Publication Design

It is an exciting time in the world of publication design.

While there will always be a place for print, consider this.

You can make an elegant report, such as an Annual Report, with beautiful tables, typography and graphics, sustainably sourced FSC certified, and deliver it by post to stakeholders.

You can also turn the artwork into an interactive PDF that you send to interested customers, suppliers, and prospects on your list, by email.

You can also put a copy on your website.

The tables are phone and tablet-friendly, so they will resize for the user’s device.

The Directors’ Report has a photo of the Chair of the Board that, when clicked, plays a video of them speaking enthusiastically about the last 12 months.

All the links to URLs and email accounts are active. There is an order form linked to a payment gateway, and the new promotional video mentioned in the report can be watched and shared.

Just separate out the financial tables and that elegant Annual Report can now serve as a year-round marketing magazine.

Advantages of electronic publications

Cost: The interactive PDF removes some (or all) printing costs.

Equity: Accessible design is a human rights issue. It enables those who require assistive technology (such as a screen reader like JAWS or other text-to-voice software) to be included in your audience regardless of whether they have a visual, physiological, or neurological impairment.

Speed: An approved PDF document can be distributed immediately to an audience without the time lag for printing (often ten days). If–or should I say ‘when’–an error is detected, the document can be corrected and replaced immediately.

A powerful way to communicate

Interactive PDF is a powerful way to communicate, without hefty print costs, and perfect for:

  • Conference brochures/booklets
  • Clinical guidesAnnual Reports
  • Annual Reports
  • Company magazines
  • Brochures

At My Virtual Marketing Manager, we ensure material is elegant, cost-effective and accessible within your budget and agreed timeframe.

Send me your brief

Print Publications

We can also design publications for print, including:

  • Reports
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Booklets
  • Postcards
  • Gift Cards
  • Stationery

We can manage the print production management including sourcing quotations, desired paper stocks, weights and finishes.

Send me your brief

Media & Publicity

If you want wide exposure for your organisation, a media release (or multimedia release) is a great way to get your story picked up.

You might have a new service or product, an event, a milestone or announcement. If your story is worth telling, I can help you tell it. And find the media and the people who will share it.

There are two parts:

  • Writing the Media Release
  • Targeted Distribution

Preparing the Media Release

Writing good media releases is completely different to writing advertising material or product fact sheets.

Editors are not interested in hearing all about your new business, new product, or new location. That is advertising.

The trick is to tap into news that is broader. That means finding a newsworthy angle.

Virtually every organisation and business will have an angle that can turn their ‘promotional’ blurb into a strong article that will be of interest to a wide readership/listenership, and support their activities as well.

Good editorial publicity is gold.

I can prepare your media releases so that it is professional, engaging and compelling. Small businesses, organisations and individuals might be looking for publicity for activities. This can often be achieved with a small budget and a newsworthy angle.

You can also use the content for your own website.

Multimedia Releases

The world’s most widely understood language pictures.

You have options to include videos, images as well as audio and fact sheets with your media releases to really engage editors, reports and readers.


We can help you with sourcing images, and conducting photography, and/or making video.

Targeted Distribution

It’s unlikely your media releases will be for absolutely everyone. Together, we can target the type of industry publications and audiences that will give you the most value.

Those media include:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Bloggers

I use the industry leader, AAPMedia Net, to facilitate targeting and distribution. I also use other online distribution services and directly target your wish list for ideal placement. We can also append your own email list to the list of journalists, broadcasters and editors we will target to cover your story.

I also use other online distribution services that are free of charge.


There are different options to suit your budget and objectives

You will always read and approve the final version of the Media Release article, and approve the targeted distribution list, and the cost of the service.

Send me your brief

Creative Design

Great design releases endorphins. Ours when we are making it. Yours when you see it.

We can produce your very own unique, custom-made marketing material. No cookie-cutter templates used. You give us your brief and your deadline. We agree on an affordable flat price, no hidden extras, and get started.

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Making your documents accessible

Can you imagine going through a family photo album and all you could see is squares of blank paper where the pictures should be?

On every piece of paper there is one word: Image.

That’s what the experience is like for someone using assistive technology if you don’t make sure your documents are accessible.

What is Accessibility?

Around 20 percent of people at any time have a disability or impairment. When it comes to reading documents online, in many cases, this can be aided or overcome by using what is known as assistive technology.

For example, anyone could have a need for assistance because of visual impairment or blindness, a physical impairment, neurological (tremor), and so on.

An accessible document means that the document can be accessed by everyone. It is an equity issue.

Why is accessibility important?

The Australian Human Rights Commission expects websites to be accessible.

In the United States, section 508 is a federal law mandating “that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.” It’s an equity issue.

Around the world, it is not just governments that require accessibility standards, many larger corporations understand the importance and value as well. In Australia, the Australian Government also has similar mandatories.

There is a precedent in Australia that a company can be sued for not providing an accessible website if they have been notified that the site is inaccessible and they have failed to modify it.

Whether you are part of a government or not, the best practice is to make any publicly available document on a website accessible.

What is Assistive Technology?

When it comes to online reading, there are loads of types of assistive technology. Possibly the most common is JAWS. Here is a demonstration:

How to make Word and Adobe InDesign documents accessible

Many software programs now have accessibility checkers. You can use this to see whether there are any issues with an existing document.

