When you decide to create a blog of your own, there is one thing you should always keep in mind. Pictures are as important as your article body. A perfect article that took a week to be written can become “low quality” if your images are too small, blurred, or poorly visible. When you write about general topics, you can get great images on Shutterstock and Bigstock. Just type your query and find tons of high quality pictures from all over the world.
What if you blog about software or PC help, though? Such topics are best served with screenshots to help illustrate how-to's, tutorials, and reviews. That’s where you’ll have to do your best to turn your first-time readers into devoted fans and subscribers. In other cases, you may only need a section of an image to emphasize your point, and wish to lose the non-critical bits. You can easily cope with this task by following these five tips to make perfect screenshots on your PC.
Take care of your background
It’s better to use special software or utility for taking screenshots. Screenshot software usually gives plenty of options including background cut. However, if you don’t want to install programs to your PC, here is what you should remember: Before taking a screenshot, make sure your wallpaper is not too rich in color. It shouldn’t distract people from the main part of the pic. There are 2 methods to prevent this. One, you can set a plain image for your background. This option is great for those who keep few files on the desktop.
In case you have plenty of software labels, you’d better use the second method. Create an empty notepad file or a folder. Maximize it to fill the whole screen and place portion you want to take a screenshot of right in the center. Press “PrintScreen” button on your keyboard (Windows-based PCs/laptops) to shoot the pic. Paste the pic into MS Paint and save in .JPG or .PNG format.
Cut unnecessary parts
After you save a pic, you should delete all the unnecessary parts from it. Cut everything that has nothing to do with the software interface – Windows bar, empty spaces, parts of other programs, etc.
When you take a screenshot of a site, get rid of columns with ads, toolbars, plugin icons, and so on. You can use Microsoft Picture Manager to perform a simple background cut.
Shrink big screenshots
Have you ever tried to load a big picture with a poor Internet connection? It’s a real pain and could even lead to a huge traffic loss. If you don’t want people to close your web page because the images take ages to load, you should resize them before uploading to your blog. You may use Microsoft Picture Manager or almost any online photo editor. Make your screenshot a little bit smaller but viewable. Don’t upload pics that are wider than your blog. They’ll be squeezed and thus become un-viewable.
In a situation when resizing is not possible, use the Caption option (for Wordpress) with “Click to enlarge” text.
Mark the important details
While writing your how-to guide, you’re likely to explain what button or tab to use to perform a certain action. In this case, you should mark this button with a circle or at least a bright arrow. You can use Snagit software for this purpose.
It provides a number of shapes and shape styles for almost any blog design. Alternatively, you can use Paint. It’s totally free and comes with any Windows-based PC. But remember that the circle shape in Paint will look pixelated.
Add text where necessary
In some cases, it won’t be bad to add a couple of words to your pic. It can be a secret tip, suggestions caption, warning, or any other small note. Choose a readable font and color that will fit the whole image. Show the image to your friends. Ask them whether the text looks comprehensible and easy to read. And remember that your note should not occupy half of the screenshot.
Ultimately, there’s nothing difficult in creating beautiful screenshots. Hope these steps will help you - and good luck with your blog!
Author’s bio: Terry Smith is a former IT teacher from Geneva. Now he is a freelance blogger and software developer. He enjoys writing about new technology, apps, sites and software for home use. Join him on Twitter.