Frequently asked questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about design projects.
Many technical terms are also explained in the Glossary.
If your question is not answered here, send us an email at: ObscureStylusEmail.


How can I save money on my design costs?
Like most designers world-wide, we work on a time rate—so well-organised and checked material will ultimately cost you less to produce.
Two rounds of minor edits are included in our estimates.
Proofreading and editing of text are optional extras that you might find useful.
Stylus doesn't supply prepress production and printing services. We leave these processes to specialists in those fields. We are happy to assist you by arranging these processes on your behalf as part of a seamless job if you wish, or you are welcome to use your own preferred suppliers. You can be assured that the companies we choose to work with are chosen for their expertise, cost-effectiveness and level of service.
We've worked in digital design for as long as this industry has existed so we know the ropes!
What information does Stylus Design need to estimate the cost of my project?
For the design stage, we need to know some basic document information and the objectives and purpose of the document - called a 'Design Brief'. This is the main piece of communication between you, the client, and us, the designers.
A good design brief is the means by which a designer will estimate or cost a task. The final design solution may evolve or change as the project progresses due to a variety of factors, including timeline, physical limitations, budgetary constraints, changing requirements and so on.
What should be in the Design Brief?
The design brief — written or verbal — should include:
  • An outline of your project — what is your intention; who is your audience?
  • The design constraints — is there a house style to be observed; how many colours; the shape; the size; are there budget issues? Be realistic about such constraints — we can do ‘magic’ but if you have 10 pages of text it will not fit in a small DL brochure!
  • Make it clear how much freedom we have with the design - do you want a literal interpretation of your material or would you like us to make suggestions?
  • What material is to be supplied — in what form and when?
  • The timeline for project — when is it needed and is there a deadline like a meeting or marketing launch? Allow sufficient time for all of the production processes in your timeline. If you're not sure, just ask us.
  • The type of artwork that must be supplied for final output.
If you have any doubts or queries, talk to us and we can work out a solution.
Who owns the copyright on materials?
Australian law upholds the 'Copyright Act 1968'. This Act covers all kinds of written and published materials, computer programs, musical, dramatic and artistic works, as well as film, television, broadcasts and performances. There are no exceptions.
Copyright rests with the creator. They have the right to have the work attributed to them and can take action if their work is falsely attributed, distorted or treated in any way that may reflect on their reputation adversely. Protection of work is automatic. A work does not have to have a copyright symbol or notice on it to be protected. Protection extends to foreign copyright owners as well.
Designers hold the copyright to the materials they create, unless they agree to ‘assign’ such rights to someone else. If you are concerned, you can negotiate to buy the 'assign' so that you become the copyright holder. This is best done at the beginning of a project so both parties understand the agreement.
Can I use other people's materials like maps, photos, etc?
No, not without permission from the owner and/or creator - preferably in writing. This sounds daunting but sometimes it is as easy as asking permission or giving them an acknowledgement!
Just be sure that the person giving permission is the original owner. Photographers, designers and stock image libraries may allow their own clients to use materials but, due to licensing laws, cannot or do not allow third parties to use their materials.
The only exception to this rule are materials marked ‘copyright free’. If you are in any doubt, don't use it!
Can I use Stylus Design's licensed stock photography?
Stylus Design licenses and uses a range of digital stock photography as a valued-added service to our clients. These images are licensed from multiple suppliers. Each provider has a slightly different license agreement.The common features of all of these agreements are:
  • The images are licensed to Stylus Design, we do not own them.
  • The images remain proprietary and copyright to the provider.
  • The license will be revoked if the images are misused or the agreement breached. Some providers may choose to take legal action against both this agency and the client if the agreement is breached or the images misused.
  • Images can be used by Stylus Design if they form part of a design ‘product’ (ie. advertising and promotional materials) which we create and are not separated from the rest of the product.
  • Images can be used by Stylus Design for ‘screen resolution media’ (such as a website) provided they form part of a ‘product’ which we create, are not decompiled from the rest of the website and are not used at resolutions greater than 640 x 480 pixels.
  • Images cannot be used to endorse a product or in any way cause embarrassment or defamation to any person or entity.
  • Images cannot be resold or distributed separately by Stylus Design, nor can the images be separated from the compiled product by Stylus Design or our clients.
  • The images cannot be re-used by our clients because they (our clients) have not purchased the license.

There are other conditions specific to each provider, but these are the main points.

