The Ultimate Checklist for a Good Brochure Design

Ultimate Checklist, Good Brochure Design

If you are a novice designer and you need to create a quick brochure, there are a few quick tricks you can do to make a design a bit stronger. But if you really want to create a good brochure design, there are quite a few factors you’ll want to consider.

Here is the ultimate checklist for a good brochure design*:

+Content is appropriate for the purpose and audience of the brochure
+Written content is free of typos, spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors
+Written content is pared down to only the essential information
+Content is image-heavy (in most cases; brochures should be highlights, not information-dense material)

+Font choice matches the scope of the organization and content of the brochure
+Text is appropriate size (12-pt is often too large; stick to 9- and 10-point fonts)
+At least two different fonts are used (one for headings and one for body content) but no more than three
+Different fonts are very different from each other (don’t use the same font category [serif, sans serif, script, or decorative] twice on the same brochure)
+Paragraph text is spaced with more leading than the default (a 10-pt font, for example, may need 16-point leading)
+Callouts, drop caps, and initial caps are used to create variety and enhance visual detail
+Oldstyle figures are used for numbers
+Small caps are used for all acronyms

+Images have an important communicative purpose; they are not included just to make the document pretty
+All images are in high resolution; no image appears pixilated
+Images of human faces are not looking directly off the edge of a page
+Images of people that are intended to communicate professionalism, personality, and intellect use a large face with little of the body
+Images of people that are intended to communicate health, vigor, and sensuality include more of the body
+Images have been edited for professionalism; no image appears flat, grainy, or un-cropped
+Cut out images do not have awkward or jagged edges that appear obviously Photoshopped

+Most important information is biggest, most obvious element on the page
+Nothing looks like an accident: all colors, fonts, and font sizes are either the exact same or clearly and obviously different
+If light text is used on a dark background, the font used has no delicate or thin features
+Light text is not used on light backgrounds or viceversa
+Busy background images or watermarks do not detract from text or important content

+Design elements (colors, shapes, fonts, icons, layouts) are repeated multiple times to create consistency
+Visual cues are created in each section to keep the document cohesive

+Information is placed in close proximity with related information (all contact information in the same place, all activities in another, etc.)
+No “floating” headings are used (extra space between a heading and a paragraph below); headings are grouped tightly with content
+Captions for images are clearly grouped/located with the appropriate image they are describing
+Nothing appears to be placed arbitrarily; every element is grouped with something else

+Every element is aligned with something else (nothing is arbitrarily placed) and every alignment is precise
+Nothing is center-aligned

White/Negative Space
+White space is found in large chunks, making brochure feel clean and approachable
+Text is kept to a minimum, used in lists where appropriate
+Design is not cluttered with too many images, shapes, watermarks, colors, or other distractions
+There are no awkward shapes showing up in the negative space (conscious attention should be paid to all negative space and the shapes and busyness it can create)
+Unnecessary strokes (outlines) on text, images, and shapes are removed

Margins & Gutters
+There is at least a 1/2″ margin between all text and the edges of the page
+Text and images have enough space between them to make them readable and not create awkward negative space

+Color scheme matches scope and purpose of organization
+Color scheme considers color psychology and cultural responses to certain colors
+No more than five colors are used as an overall theme (and three or four is better)
+Colors match (don’t clash) and can be drawn from the color wheel as one of the following schemes: monochromatic, analogous, complementary, triadic, or split-compliment triadic
+Colors in photographs complement the overall color scheme of the document
+Black used for text or other content isn’t too abrasive (sometimes a dark gray can be more effective)
+Red and blue are never placed on top of each other
+Color contrast is effective–two similar hues, shades, or tints are not placed on top of or next to each other

+Visual elements that are important to be observed do not fall too close to the edge of the page
+Images close to the edge run off the bleed (there is not white space between the image and the edge of the page)
+Text only runs off bleed if it is very large text, is still readable, and was clearly intended to go off the page

+Highlighting techniques are used to draw attention to important information (contrast, color, underline, italics, boldface, etc.)
+All caps is not used as a highlighting technique (or used at all, really, unless for a short heading)
+No more than 10% of the total content is highlighted
+Too many highlighting techniques are not used at the same time (one heading should not be bold, italicized, underlined, enlarged, in all caps, in a different color, and have a colon next to it)
+Quotation marks are not used as a highlighting technique (they have a very specific rhetorical function and can communicate sarcasm–something you may not be intending)

+Special effects, like drop shadows or gradients, are not overused or distracting
+Effects are used for aesthetic details or to highlight something important, but do not dominate the document

*Information for this checklist is drawn from multiple document design resources, including Robin Williams’ Non-Designer’s Design Book, John McWade’s How To Design Cool Stuff; Lidwell, Holden, & Butler’s Universal Principles of Design; and Robin Williams’ Non-Designer’s Type Book.

Looking for more inspiration on brochure design? Check out Fit Small Business’s article: “Brochure Templates: Top 25 Free and Paid Brochure Options


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