Menu Design & Menu Printing -The Ultimate Guide

Menu design and printing as well as takeout menu design may seem intimidating, but we will give you dozens of tips to make things go smoother.

Printing Menus and Take Out Menus

Sizing for when you design and print a menu

You can save money by printing menus on standard sizes.  Here are some common sizes that restaurant owners use for their menus:

  • Lunch Menu: 8.5″x 11″, 8.5” x 14”
  • Dinner Menu: 8.5″x 11″, 8.5″x 14″, or 11″x 17″
  • Drink or Dessert Menu: 4.25″x 14″, or 5.5″x 8.5″ or use table tents.
  • Be sure to have a mobile phone and tablet layout for your website.
Menu Design & