As a custom e-learning developer, we save a lot of trees by bringing paper-based content online. But that doesn’t mean we’ve quit the paper train! We do a variety of print work, from printable PDFs that are used within a larger simulation to revamped participant guides and instructor manuals for larger, blended learning programs. Not all internal training departments have their own print designers on staff to help put together paper-based training materials, so I recently snagged a quick interview with Nicole Engels, our resident print designer, in order to pick her brain about some quick tips to help you with your next paper training initiative.
TIP #1: CMYK OR BUST
Nicole: When you’re going to print, all colors need to be in CMYK color space. When you’re working on a computer you’re using RBG color space, which gives you a wider spectrum of colors. On a computer, you’re looking at colors that are lit up, and you lose some of that in print. It may not be that noticeable to the average learner, but designers notice it.
TIP #2: IMAGES SHOULD BE 300 DPI, DUH
Nicole: All images need to be 300 dpi. Dots per inch. This can be limiting because it needs to be that resolution at a desired size. Say you take a photo on your iPhone and it’s only 5x7. That can’t be a magazine cover; it will be pixelated.
A lot of people will pull something off Google images and ask if we can use it, or try to use it in their own print work. A, that’s probably illegal and B, it’s a web image. Web images are usually 72 dpi to save file size, so when it loads it doesn’t take forever. The best solution is to download a 300 dpi image from a stock photography website. These are high resolution, print-ready images.
TIP #3: AVOID WIDOWS AND ORPHANS (WOAH, KIND OF HARSH!)
Nicole: You’re heartless.* I’m actually talking about paragraph structure. A “widow” is when you have a single word at the end of a paragraph hanging out by itself. You know, like
The “this” up there is a widow. An “orphan” is a paragraph that starts so low on the page that there’s only one line of that paragraph on the page before it goes to the next page. Widows and orphans disrupt the flow of text and cause readers to stumble.
TIP #4: THINK ABOUT HOW YOUR PRINT CAN FACILITATE LEARNER INTERACTION
Nicole: I’m a print designer. I went to school for print and worked in print before I came to NogginLabs. That said, digital offers so many more opportunities for interaction. I recently played a board game (Exploding Kittens) and on the paper instruction booklet there was a QR code. When I scanned it, this QR code linked to a video that said “learning about a game by watching is more effective than reading about it.”
This is what we’re going to see print become--a crutch in case you can’t, for some reason, do the interactive things. Print is a vehicle that accompanies or gives way to something more interactive. Learning is a lot easier when you have visuals that can move and demonstrate or illustrate what you’re trying to learn.