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What’s Kept Me So Busy

October 21st, 2007

During the summer, my boss had to take a leave of absence, and as I had done his job before, I took over, in addition to continuing my own full-time duties (plus, I was moving house). So that kind of kept me busy through August.

But from August, a new job presented itself: creating a prospectus for my college. We recently got accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education (in addition to our two-decades-running accreditation from a U.S. agency), which means that we can sponsor student visas, and admit non-Japanese students. That means we need a new English-language prospectus. Our old one was about a decade out of date, and if we wanted to present ourselves well at college fairs and to international schools, we needed a new one.

Now, we’re a small branch campus, and often don’t have the major resources that universities can depend upon. We get a lot of stuff printed, but we didn’t have the budget for getting this one designed out-of-house. The faculty all were given assignments to collect and create the written text, and since I’m the most computer-savvy among the faculty, I was asked to do the layout and design. Sure, I thought–just give me the text, I’ll throw in some photos, and work out a design. No problem.

What a fool I was!

Creating a document like this is no small feat, and as I would soon find out, it was harder than I imagined, in several different ways. First off, the text that I was given was not in final form; since no one could predict the final layout, they could not produce exactly the text that was needed. That meant re-editing most of the text.

Second, the layout changed as we went. Pages got dropped, added, re-arranged, re-written… every week, there was something that had to be re-designed or completely redone.

Third, the photos weren’t as easy to plop in as I thought they would be. I had to sift through more than a few thousand images to find just the right ones, usually starting the process anew for each new photo that was needed (they were not catalogued or sorted even)… and often times, there were no appropriate images, and so I had to create them–go out and snap the images myself. And then I was often asked to change this photo to that one, and each new request meant reconsidering the entire page spread design.

And finally, I had to get everything right for the printers. All images had to be CMYK (Photoshop naturally does things in RGB, so every image had to be recast), with a resolution of 350 dpi. Two versions of each draft had to be done, one normally, and one where every text box was converted to outlines instead of being presented as text in a font face. All kinds of other small details, from the placement of staples to extending graphics beyond the edge of the page had to be painstakingly taken care of, page after page. Every photo had to get some adjustment to make the color, brightness, contrast, and association with nearby text and images just right.

All this had to be finished by early this month, so we could get it printed in time for a number of college fairs and international school presentations.

Well, we got it done. I even converted the thing into a PDF, in case you’re interested in reading it. To save on file size, I saved all images in relatively low quality–you can see them fine, but you can’t zoom in too closely or else they lose quality quickly.

Here’s a mini-sized sample of the cover and a few inside pages:

1007-Prospectus Sample

They used it at a college fair just today–by chance, held at Sunshine City’s Export Mart, just a few blocks away from where I live.



The thing took such a huge chunk of my time and work, it’s hard to just leave it behind. And I won’t be able to fully–we’re already more than halfway through using the initial 1000-copy printing, and already a few small errors have cropped up that need to be corrected for the next printing.

At least the hardest work is done, and from now on it’ll just be a job of reworking what’s there… but now, I am just a few weeks from having to present this year’s Arts Day video at the Arts Day Festival… and I’ve barely gotten started on that one. I look forward to November, when I will (hopefully) have no all-consuming projects left to eat up all my spare time.

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  1. ykw
    October 22nd, 2007 at 04:57 | #1

    Nice work !!!

  2. Lindsay
    October 22nd, 2007 at 22:16 | #2

    Wow, thats a lot of work for you! With regards to moving home, when i moved i used moveme.com to help me, and it really took away a lot of the stress.

  3. Luis
    October 23rd, 2007 at 08:45 | #3

    Thanks, both of you.

    Lindsay: that would be great for me, except I live in Japan….

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