Brochures and Flyers

What We've Found

Whether 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
Brochures, 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
1. Define the objective
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 format
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 personal identity.

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 group.

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 clear.

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

7. Distribute it
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 press 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 charts


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.


Forget It If...

  • 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
Use brochures and flyers throughout the planning stage and during the life of a project.


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