Is your approval deadline coming soon? Then, you’d better read this.
Ooooh, that’s exciting! You’re almost there. But wait, there is just a last step before success. You have to proof and approve your book before it goes to print. You must be thinking: “Great… But what do I have to check exactly?”
Don’t worry! We’re here to help. We came up with this comprehensive guide to proofing your yearbook. Not only because we want you to feel relaxed and happy but also because we want you to have a full publishing experience – just like a pro. Take time to follow these steps and rest assured that your yearbook will shine like it never did before!
1 – Make sure all your team requests have been completed
During the yearbook creation process, you and your team might have noticed a few things like:
> The Principal has not approved his editorial yet
> The Deputy Principal’s photo is low resolution, please make sure to change it before sending to print.
> We’re not 100% sure of the names of John Smith and Sarah Connor on page 44.
Before checking anything else – even before you generate a PDF proof – we recommend you check if all those changes have been made. It took some effort for your team to review everything, you wouldn’t like to disappoint them with an embarrassing omission, right?
Have your team compile their requests on a shared document. This will be very handy to make sure everyone has been heard.
Visit the Proof and Approve section and check every single point mentioned by your team on the flipbook.
2 – Generate a PDF Proof
High quality printing requires professional equipment which also means respecting technical standards. In the printing industry, the PDF format is one of the most important ones: “each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, graphics and other information needed to display it.”
In other words, the PDF file is the final document our machines will analyse before bringing your book to life. That’s why you’re asked to approve a final PDF, in order to make sure that everything is printed as you want.
Good to know: our production team will double check any technical issues like page order, potential display bugs, bleed and crop marks.
3- Check the general design
> The basics
Once you’ve generated your PDF proof, you’ll have to open it in Acrobat Reader (or any other PDF viewer). We recommend you have a first overview to check the basics:
– Make sure all the pages are there and in the right order.
– If you have set up pages numbers, make sure they appear correctly.
Make sure you change the page display to Two Page View. This way, you’ll be able to see your pages in spreads – ideal to check alignements between your pages!
> The Danger Zone
Using the Danger Zone is crucial. In the first example below, we didn’t take the Danger Zone in consideration. As you can see, the content is in the red area, which is very close to the edge. On the second example, we fixed it so you can see the difference.
Why is it important to use the Danger Zone?
Because if you don’t, the content that is in this area might be chopped off during the production (or absorbed by the biding). Click on this link to know how to make the best use of the Danger Zone.
To make your content fit out of the Danger Zone, try resizing the photos, and reducing the font size or volume of body copy.
> Overlapping elements
Sometimes, layering elements on your page can add a nice design touch. However it is also important to make sure that elements, text boxes and images don’t disturb each other. In the example below, notice how the photo strip frame is almost touching the text. The text is also running off the white block and is hidden by the circle and the triangle elements on the bottom right.
To change the layer of an image, simply select your image and click on the options. Click on Back or Forward to move through the layers on your page.
> Text readability
With great freedom comes great responsibility. People try crazy things with text customisation and it could happen in your team. Readability should always be an important criteria in design, so make sure you check the following points:
> Font choice: keep it simple for the body copy and be creative with titles.
> Font size: is the text too big, or too small? Are there too many variations on the same page?
> Font colours: are the background and the font colours complementary? Is it still readable?
In the example below, we’ve used a bright colour on a bright background. Then, we changed the text colour to black. What looks more readable to you?
To change the colour of your fonts or blocks, simply select them and click the colour palette button.
> White space vs Clutter
“Why would I put only 3 photos when I can add 40?” That’s a common question for Fusion users, because the only limit is what you decide to do. Take any of your favorite magazines to see how layout design works. Photos are big and texts are short. There aren’t dozens of photos on the same page. They all have room to breathe.
Back to your book. Are your pages too crowded? Are the photos large enough? Is every single paragraph really worth the message you need to deliver? In the example below, you can see the difference.
If you have plenty of content about a topic, it’s always better to spread your article on multiple pages.
> Why alignement matters
If your blocks are not well aligned, your page won’t look totally finished. Take a look at any newspaper, book or magazine: alignement means professionalism. In the example below – and believe it or not it’s often the case on profile pages – you can tell that the first one doesn’t look as slick as the second one. What do you think?
To align your elements, select them one by one, resize and move them around using the guides that appear in the editor.
