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Agriculture Communication

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What Makes a Good Photo?

Lighting, composition, angles, focus, aperture and distance all come to mind when talking about a good photo. All these things together make an average photo a great photo.

However, if you do not take the time first to make sure your camera is taking photos at the highest resolution possible, the greatest photo never will be good enough to use in different media. We receive photos all the time that look great, but they are not good enough to use in publications or newsletters, and definitely not good enough to be enlarged for posters or banners.

If you want to know if your photo is good enough to use in printed pieces, start by checking how big the file size is, or how many megabytes (MB) it is. If your file is in kilobytes (KB), the resolution probably already is too small to be considered a “good” photo. If your photo is less than 200 KB, it’s not even considered a poor photo for use in printed materials.

To check the file size of your photo, go to Windows Explorer (file folder icon at the bottom of your computer screen) and click on the photo. At the bottom of Windows Explorer, you will see an information bar that will let you know what kind of image it is, its dimensions and its size.

photo size comparison

You can’t change the files you already have on your computer. But you can take the time now to set your camera to the highest resolution possible. If you have been using your phone and it can’t take any larger photos, you probably want to use a different camera to record that event you are attending.

, Graphic Designer, 701-231-8620

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Selfie Photo Frames and Decals Available

We've added a few more options to our Displays and Exhibits page.

First, there's Selfie Photo Frames like the ones shown here:

Selfie photo frames

We also have 12 x 24' posters available.

Extension posters 2018







If you have any questions about our Displays and Exhibits, please contact me.

, Graphic Designer, 701-231-7898

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Write the Right Word: Alumnus, Alumna, Alumni, Oh My!

Do you get confused when referring to someone who attended NDSU or other educational institution?

I don’t know of an easy way to remember which word to use, so here is a cheat sheet for you:

  • Alumnus – Use it when referring to a man who attended a school.
  • Alumna – This refers to a woman who attended a school.
  • Alumnae – Use this when talking about more than one woman who attended a school.
  • Alumni – This refers to more than one man who attended a school. You also use this when talking about a group of men and women who attended a school.

“Alum” is an informal way to refer to a man or woman who attended a school. The other words are preferable. If you do use “alum,” make sure your meaning is clear because alum also is a chemical compound.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Interactive Learning With Web-based Audience Response Systems

A growing number of NDSU Extension educators are using web-based audience response systems, like PollEverywhere, to make their face-to-face presentations more interactive and engaging. These systems allow an educator to create a question that can be displayed in their slideshow or on a webpage. Participants can respond to the question through an app, website, or by text message. The responses can then be displayed in a slideshow or on a webpage.

There are several web-based audience response systems, and most have a freemium model (you get some functionality free, but can pay for added features). I've used PollEverywhere for the most part. It's easy to use, can be integrated with PowerPoint and has multiple response options, but the free version is limited to 40 responses.

Mentimeter is another option. The free version allows for unlimited responses, but participants cannot respond through a text message. Here's a comparison of features in the free versions of PollEverywhere and Mentimeter (adapted from Cardiff University Learning Technology).

FunctionalityMentimeter (free)PollEverywhere (free)
Audience Size unlimited 40/poll
All question types yes yes
Number of questions 2/presentation, 5/quiz unlimited
Web presentation yes yes
PowerPoint integration yes yes
Text message response no yes

Give these tools a try to make your presentations and workshops more interactive. If you'd like to talk more about them or need help, feel free to contact me.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-7381

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Images: Raster vs. Vector

A raster image is made up of hundreds of little squares or pixels. Each little pixel has information letting the computer or printer know where it is in the image and what color it needs to be when the image is viewed or printed. A vector image uses geometric primitives like lines, curves and points, which uses mathematical equations to tell the computer and printer what to do when printed or viewed on your computer screen.

Now, what are their uses? Raster images are photos and gradient images that have lots of colors. Vector images are better suited for flat images like logos and illustrations. A vector image will always keep its crisp, clean lines no matter how much you enlarge it. A raster image will get pixelated as it increases in size -- the little square or pixel only gets bigger, which makes it more visible the larger it gets. Another plus to using a vector image of a logo/identifier is that the background can be transparent where a raster image like a JPG of a logo/identifier will have that white box around it.