If you are starting from scratch, here is a good summary of how to get the document to comply.  While it is possible to remediate files in Adobe Acrobat Pro if the end state will be a PDF, it is much easier and far preferable to get them accessible in the source document in the first place.

This is not an exhaustive article, there are many things to consider. However, this is how to make accessible Word and InDesign documents in a nutshell.

When I am designing or remediating documents to make them accessible, I use an acronym to help me remember each step. MATLOC  (there was a TV show with this name when I was a kid).


MATLOC stands for :

  • Metadata
  • Alt Text
  • Tagging
  • Language
  • Order (the reading order)
  • Contrast

Let’s start with Metadata.


Essentially, the document’s metadata is the information embedded into a text-based file that explains what it is and who wrote it. It is good practice to add this information to your documents if they will be publicly available.

  • Title (a clear, descriptive name for the document)
  • Author
  • Subject
  • Description: a full sentence that clearly explains the content. This is not promotional copy; the main point is that it is succinct and accurate.
  • Keywords (separate them with commas)

This will aid in online search as well as enabling a screen reader or other device to describe the content of the document.

Where do I add metadata?

To do this in Adobe InDesign, go to File > File Info

In Microsoft Word, go to File > Properties

For InDesign, I recommend this helpful article by David Blatner  all about metadata in InDesign.

In this same area is also where you can set the Language, so we’ll jump to the L.


In InDesign, this can be found under the Advanced tab.

Make sure you choose whichever language in which the document is composed. In my case, it’s British English / English (UK).

If you are n InDesign and you are exporting a PDF [either for Print or Interactive], you can go to Export > choose PDF. Under the Advanced Tab, you can choose the Default language for the file.

Alternative Text (ALT TEXT)

Handa MatsuriThis is text that is served as an alternative for a reader who cannot ‘see’ the picture.

For example, I have a photo of Hand Matsuri, the Japanese festival that occurs every five years in many towns and villages. The ALT TEXT I would enter could be: ‘a photo of matsuri’ In the description field, I might say: ‘ crowds at Handa Matsui, Aichiken, in 2003.

Some people make the mistake of leaving their images blank and a screen reader might just default to the word ‘image’.

Where do I add Alt text?

In Microsoft Word, right click on the image. Select ‘Format Picture’. Choose the Layout and Properties button.

You have two fields to fill in: Title and Description (as pictured below). Using the alt text title as the basis, a user of assistive technology can choose whether they want to see th3 full description and get more information. The description, in other words, should have a bit more detailed information, but still be succinct.

In Adobe InDesign, the alt text space is found under Object menu. So the path is Object >  Object Export Options, then select Alt Text.

From here you can select another XMP source if you have one set up, or otherwise, choose Custom. Enter the description into the box.



 You will be familiar with tags like <p> paragraph and <h1> for main headings and <h2> for Handa Matsurisecondary headings and so forth.

This is how we can tell an assistive device the order of our information. The key thing to keep in mind is that it is all about good document formatting, using Styles and tags.

For example, in Microsoft Word, we use Styles for body copy, headings, bullet points and numbered lists. Styles are the hooks for tags.

It is the same for InDesign. Don’t just use the Control Panel, create a Style for the different pieces of content, and apply that Style. Avoid overrides. Use both Paragraph Styles and Character Styles when you need them.

If you need to make a space between lines, for example, make a paragraph style for the spacing and apply it, don’t just hot the ENTER key.

The easiest way I find is to create the look you want with the right leading and type size, and then create the Style for that.

Other things to include are <header> tags for table headings and a Style for lists.


The reading order of a document in English is generally left to right, from top to bottom. In Japan, reading order is right to left.

If you have an infographic or a table that you think is obvious for someone looking at it, think about how it will be served using assistive technology.

The key is to make things as simple and logical as possible. It is beyond the scope of this article to describe how to move content blocks in Acrobat to show reading order, but this can be done if you are working with very complex tables of information. In most instances, avoid tables if you can.

You can use the Touch Up Reading Order tool in Acrobat Pro to fix reading order and basic tagging problems.


This is the clarity of colours used in your document. The clearest is Black on a white background, so you are generally okay if this is your black-and-white document.

Be aware of pastel colours in type. Go for strong contrast, rather than shades and be wary of coloured type unless it is very clear.

Contrast is something that needs to be manually checked, and there is a website that will help you check your colour values and offer alternatives if they don’t comply.

Exporting to PDF

If you are designing a document in Microsoft Word or Indesign and plan to make a PDF (either for print or interactive), make sure you check the boxes to:

  • Create Tagged PDF
  • Bookmarks
  • Hyperlinks

Now let’s go back to that photo album. You’ve made sure the document is accessible. I am opening the album to page one. My Text-to-voice reader tells me that this section is called Seaside Holiday. The blank square of paper says Photo of Joey and Bobbi at the beach making a sandcastle. I can see it in my mind.

To summarise, accessible design of documents is about design fundamentals—clarity and simplicity. Making documents accessible feels good.

Use the built-in software features that assist good layout. That means:

Be disciplined with Styles; describe with text anything that is visual; add metadata; and clear contrast.

These things, and MATLOC to remember them, will help you create well-crafted accessible documents for everyone to enjoy—even that 20 percent who may have a permanent, or temporary, need for assistive technology.