Criteria for Brochure Design

The design of brochures is the key to success, given that only a sensible choice of graphic elements and an adequate layout of the information will generate a visual and communicative impact on the public.

In BROCHURES-ESTIMATES.COM we provide some of the core aspects to bear in mind when designing a brochure, for you to be able to understand the important task done by the graphic designer you will hire.

We will stop at each item to highlight the differences in design for each type of brochure: flyer, leaflet and trifold brochure.


Definition of the message

First, it is essential to spend enough time in defining the message to be conveyed through a brochure, whatever format. In so doing, it is necessary to clearly and precisely set the underlying goals. For instance, a company may plan the creation of a brochure with the aim of updating customers about modifications within the technical staff, incorporation of new machines, new products, etc. The message of a company is whatever a company wants to say about herself, the image she wants to build, the feeling she wants to generate.

It is a global concept embracing both visual and linguistic levels.

It is very important to define the message to be conveyed, given that it will serve as a guide for the creation of the text and graphics of the brochure.



Given that brochures are characterised by the importance of the text within them, it is necessary to define the text precisely to later establish its layout and harmonise it with the visual elements. Regardless of the type of brochure chosen, the text must be concise and clear, with a simple language understood by everybody. The text must be highly synthetic, given that this is the only way in which receptors will read the brochure in full.

The language used must be far from obscure, and long sentences as well as excessive terminology must be avoided. It is important for the grammatical structures to be simple in order to avoid confusions and misunderstandings. Likewise, even when brochures are addressed to a specialized public within a particular field of knowledge it is advisable to employ little terminology, as the brochure should be reader friendly.

It is important for the text to address the receptor, for him to feel close to the company we are dealing with. The register may be either formal or informal depending on the profile of the company and of the public addressed.



Another important element to bear in mind before the design itself is the delimitation of the public that the brochure will address. The designer in charge of developing the brochure will take into account the type of customers of a particular company, as well as the type of potential clients it targets. The delimitation of the public is essential, given that it will enable the adaptation of the text and the graphics to the addressees, taking into account their characteristics –age, educational level, social class, cultural group, sex , etc.- consequently, the people targeted by a company will be attracted to have a look at and preserve the brochure.

On the other hand, depending on the type of advertising campaign each company decides to launch, the public targeted may be ample or restricted. If you are seeking to distribute brochures among a great amount of people, then you will need to resort to greater visual attraction and a plain and clear text.

If you seek to address a specialized public, then it is important to elaborate a text with some specific terms.


The text must be short and striking in order to call people’s attention immediately and make them keep it. Generally, striking and catch phrases are used. As the amount of information is little, it is necessary to think over the text to be used. It not advisable to flood the flyer with words because its communicative role may fail. Only the basics must be included: name of the company, products and services advertised, prices, slogan and contact information.

Trifold brochures

It is important to define the text bearing in mind its six sides layout. The front page must include an attractive phrase- literal or metaphoric- together with the name of the company. The first inner page, chiefly read, must introduce all the grounds for the customer to buy the company’s products or hire its services. It is advisable to include contact information here. In the remaining inner pages the text must be descriptive and explanatory, with a good layout helping quick and fluid reading. Readers must be able to grasp the core elements of the message the company wants to convey in order to disclose its activities and corporate philosophy. On the last page, reverse, the full contact information must be included.



The text plays a key role in brochures, therefore the choice of adequate typographies is really important. First of all, legibility is the basic criterion in choosing a typography. Sometimes, typographies are visually attractive but difficult to read. What really matters is that addressees can read with pleasure and easily the brochure they have in their hands, otherwise they will not keep it. Therefore, the designer will have to choose a typography that is legible both in big and small fonts (for the cover and the interior) and in line with the aesthetics of the company. The typography must, additionally, contrast the background so that the text can be read without difficulties.

It is advisable to employ no more than two typographies in the brochure. The parts of the text can de differentiated by using different styles (bold type, italics, or underlined type). Besides, it is also convenient to use traditional typographies such as Helvetic, Bodoni, Garamond or Times instead of the so called “fancy fonts”.