Stylus Design Policy
The policy of Stylus Design in relation to its clients is based on the requirements of all of these agreements. It is intended to protect both us and the client and is as follows:
  1. If you do not wish us to use stock imagery in the preparation of your documents, just let us know and we will refrain.
  2. If you do wish us to use stock imagery in the preparation of your documents, these are the conditions under which we are prepared to do so:
  • We will use appropriate digital stock images as part of a publication to enhance the design within the terms of our agreement with the licensing authority (eg. the conditions above) and copyright law.
  • We will provide you with an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) version of the publication at screen resolution suitable for progressing the design of a document, for proofing purposes, and to display on your website as a pdf. These Acrobat pdf files will be secured to prevent unauthorised use of your materials (as well as ours) by any third party.
It should be emphasised that this is the operational policy of Stylus Design and is in no way intended to be legal advice. If you have concerns regarding copyright law or the licensing of stock imagery with regard to your organisation, we suggest you seek independent legal advice.
Can I commission Stylus Design to create original photography?
Very likely – please ask us. Stylus Design has been photographing products, people and scenes for our clients for many years. We have a range of high-end gear and lighting plant.
The good news is that these images can be ones you can own outright if agreed in advance.
What if I just need a document for emailing or to put on our website?
Digital documents still need to be well designed and fit for their purpose. At present, there are a range of options from interactive pdfs and e-pubs to on-screen flip books. See some examples of purely electronic publications on our e-media page. By downloading it on to your tablet or phone, you can try out a ‘fixed layout’ e-pub here. Please feel free to call us to discuss your specific needs.

Corporate issues

What is 'house style'? Should my business have a house style?
‘House style’ refers to the overall corporate appearance of a business or institution. It is what makes your organisation distinguishable from others – the ‘look and feel’ that forms an important part of your public image.
And yes, some degree of house style is always a good idea. The colours, typefaces and general look of your published materials - both on paper and electronic media - should reflect the nature of your business. It should help your clients identify your business from its competitors but it should also say something about your professionalism and approach.
The degree to which you promote your house style is entirely up to you but it is worth noting that some of the world's most high profile companies have very distinct and recognisable 'looks' - not just a logo but a unified marketing approach to all their materials.
My business already has an established look (a house style). Can you work within this?
Of course. We understand your commitment to your house style and we will do our best to follow it. If your company has a 'Style Guide' or similar that would be an ideal starting point. If not, send some examples of approved materials - business cards, stationery, brochures - and we will pick out the relevant information.


How many copies should I print?
Unlike photocopying, offset printing is not a ‘per unit’ price. Printing presses basically take the same time and labour to set up, to make the plates and clean down, whether they print a million copies or just one. The rest of the printing cost is press time and the type and amount of ‘stock’ (paper or card) used.
Offset printing starts to become economical per unit around 1000 copies. Printing lesser quantities will not save you much money (though the storage of your printed documents may be a consideration too).
To get the best value for money, think about your present and future usage needs, and then consider whether any information is likely to change and make your publication obsolete. Such changing information can sometimes be accommodated in other ways when planned for in advance, allowing you to print an economical quantity. Ask us for ideas about how to get the most out of your printing run.
What if I only want a few final copies at good quality?
If you only need small quantities of a publication, say 20–200 copies, there are other processes that may be more economical than normal printing, especially for full (process) colour work. These run straight from the designer’s digital file to the output device. These digital processes are usually costed per unit so you can order just the right number. The downside is that, unlike printing, these processes have little economy of scale and are not suited to large runs. The choice of paper types may not be quite as wide as in conventional printing but it is certainly acceptable for most uses. Ask us about processes that fit your project needs and budget.
What information do I need to supply to get an accurate print quote?
Specifications to a printer should include:
  • The stock - what type, colour and weight of paper/card?
  • Quantity - how many do you want printed?
  • Number of colours - generally the less colours, the cheaper the printing. Full ‘realistic’ colour is usually made from four colours - called ‘four colour process’.
  • Type of artwork that we will supply - either digital file or film.
  • Finishing techniques - folding, binding, hole punching, varnishing, laminating, foiling, etc.
  • Delivery details - how many destinations and where?
It is also a good idea to check your timeline with your printer since they may need time to buy in stock or be busy at certain times of the year. Booking your job in may help speed up print scheduling. And if you don't want to be bothered with all this - Stylus can do it for you!
What if I don't have the time to get design and print estimates?
Stylus Design can gather estimates on your behalf for all of the stages of production from start to finish. If you can supply us with the basic information about your project, we will manage the costing stage, either working within a prescribed budget, or from the job specifications.
What is proofing?
A set of printing plates are usually made to transfer ink to paper.
Prior to this production process, a hard-copy 'proof' (a close representation of the finished job) is made to check the layout, colours and general quality of the job before it is printed. The proofing stage is particularly important, because it is the last opportunity to check your job before it is printed in great quantities. The cost of plate preparation and proofs is usually included in a printing quote, but it is worth checking.
Stylus Design can also check your proofs for technical details.
Ask us if you’d like to have an extra set of eyes to double-check your project.

