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Which Font Should I Use?

When I’m consulting with businesses about the “look” of their corporate communications, one of the hot questions is always, “Which font should we use?” In an earlier Creative Tips post I touched on this subject as far as saying “At least don’t use the defaults” without going into much detail as to how you would decide on one.

Most companies, except for some very large ones, prefer to stick with the fonts that come with their computer, or with their Office software suite, whether it’s Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Libre Office or something else. But, even so, click on that Font drop-down arrow and the list goes on and on. Does it matter which one you use? How would you know? And what about headings – should they use a different typeface, or a larger version of the same one used for text? Continue reading

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Just say “No” to these bad typing habits!

There are some things you should never do when typing documents in Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or any other word processing app. Some of these avoidables may be deeply-ingrained habits. Some may invoke a cry of, “But I’ve always done it that way and nobody ever complained!” All of them will lead you down a slippery slope, into bad typographic neighborhoods from which few return unscarred. Best to just say “No” in the first place.

Here is one that’s not hard to fix, and will make your business letters look just that much more professional than your competitor’s (who, it must be pointed out, doesn’t read this blog). Continue reading

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Getting noticed at a busy trade show

Trade shows are an important way for many businesses to reach their audience and generate interest in their products, but they have an equally important downside: they’re a very expensive investment. Unless you can coax jaded, footsore show attendees into your display, you can’t even get a conversation started. And that can mean your big investment just went up in smoke. For a graphic designer, that’s a challenge and an opportunity. In the case of Anna Elyse, the brand name under which fashion designer Annie Sokoloff markets her innovative line of bridesmaid dresses, it was also a chance to work with someone who is ferociously creative in her own right. Continue reading

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When it comes to spacing text, more is usually more

By now, if you read the last post, you’re starting to think that designers seems to place as much importance on the spaces around and between things as on the things themselves. And you’re right.

One of the great concert pianists of the 20th Century once remarked that what defines a great performer is not the notes he or she plays, but the spaces between them. The same could be said about text, which includes everything from novels to business letters to the way you lay out your resumé. Good spacing can make a document look more attractive and inviting to read. Bad spacing can make your reader feel uncomfortable or annoyed, or even make them skip the whole thing. Continue reading

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Give Me Some Space

Space: it may well be the Final Frontier, because when it comes to documents it’s clear that it was never taught in high school. I think we were only ever flunked on content, and so we fixated on the text and forgot the page it was sitting on.

When you write a letter, a proposal to management, a resume or a promotion piece for your business, you put a great deal of thought and time into ensuring it says exactly what you want to say. It’s so good it will knock the reader’s socks off. IF anyone actually reads it.

So what would make someone not want to read your exquisitely crafted prose? What would put them off before they even start? Continue reading

Quick ways to make your Microsoft Office documents look better

Microsoft Office is everywhere. There’s hardly a company, from enterprise to small business, that doesn’t use it to create letters, proposals, estimates, promotional emails, even flyers and (gasp!) ads for the Yellow Pages. The “desktop publishing revolution” was supposed to put great-looking documents within reach of Everyman and change the world, feed the poor, end war and usher in a golden age of rainbows and unicorns. Continue reading

Too many cooks spoil the (marketing) message

Some of my recent projects have run into what I call the “too many cooks” problem. Different parts of the client’s branding or collateral were done by different people at different times. The result is that none of the parts — website, identity items like logo and business cards, marketing emails, brochures — look like they belong together. And the result of that is a disjointed and confusing marketing message that doesn’t sell. Continue reading