It’s that time of year again…

Every year around this time, we see a bevy of calendars popping up on MagCloud. But surprisingly, they are not all what you would think… Sure, there are plenty of family calendars published, undoubtedly intended for distribution to cousins, aunts and grandma, but we think the more interesting use-case are the those being put together by professionals to promote their businesses. And what better way to stay top of mind with your clients, than to be pinned to their wall, where they will see you everyday?

Whether you’re an event planner wanting to showcase your aesthetic, a photographer promoting your work, a non-profit raising awareness or a small business trying to keep your team top of mind with your audience–calendars are a great way to keep your name in front of your client all year long.

Assembling a calendar can be time consuming, so this week we did the heavy lifting for you. Below you will find calendar templates for 3 of the most-frequently used software programs on MagCloud:

Adobe InDesign (CS3 and newer) (zipped version is HERE)

Apple’s iWork Pages

Microsoft Word

You can use these as a starting point for creating your own professional or personal calendar. We won’t spend a ton of time going into the technicalities of how to use these templates because we’ve covered that for Word and Pages last year.

BONUS: if you are using InDesign, there are 3 styles of calendar hidden within the master pages that you can easily apply by changing the master pages for each spread.

Get inspired by some of the great 2011 and 2012 calendars already on MagCloud:

        

Have you created or found a great calendar on MagCloud? Share the link below in the comments section!

Put MagCloud to Work: Publish a Business Brochure

A wise person once said ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. In fact, it just takes a few seconds or a cursory glance for a person to make a judgment about us. Our subsequent actions, behavior and professionalism may change that perception slightly, but not to a great extent.

So it stands to reason that how you portray your business to prospective clients is almost as important as how you do business.

Whether you are a fashion designer, a multi-media training company, an industry consultant, a yoga studio, or a niche photographer, putting your brand out there in a professional manner is extremely important.

One could argue that a brochure is just as important as your business card. It is an important marketing and sales tool, one in which you can do a little bragging and shamelessly present your business in the most positive light. It is your opportunity to create a lasting impression, so be sure that it is a good one.

Whether you are a company with a staff of 2, 20 or 20,000, MagCloud is a great tool for affordably publishing and distributing your brochures in a professional format. Our full-color, full-bleed print options in both standard and digest trim sizes give you the choice to create a robust brochure of multiple pages, or something simple and portable, like a four-paged digest handout. Digital distribution options also make it easy to share your brochure digitally to a desktop, laptop, the iPad, or other mobile device.

MagCloud’s ship-to-group feature makes it easy to drop-ship seasonal information or annual brochures to your clients around the world. Or, if you are a small business, its on-demand functionality means that you can distribute individual copies as needed to interested clients, allowing you to maintain a professional appearance without exceeding a limited budget.

Once you have these great logistics and beautiful print quality, the only thing holding you back is content, and design. Here are a few tips for gathering the content you should include in your brochures, and how to effectively assemble it into a professional-looking publication.

Getting Started:

Who are you talking to?

The first thing you need to know is what you want your brochure to accomplish. That ties directly into the target audience and what the message of the brochure will be. Identify your target audience and speak directly to them. Never try to address everyone. Once you know who your audience is, it will be easier to target your messaging and articulate that your product or service is a solution to their needs.

What is your message?

Always include a meaningful headline. Your headline should clearly communicate your main point so that even if the reader reads nothing else, they will understand what you are about.

Tell the whole story in your writing. Be concise, but remember to write your body copy in plain English. Don’t use jargon or industry lingo, instead pretend you’re explaining your message to a friend.

It’s helpful to use succinct, pithy copy. Avoid long sentences. Keep your message to the point. Use subheadings liberally, as they break up long copy and help draw a reader through the text. Ideally, a reader should be able to get a good grasp of your message by reading only the headings and subheadings.

Designing Your Brochure: 

When all of your information is gathered and your writing is done, you can finally get down to the business of designing. You’ll want take into account the basic elements of good design – organization, consistent styling, balance, color, and so on.

Lay out your brochure cleanly and professionally. The design should draw the reader in and ease the process of reading. Remember that erring on the simple side will be easier for your consumer than an over-designed, distracting or hard-to-read brochure.

