Time - we've never got enough of it. Desktop publishers and designers are typically battling against huge workloads and impossible deadlines. If you've been in the industry long enough, chances are you already use some or all of the suggestions below. If you're new to desktop publishing, consider implementing some of these suggestions and save yourself a lot of grief and time wasted down the road!
Create your own templates
Most desktop publishers and designers have projects that they do over and over again such as business cards, letterhead, and brochures. Take the time to make your own templates for these projects. Set up your page sizes, crop marks, colour palettes, guides and margins in a template and you'll be one step ahead each time you start a typical project.
Use your software style sheets
For those of you who aren't familiar with style sheets, get familiar. Imagine typesetting a book that can be no more than 32 pages that turns into a 38 page monster. The most common way to get it down to size is to decrease the font size and tighten the leading. If you have section headings and headlines, you would have to go through and select each text block individually and reduce the sections one by one. Even then, the final sizing may not be right. If you've used your style sheets, which you'll find in virtually every word processor and page layout program, there's no problem. Simply go into your style sheet and specify new font sizes and leading for your different types of text and your software will automatically convert all the text in the document. If it doesn't fit the first time, it's a relatively simple matter to change the styles until your text does fit the specified number of pages.
Learn your shortcut keys
While you may not be able to retire your mouse, you can save a lot of time by learning your software shortcut keys. For instance, ctrl-Z in most applications specifies the "undo" command. Hitting these two keys is sure a heck of a lot faster than taking your hand of the keyboard, using your mouse to click on the Edit menu, and then selecting Undo. Most software packages specify shortcut key combinations for almost any repetitive action that is done - take the time to learn them!
Learn to "touch type"
Its amazing how many people who work with their fingers on the keyboard all day refuse to learn how to type properly. No matter how fast you can do the "two finger tap," you'll lose time every session you spend at the computer if you can't use your keyboard without looking at it. Also, it's not that hard to learn to type. Do 20 minutes a day of practice with a typing tutor software package and in a couple of months you'll be comfortable typing at 20-40 words per minute. That may seem like a big chunk of time, but if you save 10 minutes a day, every day you work at the computer, the investment will quickly pay off.
This shouldn't have to be mentioned, but its amazing how many people don't back up their work on a regular basis. This includes backing up while you're working and backing up your files when they're complete. Keep in mind that system crashes generally only occur at the worst possible moments, such as 10 minutes before a project is due and 20 minutes after your last "save." Make backing up a regular part of your routine and you'll be well rewarded for it.
Manage your fonts
If you don't already, start using a font utility to organize and load your fonts. Also, remember to limit the number of fonts you have loaded at any one time. If you have hundreds and hundreds of fonts loaded, it will bog down your system. Also, having all these fonts running will create an incredibly long drop down font menu that you have to scroll through every time you want to select a font.
With impossible deadlines and multiple clients or priorities, we often panic and try to work too fast. Keep in mind that a little time spent planning and laying out the foundation for a project will save twice as much time while you're working on it. [inset side="left" title=""]With impossible deadlines and multiple clients or priorities, we often panic and try to work too fast. Keep in mind that a little time spent planning and laying out the foundation for a project will save twice as much time while you're working on it. Before burning off at 100 miles per hour, at least make sure you're pointed in the right direction! [/inset]Before burning off at 100 miles per hour, at least make sure you're pointed in the right direction!
Before you start any job, make absolutely sure you have correct and complete specifications. If you're not positive what exactly is required, you may (and will, sooner or later), end up with a masterpiece that you can't submit because it's got the wrong layout or the wrong dimensions. Besides, if you get your client or employer to specify exactly what they want, you won't have to hear the all too familiar, "that's not how I wanted it to look." Unless you are being hired for an original design and are billing for design time, put the onus on the person requesting the work to be clear in what they want or pay the price in endless revisions
We strive to be as accurate and current with our information as possible. Due to the infinite number of scenarios that occur in print & desktop publishing, we can not guarantee that the above information will be correct in all situations.