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Tips for working with print publications

Non Designers Design BookYou must begin by purchasing the Non-Designers Design Book from Robin Williams. It is the best resource I’ve found for basic tips on design.

In the meantime, here are a few of my top tips:

  • Understand colors – Complementary colors are colors that are across, or opposite, from one another on a color wheel: for example, yellow and purple, red and green, blue and orange.
    • Color WheelThe color wheel can be divided into ranges that are visually active or passive. Active colors will appear to advance when placed against passive hues. Passive colors appear to recede when positioned against active hues.
    • Contrasting colors have an affect on one another.
    • Psychology of color – it affects mood, memory, and associations.
  • Font – serif font has tails; sans serif does notFont
    • Never use comic sans unless you are writing to children.
    • Research fonts. They set a mood, and you need to know what mood you are setting when you pick your favorite. You should spend a significant amount of time picking a font.
    • You can make something easy or difficult to read depending on the font type, color and size.
    • DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS (actually, our brains take longer to read in all caps so you will lose someone’s attention because of the time invested in reading).
  • Symmetrical and asymmetrical – asymmetrical is more pleasing, but symmetrical can be used for a specific affectRule of thirds
    • Know the rule of thirds (which can also apply to websites) – divide the area into thirds – put the desired object on the 1st or 3rd area – not the middle
  • Use as much white space as possible – let it breathe! Lots of space between paragraphs, bullets, indentations, margins, etc.
  • Kill your darlings. Keep it simple. Brevity, less is more!
  • Mimic what you like – find good design examples and use them as your starting point. Borrow good ideas.Seven columns
  • Use 7 or 8 columns to layout the design to add variety and a more please affect.



Design applies to lots of things a church does with communication: websites, print pieces, email, signs, worship, activities, buildings. Good design should be seen throughout your church life. Appears does matter and it can have a positive (or negative) affect on visitors and members alike. Take time to stop and think like the user.

  • Use print to reach out to your community – notice where you see signs, ads, mailings and logos for other organizations and businesses. Pay attention to how others are using print.
  • Notice specifically how real estate, concerts, and events advertise.
  • Walk around your buildings with someone from another church. Even meet a few blocks away, get into their car, and have them describe their experience from the start. Can they find their way?
  • Again, all of this is about being user-centered. Are you thinking about young parents, singles, the elderly, visitors, etc?


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