How to Create a Catalogue

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2008 KnOizKi / Creative Commons

Catalogues are powerful marketing tools that can draw clients, increase sales and spread the word about products and services. Proper catalogue design is necessary to maximize effectiveness and results. Designing a simple catalogue that's good may seem simple, but it can be tricky without prior knowledge of word processing software, graphic software and copywriting.

Decide which products are going to be in the catalogue. Who are you selling to, and how can you make them buy what you're selling? The catalogue should make these answers very obvious. Effective catalogues pinpoint an audience and target the layout, decor, product and writing to fit that demographic.

Figure out which products you'll be selling in the catalogue, and begin to make a database for the items. This database can be of great help when selling large quantities of goods because the data fields can be merged with a text document later on. The database should include the product name, SKU or item number, colors or other options, and price.

Take pictures of the items. Unless you have excellent photography skills, lighting and equipment, leave this to the pros. Good pictures are crucial to selling your product. After taking the pictures, retouch as necessary using photo editing software.

Write copy for each item. You only have maybe fifty words to sell an product, so make them count. Item copy should be succinct, to the point, yet inviting and suitable to the audience.

Create forms for orders that include return information, shipping prices and other information that might be useful for shoppers. Some catalogue companies use this space to talk about gift cards, guest services and more. Your phone numbers and contact information should always be included in this section. To ensure that orders reach you, include a self-addressed envelope with the order form.

Start figuring out the design and layout. This is where you'll see how long the catalogue will need to be, since you'll be placing picture blocks and sample items on pages. There may be a need to shoot additional pictures to fill in spaces and make a good impression.

Take completed digital files and head to the printer to discuss type of paper, binding and printing options. Don't be afraid to ask questions along the way, and get a sample before giving the OK to print all the catalogues up.


  • If the catalogue-creation process seems overwhelming, don't hesitate to get outside help. Websites like Get a Freelancer and Upwork have plenty of freelance writers that can come up with witty item descriptions, or people that can touch up photos (see Resources below).