Desktop Publishing Tricks for the Do-it-yourselfer

If you have a small business, you probably cannot afford to hire a professional designer to do all of your promotional materials. While a good designer can really help your materials to be effective, you can do a respectable job yourself if you follow a few simple design tricks.

Draw a Rough Draft

Before you turn on your computer, pull out a pencil and paper and start sketching. Plan out your design by drawing rough pictures of what you want. You should also plan out your process at this stage; make a list of what you should do first, second, third and so on.

Make Your Own Templates

If you are designing a PowerPoint presentation, design your own templates rather than using the ones already in the program. These just tend to look cheap and unprofessional. Also, you should save templates on your computer of anything you design, whether it is for a business card printing or a poster printing project; this will make your next project that much easier.

Stick to Two Fonts

For most designs, stick to two fonts. Any more than that and your design will look messy and amateur. For long stretches of text, use a serif font like Times New Roman, and for short amounts of text like headings and titles you can use sans-serif fonts such as Arial.

Leave a Good Amount of White Space

White space is the background of your piece, whatever the actual color. It is space that does not have any text or images. A piece with a lot of white space looks more professional and pleasing to the viewer than one cluttered with so many images and so much text that a viewer doesn't know where to begin.

Do Not Use Clip Art

Clip art may be tempting because it is easy. However, you must resist the urge because most clip art looks cheesy and will negatively affect your design and printing projects, whether you are doing a business card printing or creating brochures.

Use Paper Printouts When Editing

When you are checking a design for errors, do not edit it on your computer screen. Instead, do your proofreading on a paper printout. Not only will you better be able to see what your actual print design will look like but you will also catch more errors since print is much easier on the eye.

Keep Drafts of Ideas

When you are working on a project, save each new stage of design along the way. Then if you are not happy with your finished product, you won't have to start over from scratch. Simply pull up one of your earlier saved versions and begin from there.

Save Your Work

Save extra copies of your brochures, newsletters, posters, and business card printing designs. Keep a file of these print materials to use as starting points for projects in the future. Plus, you'll be more likely to maintain a consistent look if you have previous design from which to reference.

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