Even if you’re not a graphic designer or have no advertising layout experience, you can still be part of the creative process for your business’s print materials. Designers rely on input from clients, and the more specific you can be, the better your ads, brochures, fliers and circulars will turn out. Organizing your message in advance will help you create a first draft of an ad from which your designer can work.

Rough Draft

A rough draft is a general drawing of an ad that a graphic designer can use to place the images and text you provide separately. You can hand-draw it, using squares to show where images should go and lines to denote text. If you have different text blocks and images, you might place an “A,” “B” and “C” next to the lines on your rough draft, providing the corresponding information on a separate page. A designer will use this to understand what you’re trying to communicate, then if necessary discuss with you why she made any changes to the arrangement, based on proven marketing communications practices.

Organize Your Information

The first step in creating a rough draft is to list the information you want to include before you start drawing or sketching. This will give you a general idea of where you want to place things on the page and how much room you’ll need to leave. Rank your information in order of importance to help with placement on the page and to know what you can leave out if you run out of room. Rank your items in order of importance to the potential customer, not yourself. Don’t start with your business or product name and logo -- those aren’t important to consumers until they determine you provide a benefit they want.

Arrange Your Items

Begin placing your information on the page, starting with the most important information at the top, left-hand side of the page, where readers’ eyes start. Place items in order of importance moving from left to right, downward and back up around to the middle of the left side of the page. This pattern will create a backward "C" path, which follows the natural eye movement patterns of readers. To create a guide, take a black marker and make a backward "C" on a white sheet of paper, taking up most of the page. Flip the paper over horizontally and follow this pattern as you place your elements on your page. Look at the front page of one or more newspapers to see how professional designers use this pattern.

Transfer It To Your Computer

Most word processing programs let you create pages with columns and place images on them. Experiment with your word processing program to determine whether you can put your elements, including text and images, on a page. If you don’t have your images scanned, leave blank boxes roughly the size of the images you want. This will help you choose text sizes that allow you to fit your information on the page. Print your rough draft when it looks approximately how you want it to see if it’s close to what you want. When you are finished, put it on a CD or zip drive to give to your designer. Include additional pages with instructions and copies of any images you have. Scan ads you would like to include and put them on the CD or drive.