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Brochures, information packets, and other print materials are common and important pieces of many communications efforts. However, they can be time- and resource-intensive to develop, so it is important to ensure that they are strategically useful and appropriate to your broader communications goals.


Thinking Strategically
There are several important things to remember about your strategic approach to communications, particularly as you think about print materials. (Click here for a communications strategy worksheet.)

  • What’s your objective? What do you hope your brochure will achieve? What will be different as a result of this work? How will it change people’s awareness, knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors about the issue you are talking about?
  • Who is your audience? In order to achieve your objectives, to whom do you need to speak or communicate?  Often, this is relatively clear from the objectives, but make an effort to define the audience as precisely as possible.
  • Is a brochure or printed information packet the best tool? There are several good reasons to develop a printed brochure: many audiences still appreciate print over newer mediums; print materials lend credibility to an issue, project, or organization; and often you need to have materials that you can leave with people following a presentation.  Just make sure you are developing printed materials for reasons you understand (and your audience appreciates).

Ideas for Better Brochures and Materials
Here we offer a few tips for creating professional looking brochures and print materials and getting the biggest bang for your buck.

  1. Less is more. Brochures and other print materials are visual mediums so avoid the temptation to pack them with text. They are not meant to be papers scaled down in size—they need to include compelling information and appealing graphic elements. These days, most brochures are used as tools to drive interested parties to a Web site where people can find more details.

  2. Size and format matter. A traditional tri-fold, 8½” x 11” brochure is effective because it’s relatively inexpensive to print and is easy to mail in a standard #10 envelope. The down side is that this size is ubiquitous and makes it difficult to distinguish your brochure from others.

    Consider a variation: Try using a bigger sheet of paper, say 8½” x 14” and fold it accordion-style. The key here is to imagine how it’s going to be opened. Place an attention-grabbing headline or teaser on the cover, some compelling text or image on the inside, and a fuller description when the brochure is opened completely. You can also consider a self-mailer, a post card, an odd-sized packet with a CD-ROM or other off-sized, eye-catching formats. Just be sure you know what size envelope you’re going to need, or that the paper stock is appropriate if you choose a self-mailer. To make sure that you meet United States Postal Service measurement guidelines click here.

    There are some special considerations when designing materials for older adult readers. Read more in this tip sheet from the National Institute on Aging.

  3. Get design help. While a basic 8 ½” x 11” tri-fold brochure is fairly easy to design using home or small business software, designing something a little different usually requires getting some graphic design help. Many universities have graphic design departments that may be able to help you.  For help choosing a designer, check out this resource from Nancy Schwartz & Co. 5 Steps to Great Graphic Design for Your Nonprofit

  4. Include the Hartford logo! You can get a high-resolution logo (in .gif format) here.

  5. Imitation is an option. Some examples of interesting print materials:


Simply Put from the CDC offers excellent tips on making scientific and technical information easy-to-read and use. It covers a range of issues related to print materials, including message content, layout and design.

Making Your Printed Health Materials Senior Friendly from the National Institute on Aging offers tips on creating materials that are appropriate for older readers in both content and design.

5 Steps to Great Graphic Design for Your Nonprofit from Nancy Schwartz & Co. clearly outlines the steps to take when thinking about designing marketing materials for you project or organization.

Bandwidth depends on the active participation of the foundation’s grantees.  If you have a resource related to creating professional-looking print materials that you’d like to share, please let us know, so we can post it on the site and make it available to the rest of the Hartford network. 

Click here to share a resource.

Criteria for Submissions



Make sure that your brochure and other print materials carry any brand identity already established for your project. The materials don’t have to look exactly the same, but they should include many of the same design components—typefaces, color, graphic elements etc.


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