When designing a brochure it is also necessary to think of the paper to be employed given that the materials used will bring about great changes in the way designs look. The two groups of papers mostly used in printing brochures are “offset paper” and “bond paper”. High quality brochures also use “card”. The duration of brochures depends largely on the choice of paper, as they should be strong enough for the public to have a look at them frequently.

Offset paper can be coated (drawing paper) or uncoated. Offset paper takes such name because it is ideal for offset printing (it is the most popular within the printing world). Drawing paper is at the top in leaflet and trifold brochures printing, given that it is a strong paper and it has a very good appearance. It is coated in clay or other minerals, which makes it soft surfaced, flexible and it enables ink to stick sharply. This coating may be either glossy or matte.

One of the greatest advantages of drawing paper is that images and fonts can be printed sharply. If it is glossy, colours stand out more; if it is matte colours are not that bright. However, words are highly legible and images are really sharp. This type of paper can be folded easily, which poses a great advantage, not only to brochures with traditional folds but also to those with special folds.

If uncoated offset paper is chosen, the designer will have to be aware that colours and shapes will be less striking. Generally, this paper is used in the creation of flyers, given that it is low cost, and it is good quality though less attractive than drawing paper. Sometimes, it is used in the production of inexpensive leaflets and trifold brochures. On the other hand, bond paper is a type of paper used in the production of flyers in bulks and at a low cost. If you had to choose this paper on account of a tight budget, you must know that it is not long lasting, it is opaque and therefore colours are not striking. Anyway, a good designer will be able to think of a plain and catchy design even when material conditions are not the best.

If flyers, leaflets and trifold brochures will be printed on card, then the design will look outstanding. Apart from its glossy or matte coating, with the visual consequences it entails (excellent image definition, bright colours), this paper has a grater width thus obtaining great quality and long lasting brochures.

Glossy cards make brochures really eye-catching, while opaque cards turn brochures into extremely elegant graphic pieces. In either case, brochures will convey a company’s professional image.

When designing brochures the weight of the paper used must be taken into account. The design of flyers, leaflets or trifold brochures will have a different effect if printed on a light or heavy weight paper. The graphic designer will make the paper weight fit the image of the company willing to be transmitted, given that it will affect it significantly. A basic premise: the combination of a good design with the heaviest paper (generally, the thickest) transmits a company’s professionalism, soundness and reliability. It should be mentioned that the same design will look extremely different if printed on an extremely light paper or on card. Following the American weighing system (pounds per paper ream, each type having a particular specific measure), we recommend the following papers in designing brochures: for flyers: 70# offset uncoated paper or 35# bond paper; for leaflets and trifold brochures: 80# and 100# gloss or matte drawing paper , or 80# and 100# gloss or matte card.


Panels or sides

When designing a double sided flyer, a leaflet or trifold brochure it is extremely important to take into account its sides. Here we mention some design aspects to take into consideration in each case.

Double sided flyers.

The front side is key to call addressees’ attention. It must contain the name of the company, its logo and a phrase, either metaphoric or literal. In either case, it is important for the phrase to be clear for the public. If dealing with a full colour brochure, the front side must include striking colours, at least in order to highlight prices, special offers, products or any other relevant information. Including images related to the company, is also effective.

The back side may be designed with softer colours. On this side contact information is included together with further details about the products and services of a company. It is important to keep a graphic correlation between front and back sides.


The four sides must be designed as a unity. As in the case of double sided flyers, the front side must be attractive and inviting, for the addressees to continue reading the interior, while the back side must contain all the data of the company for customers to make requests and acquire its products and services.

The front side must always contain the name of the company and its logo as well as an interesting image and a striking and catch phrase, because the effectiveness of this sides will either entice people into reading further or not. The last side may underscore contact information through shapes and colours.

It is important for the two inner sides to contain a clearly laid out text and to bear a unique graphic criterion with the exterior.

