What message does your letterhead, business cards and logo convey? Coordinated and classy or doleful dud? Now you can use your computer to create custom pieces with newly available chiropractic clip art.
Personal computers are wonderful. They make everything from processing claims, accounting and generating forms to maintaining S.O.A.P. notes, documenting patient files and reviewing x-rays so much easier. But that’s not all they can do.
Many chiropractors are discovering that the PC can be an excellent tool for creating marketing and patient education pieces. When teamed up with a good quality printer and/or copier, your computer can virtually replace your local print shop for small jobs.
No longer is a professional typesetter or highly trained graphic artist required to create artwork for printed promotions and reports. With a little bit of practice and a discerning eye, you and your staff can turn out attractive, professional looking documents right from your own desk tops.
So, where do we begin?
The right software makes it simple
The computer program in which you’ll create your job is generally called the application. Nowadays, even the simplest text program can handle different typestyles, colors and pictures, but most people opt for the high-powered word processing programs such as:
Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or ClarisWorks
A more sophisticated user might choose to work in one of the many page layout and publishing programs on the market today, including:
Adobe Pagemaker®, CorelDraw!®, QuarkXpress® and Microsoft Publisher®
which offer enhanced graphic design and printing capabilities. All of these programs provide basic tutorials to get you going quickly and easily. They are readily purchased off-the-shelf at many computer superstores and range in price from $69 to $600 or more.
Select the type style
Many word-processing and page layout programs come with a selection of basic typefaces (fonts) and easy-to-use predesigned templates. Templates are blueprints for fonts, layout and formatting reports, fliers, brochures, business cards and stationery. They’re already set-up and ready for you to add your own text, logos and illustrations. But if you’re feeling creative, you might want to try your hand at designing your own.
A word of advice: keep it simple and keep it reader-friendly. Don’t get too fancy with your headline type you want people to be able to read it at a glance. Choose a font that’s easy on the eyes for text copy and make sure it’s a size large enough for elderly patients to read. For example, 10, 11 or 12 point type is generally acceptable for text and 14, 18 and 24 point type are good for headlines and sub-heads.
Keep in mind that while text that is “justified” (aligned on both the left and right sides of the column) gives your message a scholarly look, it is sometimes a bit intimidating. Text set “flush left” (aligned on the left, but ragged on the right side of the column) is often perceived as friendlier and more inviting.
Add impact to your output
It’s one thing to format your message to fit on the page, and quite another to make it attractive enough to grab the reader’s attention. Let’s face it, most people don’t like to read. They don’t have the time and they don’t have the inclination. It’s up to you to make your audience stand up and take notice. And you can do that by adding visual impact to the written word.
A picture is worth a thousand words
You’ve heard the expression a thousand times, but you’re a doctor, not an artist! Logos, icons, illustrations and photographs have always been an integral part of good design. Not only do they increase reader awareness and understanding of your subject matter, they enhance reader readability by adding interest and impact to your material. There are now a number of ways you can incorporate graphic images into your document. In the past, most images were either drawn by hand or photographed and then placed into the final artwork. You can still do that, of course. However, with today’s technology, any image can be converted into data, ready to be placed into your final artwork right on the computer screen.
For example, you can hire an artist or photographer to produce the visuals you need and then scan the images right into the computer. (Scanners have recently come down a bit in cost and are almost as easy to use as a copier). Don’t have access to a scanner? Many service bureaus and print shops (and even copy centers such as Kinkos) will scan your artwork onto a diskette for a small fee. Be careful, however, to obtain written permission from the artist or photographer each time you use the images. (Copyright laws are very specific; you can’t even cut out an image from a publication, ad or brochure and use it in your brochure without first paying the artist for it.)
Clip art as an alternative
An easy way to save money and avoid copyright infringements is to use “clip art.” Available on diskette (and saving you costs of scanning), clip art packages provide a variety of images for use as many times as you want in any application you choose. Clip art is available in a variety of images, from simple icons to highly detailed line drawings that can be colorized, resized and/or edited on the PC for placement into any document. The cost of these ready-to-use packages ranges from $29 and up.
Chances are good that you already have some clip art supplied by your word processing or page layout programs, and additional clip art is available from various software providers or on the Internet. You can also purchase photographs on disk from various companies, although you should always check the documentation on the software. Clip art suppliers usually offer repeated use of their images as long as you abide by the terms of their license agreements. Until recently, however, there wasn’t any chiropractic clip art available. Now, you can purchase “ChiroClips” of spines and segments and chiropractic symbols and logos that can be customized to your practice.
