Ten Do's and Don'ts of Creating Printables

This past week, I purchased the HUGE bundle on Teacher Notebook for Moore, OK!  If you have not, you a couple more days to purchase it.  And then it will take you a week to go through and download everything!  Get a new flash drive or open a Dropbox account!  Click here to open one through me, and we both get extra space!  I love my Dropbox and really NEED more space!

And don't forget about that wonderful bundle!
Anyway, as I spent countless hours downloading all of the wonderful products, I found sooo many that were either on my wishlist or that I could use!  Most of what I saw was absolutely wonderful, and I am bringing home my printer and laminator this summer to get stuff ready, or I will forget all about it!

BUT....

I did come across some not-so great items.  And if I had purchased them on my own, I would have been very disappointed!  So, in the season of creating and revising, here are some pointers.  {Now, I am not the ultimate guru on creating printables, and these are just my thoughts.  Take them as you will.}

1.  DO make it look nice!  When I first started selling on TPT back in 2008, I never really worried about how my products looked.  I just used it in my classroom, knew it worked, and slapped it up there, only to sell a few and make a little money.  Now, I know the importance of a great cover page.  It is appealing, and I am more likely to even look at it before I buy it if it looks good!  See the difference!  Which one would you look at?

2.  DON'T have too much color throughout your file.  Or at least have a black and white option.  Our school has one color printer that is to be used by about 20 teachers and 250 students.  A few of us are lucky to have personal color printers, but even still, we have to purchase ink.  If there is a lot of color in an item, I am less likely to purchase it because I don't want to print it out with my color printer.  Sometimes color is great, but most of the time, black and white does the job just fine!  Colored paper and cardstock are a whole cheaper than color ink!

3.  DO get someone to look over your item!  I am guilty of this!  Sometimes I am so excited about an item that I post it BEFORE I test it with my students or have another set of eyes look over it.  This even happened to me with the yearbook!!  Now I always look over it and have at least one other TEACHER to look over it.  This way they see little things I might have missed or can tweak it to meet more teachers' needs.

4.  DON'T confuse plurals and possessives!  This is one of my biggest pet peeves!  I see it in church a lot too, which drives me crazy! This goes with #3!  This little article on ehow is quite helpful.  I am sure there are more out there!  Another great tool is the book
The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage without Apostrophes!
5.  DO use fonts that everyone can read!  I work with struggling readers and fonts do matter!  Sure, I do a font sort with them to help them see other fonts for letters, but reading a whole word in a strange font is really hard for them.  I have given them some items to finish, and they can't read it because of the font.  {Sometimes these were made by me, so I am guilty too.}  Think about items we purchase from Scholastic.  They are VERY easy to read because the font is very simple.  Look at the four fonts below.  Which two would be easiest for a child to read?  As children learn to read, they need easy to decipher fonts.  Fun fonts are great for a cover page, but children need to be able to KNOW the letters!  AND...please...make sure the font can be grammatically correct!  No capitals in the middle of the word!
Second font by Kevin and Amanda
6.  DON'T overburden your file with too much clip art!  Not every page needs a cute border or clip art all over it!  Yes, clip art does make it look soooo much better, but I don't want to wait an hour to download a 45 page document!  I also had a comment from someone thanking me for not putting a border on the paper because it jammed the copier.  Again, with struggling readers, too many pictures can overstimulate them and keep them from the task at hand.  Be a minimalist sometimes.

7.  DO make sure that every page is useful!   Not every page of your creation will be used by every teacher who purchases it, but make sure that everything can be used.  I have purchased items that have 10 different writing papers to use all of the cutesy clip art that was in the bundle.  I don't need 10 different writing papers.  One or two will suffice!  {Maybe that is an exaggeration, but you get the point.}

8.  DON'T forget to give credit where credit is due.   Most of us do this, but I don't want anyone to forget it.  This also means leaving your "calling card" within your file.  Have at least one page that tells who you are and where someone can find you (blog, Pinterest, Facebook, whatever you want to leave).  And leave an email where people can ask questions or privately let you know that you made a booboo.  {Hopefully that will help keep the negative feedback away.}  That is one of the things I am going to do this summer to update almost all of my products.

9.  DO make it easy to put together.  Many teachers are busy.  We have a job and families.  Or would just like to have a social life.  I really don't want to spend a lot of time cutting out many different intricate pieces.  I like to be able to use my paper cutter (or scissors) to cut straight, even lines very quickly.  Putting the items in a table makes it easy to make sure that everything is even and ready to use.  It really does make a difference when making the products I have purchased.

10.  DON'T undervalue (or overvalue) your work!  I have purchased some pretty amazing items for only $1, thinking, "I would have paid $5 for this!"  If it is worth $5, price it at $5!  I have also purchased some items for $5 and been disappointed, thinking, "I should have only paid $3 for this."  Pricing is hard, but there are some helpful free tools out there!  There are some excellent pricing guides on TPT.  This one by Rachel Lynette is the one I use.

Like I said before, I am guilty of many of these, so I am not pointing fingers at anyone.  This summer, I plan to go through and update my old products with my own suggestions and create all of my new products in the same way.

If you think of anything else to add, please let me know.  I am sure I have overlooked something.  And I am sorry if I have hurt any feelings.  I really didn't mean to. 

6 comments

  1. I appreciate your thoughts on this subject. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. I purchased the TN bundle too, and it will take me ages to go thought it all!
    I could not agree more with all of your points; making an activity optimal is a delicate balance of many things. Great list - I'm probably pickier than most people about such things!
    Susanna
    Whimsy Workshop 

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  3. Thank you for the advice! I am working on starting up at TPT store this summer and I appreciate any and all advice on what works best!
    ~Courtney
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

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  4. It is like you read my mind! Especially about too much color, I download what I want to print on a flash drive and take it to an office supply store. Much cheaper than my ink jet printer. I find it really irritating when there is color clip art on the reproducible copies for the students.
    Great post, thank you.
    Lvanhove@comcast.net

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    Replies
    1. I had never thought about going to a store to print it all out. And the color clip art on reproducible pages doesn't always look good when it is printed out. Thanks for stopping by!
      Andrea

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