Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Jeff Foxworthy Approach to Graphic Design

Pardon me while I slip into a southern drawl and ask y’all to ponder this. If Jeff Foxworthy can reveal our inner redneck with some insight into the hillbilly lifestyle, then perhaps I can challenge you D.I.Y. designers out there to a test of your design knowledge.

If you can talk the talk, perhaps you’re ready to walk the walk. And in case your not quite up to speed, I’ve included a translation right below.

Consider this:

You Might Need the Help of a Professional Designer If…

1. You think RGB is a musical style
Musicians dabble in R&B, Designers prefer RGB. RGB actually stands for Red Green Blue, and is the standard color profile of all web images.

2. You ever typeset body copy in Papyrus
3. You think Papyrus is an ancient kind of paper
Papyrus is a decorative typeface which became extremely popular in the 1990s. While beautiful in large sizes it is too detailed to be used as body copy. Its misuse and over-exposure has created Papyrus burnout among designers.

4. 12 on 14 sounds like an unfair fight
12 on 14, often appearing as 12/14, refers to the point size and leading of text. 12 point text, with 14 point leading is very common for body copy.

5. When asked to “review a proof,” you examined a shot of vodka
A proof is a sample of the work-in-progress. It is submitted to a client for approval or revisions. F.Y.I. 80 proofs would not be an acceptable expectation in the review process.

6. The bible has fewer words than your last ad campaign
Keep It Simple, Stupid. Too much copy is overwhelming. Get to the point and make it memorable.

7. You think PMS is something your wife gets once a month
In the design realm PMS is a reference to the Pantone Matching System, a standardized color profile system used throughout the design industry. If you’re experiences violent mood swings and cramps no amount of color therapy is going to help that.

8. You ever bordered an ad with scissors and a dotted line
Sorry folks, I don’t care if your ad is one giant coupon. Don’t ever use the scissors dingbat and a dotted line again. It’s design suicide. And it’s just plain ugly.

9. The copy shop squeezed and stretched your logo to fit…and you’re fine with that
Never let ’em see you sweat…oops, I mean never let them stretch to fit. Your logo is your identity, protect it.

10. You think a JPEG should fit in a round hole
is one of the most common file formats, especially among digital photos. If you’d like more info on the difference between file formats click here.

11. You go to the dry cleaners for a “press check”
I come from the world of print, where stopping by the printer to check out a job on the press is called a press check. With digital printing this is much less common. That and the fact that your printer might be in another state.

12. Your letter-spacing has more gaps than David Letterman’s teeth
Adjusting letter spacing, also called kerning, is the sign of an experienced designer. I should know, as in my neophyte days I was harassed by a boss we called the kerning nazi, until I learned to do it right.

13. You think “leading” is what happens when your kid draws on his arm with a pencil
Leading is the space between lines of text. The best thing you can do for your line spacing is learn to control it. Turn off the auto-pilot and start adjusting the leading manually.

14. Your font selection is limited to the ones that came with the computer
Fonts add flavor to your designs. You wouldn’t cook every meal with the same six spices if there were thousands of unique flavors to choose from, would you? Need some inspiration check out

15. You believe writing paragraphs of text in ALL CAPS is a good idea
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. STOP SCREAMING…I mean, stop screaming at your readers with the excessive use of uppercase letters. Don’t worry. We can hear you now.

16. When asked for “high resolution” you vow to say no to drugs
is a reference to the level of detail and clarity saved in your image file. A high resolution image has more pixels, and thus more detail, saved in the file. 300DPI is considered high, while 72DPI is typically low.

17. You use quote marks and inch marks interchangably
There is a difference between proper quotation marks, also called smart quotes and the marks produced by a computer keyboard. If the marks are vertical and straight, they are inch marks, not quotation marks. Watch the apostrophes too. Don’t be a dummy. Use smart quotes.

18. You use so many fonts in one ad it resembles a plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet
The golden rule on font usage is no more than three. One for the headline, one for body copy and one for highlights. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken. But in this case, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

19. You think 300 DPI indicates a really bad drunk driving record
stands for dots per inch and refers to the resolution of an image. The higher the DPI, the more pixels (or dots) in the image.

20. You think “spot color” is some sort of iSpy game
There are two types of color printing: spot color and process color. Spot colors are opaque inks, like PMS colors, and process colors are transparent inks over-laid to create the whole spectrum, as in CMYK inks.

21. You’ve ever said, “Let’s use Comic Sans”
Like Papyrus, using the typeface Comic Sans in your designs is the equivalent of wearing a clown nose to work. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but not everyone can pull it off. Sadly, you’d think we live in giant circus for all the clown noses I see out there.

22. You think “copyrights” means you have the right to copy anything you see
Copyrights are a serious issue, making the news lately especially with regards to what can be found on-line. Just keep in mind, if someone else designed it, photographed it or wrote it, don’t use it without permission.

23. You believe anything can be fixed with Photoshop
I love Photoshop as much as the next gal, but I’m sorry to report it is not a miracle cure for bad photography. Sure I can change your eye color, remove that boring background and put you on a beach. But I can’t make you look 20 years younger. Sorry grandma, it’s just not that simple.

So if you think John Deere Green, Ford Blue and Primer Gray are the three primary colors…You might be a Redneck. And if that’s the case, you definitely need the help of a Professional Designer. So give me a call.

For more insights into the terminology of graphic design, and the meaning behind the words, check out some of these links.

Fast Answers to Font Questions

Graphic Design Dictionary

Five Common Typographic Blind Spots

Kerning in Action

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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Design