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The ninth edition of our annual Spindogs magazine BARK was launched just a couple of months ago (you can read it here). With a new design style and more pages than ever, we’ve been having a lot of questions around what it takes to create your very own publication. What better way to get the inside scoop than direct from the designer who pulled together issue 9?! We’re handing you over to our very own in-house print designer, Natasha Manns.

Read on to find out what key considerations you should be making when beginning your next project.

Tash | Spindogs

What information do I need before starting a magazine or brochure?

The most important place to start when briefing a designer is to have a clear brief that outlines the desired outcome. Consider how many pages, page orientation and dimensions you may require. This may be determined by your budget if you plan on having this printed instead of publishing as a digital publication but having this information in mind is key when beginning your project.

OK, I have a brief, what else do I need?

You’ve finalised your brief and planned how many pages you want but there are still a few more things to consider before you get designing.

Content: Before you begin it’s really useful to have as much of the content as possible. The copy is the most important part of any publication, without this it’s hard to get started. The amount of copy per page will also have an influence on the creative for each page. It’s also important to ensure all copy has been proofread before supplying – this will help reduce any further amends down the line which may end up being costly and less time effective.

Brand Guidelines: To ensure your project is kept within brand guidelines, supply your designer with these so they have a document containing any font, colours and placements. Before you embark on your new project it’s a good time to review any brand guidelines you have and supply these to your designer so they can become familiar with the brand. Once supplied, your designer can make a start by setting up the document in the correct design program and away we go.

Assets: Do you have a list of assets you would like to include in your project? This could be professional high res photography, but also assets for your brand such as logos, colour palette and fonts. By collating and supplying your designer with a folder will make the whole process a lot more seamless.

What’s the best way to find inspiration?

There are vast amounts of design blogs and online portfolio platforms available that showcase countless projects by designers and agencies. Behance, Dribbble, Creative Boom and Designspiration to name a few. We have a huge selection of design books for different areas of design, whether it’s stationary, print campaigns or branding etc. Plus, we also collect any printed literature we’ve picked up at shops or been sent via the post because we like a particular style of design or simply the paper stock.

Keeping an eye on what’s out there will provide you with an endless supply of inspiration.

What are your top tips for pulling it together?

When working with print it’s always important to remember the page count must be a multiple of 4. This is because the pages will be printed on a large sheet that holds 8, 16 or 32 pages, which depends on the size of the printed brochure. This helps to ensure we don’t end up with any blank pages.

A minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch) images are essential when it comes to print. Printing images at a lower dpi resolution will result in a low quality and pixelated finish.

Check the print ready preflight panel for any low res images, missing links, RGB colourways or anything that is flagged as an error

Creating a print ready checklist is always a handy way of making sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

When my magazine is ready to be printed how do I know what paper weight is best?

Picking the right paper is just as important as the design itself. Paper can have a big impact on the finished product.

Coated or uncoated paper –

  • Coated paper has a smooth finish and comes in a variety of finishes, like matte, semi-matte, silk or gloss. The ink sits on top and it doesn’t get absorbed into the paper, which makes the colours punchier and brighter. This paper is particularly used for photography or if you want a glossier finish to a brochure or leaflet.
  • Uncoated paper feels more natural and rougher than coated. This paper is usually used for books, newspapers, stationery as the ink is easily absorbed into the paper.

It’s not just the finish you need to think about but also the weight. Paper weight is measured in GSM (Grams per square metre) which is a measurement of paper thickness. So, the higher the GSM, the thicker the paper.

Here are some common paper weights:

  • 300gsm – business cards or postcard
  • 180gsm to 250gsm – magazine cover
  • 130gsm to 170gsm – magazine pages and promotional posters
  • 80gsm – standard office paper
  • 35gsm to 55gsm – everyday newspapers

Depending on budget, you can also get a range of finishes to your brochure or magazine.

These range from lamination, matte lamination, gloss lamination, soft touch lamination, UV varnish and spot UV. Spot UV is a particularly nice touch if you want to make specific areas glossy to create a contrast on the cover of your magazine.

So, in a nutshell, that’s how we approach our design process for BARK. If you’re ready to start your magazine or brochure for your business we hope these tips have helped, but of course, get in touch below if you’d like us to help you plan your next project.

How can we help?