4- Check the cover
Your cover and your inside pages will come on separate PDF files. Why? Simply because they won’t be printed on the same paper and sometimes with different specifications. Proofing your yearbook cover remains essential: this is the first thing people will see of your book.
Here are the things you need to check on the front and back cover:
> The readability of your title and slogan (see text readability tips above)
> The spelling of every single word (especially your school name, the text on the spine and your school contact details).
> The resolution of the photos, illustrations and logos (please refer the photo quality checks a little further in this post)
5- Check your images
Your school memories are all about the images that are in the yearbook. This is the first thing everyone will look at on distribution day and they will probably do the same in 20 years. That’s checking your photos is so important. There are the details you want to look for:
> Example 1: check the photo resolution
Most people take pictures with their mobile phones. Which means there is a risk of poor quality. The best way to spot the low res photos is to open your high resolution PDF at 100%. It will give you an idea of what each photo will look like once printed. If a photo is too pixelated, you should replace or delete it, unless you can get your hands on a higher resolution version or you don’t have any other choice than keeping it like that. In this case we recommend you try reducing its size as much as possible can by selecting and resizing your image on the page.
> Example 2: check the cropping
Members of your team might have dropped their photos in the frames without paying attention to the cropping. If you think that a photo would deserve a better cropping, just do it. This is especially important on portraits where it’s nice to stay consistent.
> Example 3: fix stretched photos
On this example, you can see that the user has stretched the photo to make it fit in the frame, and it doesn’t look very professional. To fix it, simply double-click on the image and resize the photo while maintaining your keyboard shift button pressed.
> Example 4: fix photos that are too bright or too dark
A lot of people collaborated to this project. You received photos from dozens of people – tech savy or not – and some of their photos might be super bright or too dark. Well, you can use our photo editor to make them better for printing.
Advanced tip: you can also create your own effect and apply it to multiple photos to add some flair to your pages.
6- Check all the texts
What could be wrong with your texts? That one is pretty obvious. First, you want to get rid of any spelling, syntax or grammar mistakes. As your yearbook will be read by entire families, all of this needs to be perfect. Remember the yearbook is also representing the school. The rest is more about readability – again – and design. Make sure your team chose readable fonts for the body copy as well as contrasted colours. Finally, try to get rid of any orphans and widows. Those are the words that stand alone at the beginning or end of a column or paragraph (see example below).
Spelling, Syntax & Grammar
Readability of your copy
Orphans and widows
To proofread your texts, we recommend you print your PDF on your home or school printer. It will be easier to step back, see how your pages read and put some annotations.
7- Checking your profile pages
Checking the profile pages requires some help. Have each teacher proofread the profile section of their own class. They know the students, the spelling of their names and are the best placed to track any little mistakes. Here are the things you want them to check:
> Profile order: do you want to order the profiles by first name or last name? This is something you can fix in a single click when you generate a profile section.
> Spelling mistakes: if a mistake sneaks in, once the yearbook is printed, it will stay forever. Ask your faculty the official lists of students to compare – or ask teachers for help.
> Inappropriate content: simply type “funny yearbook quotes” in Google and see what you get. You’ll discover some stories that went far beyond the limits: explicit content, mean attitudes, etc. Before your yearbook gets some bad press, make sure everything is appropriate.
> Font size, number of photos, number of students per page, etc: if the questions and answers don’t fit properly on your page, you might have to change the specifications and regenerate your profile pages (see example below).
> Poor quality, bad cropping or missing photo: for the 2 first points, please refer above (photo checks). For the last one, please refer to the official student lists and double check with the teachers.
To make everything fit on the page, you can try to reduce the font size or the number of profiles per page.
Well, I think we went through the major steps! Last thing I would suggest is to keep an eye on your delivery date and approval deadline.
As reminder it takes 3 to 4 weeks for your yearbooks to be delivered after your final approval.
To proof your book in optimal conditions, I would advise you stop looking at it for a couple of days. This will allow you to take a step back and finish everything with a fresh state of mind. Then, follow the steps and don’t do everything at the same time: it’s better to check one point at a time – or to dispatch them within your team. Finally, try to involve people that have nothing to do with the project so you can have their feedback, fresh and honest opinions.
Fusion’s team is here to help! If you have any questions or doubts during the approval process, feel free to contact us. If you have any other comments or questions, please let me know below, I’ll answer right away. I hope this helps!
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