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Top mistakes designers make when designing brochures

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Mistake 1 – Trying to include too much

One of the classic mistakes many people make when designing their own booklets is including everything about their business. All this succeeds in is creating a piece of literature that is over complicated and difficult for a potential client to follow. Instead, think about one of two key areas of your product or service and make a feature of these, you can still mention more information as a simple bulleted list.

Mistake 2 – Using too many different typefaces

Keep the number of typefaces (fonts) you use to a maximum of two; you can of course use different weights of these fonts such as bold and italic. Avoid using comic style typefaces. If in doubt choose simple sans serifed typefaces such as Arial or Helvetica. Serifed fonts such as Times and Palatino can work well if you want to make the booklet very formal or traditional.

Mistake 3 – Not breaking up text with headings

Instead of putting large amounts of text together, split sections up with headings and sub headings which will make the text much easier to read.

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Mistake 4 – Trying to use up every bit of space

Instead of trying to use up every bit of space on your booklet, remember that your design needs white space too. Don’t cram your text or pictures close to the edge of the booklet, allow decent margins and space.

Mistake 5 – Using too many colours

Keeping your colour pallet to a minimum will help hold your design together and make it look more professional. For instance, you may decide that your main headings should all be in blue, your sub headings in red and main body text in black. If you already have a logo for your business, it is advisable to choose the main colours from within the logo.

Mistake 6 – Using poor quality images

There really is no need to use poor quality images in your booklet design. Even if you can’t afford to commission your own photography, there are many websites nowadays where you can buy good quality photographs and images for only a few pounds each (eg. Istockphoto.com or 123rf.com). Avoid using Clip art if possible as in general it will make a booklet look very unprofessional.

Bonus Tip

One tip I would advise anyone who is looking to design their own booklet, or even looking to commission someone to help them, is to start collecting other companies booklets. Once you have gathered a few together, look at them carefully and you will see what works as a design and what doesn’t. Notice how big the headings are and how the images have been used. You should start to get an idea of the sort of design that might work for your company.

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  1. Having heirachy of copy with proportional choice of images to make up with a good layout can solve a lot of visual legibility.

  2. Having heirachy of copy with proportional choice of images to make up with a good layout can solve a lot of visual legibility.
    Either way. A brochure shud ve easy to follow rules such as what we want our message to be and keeping focus on objective results.

  3. Duh! Any worthwhile designer follows these rules closely, it is the wanna be’s or clients that have the software and want to create their own brochures to save a buck!

  4. I don’t really agree with some of the above. These are the common mistakes clients make when providing information and format (pages) for their brochures. Clients supplying too much copy, supplying poor copy, supplying poor imagery, wanting to fill every space, creating a 4 page brochure when it should be 8. It usually comes down to costs and the designer has no say over this.

    When clients trust the designers/agency and have a bigger budget, edit copy, pay for copy-writing, pay for quality imagery allow extra pages for white space, this normally results in a great piece of work.

    Designers worth there salt are usually fighting tooth and nail against the above on every brochure project.

  5. Well written, well said! I agree most designers would take great measures to follow these rules. I wouldn’t necessarily call inexperienced designers the “wanna-be’s” but I would apply that to those business owners who, for the sake of saving a few bucks, buy any software and think the template works just fine, throw their copy in and call it a day.

    I would add three more to think about:
    1. Spell-check, schmell-check. I can’t count how many times I’ve had clients send me their “final, approved” copy, and had I not run it through spell-check they would have looked and sounded very silly. Visual doesn’t always catch the spelling errors, and neither does spell-check. Safeguard the copy by running it through both a spell-check and grammar-check.

    2. Who’s your target market? Many brochures I see look very pretty but don’t appeal to their target market. This is due to poor research on the part of both the client and designer (in the designer’s case, to make appropriate suggestions). The brochure should be targeted toward the end user, but both the end user and the appropriate CTA (call to action) must be identified before you can begin the design.

    3. It sells itself? A brochure should contain just enough information to remind the client what your company does or offers after you leave. A brochure is a leave-behind in most cases and should not close the sale for the sales team.

  6. very useful website!

  7. Don’t forget about the folding!! 90% of the brochures I get are not set up for a proper tri-fold!! Use a downloaded template from such gang run printers like 4over or GotPrint.

  8. Maximum of 2 typefaces? Yeah right. We ARE trying to communicate in here aren’t we? You’ll have a pretty dull brochure with 2 typefaces and you’re probably not communicating well.

    Like all those corporate sales sheets that look about as boring as computer generated press releases.

  9. I’m currently designing a brochure and these tips were great little reminders for me. Especially mistake #2 and 4. I have to keep reminding myself that white space is better despite how plain it is looking right now on screen. Thanks for the post!

  10. Hey, thanks for the article here. I am also been working under the freelance designing and earn quite in that. May be you will explore more things here.

  11. I don’t agree with some of the above. These are the most popular mistakes clients make when providing information and format (pages) for their brochures.

  12. A HUGE Mistake is not respecting the dimensions of a brochure. Keeping in mind where the Brochure folds and keeping Text and certain important Graphics in mind is a huge concern. I worked in a Print shop for years and customers would design vital information dangerously close to where things not only folded, but also the edges of the page where we would have to cut into a bleed image or flood of color.

    But the BIGGEST tip would be this! Fold a piece of paper before hand. You, as well as the print shop, will want the Brochures cover to hang over a bit, so you don’t see the other panels obnoxiously sticking out. Basically the “front cover panel” needs to be just slightly bigger than the middle panel and back panel. Doesn’t hurt the make “the back panel” a tad bit smaller than the middle panel as well.

    Just some pit falls I saw working in the Printing Industry. Hope this helps!

  13. I must say I have to strongly agree with most of the points here, but the most important one (Mistake 1) is trying to add so much into a space. It just just makes brochures look cluttered and unreadable. Great article…


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