Size Matters in Print Ads Too – How Come?

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Fact: Print advertising is very much alive, and its relevance will stay for as long as there are still people who want to hold tangible reading materials. In fact, 82% of consumers still trust on print ads compared to other mediums.


Along with good trust-rating comes great expectation from consumers who expect more from printed ads. If you want to meet these expectations, there are factors that you need to abide to produce good materials and one of them is size. The so-called size-factor is a critical aspect of every print ad campaign.


Does size matter? Should you go for smaller materials? Is going big a better option? We always had a gut-feeling about the answer to these questions, but we just lack some relevant facts to support them. In this content, we’ll discuss how it affects your campaign and the readership of your printed communications.


  Yes, Size Matters


For your print media, your objective is to make people notice your ads. Whether you’re talking about a full newsletter, single page ad or billboard, you want to get the attention of people, so they’ll read your message, they’ll know what your offerings are. You also want to ensure that you use the right format that suits to their preference.


Indeed, size matters. But I don’t mean it as being big, I mean for ‘the right sizes’ – both small and big. Whether you are using postcards, banners, flyers and any other mediums of print advertising, it’s important that you know how size may affect the overall productivity of your print advertising campaign.


  Size for Paper


The world of printing in the US revolves around the sheet piece with 8.5 x 11” dimension. The rule of thumb says your printing expenses should be lower when you use an 8.5” x 11” paper for designing your pieces. The other recommended sizes are 11” x 17” (8.5” x 11” multiplied by 2)  and 5.5” x 8.5” (8.5” x 11” divided by 2).


For example, if you are going to use a 5.5″ x 8.5″ sheet, a printer can make two 5.5” x 8.5” impressions for every 8.5” x 11” sheet without waste. But if you will use, say for example 7” x 9.25” sheet, a printer can only make one impression on a single 8.5” x 11” sheet. The rest will go to waste. And this waste will add up to the total cost of your project. The required extra trimming operations will also add to your expenses.


What you need to do is weigh the benefits of a particular design against its costs. Ask yourself if the design will increase mailing costs or yield excessive paper waste compared to a regular but equally efficient design size.


If your customer will receive a 6” x 9” colored brochure in a 7.5” x 10.5” catalog envelope would it have less impact than a 5.5” x 8.5” brochure in a standard 6” x 9” catalog envelope? Probably not. But the smaller brochure is more affordable and mailing a common 6″ x 9″ is 40% cheaper than the big ones. In short, the same effect for less cost.


  Size for Fonts


Choosing the correct font size can mean a difference between getting your ad ending up in the trashcan and getting it read by people. As a good business owner, you need to remember the goal of a print ad, be it sales brochure or a product flyer, is to get the attention of your reader and offer them information.


The rule of thumb is to select a font size depending on the number of words that you want to fill the space with and how much space you have to fill in. Advertisements’ big responses normally don’t go less than 10-point (smaller font sizes are hard to read) or over 12-point (larger fonts are tiresome to read because your eyes need to travel far to read the text).


It’s true that people will read your ad regardless of the font size or type that you use if they are interested in buying your products or services, but it will not hurt if you adhere to these guidelines:


  • Use a different font size according to the significance of your message and be consistent. If you decide to use a 10 point for body text, then stick with it.
  • Use bigger font sizes only if you want to create impact in important places such as your cover page or headline.
  • Ask your family and friends to look over your ad and find out if it’s legible to them or not.


  Size for Image Resolution


When it comes to professional print graphics, 300 dpi (dots per inch) is the standard density. If you wish to use a web image in print, you might run into some problems. The only solution to make it work is if you print a 72 ppi web image as a tiny inset, which is forgivable.


If you have a selection of image sizes at your disposal like from stock photo site or in-house image library, it’s best to pick the biggest image that you can get. You can minimize any image if you have to, but you can’t size it up without compromising its quality. Hence, when it comes to resolution, the bigger, the better.




The principle of size doesn’t just apply to company letter or brochures. You can also get the same benefit to national publications. The most important thing is to learn how to use it to your advantage. Remind yourself that you need to get your audience’s attention before you can make them read. Once you get their attention, they’ll read even more if you make it both convenient and entertaining and size-wise.


About Maria Theresa Estrada

Maria Estrada is a business associate by profession and an artist by heart. She is working in Print Meister Australia, one of the rising stars in Print Advertising in Australia. Since she's an artist, she loves experimenting on different designs, logos, and colors. During her leisure time, she writes her ideas about the same field.
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