BIG DAY – Yes We DO Judge a Book By Its Cover!

Be honest… Do you judge a book by its cover?

I do. I’ll admit it.

I judge things every day based on what I see. If you are honest, you will agree that you do, too.

I judge books, movies, posters, flyers, and people. Every day. In one glance.

Our eyes bring images into our minds, and our minds associate the images with something.

Here’s what I mean about images/opinions coming to mind…

  • What does a homeless person look like? (take time to picture him in your mind. There. Hey! You’re so judgmental!)
  • What clothes do the people from the Middle East wear? (What’s their hat called? Wait… ALL of them wear that?!)
  • Make a face like Donald Trump. (Does he always have that face?)
  • What color is Verizon? Or AT&T?


Images can have negative or positive associations. In general, the average person can tell at a glance whether a printed flyer is good quality or not. Instantly they make a snap judgment about the origins, the type of organization, the money involved, the amount of work and planning that went into it, and what level of importance it is.

When I open my mail, I can immediately weed out the junk mail. My wife gets a horrible little monthly postcard from a certain chiropractor’s office. It accomplishes the exact opposite of the owner’s goal. The design alone turns me off to the company, and I have never read a word on that postcard.

Judgmental? I am.

But you do it too.

In a sense, we cannot help it. We are programmed by years’ worth of media being pumped into our eyes. We make instant judgments about everything we see, because we associate it with something good, neutral, or bad.

Church graphics will either be bad, neutral, or good. Raise your standard. Have GOOD graphics.


Design Basics

I have no authority to tell you what to do. I will take Dave Ramsey’s approach and say, “What would I do if I were in your shoes…” Everything you read is my opinion based on what we have done at our church.

As far as graphics are concerned, we do all the designing and printing ourselves. Here are a few key thoughts on graphics:

Simple. Make everything as simple as possible. Do not add too much information. Make things clean and uncluttered. Use bullet points and bolded words where needed. Do not overuse embellishments. Let your theme stand out at a glance. Make the theme the highlight of the poster, and do not try to emphasize every piece of information.

Themed. Make everything themed. Use the graphics as the “front door” to your event. When you send your first letter, create themed letterhead that makes the statement of the theme right away. Use the graphics to drive the point home rather than merely a backdrop to your event. For our various themes (listed in the “THEMES” section), the booklets, bookmarks, pens, banners, etc. all had the theme title printed on it, and visually made the point of the day. For our “Choose to Abound” theme, attendees could see the filthy trash-filled waters contrasted to the healthy, vibrant life-giving waters. For our “Surrender” theme, everything just said, “SURRENDER” on it. Our “Pure Love” theme had a funny little finger-family portrayed, emphasizing God’s ideal (family unit) for what relationships ought to be and become. Do not use too many elements that you lose the punch of the themed materials.

Consistent. Use the same graphics across all your materials: website, booklets, pens, banners, signs, postcards, signup sheets, name tags… everything. Choose a basic color pallette and reuse it everywhere. Choose only one or two fonts (three at the most) for everything (typically, I’ll use the same big, bold font for all my headings, and a different simple font for all my body text and sub-headings.)

Professional. Be professional wherever budget allows. If you cannot design it yourself, find a volunteer who can do it for you. Raise funds by charging more for your event or taking a church offering, and hire out the design work. If your church printer cannot do quality full-color professional-looking prints, order prints online. For my most up-to-date recommendations on graphic designers, visit For my recommendations of online printers, visit


Our In-House Prints

Printing our own materials is rewarding because we can see immediate results to our work. We print almost everything ourselves in order to cut costs, and we try to be as efficient as possible.

Our printer handles up to 12” x 18” paper, up to 100# cover stock (anything thicker might damage our machine). We are charged roughly $.08 per “click” for color prints, and nearly $.02 per click on black prints (a “click” occurs each time one side of paper passes through the machine, no matter how big or small the paper is).

Our letterhead, for example, is designed to be 8.75” x 11.25” (which includes a .125” bleed on all four sides), and we print the words AND the letterhead graphic all in one pass (one “click”) duplicated 2-up on 12×18 paper. Each half of the 12×18 paper (12×9) has the full letterhead image, which is then trimmed to 8.5” x 11”.

Our bookmarks are also designed to maximize the white space on a 12×18 paper. I have no idea what a “standard” size bookmark should be. I just know how many we can cram on our paper and cut to size.

We found a yellow cast iron stack paper cutter on Craigslist for a few hundred bucks. It weighs as much as a silverback and slices through 500 sheets of paper at once. We print the whole 450-sheet run (of posters, for example), and cut them all at once, creating a consistent, professional look.


Graphics Checklist Spreadsheet

It helps to see all the jobs for the Preaching Rally in one place. I have a spreadsheet that lists every print we use, the schedule of when it is due, whether we print in house or outsource it, what stock paper to use and what area it serves (decorations, website, mailings, etc.) I got tired of forgetting what print was due when, so we created this list to remind us of each printed item (linked below).


To see this detailed spreadsheet andto view some past graphics, visit