Cheeps from Hunter-McMain

From Concept to Completion. Creative Advertising and Graphic Design Services.

Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 3

A simple but important part of any working relationship is respecting each other’s time. We think most people totally get that! But this particular issue still comes up every now and then, so this week, let’s talk about how much designers hate….

3) Last-Minute Changes

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Every designer has had a client wait until at or after the deadline to request a color change, a text-rewrite, or even a complete overhaul of an ad. These last-minute changes are often accompanied by, “oh, it’s just a little change, it shouldn’t take you very long,” or the dreaded: “I need it by today.”

Of course, clients often don’t realize how long a given change is going to take. Something that seems simple, like replacing the copy, can actually be time-consuming because it requires the text to be sized and formatted to fit in the same space as the old copy. A change like, “could you just add a photograph?” isn’t a matter of just sticking something into the ad. A designer needs to find the right image, get the client’s approval, and make sure it’s the right size and resolution to look good with the rest of the ad. stop-the-press 2

Sometimes, as with ads printed in magazines or newspapers, there is a hard deadline for getting the ad to print. That can mean the designer has to work overtime to get the ad in on time. If you’re printing a brochure or a magazine and want to make a change when it’s already at press, you can end up wasting paper (oh no! the environment!) and you may be charged by the printer for the time they’re not able to use the press because of you! Nobody wants that!

All these last-minute changes can be avoided if you build your schedule with a little buffer-time—and stick to it! Then you’re happy, the designer’s happy, and look: this puppy is happy, too!

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

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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

Artfully pixelated image courtesy of

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

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

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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Design Glossary


Alignment: This term is use to refer to the position of the text in body copy. Alignments can be flushed left / ragged right, flushed right / ragged left, centered, and justified which means it is both aligned flush right and flushed left.

Aqueous Coating: A protective coating on a printed piece applied by the printer to enhance the printed surface.

Bitmap: A collection of individual dots or pixels in a computer graphics.

Bleed: This means we extend beyond the border or margin so when it is trimmed it “bleeds” off the edge.

Camera-Ready Art: Artwork is prepared to be photographed for a press plate and is ready to print. No additional work needs to be done before it goes to press.

CMYK: This is the abbreviation for process colors or “full color”…they stand for cyan blue, magenta red, yellow and black (K).

Die Cut: A finished printed piece that has a unique cut to the piece. For instance if you have a rounded shape, this is “die cut” from sharp blades to create its unique shape.

Duotone: Two colors combined make a duotone. A vintage photo look can be created with a sepia brown and black, combined it looks like one color but its actually two.

Em Dash: A long dash used in punctuation. (Em is a unit of measuring the width of printed text that is equal to the height of the type size being used).

Gutter: The term refers to the space between columns of type or in a center spread of 2 pages, the gutter is the middle where the catalog or magazine is bound.

Kern: To reduce the letter space between characters or type.

Low-Resolution: This describes the image on a computer that has a low number of pixels per square inch. Printing needs a hi-resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi).

Moiré: (Pronounced “mo-ray”) This is an undesirable effect found in a halftone print resulting from interfering patterns caused by incorrect screen patterns. If you scan a photo that has halftones and put it in a document that is printed again, a moiré pattern will happen.

Pantone: A collection of colors used in printing that is a global matching system that all printers use. These colors are numbered and used across the print industry to have the same system in place to match each other.

PMS: No ladies, not that! In the design world this stands for Pantone Matching System.

Runaround: In typography, the text would go around an image such as a photo or illustration this is also known as runaround.

SWOP: In printing this is a color standard for proofing which stands for Specifications for Web-Offset Printing.

Vector Graphic: Vector art that is object oriented by use of points, lines, curves and shapes which can be resized without it being halftones. If you send a picture that is a fixed size image, enlarging it will look blurry. Vector graphics can be sized and will not lose the quality of the image.

Watermark: A translucent logo in paper created during manufacturing so that the design is faint yet visible when held against the light which usually identifies the maker.

About Paper for Print


Selecting paper for your print job is best left up to the designer since there are many papers to select from. If you specify the qualities you require in your paper, and explain where the print piece will be, designers or printers can offer acceptable options. Here’s a bit of information about paper. Each paper stock has the following characteristics: surface texture, brightness, color, opacity, grain direction, weight, bulk, caliper, and size.

Uncoated and coated papers have different surface textures. Coated paper also can be matt, dull or glossy and refers to the smoothness of the paper. Brightness refers to the amount of light a sheet reflects. Paper color can be tricky as it affects the color of the ink printed onto it. Opacity determines the show-through. Most papers come in different weights which could also affect the opacity. Weight is based on the size of 500 sheets (a ream) of paper. For instance, a ream of 80# cover, measured at 20” x 26”, weighs 80 pounds. Letterhead is usually 24# Text and we use 100# gloss cover weight for our postcards.

Many people request recycled paper because they think they are saving trees and impact the environment. The truth is trees in North America used for paper production come from well-managed forests or farms. Landowners plant 4 million trees every day, which is 3-4 times more than they harvest. Just 11% of the world’s forests are used for paper (28% lumber; 53% for fuel). We think more importantly its wise to recycle the paper we use to keep waste out of our landfills.