Best way to reply to customer

Hello: I work at a weekly newspaper, since the graphic world is digital everyone with a computer is an artist.

Once are twice a week I get an ad designed by a customer on their computer that doesn’t fit our spec. I inform the customer of the problem and 9 out of 9 times I get this as an answer I do not know how to make the size you want.

I just to not know how to tell the customer is nice terms they should be called a graphic artist. If the person designed the ad 5’ x 7” and the ad space is 5” by 4”, why can’t they correct the problem?

And, when I redo the ad, which I have done many times as we have a deadline on, the customer is not happy I reworked their ad.

And, the get a free ad or free color the next week.

How should I tell them, stop calling yourself a graphic artist?

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I don’t know how to tell them that. But you might be able to provide different measurements.. points?
Or provide a template, and simply reject AD work that is not correctly sized.

If I were able to get a free ad every other week by sending something in the wrong format, I would jump at the chance.

It would appear your sales staff needs to deal with the issue by charging the customer for the size of the ad they submit, or by letting them know that the ad will be re-formatted to fit the space they purchase. If the advertiser ends up paying for greater space, he/she will quickly find out how to properly format the ad.

I would wonder if you are being “had” as it were , for surely after the first couple of times the final customer whos ad it is would have gone to a graphic designer that got it right as the one who cant “do” must have had some excuses to give the ads owners?

Excuse the bad language…….

You can’t, remember Don Quixote? I would send them a Pdf with a adspace. What they design doesn’t fit the space, reject it. They miss deadline ? That’s how they learn !

Doesn’t have to be malice on their part ! 1 out 50 or so PDF I get are actually correct for the intended use, plenty of less skilled but highly opinionated “graphic artists” out there.

To elaborate on typenut’s idea, a template file with the outline of the ad space shown as a layer should solve this. Tell them to drop their ad into your template and rename it with the client name and the publication date as the file name.

State that the outline of the file is the ad space and that you will not modify their ad. Once it is sent and paid it is going to publication and it is their responsibility to make sure it conforms to spec.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Major problem out sales force of 5 do not know how to talk to customer, 3 have been with the company 10 to 20 years and the other two only 7 years. So, as the sales force tell me, they know nothing about what production needs.
(I only giving them 20 plus classes and memos on what I need).

And all sales rep have printed and pdf spec sheets to give customers.

Ownership will not pass on any ads, and customer do not what to deal with the problems.

I just do not understand the graphic artist, if they can build an ad with sharp clear type and photos in the wrong size, why making the right size hard for them.

Is the training or non-training of graphic artist today just drawing pictures to show their mom?

There are plenty of talented graphic designers. Jimmys Lawnmower Repair probably isn’t paying them to come up with their ad. Maybe this is an opportunity to hire a staff designer who will help the newspaper make more money by designing the ads, too.

If the management of the newspaper can’t see the issue with this problem that surrounds their main revenue source, then they are free to fail as they please, right? How is that the graphic designer’s fault?

Polk made a case that newspaper ads should be designed in-house to maintain typographic consistency and harmonize the page.

The sad truth is, his worst-case examples of inharmonious ads look like top of the line work today.

Full size:

image: harmony.jpg


Why would any advertiser want their ad to harmonize with the page?


Newspapers seem to hate making money. Gannett is now making its news websites subscriber only.

Before that, they had the most obnoxious ads. Popups, or ads that expand after the page has loaded and you’re trying to browse the menu. Forget using it on an ipad.

The only reason I tolerated that was because it was free. Now they want me to pay for their three local stories and AP wire? Forget it. It would be easier to start a community message board website and get the local news that way.

to leftarmletterpress

Thank you for your references, they led me to some very intersting bypaths (not directly concerned with printing), further along the way.



I’ve seen the problem too. We let the customer know our specs and they send something in incorrectly. Our choice is to reject the job or re-do the electronic files at our own expense.

When you speak of balancing ads, it reminds me of my first job in magazine production. I worked for a publisher that handled several in-flight magazines for the airlines. Frequently we would have open ad space and would drop in a filler ads for a charity. One of our regional magazines used to drop in their own filler ads for their airlines. One of their ads showed a mannequin without an arm or a leg with the copy, “Don’t let your next flight cost you an arm & a leg.” They didn’t see the filler copy for the American Amputee Society charity underneath their ad!
Glad the complaint calls and letters didn’t come to my desk.