New Brochure Template for Adobe InDesign

Need a little help getting started creating your next brochure?  We have added a new brochure template to our free template collection.

This four page template is for Adobe InDesign users and is perfect for product or service brochures.  We’ve created a sample publication using this template to show you how easy it is to make a great looking brochure that is MagCloud-ready.

If you are new to using Adobe InDesign to create MagCloud-ready publications make sure to download our Adobe InDesign Getting Started Guide for tips on settings for trim, bleeds, image resolution and more.

Let us know what you think of the new template in our comments section below.

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.

Trends and Resources For Great Looking Business Collateral

How you tell your business story can be the difference between turning a lead into a new customer or just a lost opportunity.

Eye catching and compelling business collateral plays an important role in buying decisions.  According to Eccolo Media’s “2010 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report,” 83% of B2B technology purchasers say they had used brochures within the previous six months to evaluate a prospective purchase, 76% referred to white papers, followed by 67% who used case studies.

And great collateral isn’t just for big business, heavy investment in marketing collateral is also a key 2011 trend for Small Business as well.

So how do you create business collateral that stands out and gets your audience engaged?

1. Tell A Story.  Stories intrigue, keep our interest and help us convey information in an engaging way.  Conveying your brand promise or promoting your new product or service as a narrative helps your audience understand the possibility and gives them a call to action to learn more.  Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, offers some great insight into storytelling for business.

2. Bring Your Story To Life.  A story is more than words. You can use pictures, graphs, tables, screen shots, pull quotes from customers etc. − anything that will help visually convey your story, and underscore your viewpoint and competitive advantage.  There is a plethora of free tools to make creating charts and diagrams super easy.  If you want to push your story to a new visual level consider designing and incorporating infographics.  Infographics have been heavily used by B2C and B2B companies in the past few years to help convey complex information and trends.  Check out the Cool Infographics Blog, Weloveinfographics or Datavis for some infographic inspiration.

3. Invest in Design.  You don’t have to break your business piggy bank to design great looking collateral.  There are lots of desktop publishing applications that make brochure, newsletter, program and catalog design easy. Depending on your skill level and budget there is a spectrum of solutions including Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXPress, Apple Pages and Adobe InDesign.  Most of these programs also include templates or you can check out some of MagCloud’s free business templates as well.

4. Ask for Help.  If you are having trouble getting started there are lots of tutorials and resources to put you on the right path.  Microsoft for example offers a suite of tutorials for Publisher, there are forums for Adobe InDesign or head on over to Lynda.com for an array of business and software online courses. Or you can always consider outsourcing your business collateral design to a third-party or agency such as MagCloud partners HP Logoworks or Madison Ave. Collective.

5. Leverage the Web.  Printing and updating your business collateral no longer needs to be complex, time-consuming and expensive.  Thanks to new print on demand services like MagCloud you can upload a PDF of your collateral and have it printed and delivered to your customers without ever leaving your desk.  Need to change a product spec in your brochure or add a new offering to your catalog? No problem, simply upload a new version of your PDF.  The web also offers you the flexibility to take the same PDF you use for print and make it available digitally for reading on a PC or mobile device giving your audience choice.  Once you have your printed or digital publication ready, it’s easy to build an online marketing plan around it.  Make your content readily accessible and easy to share not only via your website but wherever your audience would be most receptive to your message–social networks, forums, blogs etc.  You spent all that time and effort creating it so don’t forget to make it easy to find.

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great looking brochures, newsletters, event programs and catalogs published on MagCloud, so we thought we would share a few of our favorites to help inspire you.

Axses Travel Platform

Cubic Machinery

High Points Promotional

Natural Homes

Overland Sourcebook

Toobydoo

Share any great resources or tips you’ve found useful in creating your business collateral in the comments section below.

It’s All About the Wordplay: 6 Typeface dos and don’ts

We’ve all seen over-designed documents that at times make us cringe.

Most often the offending design element is an extreme font choice, or font overload with too many fonts used throughout the document. Poor typeface choices can make a document hard to read or unprofessional looking. So, if you are looking to keep a professional look, without compromising personality, it’s important to select the right fonts for your publication. And while there aren’t any hard/fast rules for selecting fonts, here are a few guidelines that we think may help you on your way.

