Changes Start with... THE SPARK "at the heart of the alternative west country"

Tips for designing your Spark header or display ad

Because of our unique size, and because we publish on newsprint, we'd like to offer some special advice on making the most of the ads you book in The Spark.


Check your ad's dimensions here


Listings ads



• DO supply words in a Word document, TextEdit file, or simply within an email

• DON’T send text as a jpeg, TIFF or any other format we can’t ‘cut & paste’ from

• DON’T worry about formatting – we set all listings ads to house style

DO type or write clearly if you are posting ads to us



• DON’T send your header in a word document – wrong format

• DO send your header separately from the text of your ad

• DO send your header in black & white (mono)

• DON’T use text in your header smaller than 7pt – it’s too hard to read

• DON’T use fonts that are too fiddly or fancy – it makes them very hard to read, especially if your Header/Logo uses WHITE type on BLACK background

• DON’T use RGB**

• DO send us a header sized 25mm high x 63mm wide at 240-300 ppi

DO send good quality images if you want us to make a Header for you

• DON’T send us images taken from the web (GIFs) & DON’T ask us to pick up images from your website – they will not be good enough quality for print

• some examples of header ads here




Display ads


If we are making your display ad for you

• DO supply words in a Word document, TextEdit file, or simply within an email

• DON’T send us images taken from the web (GIFs) & DON’T ask us to pick up images from your website – they will not be good enough quality for print


Creating your own display ad

• DON’T use fonts smaller than 7pt - it's too hard to read

• DON’T use small/fancy/delicate fonts against coloured backgrounds/photographs

• DON’T use light coloured text against a light background - very hard to read

• DO limit using white text on a coloured background to headlines at a bigger size

• DON’T use fancy effects like outlining a black stroke or putting a drop shadow on text, this makes text very hard to read, especially on top of highly coloured/patterned backgrounds

• DO supply your ad using CMYK*

• DON’T use RGB**

• examples of display ads this way


We accept display ads in the following formats:

• PDF files • INDD files • TIFF • PSD • JPEG

Please see details below for more technical advice about using each format


PDF files

• PDF files (Portable Document Format) are by far the best format to supply ads in. Most publishing programmes allow a document to be exported or saved as a PDF

• In InDesign go to FILE > Export > Adobe PDF Preset > choose ‘Press quality PDF’. This will create a high resolution (300 pixels per inch) file optimised for print.

• Embed all fonts used in your ad. InDesign automatically embeds fonts when exporting documents to PDF. Other software may vary.

• If the software you’re using doesn't have a PDF creation facility there are third party PDF converters available. FoxTab PDF converter is a free tool that lets you create and convert to PDF from any windows programme.


InDesign Files (INDD), up to version CS3

• If you supply the native file, please package the document and include links and fonts. Ads created in later versions of InDesign need to be exported as an InDesign interchange (INX) file. Do this via the File > Export menu.


Other formats

• we can also accept TIFF, PSD, and JPEG files

• Create ads at a resolution of 300ppi, to the correct dimensions of your booked space.


Using PHOTOSHOP to create your ad

There are several things to bear in mind when using a programme such as Photoshop to design your ads. Photoshop is an image editing programme and is ‘pixel based’, ie a Photoshop document is comprised of tiny squares or pixels. This is not ideal for designing ads which contain small text.


By default, when your Photoshop file is converted from RGB to CMYK any black text will be converted to 4 separate plates (a 4 colour black). This sometimes results in text having a fuzzy out of focus appearance when printed, due to slippage on the printing press (mis-registration).


To avoid this, it's best practice to construct your ads in a dedicated page-layout programme such as InDesign or QuarkXpress, which use vector-based postscript  language to render items on the page.


How to get 100% black in a CMYK Photoshop document

When you convert your RGB document to CMYK, display the channels palette: Windows > Channels.

• View each channel separately and erase any pixels of your text that appear in either the Cyan, Magenta & Yellow channels - you should be left with just black pixels in your black channel. This will ensure that any black text will be printed from just one black plate on the printing press.


*CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black

**RGB = Red, Green, Blue

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