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Jacci Howard Bear

Jacci\'s Desktop Publishing Blog


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Page Composition Best Practices
Tip #3: Balance

Sunday April 20, 2014

Keep Odd or Even Elements in Balance.

The number of text and graphic elements you use on a page and how you arrange them can support the overall intended tone of your document whether you want to appear formal, traditional, and authoritative or informal, lively, and friendly -- or something in between.


Not hard and fast rules but in general:

Learn more about balance.

Is Your Design Balanced?

Wednesday April 16, 2014

There are many ways to apply the principle of balance to our pages. A good balance of text and images. A balance of light and dark areas. A balance of primary, secondary, and tertiary information. Balance doesn't mean you have to have the same amount of each type of information or design element. You can have more pictures than text or more white space than images. Balance is about arranging your text and images so that the page doesn't seem out-of-whack or lop-sided. Balance helps to keep the eye on the page or on the most important information. Learn from these lessons on the principle of balance.

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Page Composition Best Practices
Tip #2: Visuals

Sunday April 13, 2014

Select a Single Visual or Make Strong Visual Connections.

A single visual can create greater impact than a bunch of visuals that are all competing for attention.

visual cues

Don't be wimpy either. Make it a big, strong, dominant element of the page. Or, when using multiple images, tie them together by style or placement or some other method that gives them a connection, so they form a single visual unit. Learn more about using fewer images or combining multiple images (works with more than just mug shots).

What Color is Lilac?

Tuesday April 8, 2014

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd by Walt Whitman was an elegy written after Abraham Lincoln's assassination in April 1865. Within Whitman's poem the lilacs carry a great deal of symbolism including love, respect, grief, and rebirth. The springtime lilacs come in many shades of pink and purple.The color called lilac is generally on the purple (violet) side.

Like lavender, the color lilac is ...
... a feminine color
... a romantic color
... a slightly nostalgic or old-fashioned color
... a Springtime color
... an Easter color

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Page Composition Best Practices
Tip #1: Alignment

Sunday April 6, 2014

Align all elements with each other or on a grid.

There are certainly valid reasons and instances where you might want to knock things out of alignment. A scattered or haphazard arrangement of text or graphics can make a statement in full page ads or posters or fliers. But for most desktop publishing projects some form of alignment is desirable.


It makes text in a brochure easier to read. It can provide page to page continuity or flow in newsletters and books. It can also speed up the entire page layout process if you have a set alignment and stick to it. Learn more about How to Line Up Text and Graphics.

And on the subject of alignment... here are a couple of glossary terms that are related: Block Style (typical format for business letters)and Forced Justification (a type of text alignment I don't recommend).

3 Ways to Follow the Rules

Saturday April 5, 2014

Want to learn the rules of desktop publishing? Here are three ways to do it:

  1. By email: My Rules of DTP Email Course takes 12 days. When you sign up you'll get a daily email for 12 days with pointers to lessons covering each of my 12 rules. Use this method if you don't want to read all the rules in one day, don't feel like bookmarking a bunch of pages, and want reminders to come back here to learn more.
  2. Self-paced reading: Bookmark What are the Rules of Desktop Publishing? and return as often as you want. This page provides an index to the articles that cover each of my 12 rules. Read and study at your own pace.
  3. Illustrated rules: Browse this gallery of images on Rules and Best Practices in Page Layout that illustrate each of my 12 rules (13 images because Rule #4 is split up). You won't get the same in-depth material as the first two methods but it's good as a refresher. And, you'll find a link on each page that goes to the email version of each rule if you do want to dig deeper, learn more.

Consider yourself a maverick, a rule-breaker? You may want to take a look at Following the Rules vs. Questioning the Rules

What Would You Wear to Get a Design Job?

Thursday April 3, 2014

Being a graphic designer is a creative job so maybe you should show your fun, imaginative, and artistic side by what you wear, right? Not necessarily. If you're trying to get a design job or land a freelance client, you are conducting business and it's probably best to err on the side of conservative attire. Use your portfolio to strut your creative stuff. But, there is a little wiggle room depending on where you are applying for a job or the type of clients you're pursuing. Consider these guidelines on How to Dress for a Design Job Interview.

Agree or disagree? What would you recommend? If you are in the position of hiring for design-related jobs, tell us in the comments, below, what kind of attire is likely to most influence your hiring decision.


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What's Behind Your Design?

Sunday March 30, 2014

Oftentimes we want to eliminate background clutter, take it out completely. But in other instances what is behind the main subject of a photo or a page layout can help to establish a theme or focus attention on what's important. That's the backdrop . The backdrop could be supporting elements (such as a landscape in soft focus), a solid block of color, or it might be some type of random or not-so-randompattern.

Explore the options for what goes on in the background of your pages: backdrop and pattern as used in desktop publishing and graphic design.

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When Two Colors Are Better Than One

Wednesday March 26, 2014

What we call black & white photos are really just one color or monotone images in shades of gray (grayscale). But add another color to the black and you've got a duotone. And that can be a better choice when full color photos aren't an option (and even when they are). Discover why and exploreHow to Create and Use Duotones in Desktop Publishing.

Duotone Example

Color/Grayscale/Duotone Example | Image Jacci Howard Bear

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What Software Can Take The Place of Corel Ventura?

Tuesday March 25, 2014

Corel Ventura 10 Box shot courtesy of Corel Corp.

I'm re-posting this post from September 2013 to bring forward a recent comment by Michael in NJ who writes, "...I know the day will come when we have to put Ventura to bed for good. ...With what exactly do we replace Ventura?" So, anyone want to take a stab at this and address all the issues Ventura users bring up about the shortcomings of InDesign, QuarkXPress, and others?

(original post follows)

If you're accustomed to upgrading your desktop publishing software every year or so then you're not using Corel Ventura. It hasn't moved past v. 10 in forever (since 2002). Yet it has a loyal following of users (some working with even earlier versions) who say that it is still head and shoulders above anything else on the market including Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress. However, at some point even the most loyal of Venturaists will find that they need to move on either because they need some of the (few) missing features found in other software, lack of support from Corel, or because it will no longer play nice with newer Windows operating systems.

About a year ago a user posted: "Big question is, if you could not use Ventura again, what would the best alternative be for long precision-formatted documents? Has anyone tried Scribus? InDesign has as many detractors as proponents when you specifically ask about long documents."

Long documents is the key. Several have indicated that InDesign is fine for graphics-intensive layouts but for long, text-intensive documents such as books and manuals, Ventura is the hands down winner. For now. The need is for a program to handle hundreds of pages (with graphics too), technical content with figures and equations, hundreds of tables, footnotes and endnotes, comprehensive index, and provide extremely accurate control of the placement of all text and images. Oh, and the ability to import all the hundreds of existing Ventura files is a must.

It has been suggested that some current Ventura users may have issues with InDesign or other programs because they are stubborn, set in their ways, and unwilling to change even if something better comes along. S.K. Eptic (obviously a Ventura skeptic) says:

Those who dismiss InDesign or Quark as inferior products either have not bothered to delve deeper into the awesome potential of those programs, or are so entrenched in their ways they cannot conceive of doing something different.

There's going to be a learning curve with any new, unfamiliar program but if it can do the job then it's worth consideration. Suggestions?


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