It’s great to use graphics to provide balance with text, but be sure they are relevant to your content. Use graphics that grab your reader’s attention and underline your message. Whether it’s a picture, logo, or stock image, just be sure it relates to your message and brand.

As with any design there are some things you’ll want to avoid. These include:

  • Avoid over-used typefaces, such as Arial and Helvetica. Read more in our recent blog post.
  • For content type, keep the point size under 12.
  • Don’t use more than three type faces in a brochure.
  • Generally don’t use more than one alignment.

If you feel lost…

Starting from scratch on a brochure can be challenging. Some great resources for design inspiration can come from other designs. Try searching the web for brochures in your industry and see how your design stacks up against the competition. You don’t want to copy someone else’s design, but it’s a great way to get inspired.

Also check out the stock templates available within most design and word-processing software. If you aren’t a super-savvy designer using InDesign or Quark, you’ll be amazed what you can do with Apple iWork Pages, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Publisher. For those who are confident in their skills with the software, but looking to get a more professional look, you can also investigate altering templates from Stocklayouts or Inkd, just be sure you are ready to tweak these designs as they are not all perfectly sized for output through MagCloud.

Have you published your company’s brochure through MagCloud, or found other great resources for inspiration and design? Please share them in the comments below.

Vacationing with MagCloud

Memorial Day is a welcome beacon that summer is around the corner. As you finalize your plans for summer, MagCloud wants to provide you with a way to capture all of those special memories and experiences – whether it’s a staycation near home, a road trip to the national park or a getaway to an exotic locale.

How are you chronicling this precious time? Some of us may remember those family gatherings in front of the carousel slide projector or the bulky albums our parents put together after every trip. Now with MagCloud, you can create a personal memento in magazine format to easily share your memories with family and friends in print and digitally.

Here are a few tips and tools to assist you through the process:

  • If you’re creating a simple photo magazine, below are a few tips and resources to “prep” your images before publishing.
    • To produce a quality publication, make sure all images have a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch.
    • If you’re looking for photo editing tools but don’t have access to Photoshop, check out GIMP (free software that features most of the capabilities that Photoshop offers) or any of these additional photo editing tools.
    • Short on time or not comfortable with design tools? Give Poyomi and turn the photo sets into a magazine without using a design program.
    • Need inspiration? Browse through some of our travel and vacation magazines.

Have you ever used MagCloud to create a magazine of memories? It’s even a great way to commemorate a school year, a birth, a wedding and more. With MagCloud’s digital publishing and print-on-demand capabilities, it’s never been easier or more budget-friendly to capture the special moments in life.

Sending Your Holiday Newsletter Just Got Easier

There’s no ignoring that the holidays are creeping closer. It’s time to take that family portrait, write those greeting cards and send our annual updates and well-wishes on their way to our loved-ones.

But if you’re like me, the idea of hand addressing 100+ cards to family and friends, and stuffing envelopes seems like madness.

But for just 60¢ each (when you order in bulk), sending a 4-page glossy family newsletter is much more fun and affordable and you can you can save the wasted hours and annoying paper cuts from stuffing envelopes.

We’ve created six holiday newsletter templates to get you started so you can spend more time enjoying a cup of hot cocoa and playing with the kids.

How it Works
A 4-page publication costs just 80¢ when ordered individually and drops to 60¢ when you order in bulk of 20 or more copies. So you can create a 4-page newsletter and ship them anywhere in the US for about $1.70. Better yet you don’t have to brave the crowds at the post office or lick a single stamp.

Using MagCloud’s “Ship to Group” Feature
The “Ship to Group” feature lets you mail publications to multiple recipients with a single order. That means you can design your newsletter, upload it to MagCloud, and let MagCloud handle distributing copies to everyone on your list.

Shipping each copy costs more than a USPS stamp, (it’s about $1.09 domestic) but when you consider each copy only costs you $0.60 (when you order 20 or more copies)–spending less than $1.70 for 4-full-color pages, delivered to your loved ones with just a few clicks of the mouse–is easily worth it!

If you need help working with Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Word, or Apple iWork Pages check out previous posts on working with each application in our  ‘tips and tricks’ section.

