The Beginner’s Guide to Print Brochures

print brochuresThe goal of print brochures, regardless of subject, is to communicate the most important message as quickly and easily as possible. A good print brochure should be easy to skim but also encourage readers to take a deeper dive. And while those two things may seem contradictory, they actually dovetail quite well when you plan effectively.

It’s the planning phase of creating a print brochure that sets you and your team (if you have one) up for success. Let’s dive into the first step of creating a print brochure.

Decide on Layout

Portrait, landscape, bi-fold, or tri-fold? These are just some of many decisions you must make, but it’s an important one, and the answer isn’t the same for everyone. Generally, the most significant constraint to layout will be your images. Start by thinking graphically. Consider which images you’d most like to show, and think about how those images are best represented.

Perhaps you’re a real estate agent, and you sell luxurious, sprawling estates. Chances are, a print brochure with a landscape orientation will do your listings the most justice. Or maybe you’re a doctor who wants to market his or her services. As a doctor, you’re more likely to spend time explaining your services and credentials rather than showing pictures of your practice.

In the doctor’s case, a portrait orientation with a tri-old would help by sectioning a large amount of text into easily digestible sections.

You should also think about how most of your audience will read your brochure. Even though it’s a print brochure, you’ll likely want to use it on the web as well. The portrait layout is more common in a traditional print brochure, but landscape also has its advantages on the web. If in doubt, do a quick mockup with your favorite graphics.

Outline the Story

When you’ve decided on your print brochure’s layout, you probably had a rough idea of how the “story” of your brochure would flow. But just as you probably did in grade school, you’ll want to outline a fairly detailed framework for the story. It’s easy to skip this step, but the outline is important because it forces you to prioritize what needs to be included and in what order.

Keep in mind, relatively few people will read every line of your brochure. You only have a limited time to communicate your message. Every word and graphic needs to carry its share of the weight.

Outlining is especially helpful if you’re working in a team. By outlining the brochure in the beginning, you get everyone’s ideas out onto the table. You sift through the best ones and then arrange them in a logical order. In other words, you create a roadmap. When you encounter any creative differences down the road, you can refer back to the outline.

Find or Create Complementary Graphics

You should have a good idea of the types of images or graphics you’ll need once you’ve completed the outline of your print brochure. Images are extremely important because, when done correctly, they communicate information without requiring much thought from the reader.

For beginners, there’s always a temptation to overdo it with graphics. To avoid this, remember the goal of your brochure: to communicate the most important message as quickly and easily as possible. Even the most expertly created graphics will distract from your message if they’re not laid out thoughtfully. Make careful use of whitespace to give images and text sufficient “breathing room.”

If in doubt, take a look at samples of brochures that you admire and observe the little things, like margins, spacing, font size, etc. It’s those small details that you don’t pay attention to as a reader that actually make the reading experience most enjoyable.

Exploring Print Brochure Ideas

By creating an outline and gathering images, you’ve created a “creative box.” And, while that might seem overly restrictive at first, it actually helps drive your exploration in a very focused way. For example, with a solid idea of what each page is supposed to accomplish, you’ll force yourself into coming up with ideas that achieve each page’s goals.

This makes it much easier to judge whether an idea is good or bad. Whether they’re words or images, you know a good idea is the one that accomplishes the goals of the page.

Conclusion: Keep it Simple

As a beginner, you can’t expect to create a masterful print brochure on your first try, but if you keep it simple, you’ll get the job done. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to make your brochure do too much all at once; a print brochure should help a consumer understand the key features and benefits of your product or service. It doesn’t have to—and really shouldn’t—tell every little detail of your story.

If you must provide more context, consider pairing your brochure with a cover letter.

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