Are you sacrificing readability when you design a brochure or advertisement?
When designing a brochure, advertisement, or any other print form of marketing, your number one objective should be giving the potential recipient of the material every opportunity to read it, understand it, and take action on your offer.
If this objective is not met, you are wasting time, money and other resources.
While styles, colors, and other elements of design come and go, what doesn't change is the human eye's physical ability to take in information from a printed page.
Here are some tips based on numerous studies of printed materials in the last 50 years that will help you make your marketing collateral more readable.
1. Even if you have a younger target audience, always assume your readers are over 50 -- and select type size that is easily readable by this audience.
2. Always use serif font type (as opposed to a sans-serif font) in your brochures, ads and other marketing materials. Studies show that readers are five times more likely to comprehend what you are communicating when using serif fonts rather than san-serif.
What is a serif font type?
Serifs are the small "tails" on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface that has serifs is called a "serif typeface" A typeface without serifs is called "sans-serif."
Some serif typefaces are: Times Roman and Garamond
Some sans-serif typefaces are: Arial and Helvetica
Why are serif typefaces easier to read?
The tiny serifs help guide the reader's eye along lines of more lengthy text. This is why serif typefaces are used in the overwhelming majority of printed newspapers, books, and magazines.
Below are some visual examples of serif vs. sans serif typefaces:
3. If you must use a san-serif type, limit it to headlines, subheads or other short passages of text.
4. Never use reverse type. While it can look "stylish", it is unreadable. Have you ever tried to read a magazine article that has light-colored type on a dark-colored background?
The point: Don't make your prospects struggle to read your marketing materials for the sake of "cool" design effects. Stick to following the tested rules, and you'll get better results.
Editor's note: While in print serif fonts are considered more readable, sans-serif is considered more legible on computer screens, and the majority of web pages employ sans-serif type (such as this site which uses the very readable Verdana font for body text).