1. Follow the Rule of 3
The only quantitative rule for design is the “Rule of 3.” When you start tweaking the fonts of your document, be sure to apply no more than three typefaces per design (or page). That’s not to say that you can’t use multiple styles within a font family (i.e. Neutra Bold for headlines and Neutra Thin for photo credits), just be mindful of not mixing too many typefaces and styles–fight the temptation to blend Impact, Courier, Lucinda and Trebuchet in the same document. While there might be a few exceptions to this rule, it’s a good sanity check, to ensure that you don’t go overboard and over-complicate your design. And as a good rule of thumb, you should probably just avoid Papyrus and Comic Sans. Always. Just take our word for it.

2. Choose a fitting font for your audience.
Be sure to choose a font that matches the tone and audience of your document. For example, Matt Mattus’ Plant Society a gardening blogazine has a different readership and “feel” than this corporate report. Both of these documents are well tailored to their target audience. Something like a gardening magazine might use a more fun and light serif font, whereas the business would find it more appropriate to use a more structured sans-serif font.

If all of this is sounding French to you, that’s because it is! In typography, serifs are the sometimes curly details (they look a bit like feet) on the ends of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface and a typeface without serifs is called sans-serif, from the French word sans, meaning “without.”

But enough with the French lesson, let’s take a look at some examples:

3. Avoid hard to read fonts.
Some decorative fonts are designed to only be used for headlines or even just drop caps. Be sure when you select a fancy or script font, that you use it sparingly, and that you can still read it. If you can’t read the type, you can be sure your audience won’t bother to try. Also avoid WordArt, which while fun to play with, is very difficult to read.

4. Use contrasting text for headlines and body text.
It’s important to define the segments of your document, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces so your reader is inclined to read it in its entirety. One way that you can do this is by clearly identifying headlines from your body paragraphs. For example, you might use a bold sans-serif heading font with a plain serif body text font. You generally don’t want to mix two similar typefaces as they won’t provide enough contrast.

5. Eliminate excessive emphasis in your text.
You should be able to emphasize the words without excessive use of bold, italic or underlines. As you are designing, zoom out and look at the page from a distance. If your text is littered with tons of bold segments, italics and underlines, you might want to rethink what you’re doing.

6. Be consistent.
Consistency is key to building a brand style, or just having a stronger, more professional-appearing message. If your headings are set in a particular font, size and color, don’t switch it midway through a document, unless you have a good reason for it. The best way to maintain consistency through a multipage document, or from document to document, is to set style sheets.

Each software program handles style sheets differently, so if you aren’t sure how to use them you may want to visit your software developer’s help section for a tutorial. Time spent learning how to use style sheets will be a great investment for your future designs.

Just remember to keep it simple.
When all is said and done, the important thing to remember is to keep it simple. And simple doesn’t have to mean boring, but instead discerning–keeping an editor’s eye on your design and font selections, so that your message doesn’t get lost in your design.

Do you have more typography suggestions? Share them below in the comments!

Give Your Microsoft Publisher Documents the Pro Treatment

Take your Microsoft Publisher documents to a new level with professional quality print and digital distribution.

Create professional looking print and digital publications you can send to clients, colleagues, friends and family with Microsoft Publisher and HP MagCloud.

Order 1 or 1000 copies and we will print and ship them anywhere in the world. You can even make your publication available in digital format for easy viewing on any computer or mobile device.

Simply export your Microsoft Publisher file to PDF, upload it to MagCloud and we’ll take care of printing, distribution and shipping so you can focus on the important stuff…creating great content.

Need a little help creating your publication and getting it ready for professional printing?  We offer step-by-step instructions and templates specifically for Microsoft Publisher users to get you started.

Brochure Template 1
Brochure Template 2
Brochure Template 3
Brochure Template 4
Catalog/Portfolio Template 1
Catalog/Portfolio Template 2
Catalog/Portfolio Template 3

So whether you are creating a business portfolio, company brochure, customer newsletter or product catalog, Microsoft Publisher and HP MagCloud will take your publication from concept to printed publication with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Let us know in the comments section how you are using Microsoft Publisher and MagCloud.

The Importance of Layouts and Templates

Whether you’re a design newbie, or a seasoned veteran, sitting down to create a new publication can be a daunting task. There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at a blank page, feeling stuck, and unsure of where to begin. It’s often easier to change things that don’t work for you, than to completely start from scratch, which is why we suggest starting with an existing document. It can be the design of a similar publication, or a simple template that has preloaded margins, column guides and style sheets, that you can quickly adjust for a head start. The advantage of dong this, it that the basics of the page are already in place so you can focus on your content and styling.

