How to Set Up Tri-Fold Brochures that Fold Correctly

If you layout your 8.5 x 11 brochure for a tri-fold by splitting your page into 3 equal columns, it will NOT fold correctly. Text and images will appear off center once folded on several of the panels. The thickness of the paper during the fold must be accounted for to achieve a finished panel that is centered. The panels on the inside, being a mirror image in placement of the ones on the outside, must also be offset an equal but opposite (in the other direction) amount. The amount of offset, however, can vary depending on if you are printing on text weight, cover stock, or other paper types. Below you will find a general setup that works for a tri-fold brochure. (With InDesign, multiple page sizes are supported within one document so you can set up your different sized panels there as a 6 page document as well).

How to set-up a tri-fold, 8.5 x 11 brochure:

Allow a .375” margin on all four sides of the paper (unless you are sure you are printing on oversized paper to accommodate a bleed.) Two panels are 1/16” larger than the third. Pages 1 & 2 of your document must be set up INDIVIDUALLY with different panel widths, being mirror images of each other – see the diagrams below. Unless you are using heavy paper, an amount more than 1/16” will be far too much for a fold allowance.

The FRONT COVER or outside panels:

Panels 2 & 3 must be slightly larger than Panel 1.

Brochure Trifold



Panels 1 & 2 must be slightly larger than Panel 3 (the mirror image of the outisde setup)

Trifold brochure dimensions
Dimensions for the inside panels of a Tri-Fold brochure
Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, high impact marketing solutions.


Web Safe Fonts and the Current State of Internet Typography

Traditionally, when designing a website only certain fonts were available for use. These fonts earned the title “web safe fonts” because these fonts were installed on almost everyone’s computer. So back in the day, web designers and developers were limited to a list of boring, standard fonts. Some of these fonts included classics such as:

Arial Verdana Helvetica Comic Sans
New York Times
Impact Lucida Console
Palatino Linotype
Georgia Courier New

As you can imagine, this made for quite a dull user experience and was somewhat depressing for website designers as there was little room for typographical creativity.

Out With the Old, In With the New

But as all things go in life, things have changed and the state of website typography is quite different and very exciting! With font-serving applications such as Google Web Fonts and Typekit, the race is on to give a little bit of life to your website copy.

TypekitGoogle Web FontsBy utilizing such these font-serving applications, which are free to use with a few limitations, creating a beautiful website that uses rich typography is not in the distant future anymore… the time to incorporate beautiful web typography is now!

If you would like to get with the times and integrate beautiful typography into your existing website, contact ImageSmith at 828.684.4512 or fill out our contact form to get started. As always, we earn our stripes by helping you earn yours!

Rack Cards – 6 Tips to Rack Up Profits

Rack cards are one of the most concise, effective and affordable marketing tools to put information into the hands of your customers. You can maximize their impact by keeping a few key issues of content and design in focus. Include a QR code, and you have bridged the gap between your printed marketing and your online presence.

High Impact, Low Cost, Full Color – The Benefits of Rack Cards

Rack Card Full Color
Full Color, Low Cost, High Impact Rack Cards

The very simplicity and size of rack cards make them a powerful, straightforward marketing tool. Standard rack card size is 4″ x 9″, suitable for easy display in high traffic areas and convenient to pick up and carry. They also fit nicely into a #10 envelope for mailing. Eyecatching color and graphics can work to ensure your content is noticed. Some rack card subject ideas include: company overviews & introductions, mission statements, sales events & promotions, specific product information,  announcements, and informational/educational content. They should also encourage connection to online content and purchasing.

6 Tips for Designing & Printing Rack Cards

The size of rack cards encourages you to be specific about the information you include – keeping content focused, clear and effective. Here are a few tips for creating your layout – some are common to all printing projects, some unique to rack cards:

  1. Maximize use of color and photographs. You only have a second to catch the eye of a consumer passing your rack card display and you will want to make the card something they pick up and enjoy visually. The top portion of the card needs to include either your logo or the title of the card’s content, and an eye-catching colorful image. Maximize use of unique, original photos of your business or subject matter, minimizing use of stock photography when possible. A good tip for inspiration: visit rack card displays and notice the cards that pop out and make you want to pick them up — study those!
  2. Brand your work. Rack cards are a “high touch” marketing tool, and many people will see your card, even if they do not pick it up and carry it with them. It is essential your rack cards are designed to maintain the standards of your brand in both color, quality and content. To select a generic template online that does not match your brand, or to throw together a quick layout may save you money in the short run, but will establish a perception that is confusing and/or negative to many potential clients or customers.
  3. Focus your content. Before you begin to write copy, be clear about the message you want to relate and your target audience. A specific message, directed to a specific type of consumer, increases your card’s chances of being picked up and remembered. Practice defining the subject of your copy in five words or less. If you can’t do it effectively, you need to narrow the focus of your subject matter.
  4. Don’t limit print with low-tech assumptions. Printed pieces are a time-proven means of getting your information into the public. But they can now be the essential link between a hands-on contact and your online marketing. Use QR codes on your cards to drive traffic to online promotions or websites. You can then track exactly who, by clicking their smartphone’s camera, is coming to your site, and judge the effectiveness of your rack card promotion. At the very least, include your web address and direct people to find you online.
  5. Multipurpose. A run of rack cards can and should be used in several different ways to maximize their effect. You can arrange a display at your business and find as many appropriate places as possible in public areas to display your cards. Ask vendors, neighboring businesses, and related but non-competitive businesses if you can leave some cards in their lobby. Also, use the cards for bulk, targeted mailings.
  6. Don’t forget to include the basics… and proofread! You have limited space left after your photos and branding but you need to include the information a potential customer will need to contact you. Include a map (they are easy to get your hands on these days) to your location. If you want to push traffic to your website instead, replace the map with a LARGE version of your web address and a QR code. Phone numbers, fax numbers, mailing address… check and double-check for errors. The amount of waste due to one misplaced character is incalculable.
Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on rack cards, and more useful tips on how to create custom, high impact marketing solutions.

