What We've Found
presenting background information or announcing a meeting, brochures, pamphlets,
flyers, door hangers, and posters are great tools to reach large numbers of
people. Production can range from being fairly inexpensive and homemade,
especially with today’s desktop publishing capabilities, to slick, four-color,
special paper and professionally printed. It all depends upon your budget, your
community, and your needs. If the message is clear and the images are
captivating, we’ve seen all types work.
Just the Facts
pamphlets, flyers, and posters are versatile communication tools. Brochures and
pamphlets are usually folded and printed double-sided to get multiple text
panels. They are used to promote membership to an organization, give highlights
of a project, summarize the findings from a report, show a map of possible
corridors, interpret the features of a particular place or resource, and other
brief messages. They can be handed out, stuffed in an envelope, sent as a
self-mailer, or placed in libraries, community centers, and other gathering
places. Flyers and posters are typically one-sided and meant to be displayed
fully open. Whether mailed or hung on community bulletin boards or other
vertical surfaces, they can be used to announce meetings or events; recruit
volunteers; educate about a project; etc.
How To Do It
What is the purpose of this publication? Who is the
audience? How will it be used? Be as specific as possible in order to more
narrowly define the message and help keep it concise.2. Choose a
Knowing the purpose of the piece and having an outline of the
message will help decide whether to use a brochure, pamphlet, flyer, or poster.
Keep in mind that there are many options for folding brochures and pamphlets. It
may be helpful to collect several samples to see which ones work most
effectively. Be aware that different folding patterns will affect the costs of
production.3. Write it
Know who the target audience
is and write for them. Write a message that conveys feelings, that includes a
story or something readers can relate to about your organization or a resource.
Be concise – especially for posters and flyers. Use active, not passive, voice
and avoid jargon and acronyms. Remember to include a contact name and phone
number; a mailing address; and, if applicable, names of project partners and
names and logos of sponsors who made possible the production of the piece. This
may be the only representation of your organization that a person sees, so they
need to know how to get more information.4. Design it
Do not assume that using desktop publishing software will solve all the
problems. If budget is a constraint, find a professional and offer to give him
or her credit and referrals. Here are some elements to keep in mind:
Readability: Since the ultimate purpose of the piece is for people to get
information, it needs to be easy to read. Make sure the font is clear and that
it is large enough: 11-12 point size for brochures and pamphlets is minimum
(make cover text and headlines 3-times larger as a general rule); posters and
flyers, which are read at a glance, should use big, bold fonts not script or
italics. Allow for plenty of white space, which refers to blank areas that have
neither copy nor images.
Images: Select only quality photographs
and artwork. Images should be used both to attract readers to the information
and enhance their understanding of the message. Avoid using photographs, maps
and drawings that are inserted just for decoration and do not strengthen a
story. Do not resort to clip art to just fill in spaces; you’ll lose your own
Style: Create a style for your organization that reflects your geography,
history, and culture. Consider designing a logo and/or always using the same
stock of color paper. Every piece that is published should have a similar look
and feel so that it is immediately identifiable to your
5. Proof it
Always, always have at least one
person who was not involved in the writing or design of the piece give it a
careful read. Look for typos especially in names and numbers, verify dates and
contact information are accurate, and be assured the message is
6. Produce it
Printing can be as easy as
making copies or as complex as a four-color production on glossy paper. What
method of printing is chosen will depend upon budget. If you haven’t already,
consider seeking the support of a sponsor or sponsors. Businesses or other
organizations may be willing to help pay for production in return for having
their names on the final product
Make the piece available to your target audience in whatever way
is most applicable: place pieces in public meeting spaces; alert members to the
piece’s availability via newsletters and on
websites; issue a
release; hold a meeting to review report findings and have the piece
available for attendees to take home; etc. Information may be given in the form
of door hangers. If the piece will be mailed, and the mailing list is more than
200 addresses, be sure to inquire about bulk mail permits from the post office.
If not properly folded and taped, brochures or pamphlets that are not placed in
envelopes may get torn in the post office machines.
Printed documents that contain
concise text and strong graphic images such as photos, drawings, maps, or
Use It If...
- You want to communicate a consistent image of and message about your group,
organization, or project.
- You have the human resources to write and design a piece and the financial
resources to print and distribute and/or mail copies. (Don’t forget tapping
volunteers and sponsors.)
- You need a document to leave behind when doing presentations, to include in
mailings, or to send to people who call requesting more information.
- You want to generate publicity through a contest, find a special way to
acknowledge donors, or create a fundraising tool.
- You cannot clearly identify a need and a target audience.
- You lack the resources to write, design, print and distribute it.
- You have too much text and significantly editing it confuses the message.
Don’t try using a smaller font size or reducing the number of images or white
space to squeeze it all in; instead, consider designing and printing a small
pamphlet or booklet.
Timing is Everything
brochures and flyers throughout the planning stage and during the life of a