Technical questions

What is resolution?
Resolution is the fineness of detail of an image. In computer terms, resolution is related to the number of or density of pixels used to reproduce a digital image. Computer resolution is measured in dots-per-inch (dpi). For publishing, images for web work can be very low (72–96 dpi) but they need to be much higher for offset printing (240–300 dpi).
See, our Image format information sheet in Resources.
Why can't I use a web graphic for publishing?
When a professional designer creates a document, along with its contributing parts (like logos, photos, diagrams, graphs, charts, etc) he or she will be working towards a particular output resolution (see: 'What is resolution?'). The resolution is based on the type of reproduction (offset press, colour copier, web page or other).
For publishing, images for web work can be very low (72–96 dpi) but they need to be much higher for offset printing (240–300 dpi), so using a low resolution logo from your website for an offset printed document will not work. If the file type is jpeg (.jpg) or gif (.gif), then generally, it is too small and too poor in quality to be useful. If you have this problem, talk to us and we will suggest a solution.
See, our Image format information sheet in Resources.
Can I send you digital photos for my project?
Certainly - though digital photos can only be used at a resolution suited to the output (see: 'What is resolution?). The size the photo appears on your monitor screen may be reduced to about a quarter of that size in a printed document. If the image is made larger than this it will start to break up into visible jaggy pixels. On-screen work (like webpages) requires a much lower resolution so the photos can appear at about the size you see them on your monitor.
Even the best digital cameras create some colour cast and artefacts on the image so even good digital photos will need a little 'cleaning up' before they are ready for print. Try and send the original image form the camera. Send your images as RAW, TIF (with no compression) or JPG.

Good quality

Stacks Image 3027

Bad quality

Stacks Image 3048
Note: It is also possible for your email package to reduce the file size before it is sent. So what we get is different from what you sent. An easy solution is to use our MailBigFile link instead. Just go to: http://www.mailbigfile.com/stylusdesign and attach your files, fill in your email address and send. We will get a notification when the file is available so we can download it.
What is an Acrobat pdf file?
Adobe Acrobat™ pdf (portable document format) files are compressed files that can be viewed on any computer platform (eg. Windows, Macintosh, Unix) with the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Acrobat Reader™ is free and may be downloaded from the Adobe® website at www.adobe.com.
Pdfs files are very useful for presenting visuals for you to check on-screen. Such pdfs are highly compressed, low resolution, cross-platform versions created from the page layout files. Screen resolution pdfs are usually small enough in file size to be emailed (whilst the page layout files they are made from may be very large indeed) but they still look like the original document including images and typefaces. You don't need to be using the same type of computer or the same software to see your design as it will look.
Pdfs can also be created that are suitable for laser printer output or even for commercial printing output. Let us know your output needs and we can supply a suitable pdf file.
Why is a vector EPS file the best format for supplying logos?
What we are after is a vector image format. Vectors are mathematical 'plots' and are therefore fully scalable since there are no pixels in the image. Enlarging pixels just gives bigger pixels - which results in jagged and fuzzy images. This is the problem with trying to enlarge web graphics - they are already very low in quality and are in pixels (raster images). Any image is either a raster or a vector and it's the vectors that work better for logos and the like.
EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) files that are created in programs like Adobe® Illustrator and Corel Draw are vector images. EPSs are cross-platform and recognised by all major publishing and illustration packages. An EPS can also be used by other industries (such as signwriting) who work with different computer systems and software.


Stacks Image 3215


Stacks Image 3221
When is an EPS not a useful EPS?
Taking a raster image and putting it into these programs gives a file that can be saved in an EPS format but it is not a vector image. It's still a raster image and is still made up of pixels. So, unfortunately, an EPS can be a vector (really useful!) or a raster (not so useful). If this is all too much techno-jargon let us know your contact and we will see if we can organise the best graphic input for your work.
…or send them our Image format information sheet in Resources.
My supplier doesn't have an EPS file of their logo – what else do I ask for?
If you can't get a file in EPS format, sometimes the vector file exists as an Acrobat PDF, or simply ask for the biggest image they have at publishing quality (240 to 300 dpi - "dots per inch") and ask them to save it as a TIF (with no compression) or as a JPG, which is smaller to email.
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