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Tips on Designing Brochures

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Brochures created by new designers have many of the same problems as newsletters: lack of contrast, lack of alignment, and too much Helvetica. In this article award-winning author Robin Williams shows some of the do's and don’ts of brochure design.

Excerpted from Adobe's The Non-Designer's Guerrilla Marketing CD

This article is provided courtesy of Peachpit Press.

Brochures created by new designers have many of the same problems as newsletters: lack of contrast, lack of alignment, and too much Helvetica.


As in any other design project, contrast not only adds visual interest to a page so a reader's eye is drawn in, but it also helps create the hierarchy of information so the reader can scan the important points and understand what the brochure is about. Use contrast in the typefaces, rules, colors, spacing, size of elements, etc. Remember that the only way contrast is effective is if it's strong—if two elements are not exactly the same, make sure they are very different. Otherwise it looks like a mistake.


Repeat various elements in the design to create a unified look to the piece. You might repeat colors, typefaces, rules, spatial arrangements, bullets, etc. What are the repetitive elements on this page you are reading right now? How do those elements relate to the design of the entire booklet?


I keep repeating myself about this alignment stuff, but it's important, and the lack of it is consistently a problem. Strong, sharp edges create a strong, sharp impression. A combination of alignments (using centered, flush left, and flush right in one piece) usually creates a sloppy, weak impression.


The design principle of proximity, or grouping similar items close together, is especially important in a project such as a brochure where you have a variety of subtopics within one main topic. How close and how far away items are from each other communicates the relationships of the items. To create the spatial arrangements effectively, you must know how to use your software to create space between the paragraphs (space before or space after) instead of hitting the Enter or Return key twice. Two Returns between paragraphs creates a larger gap than you need, forcing items apart that should be close together. Two Returns also creates the same amount of space above a headline or subhead as there is below the head (which you don't want), and it separates bulleted items that should be closer together.


 

For more design tips from Robin Williams, check out The Non-Designer's Design Book, The Non-Designer's Type Book, and The Non-Designer's Scan and Print Book (with coauthor Sandee Cohen), all published by Peachpit Press and found at quality bookstores everywhere.

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