Why use a template?

Whether you are creating a 12-page or 120-page publication, if you plan to create a series with the same style, you’ll definitely want to invest the time to develop style sheets, and come up with a few layouts that you can repurpose each time you publish. This will help you keep a visual consistency not only throughout each publication, but also from publication to publication over time.

Some of our publishers have done a great job of this, and you can see how it helps reinforce their brand to have consistent styling throughout each publication.  Check out a few issues of Hacker Monthly or Livestrong, or portfolios by professional photographer David Livingston and you will see what we mean. Each of these publishers have developed a consistent style using templates that is unmistakably and identifiably their own.

Not an expert at design? No problem. Using a professional-looking template can increase your credibility, and make any publisher look like a pro. Find a template that has a style that resonates with you and use it as a springboard to get yourself started. You can see some great examples of this in our blog post Easy Design with Templates in Apple’s [iWork] Pages, where we turned a basic Symphony Program into a business services guide for an event planning company, a sports team yearbook, and a fashion magazine, with just a few changes in font, colors and photography.

Finding Templates
Where to look and what to look for…

Some software comes equipped with built-in templates, and you can also find great free and paid templates online at the companies’ websites, like Microsoft has for Word and Publisher here, or Adobe has for InDesign at Adobe.com

Still can’t find what you need? Other resources exist where you can buy specific designs for your needs and many of these sites make their templates available for a variety of design programs like Inkd and Stocklayouts.com.

When picking your templates, there are a number of things to consider for your publication:

1. Is this template for an 8.5″ x 11″ document? If it’s designed as a 17″ x 11″ spread, do I know how to adjust it to the right size?

2. What sort of page-layouts are included in the template?

3. Does the template have the right ratio of graphics to text for my needs?

4. Are there hidden layouts that I don’t see? * Hint: if you are using iWorks Pages, there probably are!

5. Does the style suit the audience I am trying to reach? If not, is it easily changed with a few font/color tweaks?

6. Don’t feel restricted by the stock photography or color palette used in a template. Keep in mind our example of the Symphony Program being transformed into a fashion magazine or an event planner’s business collateral

7. Ask yourself, “This template isn’t designed for my specific use-case, but does the overall layout and feel fit my purpose? Could I transform it into something that works?”

Ready to customize your template?
A few tips for making any template fit your needs.

– Unless you get a template directly from our blog, you will likely have to alter some of their settings to accommodate MagCloud’s printing requirements. Before you start making any edits to your template, be sure the document settings match those in the MagCloud Help Section.

– When you make changes to fonts and colors, always do this by editing the font or paragraph style sheets. This way, if you don’t like a change that you have made, it will be easy to adjust and will change that style use on all of the pages of the template.

– Always start with the original file and make 2 or 3 versions, each with different fonts or colors. Then save each as it’s own template so that you can compare them and easily decide which one you like best.

Ready, Set, Start Publishing!

Now that you have your template selected, it’s up to you to make it your own. Need a bit of extra help? Check out our other Tips & Tricks blog posts, or visit the help sections of your software’s site. Many of them have great how-to resources and videos to help you on your way.

Adobe InDesign

Microsoft Office

iWorks Pages

Put MagCloud to Work

You heard that right. MagCloud can help bring your professional projects to life in print and digital. Our service is a great way to showcase your work to customers, clients, colleagues, partners etc.

Besides magazines, we’ve seen a variety of creative ways that MagCloud customers have used our service for their most demanding business needs.  So whether you are creating a portfolio for client meetings, company brochure, customer newsletter or product catalog, MagCloud will take your publication from PDF to printed magazine and digital download with just a few clicks of the mouse. Planning an event? We’ve got you covered there too. Our event planners and marketing customers have utilized MagCloud to print event souvenir programs, meeting programs, handouts and brochures. You can even publish your workshop manuals with us too.

Whatever the purpose – fun, commemorative, professional or informational – there are no boundaries to the way people are using MagCloud. Let us bring your story to life. MagCloud can help promote your company, products and services in both professional quality print format or digitally for viewing on a PC or mobile device. Whether you are ordering 1 or 1000 copies, MagCloud will ship your business documents to customers and colleagues all over the world. Visit magcloud.com/work and learn about the many ways we can help you make your next gallery exhibit, client meeting, workshop, convention and fundraising event that much better.

What other ways do you use MagCloud? Share your past, current projects and future ideas in the comment section below.

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