We probably view every brochure we see through a jaundiced eye. We know what makes them look attractive and what doesn’t. But remember, no one ever started out trying to create an eyesore. We can’t make you a graphic designer on this website. So here are just a couple of suggestions – things to do and not do.
Fonts – You may have a hundred fonts to choose from. That is not a challenge to use as many as you can. Stick to one, at most two fonts for your brochure. Certain fonts play well with others. Search the Internet for font families. Remember, you can achieve a clean look with judicious use of bold , italics and different sizes while using the same font.
Readability – Part of your font choice should be respect for the person who will receive your brochure. An older audience may appreciate a simple font in a larger size rather than that great Gothic font you found on the Internet. Then again, if your brochure is for your band, “The Modern Goths”, go for it.
Graphics – “All work and no play makes Jack …” You know the saying. Let’s modify it to “All text and no graphics makes a dull brochure.” Graphics are not just stand alone pictures. They can be those same pictures or sweeping, colorful shapes used as backgrounds. A piece of a spreadsheet can be a graphic and even a graph can be a graphic. Of course you logo is a graphic.
All graphics must be in high resolution, 300 DPI (“dots per inch”). And you will probably not be able to take an image from the Internet. Images on the web appear the same regardless of whether they are 72 dpi or 300 dpi. The only difference will be in the time it takes to load the image. So a professional web designer will reduce all images to 72 dpi to save loading time, and simultaneously make those images unacceptable for printing.
“Bleed” – Now we need to get slightly technical. When a color continues to the very edge of paper that is called a “bleed” and it looks more professional than a white border. But a printing press cannot apply ink to the edge of a paper, so how do we do it? By printing oversize and trimming back. The most common bleed size is .125”. In order to print a finished brochure that is 8.5” x 11.0” with color running to the edges (“full bleed”) the brochure must be originally designed at 8.75” x 11.25”. After printing that 1/8 “ will be trimmed off to the correct size.
Design Hint: Keep all important text and graphics (such as logos) within 1/8” of the final trim lines.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of designing to the proper layout of your brochure, paying particular attention to fold lines. When in doubt, use a professional printing template.
Something else you should keep in mind before you set pen to paper (or fingers to keys) is how your brochures will be distributed. Some brochures will sit on a desk or a counter, waiting to be picked up by someone interested. Others will be part of your marketing portfolio, a package you or your sales staff hand out to a perspective customer. Finally, many brochures will be mailed.
Brochures in the first two categories can be designed with text and graphics on all panels. These same brochures can also be mailed if inserted into an envelope. Just keep in mind the size of the envelope that might be necessary for an unusually sized or folded brochure.
Brochures destined to be mailed have a unique feature – they can be designed as self-mailers that do not require an envelope. They do, however, have other design considerations, such as a minimum paper weight (80# book) and one of the panels must be left somewhat blank to accommodate the mailing address. Self-mailer brochures will also require, at minimum, two wafer seals (“tabs”) located along the top edge. That means that the panels must be designed so that the final fold is on the bottom.