Targeted Mailings Maximize Your Return

Direct Mail – How to Ensure You Get the Most “Bang For Your Buck”

Direct Mail Art
Direct Mail, a vital part of cross-media marketing campaigns

Direct mail is still a great way to reach your customers and prospects. Web-based marketing (e-newsletters, Facebook, etc) is a great addition, but printed pieces still prove to get the best return. However, with postage rates increasing, you’ll want to narrow down the mailing list to get the most “bang for your buck”.

Eye-Opening Statistics

Research by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) shows:

  • 73% of consumers prefer direct mail over email, 18% prefer email
  • 79% of households read or skim their “junk” mail
  • Spending on direct mail is expected to increase 3.6% by 2014

(Read more: Mythbusting: Is Direct Mail Dead? | National Mail Order Association)

Researching Your Market

The trick to a successful direct mailing is to do a little market research to determine who is your target audience:

  • Geographic Qualifiers – where does your target audience live/do business? In your state, county, zip code… or maybe within 1 mile of your location?
  • Demographic Qualifiers – who makes up your target audience? What is their age, gender, household income… are they homeowners?

Once you have these questions answered, call or e-mail ImageSmith to do a FREE list search for you. We can tell you how many contacts are in your target list and the cost for purchasing the list. Then let us design, print, and mail your campaign… all Under One Roof!

We know direct mail, and we want to show you the benefits of integrated marketing – call us at 828.684.4512 or check us out online.

White Lines in Your PDF?Don’t Worry, They Won’t Print.

One of the most common questions we hear in the PrePress Department concerns those pesky “white lines” that are visible on screen in pdf files. The bottom line on the lines is:

  • they are a display-only apparition – called “stitching”, they will not print
  • you can make adjustments to your display in Acrobat to remove them
White Lines PDF
Transparency used in the drop shadow creates “stitching” visible when flattened for PDF/x-1a.

The Long Answer: Complex Issues of Transparency

Transparency has been available in page layout programs for quite some time now. The problems arise when you realize that PostScript – the language that is used by imaging devices for offset printing and many desktop printers – does not understand transparency AT ALL. At some point in the process from desktop to plate, transparency must be “flattened”. This can be a very complex, though behind-the-scenes, process whereby all your content containing transparency that was created in PhotoShop, Illustrator, and a page layout program is transformed into “PostScript-legal” content that can be read and correctly imaged by a RIP, yet still “looks” transparent. You may not know any of this is occurring, but it must happen in order to print.

The PDF solution

If your file is not for print (and you are not concerned about file size), there is no reason to ever flatten the transparency – the white lines will not plague you. PDF files since version 5.0 can contain “live” transparency – as Adobe realized pdf files can be optimized for uses other than printing. If your files are destined for print, however, you need to create PDF/x-1a files. These are optimized for Acrobat 4.0, and for PostScript output. Now, this is where the dreaded “white lines” issue arises. The process of flattening to create this file “cuts up” your page content into pieces or atomic regions, and these appear to have tiny white gaps between them. THERE IS NO GAP! The “pieces” fit perfectly together. (In fact, you could probably never print any lines that fine on an offset press anyway due to dot gain.)

White Lines  PDF Prefrences
Adjust Preferences to hide “Stitching” lines.

The Visual Fix

Now – if print is not your issue, but you simply want to view the pdf WITHOUT the white lines showing, go to your Acrobat Preferences, and in the Page Display Tab UNCLICK “Smooth Line Art” and “Smooth Images”. By doing this, you will create another problem — if you had turned any of your text to outlines, that will now display poorly and pixellated. Again, it will NOT print that way. These are just unfortunate side effects of bridging the gap between software that handles transparency and PostScript imaging language that does not.

You will find plenty of insight in the Adobe forums from users just like yourself who were left wondering “How do I get rid of these stupid white lines?!”

