Friday, January 23, 2015

Catch Patrons' Attention with These 7 Easy Flyer Tips

This week I am excited to announce that we have a guest blogger, Dan Barbour from Shrewsbury Public Library. He is a YA Librarian who has excelled in flyer design that has sold out events. Today, he is going to share a few tricks that he's learned along the way.

I've worked in libraries over half my life, and while I've seen many different aspects of library programming surge forward into new and exciting territories, one important element that is often left in the Stone Age is event marketing. I've been designing library program ads since before I could drive a car, and I've learned a few basic tips which I'm going to share. Do with these pointers what you wish, but I can assure you, programs don't always sell themselves, and a few tricks can be the difference between a room of empty seats and a successful program. There are many programs you can use to make a sign, but I highly recommend investing in Adobe Illustrator - the flexibility is so much better. (Jess Note: but if you cannot afford Adobe Illustrator or are intimidated by its learning curve, check out our post about Canva) Here we go…

1. Less (Text) is More

* The rule of seven lines for text is a good guideline to shoot for, but many times you need more, so try using boxes/blocks to break up text. Some programs require a full presenter bio and/or sponsorship information that you cannot edit or leave off…make this as small as possible not to discourage readers. If it looks like it’s going to take too long to read a sign, most people won’t read it at all.

* If there is information that isn't crucial to your sign, in all cases leave it off the sign!

* Consider adding a QR code and/or website link for additional text that you in turn can leave off the sign. Interested readers will then have the option to learn more. The site is a great free and simple resource for creating QR codes. Even if people don’t use the QR code, it makes your sign look more modern and “with it”!

2. Don't Go Font Crazy

* With the exception of company logos, keep your signs to no more than three different fonts. Also choose fonts that are simple to read, especially from a distance.

* Sites such as allow you to download free fonts that look better than the standard set that could make your sign look less professional.

3. Use Size and Space to Your Advantage

* Use the space you have - don’t be afraid to make your text as big as will fit the area you are working with.

* Play around with the alignments (center, right, left, justified) – in many cases center aligned looks the best.

* Some signs need TONS of information and you cannot get around it. To make this excess text look better, consider using an inverted text box like this:

4. Watch Your Colors

* Be careful with colors – using yellow text on white is one example of a bad idea (which I have seen used more than once!). Here is a guide to complementary colors – I find it a useful tool when thinking about what colors to pick when designing an event ad -

5. Convey Your Message Through Font Size

* Focus on the point/message when choosing which text to enlarge and which text to keep small. Example:
With this kind of sign, the topic is that the Library is closing, so that should be what is emphasized. Adding the year is not necessary in most cases – we wouldn't be posting a sign like this a year in advance, and people know that if the sign is on the window at the library, the sign pertains to the library – those details shouldn't be equal in size to your reason for posting the sign.

6. Get Graphic

* Adding clipart is similar to adding text in that too much can look overcrowded and take away from the message of your sign. That being said, it’s nice to have signs that aren't just all text. (See post from last September about for free quality images)

* If you are advertising a recurring event and have photos from the last program, use those. People love to see real depictions of the program as opposed to cheesy stock clipart. They also will be more likely to show the sign to their friends since they are starring in it.

7. To-Go Signs

* Sometimes no matter how amazing your sign looks, those reading it get busy and forget everything they just read. I've found it very helpful to make a small sign and have a pocket attached (I use old date due card pockets!) with miniature versions containing just the very basic information. It’s also exciting to see how fast these slips go – a great way to gauge interest in a program, especially if it’s a drop in event.

Those are some simple tips than can elevate your sign making, but the best way to make a great sign is simply to play around and do it often. Practice does indeed make perfect….or at least better. So the next time you’re ready to send off a sign to a bunch of your area libraries asking them to post an event sign, be proud of what you’re distributing!

DAN BARBOUR is the Young Adult Librarian/Volunteer Coordinator at the Shrewsbury Public Library in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He has spoken at MLA, NELA, and other conferences/workshops on information literacy, youth programming, and advertising events in libraries. He is also the owner of Vertigo Trivia (, an interactive event service for libraries, restaurants, and cooperate/private events.

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