How to Design a Pamphlet

by Christina Hamlett; Updated September 26, 2017

A pamphlet is a small package that can carry a big message about your products and services, your passions and beliefs, or even your tips and advice to help consumers make smart choices. Depending on the amount of content involved, you can produce pamphlets from the comfort of your home or upload your pages to a disk and have a print shop assemble everything for you.

Items you will need

  • Excellent writing skills
  • Photography/graphic design skills
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Mailing envelopes
  • Postage
  • Budget
Step 1

Determine the focus and content of your pamphlet project. In most cases, the purpose of pamphlet material will be to educate, to entertain, to enlighten and/or to persuade the target reader to take a particular course of action. If you're designing a pamphlet for your company, school or shop, the material will contain such items as a listing of products for sale, a breakdown of services/classes offered, rates and fees, testimonials and maybe even a tear-out sheet discount coupon or a postcard to mail in for more information. If the pamphlet is to bring attention to the plight of wild horses, the content might include historical retrospectives, press clippings, photographs, interviews and a call to action for the readers to get involved.

Step 2

Identify your target market. The age, gender, occupation, social status and education of the readers you want to reach will determine the grade-level language used, the color scheme, the number of photographs and graphics to supplement the text, as well as the distribution mechanism for letting readers know your pamphlet is available.

Step 3

Decide on a distribution mechanism based on your available budget. For example, will the pamphlets be handed out in the context of a workshop presentation? Will they be picked up by customers at grocery stores, dentist offices or libraries? Will you promote the pamphlet and sell it online? The amount of money you spend producing the pamphlet will dictate how much of that investment you expect to recoup when it's distributed in person or by mail. If, for instance, the pamphlet is only three double-sided pieces of paper folded in half, your printing costs aren't going to be as much as those for a pamphlet that is between 50 and 75 pages and has to be assembled and bound at a print shop.

Step 4

Determine the size of your pamphlet. The most common sizes are pocket editions (3 3/4 inches by 5 3/4 inches) and standard folds (5 3/8 inches by 8 1/2 inches). Forty pages (20 double-sided sheets of letter-size paper) plus a card-stock cover comprise a comfortable maximum if you're planning to staple it in the middle. If you have more than that, you'll need to have it bound and trimmed at a print shop. Larger pamphlet items, such as course catalogs and portfolios, are generally tabloid-size pages (11 inches by 17 inches) that have been folded in half.

Step 5

Comparison shop to see which printing facility or online print service will give you the best deal. The price at which you plan to sell your pamphlets should be no more than 10 percent of the unit price to produce each one. Keep in mind that glossy pages and full-color projects are going to be more expensive than those run on regular 20-lb. bond paper with a card-stock cover and black ink.

Step 6

Strive for an appropriate amount of white space on each page of text. If the material has not been broken into easy, bite-size pieces and looks too cluttered on the page, it's not going to hold your reader's attention. Choose a font that is easy to read, such as Courier, Times New Roman, Bookman or Palatino.

Step 7

Incorporate photographs, graphics and maps to help break up the text. If the pamphlet contains multiple sections, include a table of contents so material will be easy to find. Always number your pages, and allow 1 inch of margin space at the top, bottom, left and right sides of each page.

Step 8

Use a photograph or a striking pen-and-ink graphic for your cover design.

Step 9

Proofread your work thoroughly before it goes to print, and recruit friends to read everything over for you to make sure it's perfect.

Tips

  • Your computer's word processing program has a readability statistic under the Spelling and Grammar function that can review your content and reveal the number of passive sentences, the Flesch reading ease score, and the Flesch-Kincaid grade level. If for, example, the number of passive sentences you have used exceeds 5 percent, the material isn't as active and dynamic as it could be. Likewise, if only 15 percent of the population can read and comprehend your material or you're writing for third graders but the grade-level score clocks in at graduate level, you'll need to revise with shorter words and shorter sentences.

    If you're planning to publish a series of pamphlets on similar topics (i.e., career overviews for high school students), strive for a consistent "look" with each booklet. The cover colors can be different for each guide, but the material contained within should adhere to a uniform format.

    If you're not comfortable with designing something from scratch, a number of online companies and software packages provide templates for you to experiment with placement, color and text sizes, as well as upload original photographs and artwork.

    Establish a website. Even if your primary plan to distribute your pamphlets is in person or at schools and businesses, a website will allow you to do some 24/7 hype, include some excerpts and publicize upcoming titles you're working on.

Warnings

  • Pick one style of font and stick with it for the entire pamphlet. Mixing fonts throughout your text will give the impression that you're not organized.

    If you're using photographs and graphics from outside sources, make sure you have permission to use them in your pamphlet. Likewise, you can't use copyrighted material without permission from the author or publisher.

About the Author

Ghostwriter and film consultant Christina Hamlett has written professionally since 1970. Her credits include many books, plays, optioned features, articles and interviews. Publishers include HarperCollins, Michael Wiese Productions, "PLAYS," "Writer's Digest" and "The Writer." She holds a B.A. in communications (emphasis on audience analysis and message design) from California State University, Sacramento. She also travels extensively and is a gourmet chef.