Print vs. digital
Although digital catalogs can be shared with minimal effort, attached to e-mail messages and saved in a computer folder, printed catalogs increase the likelihood that one issue of your project reaches multiple readers. One of print’s greatest strengths lies in its ability to provide lasting documents that readers share and pass on, effectively multiplying the audience for a single issue. Readers may dog ear pages to mark items of interest, insert bookmarks, or use self-adhesive notes to flag
One of the most fundamental decisions you must make in creating a catalog lies in choosing the typefaces that you’ll use to set the text content of your work. You may be accustomed to using the word “font” to refer to individual typefaces. Technically, a font consists of all the individual characters (letters, numbers, punctuation, accented characters, etc.) that are available in a typeface. The word “typeface” designates an individual typographic design.
You’re probably familiar with
Color adds interest and emphasis. It can highlight important items and draw the reader’s eye to specific elements on the page. How you use color also depends on how you plan to output your catalog.
Some colors reproduce equally well on just about any output equipment. Others fall outside the reproduction gamut of some types of printing equipment and may be challenging to view on your computer monitor. A device’s gamut represents the range of colors and shades it can represent.
In the section
How do you plan to depict your products? The answer to this question carries significant weight in determining your overall catalog design.
Regardless of whether you want to show featured images of your products or restrict their depiction to thumbnail sizes, you’ll want to capture your photos at a large size that enables you to produce multiple smaller variations. Small photographs pixel ate when you enlarge them. Large images become slightly softer in appearance when you reduce their dimensions.
Aside from catalogs produced in specialized shapes through the use of customized hardware and a process called die cutting, most catalogs assume some form of rectangular shape, typically with the bound edge of the project at the left side of the outside front cover.
Press printed or digitally distributed, catalogs can take on any dimensions their creators prefer, but a few considerations point the way in favor of specific sizes.
Because digital catalogs “live” onscreen, they make ideal candidates
Page-layout applications rely on combinations of visual and typographic styles that can be assembled into templates. Templates provide an assortment of master pages (like templates within the template) that address the format requirements of an individual catalog project, including product listings, product features, and introductory pages. These templates save large amounts of time and effort at the same time that they reduce the prospect of inconsistent formatting. When it comes to creating
It’s always wise to begin a project with an eye to versions, sequels, and follow-ups. Ask and answer some basic questions to help yourself plan. The answers to some of these questions affect the answers to others.
- How often do you add new products? Frequently? Rarely?
- How often do you plan to issue your catalog? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually? On an as-needed but irregular basis?
- How many products do you want to feature in your catalog? Everything you sell? One specific line? Only sale items and closeouts?
- Will your catalog appear in only one language? If not, will you incorporate multiple languages into each issue or create separate versions in individual languages? Are these languages written using alphabets, logographic or segmental scripts, or syllabaries? Are any of these languages right-to-left reading? In how many of these languages are you fluent?
- Will you need different catalog variations for different parts of the world, reflecting the need to avoid mentioning certain products where they clash with cultural traditions or local laws?
Products and scheduling
The number of products you want to feature, and the pace at which you update your product line, has an effect on how many pages your catalog may need and how often you issue it. Some companies issue one master catalog each year, with much-smaller updates each month or quarter to list
Page-layout applications typically allow you to manage visual assets as linked or embedded files. To minimize the size of your layout file, maximize the quality of visual output, and keep your document efficient to edit, always choose to link rather than embed your visuals. Embedding often relies on copying images from other applications and pasting them into your page layout. This technique can affect the fidelity of color output at the same time that it makes the size of your layout file balloon
You’ve created a catalog design, refined its look, structure, and content, and put the finishing touches on what you hope will be the final page-layout file along your path to completion and production. Before you add “Final” to the file name, however, evaluate every aspect of your project closely so you can identify and correct any errors or problems. Once you send a project out for commercial printing or distribute it digitally to customers, the work becomes difficult (and potentially
Press printed or digital only, your catalog can incorporate a variety of response methods and mechanisms to encourage customers to engage with your company, place orders, and request further information that you can use to solidify a buying relationship. How you use these methods, and which ones you select, depend on a variety of considerations that relate to the types of information you want to acquire.
In a digital catalog, or a digital version of a press printed project, clickable links can