Department of Agricultural Communication
Purdue University

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November/December 2000


Don't Overstretch Your Digital Images

Today's digital technology has opened many new doors for creating many new kinds of educational materials. When it comes to graphics, remember, however, that one size does not fit all.

First, a few words about dpi (dots per inch). Photos or graphics that are to be commercially printed should be 300 dpi. Web graphics, on the other hand, need to be only 72 dpi. That's why you can't simply download a Web graphic and use it effectively in a brochure.

But dpi isn't the only thing you need to know about. Digital technology requires that you know the intended size of the final graphic, especially if it will be larger artwork.

You should not, for example, use a logo that has been scanned at a 3-inch size and enlarge it to 6 inches. The scan will blur and pixelate (look chunky). If necessary, however, you can reduce the size of a 6-inch scan to 3 inches, and it will look fine (although it may increase the time it takes to print).

The reason for this is that the 3-inch scan includes exact digital information that defines the size and proportioned image. By doubling the original size to 6 inches, you are spreading the same amount of digital information out over twice the size (and thus cutting the resolution in half, from 300 dpi to 150 dpi). An analogy is having a pat of butter to spread on one slice of bread or stretch over two slices. It's still the same amount of butter, but much thinner on both slices.

So the next time you need a photograph or logo for your display, remember that you cannot use the digital file you scanned for your newsletter for a high-quality display. You will need to rescan it to match the larger size and resolution required for the display.

For more information on resolution and other guidelines for producing effective educational materials, see: <http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/emu/PAGE/EMUDIR/content.html>.

Russ Merzdorf <merzdorf@purdue.edu>

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Perk Up Your Presentation Style

Ron Hoff's book "I Can See You Naked" is a "must read" for anyone in education.

One point Hoff makes is that it is "ancient folklore of presentation instruction" to visualize your audience naked in order to reduce nervousness. He maintains that it's actually distracting. In addition, I think this view of the audience is patronizing. It will interfere with your attempt to form a partnership with your audience.

Hoff suggests finding other ways to reduce nervousness, such as breathing exercises. For me, it was a simple attitude change. Before each speech I remind myself that I have done everything I can to make it a success (and then I do the breathing exercises).

Once you've dealt with nervousness, work on making your speech more dynamic. Hoff also writes about Red, Blue, and Gray Zone speakers.

If you think you might have wandered into the Gray Zone during a presentation or two, don't fear. Hoff offers tips on how to get out.

  1. Demonstrate. Show products and techniques. Be a coach, not just a presenter. Get involved in your speech. It puts color into your style.
  2. Use audio/visual aids. Some of us have the presentation skills of worn-out wallpaper. Let technology help bring your talk to life.
  3. Improvise with your knowledge. With the proper research, you can be dynamic with your audience. Respond to their on-the-spot needs, and your knowledge will win them over.
  4. Don't break eye contact for more than 10 seconds. This is important. There's life in your eyes.
  5. Be more of your strongest strength. By this Hoff means don't imitate anybody. Take a candid inventory of your presentation skills, find your strength, and build on it. To assess this objectively, you might need the opinion of a friend who can offer a good critique.

Hoff's book, published by Andrews and McMeel and priced at $12.95, offers many more tips. It is a fast read that can quickly move you into a brighter zone of presentation style.

Steve Cain <cain@purdue.edu>

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Eliminating PDF Font Problems

A common problem in sending or posting a document via e-mail, CD, or the Web is font substitution. You've spent time and creative energy crafting a document with specific fonts and a certain layout. Then you distribute it electronically, post it on the Web, or download it to another computer, and it doesn't match your original document.

Why does that happen, and how can you avoid it?

It happens if you use fonts in your document different from the basic, cross-system fonts (e.g., Times and Ariel) that most everyone has. Systems that lack the font you've used will substitute a different font. This can radically change the appearance of your document when printed and can even make it unreadable.

To avoid this problem, create a PDF (Portable Document File) using Adobe Acrobat. This process is as easy as sending a print to paper. When converting your document, you need to be sure to "embed all fonts." You do this by selecting the "embed fonts" option while exporting to PDF. Different computer platforms and applications have various methods for setting up Acrobat files to embed fonts, so review your software manual for more information on the various options.

A PDF document created this way will display your fonts properly, both in viewing and printing. Although embedding fonts will slightly increase file size, PDF's are self-compressing, and the PDF will still be smaller than the original file.

For more information on PDF's, visit the Adobe Acrobat site at: <http://www.adobe.com/products/tips/acrobat.html>.

In the first "On Target" issue of 2001, look for tips on what you can do when you're the one trying to print problem PDF's.

Dan Annarino <annarino@purdue.edu> & Russ Merzdorf <merzdorf@purdue.edu>

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Grammar Trap: Percent vs. Percentage

Recently, I got a call from someone wanting to make sure when to use "percent" and when "percentage." Yikes. I wasn't absolutely sure, myself.

After thumbing through the pile of grammar and usage handbooks I consult when writing "Grammar Trap," I finally found what I was looking for in the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" (AKA "APA style guide"). Here goes.

You use "percent," whether the word or the sign, only when a numeral is in front of it.

Example: The survey revealed that their readership had increased by 12 percent.

You use "percentage" when no number is given.

Example: They were pleased that their readership had increased by such a significant percentage.

Exception: The APA style guide says it's okay to use "%" or "percent" in table headings and figure captions when space is a real concern.

If there's a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like me to discuss, or if you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.

Visit <../grammartrap/index.html> for past "Grammar Traps."

Laura Hoelscher <lah@purdue.edu>

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