Adding accents with color, design and paper
By consistently coordinating your image with color, design and paper stock you can obtain a distinctive look. Used correctly, they will help get your point across by setting the stage for your message. Think carefully about the underlying statement you’d like your printed pieces to make. Would you like to be perceived as traditional or contemporary? Conservative or progressive? Choose bold colors to infuse your message with energy and vitality; muted colors to calm anxieties.
The same holds true for design elements: geometrical elements such as stripes and borders convey clear thinking, while subtle designs and tinted patterns offer comfort. Paper works in more subtle ways to enhance your presentation. Use glossy or coated stocks to add excitement or make an assertive statement. Rely on the tactical response to textured stocks to reassure and nurture.
If making decisions on color, design and paper seems like more work than you have the time and energy to invest, try using some of the beautiful new pre-printed papers on the market today. Your local stationer can help you choose from a full spectrum of papers that will work beautifully in your printer or copier. Today’s papers are available in all the formats you’ll ever need, including letterhead, envelopes, business cards, labels, postcards and tri-fold brochures scored for easy folding. Mail-order companies such as PaperDirect and Viking provide a large selection of paper formats and designs, and offer their own templates to work with your application software, as well as many other presentation products to help you market your practice.
The finished product
Now that you’ve laid out, typeset, and illustrated your job, you’ll need to print the finished product. For small print runs, you may want to output your job directly from your printer. On larger runs, however, you’ll probably find that printing one master and reproducing it on your office copier might be more efficient. For some jobs, however, you may just opt to take your master artwork to your local copy center or print shop. Whichever route you take, keep in mind the better the hardware, the more professional your piece will be.
Get the best print quality
What determines print quality? Resolution for one thing. Print images are measured in terms of the number of dots created per inch (dpi). The higher the resolution, the sharper the image. Laser printers have long provided 600-800 dpi resolution, but many of the newer ink jets are coming out with 600 dpi options as an alternative to the coarser 300 dpi mode. Paper also affects print quality. Textured papers are great for the final printed piece, but can’t give you either the ink coverage or image clarity you may need for reproduction. Choose a smooth-finish sheet created for laser or ink jet printers when you’re outputting master copies on the printer for reproduction on your copier.
Print the final product
The right printer for the job is largely determined by four factors:
- Finish of the final product
Most laser printers offer beautiful black and white output, and can easily handle standard letter and legal size sheets. Although they’re faster than ink jets, they do have some drawbacks for in-house production: few laser printers can deal with duplex printing (printing both sides of the sheet), non-standard sheet sizes or unusual paper weights. While ink jet printers are usually too slow to handle large print runs, they do offer some interesting options. For example, the most popular ink jets are capable of printing a wide variety of odd sizes from half-sheets to banners in either color or black ink, and almost all allow you to print on both sides of the page. In either case, printing in-house leaves any folding, collating or stapling up to you. In many cases, reproducing your job on a copier (either in your office or at a local copy center) might be your best bet. Some copiers even do all of the duplexing, collating and stapling for you. And a number of the copy centers will fold and/or trim your job. Of course, you always have the option of taking camera-ready artwork to a print shop. Many will accept your file on disk or allow you to modem or e-mail your data directly to them.
Put your computer to work in making your practice grow
If you’re among those chiropractors who already use a computer in the office, you know how much time and money a PC can save. Now you can put that very same computer to work in helping you market your practice. It’s easy to do, and ultimately, very rewarding. If you don’t own a computer, have no fear. Ask your neighbor, your nephew or your new CA to give you a hand. You’ll soon be wondering how you ever got along without one!
As creative director for her own award-winning design firm, Jan King has been creating sophisticated, eye-catching promotions for large and small businesses for 25 years. During that time, she has shifted her daily work from the drawing table to the PC. Many of her present clients use Jan’s designs on their own computers, working within templates to change their message from promotion to promotion.
When Pat Costello, a close friend of Jan’s, enlisted her aid in helping a chiropractor develop her practice, the two ran into an unexpected stumbling block. They couldn’t find viable clip art for chiropractors. Not one chiropractic caduceus, no logo symbols, no spinal segments and certainly no subluxations. Every chiropractor they called owned a personal computer, but no one had any chiropractic clip art illustrations. So they decided to do something about it.
They developed ChiroClips, a diverse collection of attractive, high quality and truly functional clip art images for the chiropractic community. To find out more about ChiroClips, call Jan or Pat at 1-800-678-8884 or fax to 516-678-7257.