Dave Haasser, Graphic Designer, 701-231-8620

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Email List Tip of the Month: Only from Other NDSU Emails

NDSU Extension has updated some internal email lists recently:

To avoid spam and keep them for internal use, these and other listservs managed by the Extension director’s office are set so that only others using their address can send messages to them.

If you're a listserv owner, follow these instructions from Lori Lymburner on how to do that:

  1. Log in to Listserv.
  2. Go to List Management > List Configuration > List Configuration Wizard.
  3. Select your list from the drop down.
  4. Click on the gold/orange Access Control tab.
  5. In the middle of the options under that tab, change the Send= option to Private.
  6. Directly under that is a box for Special. Enter * and * in that box.
  7. Click the save button in the bottom right side of the screen.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 for each list that you own.
  9. Log out of Listserv.
Private email list

Also, if you create or already own email lists, be sure to have at least one other person as an owner for backup.

 Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director, 701-231-7875

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Beware of Phishing Emails

We've written about the dangers of opening an email that's "phishing" you. It's masked to look legitimate but has malicious intent, such as gaining your personal information or attaching viruses that will infect your computer. As long as there's personal data to be mined or hackers' satisfaction in ruining others' devices, phishing and other scams are here to stay.

Two days in a row last week, I received the same email from "Dean Bresciani," but it had all the telltale signs of a phished email:

  • I wasn't expecting this email
  • Bresciani's email address is not an NDUS email
  • Typos or grammatical errors

 Bresciani phish

Seeing all these signs, I reported this email to so they can be made aware of attempts to steal information from students, faculty and staff and try to alleviate any threat of a disingenuous email sender.

Never open an email that looks suspicious, is threatening or asks for your personal information. Always to determine the safety of opening a suspicious email.

For more information, review an article I wrote last year about phishing.

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Quality

Avoid using “quality” when describing or modifying a noun. Despite the way it is being used, it’s not a substitute for words such as “good,” “great” or “fine.”

Quality also can be bad, poor or mediocre. So if someone says, “I just saw a quality performance,” you really don’t know anything about the performance.

When we communicate with our audiences, we need to be concise, but we also need to be clear. So the next time you think of using “quality” to modify a noun, remember, it needs its own modifier. For example: “We want to have high-quality health care.” Or this: “The drought resulted in a poor-quality wheat crop in parts of the state.”

“Quality” as a noun doesn’t need a modifier. For example, “I question the quality of this gadget.” Or this: “The reviewer offered his opinion on the play’s quality.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Write the Right Word: Drop the ‘S’

When using words indicating direction such as “toward,” “forward” and “upward,” you don’t need to tack an “s” on the end.

That’s according to the Association Press Stylebook, which we follow in Ag Communication.

Here are some examples:

  • “The line moved forward a few inches at a time.”
  • “The cattle ran toward the fence.”
  • “The monthly report indicates an upward trend in sales.”

“Afterward,” which means at a later time, subsequently or thereafter, also should not have an “s” at the end, the AP Stylebook says. For instance, “The fire happened while the homeowner was away, but he found out about it shortly afterward.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Email List Tip of the Month: "All" and Subject Lines

Think twice before you send a message to any email list that includes “all.” The three units of Agricultural Affairs each have an email list, and each has many people on the list:

  • NDSU-all-coa@ -- 242 College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources faculty and staff
  • NDSU-all-exp@ -- 436 N.D. Agricultural Experiment Station faculty and staff
  • NDSU-allext@ -- 325 faculty and staff with NDSU Extension appointments

Together, these three make up NDSU-all-ag@ --more than 1,000 email addresses, though duplicates are cut so you only receive the message once if you have a joint appointment.

Practice email etiquette when you send to any listserv or to individuals, especially in the subject line. These are the few words that help receivers decide whether or not to even open your message.

  • Use a meaningful, clear, direct subject line, not something vague such as “Question” or “Save the date.”
  • Use action-oriented verbs rather than words like “update” or “newsletter.” Maybe focus on the lead story information of the update or newsletter. (OK, Let’s Communicate breaks that rule.)
  • Don’t reply on a totally different topic and leave the subject line. Rewrite the subject line to focus on the current topic.
  • Keep the subject line short enough so the receiver sees all the words – 50 characters max.

Becky Koch, Agriculture Communication Director, 701-231-7875

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