ImageSmith knows the pitfalls and common stumbling blocks when moving from desktop to offset – call us at 828.684.4512 for smooth guidance on your next print project.

How to Handle Spam and Email Scams

There is nothing more frustrating than a full inbox, especially when most of the emails are unsolicited spam from shysters overseas. Often times they will send professional looking emails, acting as a professional representative of a reputable company.

For instance, a company called Domain Registry of America (DROA) has been scamming for years. In 2003 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint on DROA for deceptive practices. Yet DROA and others are still at it, sending spam to the masses trying to gain control over domain names.

How Do I Combat Spam?

Mark as Spam in Your Email Program/Client

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to stop these emails from appearing in your inbox. The best way to handle these emails is to simply ignore them, mark them as spam in your email client, and delete them from your email completely. If you ever have doubt or feel you need help figuring out if the email is legitimate, don’t hesitate to ask a person who is more savvy than you are. Also, try a Google search for the company or the “from” email address and look for other people posting about the scam and their experiance with that particular company or email address.

File a Complaint to the FTC

If you wish to take action you can file an official complaint the FTC on their website. To file a complaint with the FTC, visit

GO GREEN – Conservation Stamps Promote Sustainability

At Imagesmith, we work toward sustainability in our business every day. As a provider of mailing services, we are happy to see that the U.S. Postal Service shares that commitment and is promoting social awareness with their latest stamps: “Go Green.”

Energy & Resource Conservation


USA Go Green Postage Stamp
Use 'green' stamps to highlight your commitment to the environment.

The sheet of 16 Forever stamps was issued on April 14, 2011 and highlights simple messages for energy conservation: sharing rides, using public transportation, turning off lights and leaky faucets, recycling, use of energy-efficient lightbulbs, and other easy practices everyone can implement. When you use these stamps on your personal mail or business communications, you both show your interest in sustainability and help promote awareness of the things everyone can do to help.

A History of Conservation

The press release from the USPS about these stamps and the first-day-of-issue ceremony, explains how the organization has a long history of conservation and sustainability. Their first electric vehicle? 1899! The USPS operates over 44,000 alternative fuel capable delivery vehicles today and are the only mailing/shipping company in the world whose stamp and shipping supplies earned “Cradle to Cradle” Certification, meeting standards for human and environmental health and recyclability.

The “Go Green” stamps can be ordered online at

ImageSmith offers complete business mailing services – give us a call at 828.684.4512 or contact us online for great information on ways to save money on your next marketing/mail campaign.

USPS Postage Rate Increase

April 17, 2011 saw a postage rate increase from the U.S. Postal Service for a number of mail classes. Here is a quick overview of changes that might affect you:

Postage Rate Increases

Direct Mail Art
Direct Mail, a vital part of cross-media marketing campaigns
  • While First Class Letters (single piece, one ounce) remain at $0.44, the cost of additional ounces increased from $0.17 to $0.20.
  • Postcard rates rose by one cent from $0.28 to $0.29.
  • Charges increased for special services like Signature Confirmation, Certified Mail and Registered Mail.
  • Business Mailers will see increases and changes to Standard Mail, Periodicals and Package Services.

Express Mail and Priority Mail prices remained the same (they were increased just this past January). Increases, by law, are limited to the Consumer Price Index cap of 1.7 percent, and come in response to decreased mail volumes and reported losses of $8.5 billion in the fiscal year 2010 for the USPS. A current price schedule can be found at the USPS website – or for a fast estimate of your mail costs check out the Postage Calculator on our website.

Mailing rules and pricing from the USPS are complex and intricate. Call on ImageSmith at 828.684.4512 for any advice or questions you may have about our mailing services and how we can save you time, hassle and money! It’s one of the ways we earn our stripes!

How To Optimize Pictures For Your Website

What Is Image Optimization?

When you take a digital picture, the file size of the picture depends on the camera. Most cameras and smart phones produce high quality pictures and the file size tends to exceed 2 megabytes (Mb), and this size is to large for the web. So, in order to make the picture suitable for the web, you must use image editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, to optimize the image. When you optimize an image, you are compressing the image and making it smaller in file-size, but keeping the overall quality of the image.

Nowadays companies have more control over the content on their company website. Here at ImageSmith we develop DotNetNuke websites for our clients and teach them how to log in and make changes to the copy, create additional pages, and upload images. One problem that our clients run into is that they tend to upload very large images which take a long time to load.

Free Image Optimization Solutions

There are a few places on the internet that provide image optimization for free. The objective is to keep the image file-size under 100 kilobytes (k). Images under 100k will render fast enough for all connection speeds. Here are a few of my favorite sites for free image optimization applications:

  • Image Optimzer – Using this free online service, you can re-size, compress and optimize your image files.
  • Smush.It – Uses techniques specific to image format to remove unnecessary bytes from images.
  • Web Resizer – This free online image Web Resizer helps you optimize photos for web or email easily.

As always, if you feel like this is way over your head, give us a call at 828-684-4512 and we will be happy to provide image optimization for your website.