For a basic template that maximizes your space for a family newsletter, and gives you the ease of “Ship to Group,” check these out:

Preview the InDesign (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the InDesign CS4 or newer (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

Preview the Word (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the Word (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

Preview the Pages (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the Pages (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

Ship it Yourself:
If you prefer to put a little extra love into your mailing, want to sign your name, add a sticker or simply put a personal note in a few of your messages, then use one of the  “Fold and Ship” Holiday templates. These have an address area for you to adhere address labels and a stamp, and are intended to be folded to a 8.25″ x 5.375″ size and sealed so that they can be mailed with a 44¢ 1st-class stamp.

This template style requires that you order a bulk order to be shipped to youself, and then you handle folding them in half and mailing. While this process can save you a bit of money–these averages about $1.35 per letter–(depending on stickers, address labels and postage) it’s more time consuming.

Preview  the InDesign (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the InDesign CS4 or newer (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

Preview the Word (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the Word (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

Preview the Pages (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the Pages (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

How Do I Create a Group Order?

Simply create an address group in your MagCloud address book (Account>Address book>Add New Group). Name your group — clients, friends, family, vendors etc — and select group members from existing recipients in your address book.

Once your recipients and group are ready, add the newsletter to your cart. Set the quantity to the number intended for each recipient, not the total for all recipients. For example, if you are sending 1 copy to 20 recipients you should set the quantity to 1.

When you get to the shipping page, click “Select from Address Book »”, choose your address group and complete checkout. That’s it! Costs will be displayed for the total order including all recipients.

Can I upload my own mailing list to my MagCloud address book?

Not currently, but that is a feature we hope to offer in a future site update.

Have more questions about Shipping or Publishing through MagCloud?

Check out our Help Section and Shipping FAQ.

Create a Calendar with iWork’s Pages

Today we are focusing is on creating a calendar with Apple iWork’s Pages.

Hey PC users: check out yesterday’s post about using Microsoft Word, or check back tomorrow to see  how to use MagCloud’s Flickr Uploadr to create a super cool calendar with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Let’s get started with Pages.

I’m a new fan of Pages, (Apple’s design tool that comes in their iWork productivity suite) and if you are Mac user looking to do some basic design without spending a ton (iWork retails for just $79 at store.apple.com) it’s an easy program to use, and is great for projects like a family calendar.

You can create a lot of great looking calendars using the exact same template, just by making a few changes to fonts, color and pictures.

Preview Wedding Photography Calendar Preview Parma Photography Calendar on MagCloud Preview my Family Calendar on MagCloud

GETTING STARTED:

The template is already set up with 28 pages, so making a few customizations and saving the file as a PDF should be quick and easy!

Download the basic calendar template that I designed here, or at the bottom of this post, you can preview and download some of the variations that I created using the same template, by making a few modifications to the style sheet.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:
Because I designed this template for use with MagCloud, it’s already formatted to accomodate bleed and trim settings. This means you can just start modifying the style to fit your needs. Because this Pages template has a built-in Paragraph style sheet, it will be easy to keep a consistent style throughout your calendar.

Change view to “Facing pages”
This not only helps with visualizing layout, but also will help you keep the orientation of your photos straight when placing them in the document.

Styling your Calendar
Not making a family calendar? Then go through each page and make the necessary adjustments to layout and fonts. As I mentioned before, all of the above calendars use the exact same layout, with slight tweaks to the fonts and colors. It’s amazing how simple style changes can make a template your own. There are 3 styles in the template: “Title,” “Days of the Week” and “Numbers of the Month;” so changing these styles will transform the look of your calendar. Let’s get started!

Adjusting a Paragraph Style:

Show Font Window1. Expose the “Font Window” by selecting the “A” icon in the Toolbar (If for some reason you don’t see the toolbar at the top of your application frame, then Select VIEW >> Show Toolbar, then select the “A” icon)

Show Styles Drawer

2. Select a block of text that you wish to modify

3. Make desired changes to font, size, weight and color using the “Font Window.” As you make selections, you should see the font change on the page.

