Submitting an Ad? Here are Guidelines

Conference season is now officially upon me! Now’s the time of year I really get into creating programs, booklets, banners and all manner of cool collateral for great gatherings of people. It’s also the time when my email box is filled with photography and advertising submissions for the collateral. Since sending files in the proper format makes a huge difference on the cost of the project, I now offer helpful guidelines to my conference planners. They, in turn, can share them with their advertisers.

Let’s take a look.

Research Your Media’s Specs

Magazines, newspapers and conference programs all are unique in their sizes, layouts and production. This means their advertising specs will also be unique. Contact your media publication and learn their requirements. Often you can find this on their website (look for advertising, advertising art, or other such listings). You can also contact their advertising department.

Here’s an example of the layout specs I listed for one of my recent projects.

Advertising guidelines, ad sizes

Design Your Ad in Designer’s Programs (Puleeeeze, No MS Word!)

Sometimes people create their own ads. Please, don’t create yours in MS Word! It goes without saying that whenever a graphic saved as a Word document comes to my email, I’m in for extra work—in fact, large advertising agencies won’t even accept such a file. MS Word does not transfer into the required professional printing mode. Even if you save your Word document as a PDF, it’s not guaranteed to preserve your layout, which, if you created in Word, certainly took a lot of time.

Remember this: MS Word is for words, not design!

What are designer’s programs? Any that allow you to create a color-separable document and save it as such. Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign are all design programs. So is QuarkXpress.

Easiest thing of all—hire a professional to design your ad. A true professional will research your media and provide you with files in the proper format. Often professionals will send the ad directly to the media, thus saving you the hassle of communicating with their advertising department.

File Format

Nowadays, even simplest of magazines or design agencies (that would be me) require electronic submissions in high resolution PDF format (300 dpi or more). Here’s an example of a simple list of specifications, by Fresh Cup magazine.

So what’s this high resolution stuff? I wrote about it here. Yes, it’s a little techie (maybe even boring), but if you’re into saving money this is something you need to read.

On the other hand, if the ad is for web, they may want it as a JPG or GIF.

Color Format

If your ad is for hardcopy print, submit it in CMYK. This means if your ad was created in spot or Pantone colors, you’ll need to convert it to CMYK (simply Google “convert to CMYK +InDesign [or whatever program you’re using] to learn how to do this—easy peasy)”. Some publications, like Food & Wine magazine, require you to send a previously printed proof to verify that their colors match yours.

If your print media requires grayscale, be sure to check that your black is truly 1-color grayscale and not a CMYK, or process black.

If your ad is for the web, submit it in RGB.

Font Format

Some highly detailed media make font requests as well. The ABA Journal accepts only PostScript (Type 1) fonts. Preservation magazine prefers fonts to be embedded by saving the file as a PDF/X-1a. Again, check with your media’s specifications.

And lastly, as a bit of a sidenote…

Your Photography is Your Image!

In one of my recent conference projects, a keynote speaker submitted a portrait photo for his full-page bio. It was of low resolution, looked like a mugshot… and…I do believe he took it with his computer (it showed in the catch lights of his eyes)! So funny. Except that, just like the advertising, not only does the quality of a photo represent the presentation, it also does the conference. You most certainly want it to be good!

So here’s the helpful instruction I included in this year’s advertising and photography specs—good ol’ George sure knew a thing or two about a good image!

How to pose for a good portrait


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