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Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 4

So far in this series, we’ve covered too much text, reading the rate card, and talked extensively about fonts. The latest designer pet peeve ties in to a similar issue to the one we ran into in post number 5—just because it looks good on your computer screen does not mean that it will look good printed. The number 4 thing designers hate is:

4) Low-Resolution Images

Artfully pixelated image courtesy of stackoverflow.com

Artfully pixelated image courtesy of stackoverflow.com

Resolution in digital images is measured in something called “dpi” or “dots per inch.” The standard dpi for something you want printed relatively large is 300 dpi or more. That means there are, quite literally, 300 little dots of color in each inch of the image. On your computer screen, these dots are called “pixels.”

Often, clients will send us an image that they pulled from Google or Facebook, without paying much attention to the image’s size. Then, they’ll ask us to “blow it up” or “make it bigger.” The problem is, while we can stretch something to be much larger on a computer screen, this does not increase the number of pixels in the image—it simply makes the pixels (or dots) larger. This stretched image may look fine on the computer screen, but when it gets printed there’s a good chance that a smallish image will come out grainy and unclear. And no one wants that!

If you’re using stock photography in your ad, it’s often better to let your designer source the images for you. We’ll know what to look for to make sure the image will come out nice and clear in printing. Then you also avoid issues of “borrowed” images that we covered in Things Designers Hate Number 9.

If you are searching for images for yourself, keep an eye on the number of pixels in the image. Google image search shows the size of images in number of total pixels. If an image is 300×300 pixels, then that image will be 1×1” at 300 dpi when printed. If you enlarge that image to greater than 1×1” when printing it, it will come out blurry.

This sad puppy is 1600x900 pixels. That means the image can be printed as large as 5.3x3 inches without any degradation of the image quality. He’s sad because you tried to print him 10x6. Image courtesy of Google.com.

As you can see circled in red on the right, this sad puppy is 1600×900 pixels. That means the image can be printed as large as 5.3×3 inches without any degradation of the image quality. He’s sad because you tried to print him 10×6. Image courtesy of Google.com.

You can use this information as a rule of thumb when searching for images online. Say you want to use an image that will eventually be printed in a magazine on a standard 8.5×11” page. You would need the image to be at least 2550×3300 pixels to get a resolution of 300dpi.

Finally, clients will sometimes copy all of the images they want to use, paste them into a Word document, and send that document to us. Please, for the love of that adorable puppy up there, do not do this! Pasting images into a Word document can lead to re-sizing in order to fit the image on the page, and can cause compatibility issues between computers with different generations of Microsoft Office, or between Macs and PCs. Always save your images separately and attach them directly to the email. They can be saved as a JPEG, PDF, TIF, or PNG file, but they must be saved at high resolution, at the size you want it printed or larger. That way it will arrive in your designer’s inbox the same way you sent it: nice and big!

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate, Number 6: Speaking of Fonts…

Welcome back to our Blog series, “Top 10 Things Designers Hate!” We’ve covered ads with too much text, “Borrowed” images, reading the rate card and, most recently, the impact of fonts on your advertisement. It’s hard to over-emphasize how much fonts affect your ads. So, speaking of fonts, our number six thing designers hate is…

6) When You Don’t Embed Your Fonts

Imagine this familiar scenario: You have a font you want to use. You type up your copy in Microsoft Word, save it as a .docx document, and send it to your designer. Unfortunately, your designer doesn’t have that font on file, which means that when the document is opened on your designer’s computer, it defaults to some other font…like maybe Wingdings 3.

Wingdings: Cute on dogs. Not on your ad. Image courtesy of cafepress.com.

Wingdings: Cute on dogs. Not on your ad. Image courtesy of cafepress.com.

The formatting you worked so hard on is ruined, and your designer has no idea what you were trying to send. Time to start over.

All this trouble can be avoided by the simple process of embedding your fonts. What does that mean?

“Embedding” fonts means including the font you want to use as part of the document when you send it to your designer. This can be done quite simply: often, when saving ad document as a PDF you will be prompted to embed the fonts. That’s about as easy as it gets!

If this doesn’t happen (like if you’re using an older version of Word or Adobe Acrobat) you can follow these simple instructions here or here.

And voila! This simple process avoids confusion and keeps communicating with your designer clear and efficient. Everybody wins!

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