4. Expose the “Styles Drawer”

Redefine Style from Selection

5. Select the block of text again–notice how it highlights the selected style in the “Styles Drawer.”

5. Update your paragraph style sheet so that all of the subsequent uses of this style reflect the style changes. You can do this by either “right-clicking” or “ctrl+ click” on the name of the font style in your “Styles Drawer”, then select “Redefine Style from Selection.”

Adding Special Dates to the Calendar:

Half the fun of making your own calendar, is including special dates that are important to you. So, whether you are creating a calendar for your child’s sports team, and you want to include their match dates; or if you are creating a calendar for your family, and you want to include Birthdays and Anniversaries; or if you want to create a calendar for your business and include special events and sales– it’s easy to do.

Because the numbers of the month are dependent on one another, typing directly in the square won’t work. Instead, follow the instructions below to add text boxes to your calendar. (Tip: You can also use these steps to add captions to your photos)

1. Select the Text Box Icon from the Toolbar (it looks like a “T” in a box)–
this will create a small box that you can move around the page

2. Type the information (ie. “Mom’s Birthday” or”Ladybugs vs. ‘Lil Giants”)

Grabbing the corners of the frame, adjust the size to 1.4 x1.03. Grabbing the corner of the text box, adjust the size of the box to 1.4 x 1.0 (this way you can see how it will fit in the day’s square)

4. Adjust the size if the text so that it fits well inside the box and select your desired color and font.

Create New Paragraph Style

5. Highlight the text again.

6. In the Styles Drawer, hold down the “+” at the bottom of the menu and select “Create New Paragraph Style from Selection” (You can also select FORMAT >> “Create New Paragraph Style from Selection” from the application menu bar)

7. Name your new style. This makes it possible fro you to use this style for other dates as you add them to your calendar.

Rotate the Text Box using the Metrics Tab in the Inspector toolkit8. With the text box selected, go to the “Metrics” tab in the Inspector window; use the rotation settings to rotate the text 90º.

9. Drag the box to the appropriate date on the calendar page.

Tip: Save yourself some extra steps by copying and pasting this text box throughout the document. (Select the text box and use “command+ C ” and “command+ V” to copy/paste) Then you can change the text, but it will maintain the style, size and rotation.

Save your file as a “Template” for future uses

If you plan to create another calendar, be sure to save your personalized document as a template. It’s easy to do, just select “File> Save as Template.” This puts a copy of your file into the Pages Template Chooser so you can find it easily next time you launch the application.

Tip: Because your using a template to create your calendar, and have the power of HP MagCloud’s digital printing, there’s no reason you can’t personalize your calendars… Perhaps change the cover image for Aunt Margaret’s calendar? Or make one with more photos of the kids for you In-Laws? Or create calendars that cater to your clients or program sponsors… it’s up to you!

TURNING YOUR DOCUMENT INTO A PDF:
You’re done designing? Yay!
This part couldn’t be easier! Simply select “FILE>> Export.”
Leave the default settings for PDF, and save your file.

WANT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PAGES?

Apple’s Pages ’09 site

Apple Store: iWork $79

PREVIEW the modified templates:

Preview Wedding Photography CalendarPREVIEW Template modified for a wedding photographer on MagCloud

 

 

PREVIEW Template modified for the PopWarner Team on MagCloud

 

 

PREVIEW Template modified for a business (Venetian Glass Blowers) on MagCloud

 

 

Preview Parma Photography Calendar on MagCloudPREVIEW Template modified for Parma, Italy Calendar on MagCloud

 

 

Preview my Family Calendar on MagCloudPREVIEW Template modified for a family calendar on MagCloud

 

 

Easy Design with Templates in Apple’s [iWork] Pages

If you’ve been holding off on publishing through MagCloud because you didn’t have the design skills, couldn’t afford expensive design software and didn’t have a best friend who is a graphic designer, why not use a template in a more accessible application?

PC users, I apologize, as this post doesn’t apply to you, but Mac lovers: GET EXCITED.

With Apple’s iWork Pages it’s easy to make a MagCloud-ready PDF. Here in my second exploration of basic design software, I’ll dive into using Apple’s design tool that comes in their iWork productivity suite (retails for just $79 at store.apple.com) to create your MagCloud publication.

