How To Design Brochures in Microsoft Publisher

by Helen Bradley

Helen Bradley shares design tips to create great-looking brochures in Microsoft Publisher.

Create a brochure in Publisher
Select a basic brochure layout to use for your design.
(Click for larger image)

Brochures inform customers and potential customers, and their design says a lot about your business. You want them to be smart, functional and instantly associated with your business. In this article I'll explain how to design an attractive, professional brochure in Microsoft Publisher 2003.

Select and Configure a Template

Launch Publisher 2003 and from the Publications for Print dropdown list select Brochures. The program includes templates for brochures that are primarily informative as well as specialist brochures for events, fundraisers and price lists. Choose a design that coordinates with your other business documents — it’s best if you use the same design for all your brochures to reinforce your brand.

Set the Page Size to three or four panel — a three-panel brochure is the best for letter-size paper. Select whether or not to include the customer address on a brochure panel. If you include it, you can mail the brochure simply by taping it closed and addressing it.

If you want to include a form (i.e., order, sign up or response), click the appropriate form to add it to the brochure. Select Color Schemes, choose a color scheme and then choose Font Schemes to select the document fonts. Ideally you should use the same combination of fonts and color scheme that you use for all your business documents. If you don’t have a set of preferred fonts, safe combinations include Foundation: Times New Roman and Arial Bold or Virtual: Trebuchet MS Bold and Trebuchet MS.

Once you’ve set these options close the task pane, and you’re ready to start on your brochure.

Compile the Brochure

At the bottom of the screen you’ll see links to Page 1 and Page 2 of the brochure. On Page 1 you will find the front cover on the right and the back panel on the left. The address block, if you added one, will be in the middle of this page.

Start with the cover and arrange it so the title of the brochure at the top of the page so it can be seen if the brochure is standing in a display rack with other brochures in front of it at a lower level. The title should be clear as to what the brochure contains.

To move pieces of the design, click them to select them, and drag them into their new position. To drag multiple items, click the Select Objects button in the toolbar, drag over the objects to select them all and move them as a group. To add additional textboxes, click the textbox icon and drag a textbox onto the screen.

Create a brochure in Publisher
You can choose various options such as adding forms and address blocks.
(Click for larger image)

To copy an existing object, such as a textbox, click it to select it, and then hold the Control key as you drag a duplicate of the item into position on the brochure. To change the layering of an object, right-click it and choose Order. Now pick one of the options depending on whether you need to move it upward (forward) or down (backward) on the document.

Click in each of the textboxes in turn and replace the place-holder text with your own copy.

Line It Up

Brochures look particularly good when everything is lined up neatly. So, for example, when you line up one edge of an image with the left margin of the text on the page the page will look neater than if the elements are not lined up.

Check your work to see how things look without the non-printing elements on the page. Hide the guidelines by choosing View > Boundaries and Guides. Choose View > Boundaries and Guides again to display the guides.

Create a brochure in Publisher
When you align the objects on the page, the page looks neater and visually organized.
(Click for larger image)

Repeat Design Elements

Other design considerations include repeating elements throughout the brochure. These include the style of image, text formatting, colored bars on the page and so on. Repeated elements help make the document look more cohesive.

If you have a series of photos or images to use that don't match each other in style or color, you can recolor them to a consistent, monochromatic look. To do this, right-click each image in turn, choose Format Picture > Picture tab, click the Recolor button. From the Color dropdown list, select a color scheme. When you click OK, the image will be recolored accordingly.

To ensure your text is consistently formatted throughout the brochure use Styles. To identify the styles already in use in the template, click a piece of text and read the style name in the style box on the toolbar. Once you know what styles are already used for headings and body text, you can apply the same style to newly typed text by selecting the text. Now apply a style by selecting it from the Style list.

You can edit existing styles by choosing Format > Styles and Formatting, right-click the style to change, click Modify and then make changes to its formatting. When you do this all the text in the brochure formatted with this style will alter to match. It is quicker and more effective to edit a style than it is to format each piece of text individually.

Create a brochure in Publisher
The finished cover of our brochure: neatly lined up and visually exciting.
(Click for larger image)

Print Your Brochure

Before printing multiple copies of your brochure, run it through spell check, and then print one or two copies. Fold one to make sure it folds neatly, and that the text and images appear in the folded panels and not over the folds. Check the text thoroughly and when you are satisfied that the design is ready, print what you need in the next week or two.

After that, if nothing else needs adjusting, you can print more. The wonderful thing about creating your own designs is that you can change and update them very easily.

Seven Tips for Creating Great Brochures

  • Know your audience: write your brochure for your target audience.
  • Explain your message thoroughly: answer the who, what, when, where, why and how of the brochure’s topic.
  • Include a call to action: what do you want your audience to do? Make sure it's clearly spelled out in the brochure.
  • Design your brochure to fit a standard brochure display: make sure your title will be visible when it’s placed in a display rack.
  • Write well and be concise: keep your sentences short and break up the text into small paragraphs using lots of subheadings.
  • Use only two fonts: combine a serif and sans serif font or a decorative font with a plain serif font for the brochure content.
  • Include your business contact details: make sure you don’t place the only copy of it on the back of a tear-off portion.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Aug 26th 2009
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