spread your news.

Consider the Details

Now that you know what kind of signs you need, think about how and where they’ll be used. For instance, an outdoor sign in Florida needs to not bleach out in the sun, whereas a sign outside in Montana needs to stand strong against wind and snow. Where is the sign going to be physically placed? Size up and down, with respect to your messaging, appropriately.

Do your signs need to tie to a pole or trees? Does it need to be free-standing? Does it need to be tied down some other way? Think the physical details through before you head over to design and get it all laid out.

Get That Sign Designed

You know what you want and you know what your signage needs to stay in plain sight. Now it’s time to get your idea into its visual shape. Here are some tips to get you started, straight from our design expert’s mouths:

  1. Wise Typography Wins: Use big, bold fonts to capture attention. Fonts with elegant, thin lines are hard for the eye to immediately recognize and understand.
  2. Keep it Simple: Big signs are not meant for complex messaging. Keep your ideas boiled down to the fewest possible words and symbols. The longer details belong on printed pieces that are closer to people’s eyes and that can home with them, like brochures, one-sheets and iron crosses.
  3. Be Eye-Catching: High color contrast is hard to miss. If your logo is a dark color, go for a light background. Keep the sign’s location in mind too– don’t use dark shades in a shady area, or for instance reds against a brick wall!

  1. Learn Substrates: Will there be glare? If so, avoid glossy finishes. Matte finishes work best in brightly lit spaces.
  2. Vector logos only: You need your artwork to be scalable, and a fixed, flat image file won’t work. Go for as high-resolution as possible, always. A file can always be scaled down, but not up, and keep its clarity. We gladly accept virtually every Mac & PC file format, including any version of:
  • Adobe: Acrobat, FrameMaker, Illustrator, InDesign, PageMaker, Photoshop
  • Apple: Works
  • Broderbund: The Printshop, version 15
  • Claris: Works
  • Corel: Bryce, Draw, Lotus, PhotoPaint, Quattro Pro, Ventura, WordPerfect
  • Deneba: Canvas
  • Macromedia: Fireworks, Freehand
  • Microsoft: Excel, Home Publishing, PhotoDraw, Powerpoint, Publisher, Word, Works
  • Quark: Xpress
  • Serif: DrawPlus, PagePlus, PhotoPlus
  • Also: .EPS, .JPEG & .TIF files

Have a file that isn’t listed here? It’s likely that we can use it. Call us at 800-930-6040 to get your signage project started!

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Why the Font Should I Care?

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Why the Font Should I Care?

Sometimes an idea is great enough to rise above even the worst presentation.  For all other ideas no pictures, poor grammar, or a bad font can lose your audience before you even have a chance.

In the span of human history, few things have truly changed our culture more than the invention of the written word.  And ever since then we have struggled to bring to our writing the same meaning and emotion that we are able to breathe into words.  This is just as true when we are pouring our hearts into a personal blog, as it is when we are writing our brand promise on a company brochure.  Our business is our livelihood. Our business fuels the most important things that we need as humans: a meal to eat, a place to rest and a means to participate in the world around us.  

So when it comes to putting cursor to webpage, or printing press to paper, every choice that we make matters to our message.  There are so many of these decisions that we make while speaking that don’t even register to our conscious brain. The way we move our hands.  The way that we angle our head slightly to maintain eye contact. The gleam in our eye as we get into an exciting topic. How do we put that into a written piece?

Part of the secret is in the font choice.

The Power of Font

Research tells us that fonts can drastically change the way readers react to your writing.  A 2012 New York Times study by Errol Morris found that using Baskerville font lead to a 1.5% increase in readers believing a false scientific report over five other fonts.  Serif fonts, those with the ‘tails’ and ‘feet’ on the ends of letters, have been used in scientific and professional reporting since printing began. Baskerville has a classic, reliable look that breeds confidence.  

The Internet went into hysterics when CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced the discovery of a new subatomic particle in a press release using Comic Sans.  If CERN had a marketing department they would have been nominated for awards based on the coverage from that release. There was even a Change.org petition to change the name of Comic Sans to Comic Cerns.  You can’t buy coverage like that.

So how do you choose what font will best represent your message?  While there are no clear rules to follow, a few guidelines can help add nuance to your writing.

To Sans, or not to Sans?

The Serif, also called Roman fonts, have small projections on the ends of most letters.  Serif fonts are some of the most recognized because of their early use in print. Serif fonts convey credibility, professionalism, and academic integrity. These fonts are easily recognizable, especially in print, because they created the standard.  

Sans-Serif fonts have none of the projections and are sometimes referred to as Grotesque or Gothic fonts.  These letters give a cleaner, more modern look and are usually easier to read in long paragraph formats.

Script fonts mimic cursive letters.  You can tell a story of class and elegance, quality and royalty using a script font.  They can be difficult to read in long sentences or paragraphs.

Display fonts are the strange ones.  Marquees, Old Western, Ransom Note. Used sparingly, these fonts can create an instant connection before the reader has even acknowledged what the words say.

Choose Colors Wisely

Contrast is an important element in print and on the web.  Bold color can draw attention to a line of text, but be aware of background images and color.  It is also worth remembering that 8-15% of people are colorblind and unable to differentiate certain hues next to each other.  

So Why the Font Should I Care?

All of your choices are important when creating your brand, and font choice allow you to bring the reader into your story without saying a word.  If you would like help crafting the perfect look for your story, PFL’s design and print team have the experience and knowledge to make it happen.

 

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