When you open Pages it will offer you a number of template options. Any designed to print full size on an 8.5”x 11” piece of paper are almost great starting points for creating MagCloud publications. A number of other sites also offer Pages templates, but for my example today, I’m going to use the standard “Program” template in the application’s “Template Chooser”.

The original Pages version is available here: Download original Pages Template and my MagCloud-ready version with a Southern California theme, is available here: Download Modified Template

GETTING STARTED:
To get started, you’ll want to find and open a template.

In this case I found mine in the “Template Chooser” within the Pages application. Because the template is designed for a US Letter sized paper (8.5” x 11”) it will be really easy modify for my own use.

CUSTOMIZING A TEMPLATE:
Apple’s Pages templates all come with built-in Paragraph and Character style templates which make it much easier to keep a consistent style throughout your publication.

Rather than start with a blank document, I always start with a template in Pages and modify it to suit my needs, this way I already have built-in paragraph and character styles.

*With this particular application, it’s my suggestion that you work on setting up your template before you start adding any of your content.

Add all pre-designed pages within the template
Within the template there are a number of layout styles available. In my example here there are eight (varying from a cover, table of contents, feature article and 4-column text page, etc).

The reason for doing this is that you want to see what’s available to you, and actually modify the “template” so that you can use it again and again, rather than having to copy and paste design elements repetitively throughout the design process.

Change view to “Facing pages”
This not only helps with visualizing layout, but also will help you decide which page styles are going to be right-hand pages and left-hand pages.

Add guides to pages and adjust layout for trim
Adding guides to the outside edges of each page will ensure that everything will fit inside the trim line). Because MagCloud trims its documents to 8.25” x 10.75” we are going to lose 0.125” inches off the top and bottom, and 0.25” off the outside edge. This means in order for our template to be centered on the printed page, we are going to have to adjust the content on the page. With your Rulers active and visible, you’ll want to drag guides into place (0.13 in from the top and bottom, 0.25 from the outside edges). Be sure when you are designing your templates that you are making a conscious decision as to which pages will be left-hand pages and which will be right-hand pages. It will help to name them as such when you “capture” the layouts in a later step.

Adjust style sheets to your needs
Not making a ‘Metropolitan Symphony Program?’ Then go through each page and make the necessary adjustments to layout and fonts. You’ll notice this is exactly the same layout, with different fonts and colors. Amazing how simple style changes can make a template your own.

Tip: After you have adjusted a font in the font menu, such as the headline, update your template style sheet so you can easily apply the same style again. You can do this by either “right-clicking” or “ctrl+ click” on the name of the font style in your “Styles Drawer”, then select “Redefine Style from Selection.”

“Capture Pages” for future use
Save yourself a lot of work in the future by establishing your own templates with your style/colors and fixed text. Once you have modified the provided pages in the template with your own fonts and colors, you can “Capture Pages” to use in your template over and over again. You can do this by “right-clicking” or “ctrl+ click” on the page thumbnails on the left margin or by selecting “FORMAT> Advanced> Capture Pages”


Tip: since you have adjusted your content for the trim settings, be sure to name pages accordingly, like “Left-Feature” or “Right-4 paragraph story”). To delete the old template pages, select “FORMAT> Advanced> Manage Pages.”

Commit to a page count and layout
Planning ahead will save you a lot of design time. You should come up with an outline for your publication before you start laying out pages or entering content. This is important because inserting one page at the front of your document will throw off the layout for all of the subsequent spreads. You should also take your layout into consideration when designing and capturing your template spreads, because certain content will be better suited for a right-hand or left-hand page layout.

Save your file as a “Template” for future issues
If you plan to have future issues with this same style, be sure to save your personalized document as a template. It’s easy to do, just select “File> Save as Template.” This puts a copy of your file into the Pages Template Chooser so you can find it easily next time you launch the application.

TURNING YOUR DOCUMENT INTO A PDF:
This part couldn’t be easier! Simply select “FILE> Export.” Leave the default settings for PDF, and save your file.

WANT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PAGES?

Apple’s Pages ’09 site

Apple Store: iWork $79

PREVIEW THE TEMPLATES ON MAGCLOUD

Original Brochure Template

Original Brochure Template with minor changes

Transformed Brochure Template with Southern California theme