How to write more powerful brochures, leaflets and catalogs

What all this teaches us is that despite seeming logical, writing for brochures and leaflets in the form of a story that starts at the beginning, goes through the middle and finishes at the end, is not necessarily the best way forward. Obviously you can’t make every page stand alone with a message on it that says “in case you’re flicking through backwards or only want to read this page, here’s a summary of our corporate profile again.”

But there are some tricks you can use to get this random reading pattern to work a bit more effectively for you, rather than against you.
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A lot depends on the type and style of brochure or leaflet you want to write, of course. In my experience, generally speaking the more specific the purpose of a brochure or leaflet the more likely readers are to read it properly and thoroughly.

If a leaflet contains assembly instructions, or a brochure contains technical specifications of equipment, there’s a good chance that readers will start at least near the beginning and then work through towards the end.

Once again, that’s because readers will only get their full value from the leaflet or brochure – the “what’s in it for them” – by reading it properly. Where you get the worst random grasshopper reading, however, is with the less specific documents like “welcome” leaflets or “corporate” brochures. So let’s look at how we can minimize the problems with those.

Despite all of the above, often it is still worthwhile to organize your content in a reasonably logical order. Many people do absorb brochures in the usual order, and even if they don’t they still expect to find the introduction at the beginning, the substantiations in the middle and the conclusion at the end. This approach is useful for the moderately subject-specific document, like a leaflet about a new service or a brochure about a new line of garden furniture.