Thus, the inside of a leaflet may have curved lines, typographies and colour contrasts or a particular lay out of shapes and images, all of which must be coherent with the outside of the brochure. Each side may, however, be given a pinch of originality. What matters is that the visual elements chosen convey, through the non verbal language, the same message as the text. Given that leaflets are used not only to promote a company but also as small catalogues, incorporating pictures or illustrations of the products advertised by a company is a good choice. In so doing, the public will be enticed into buying those products.

Trifold brochures

When designing a trifold brochure, as in a leaflet, it is important to achieve coherence between outer sides and inner sides, for the graphic unit to depict the company thoroughly. Therefore, it is essential for the designer to define the colours, typographies, lines, types of images and text layout for the whole trifold brochure. Based on this general criterion, variations in the different sides may then be introduced, in order to highlight different elements in each of them.

Apart from a striking phrase, the front page must contain a really attractive design achieved by means of colours, images, typography or layout. The inside must not be flooded with elements. It is advisable, instead, to have the necessary amounts of blank spaces to make reading easy. Synoptic charts, arrows, frames and small infographies to highlight particular data and clarify contents, can be included. It is also important to include pictures and illustrations of the company, its premises and its personnel, to show the public the company’s real world.


In this type of brochure the text must be thought of mainly bearing in mind its distribution along the four consecutive sides. The front page should bear a suggestive text, enticing people into reading further. Generally, the front contains only one phrase, as a slogan, capable of synthesizing the nature of a company. The inside of the leaflet should contain a clear, ordered and concise text.

It is important to organize the information and the use of paragraphs, vignettes, titles, subtitles and frames, as this makes quick reading possible. A leaflet must be easily read and be understood at once, otherwise the actual or prospective customer will stop reading it. The back page generally includes address, telephone number and fax, e-mail address and Web site, timetables for customer service and other data related to the company itself.


Verbal and visual language

Once the text to be included in the brochure is defined, the graphic designer will have to apply all his creativity in emphasising the verbal message by means of colours, layout, shapes, lines, typographies and images.

The graphic message must be coherent not only with the text but also with the aesthetics of the company, in order to strengthen the corporate identity in both linguistic and visual levels. The logo of the company must always be present. The visual elements chosen must not only be coherent among themselves and with the text but also attractive, catchy, easily remembered and identifiable with the company.

Images (pictures and illustrations) may be either explicitly or metaphorically related with the company’s business.

In any case, it is important to avoid flooding brochures with signs, bearing in mind that simplicity is really effective when conveying a message adequately.


Size, cut, folds, coating and sheet

When designing a brochure it is important to take into account its size in order to know how much space will be devoted to pictures and text layout. In letter size flyers or double or triple letter size leaflets or trifold brochures you can profit from space by creating a high visual impact. Besides, you can include more text, though it is not advisable to flood big brochures with words – it is better to enlarge the type.

When designing you can also play with the type of cut to be used. Traditionally, brochures have an orthogonal cut (straight), however they can also be done in different, irregular cuts, with a special mechanism. In this case the designer creates a cut with a special format, in line with the general design of the brochure. You will only have to take into to account that the price of brochures will increase and you will need to look for a printer’s working with those particular cuts.

Folds are another aspect the designer can work with in order to achieve greater originality in designing leaflets and trifold brochures. The type of fold will be a determining factor in design. The text, the shapes and pictures will be laid out in different ways according to the paper folds. Leaflets may be folded in half, but also in a diagonal way or without totally overlapping its sides. Trifold brochures on the other hand, are a piece in which folds can become very important for design. Apart from the traditional trifold brochure in which the different parts overlap forming a closed roll, the designer may choose a z-fold brochure, ideal to play with the design with the paper unfolded. Another way of folding a trifold brochure is by placing two parallel sides (sides may touch each other or not), as a doorway. This type of fold is very suggestive and creates intrigue among readers. In all the cases the designer may play with the vertical or horizontal layout, of both design and fold. Apart from these options each designer may put forward his own. He should only make sure that folds make layout easy.

