Working with a Designer

Posts to help you work seamlessly with your designer or pick up some DIY tricks yourself!

Tips for prepping your document to work with a designer

Bringing a designer in on your document is a smart decision to make your materials look super professional and clean. Your audience will take you more seriously with just a little bit of design magic and your message will be presented in the best possible way.

But starting to work with a designer can be super intimidating for some people and you may not know what to expect or how to prepare. Here are my top tips on getting your content ready for our collaboration.

Have your text as final as possible.

Major revisions to content after I receive it slows the process down for everyone. I work hard to get layouts of pages perfect the first time around, so if you’re rearranging or rewriting text after I’ve done a draft, it can take a significant amount of time to fix (and may result in an additional fee). I love being involved early in your process to coach you on features you can consider for your document, but by the time you hand content over to me to get started, it should be pretty final.

Get organized.

We’ll probably be working from a shared Dropbox folder (unless you have a different system you prefer), since you may need to be sending multiple files over. Be sure to upload all of the items I ask for before we get started, since missing a file can halt the layout process until it’s found! I’ll be detailing those files in the following steps.

Present text in a Word document instead of a PDF.

Sending over a PDF of your document instead of the native program file you wrote it in can cause delays in laying text into the design. Copying content out of a PDF can cause some weird issues, so whenever possible, provide me with the Word, Google doc, or text file to get started. If we’re working on a document that you only have a PDF for (maybe something that was written awhile ago or by someone else in your company), as long as the text is selectable, it’s still possible, but it’s best to know that up front.

Don’t worry about formatting your Word document.

I’ll tell you a secret: you really don’t have to worry about making your Word document look great before I receive it. Remember, that’s my job! I copy and paste all of your text into another program and none of that formatting carries over. I’ll refer back to your file as I start formatting the new document, so go ahead and italicize or bold things that you know you want emphasized in the new text, but please don’t spend your precious time tinkering with heading size, font or color.

Clearly label the parts of your document.

While you don’t have to waste your time on formatting, please do make it obvious what different parts of your document are. You can use brackets to label things like headings and subheadings and if you have special features like pull quotes or sidebars, include them below the paragraph you’d like them to be near like so: [Sidebar: Top ten reasons to hire a Realtor, 1 content 2 content 3 content] You can also specify where figures or tables go using brackets as well: [Insert graph from County Population Migration.xls here]

Include files for your figures, graphs and tables when possible.

Speaking of those Excel files, send them on over. I like pull the data natively from those files rather than from a Word document, since it allows me to do some good stuff like cleaning up colors on charts or saves me TONS of time in recreating tables. Pulling from the Word document limits my options, so if you have the Excel data, please share!

Include any company files that are to be used as visuals.

Be sure to share any logos, headshots or stock photography that you need included. If you had any professional photography done that you’d like featured or previously purchased illustrations, be sure to include all of those files for me to use. If you have maps or other figures that are specific to your content (that you have permission to use), share those as well!

If I’m sourcing your visuals, let me know what direction to go in.

I happily do photo and illustration research for my clients, since it is often easier for me to picture how I might use a picture within a page. However, it saves a ton of time for you to give me some general ideas of what visuals you want. Examples: “we’d like quirky illustrations of the beach, the mountains, and a city to showcase our vacation packages” or “I’d like some photography of computer components, but no faces or hands shown.” The more specific you can be, the quicker we’ll get to your visuals. And if your company or organization has a membership to a stock site (or there’s an industry-specific source of visuals that I may not know about that you’d like me to search), that is also great to have!

So there you have it. Provide the native files, clearly labeled and any supporting files and we’ll be on our way to creating you a sleek and impressive document!

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