Another element to take into account while designing a brochure is its coating or final coating. When we talk about coating we mean paper coating.

There are coated and uncoated papers. We recommend coated papers (clay coating) given that they are stronger and more attractive papers. Folded brochures most generally take drawing paper, either gloss or matte. Card, either gloss or matte, is also used. Flyers are usually made of uncoated paper, due to their lower cost.

When designing a brochure paper coating must be taken into account, given that the choice of colours, typographies and images depends largely on it. Gloss coating makes colours look more striking and fonts and images sharper; matte coating does not underscore colours but makes reading more fluid; uncoated papers make the design opaque and generally have lower definition. Considering this, you will be able to profit the most from the design possibilities of each type of paper , either coated or uncoated.

Final coatings are more or less the same. The final coating is a plastic coating that sticks on the brochure once finished, in order to make it stronger and more striking. It can be bright or opaque, causing the same effects as both types of coating.



The designer will also focus in the choice of colours suiting a particular company’s brochure. The choice of colours depends directly on the amount of colours in which printing will be done. Nowadays, colour printing is affordable, thus enabling companies to profit from a wide range of colours in producing their brochures.

However, according to each company’s budget, it is also possible to have full colour, black and white or single colour printouts.

Once the amount of colours the printout will include is decided the designer will elaborate a particular brochure.

If the whole range of colours will be used it is important for the design to be simple and clear, otherwise it may be counterproductive: a senseless combination of colours may be unattractive and communicatively inefficient. On the other hand, a design with adequate shapes, images and lines will profit from a multicolour range given that it will give birth to an eye catching graphic piece.

In those cases in which there is a full colour side and another black and white, the designer will have to let his imagination fly in order to make the front side really striking and to have coherence between both sides.

Generally the choice of colours in flyers, leaflets and trifold brochures can be summarized in two: vibrant colours as opposed to non vibrant colours, and monochromic soft colours. In every brochure it is extremely effective, in order to visually attract the public, to use vibrant colours together with striking colours, as the latter underscore the products’ images and the descriptive and explanatory text, while non vibrant background colours allow the sight to rest and give the design some breathing room. When the very same colour is used in all its ranges, an elegant and calm design is obtained.

The choice of colours in the creation of brochures, depends on the style of the company and its public. Therefore, youthful colours are generally used for companies with a more informal profile, targeting young public, while neuter or cold colours are frequently used for financial and technological companies, targeting a more formal public. It is important for the design to include the logo of a company and for the colours to harmonise with it. In so doing, the corporate identity is strengthened. Special brochures or companies willing to keep their exact corporate colours may use Pantone colours, whether pastel, fluorescent, silver or gold.

On the other hand, if the budget is slim, a black and white flyer is a good choice.

Many times, flyers follow this trend in order to reduce costs. A brochure designed by an expert can be striking in black and white, even when lacking the attractiveness of colours. Even when the application of many colours is possible, it is important not to forget the key role of design, in order to profit from it and avoid confusion by an excess of colours.



Considering the 9 items above mentioned, It is clear that there is only one person, specially qualified, who can make the design of a brochure fully successful: the graphic designer. The designer is a professional in communication who really knows how to articulate visual and verbal signs in order to get effective pieces. He is the person capable of understanding the message the company wants to convey through its brochures and make it graphically true. He takes into account the public addressed by each company in order to adapt a message. He knows and can advice companies on the different sizes, cuts, folds, finishes, coatings, papers and colours according to their needs and budget. He is also authoritative to recommend printer’s and different printing styles.

The professional designer is the one who can fully understand the features of a company and who, also, has a great creative potential with which ha can create nouvelle brochures that will stand out in today’s crowd of images. On the other hand, apart from the key role played by the designer, the editor also has a key role, given that he is the person qualified to elaborate the best texts.

The editor is in charge of looking into the company and translating into words the massage that she wants to convey in the brochure. He is the one who will choose the adequate vocabulary and write a clear and interesting text.

Do not doubt it, if you want successful brochures hire a designer and an editor and you will enjoy the best brochures for your company.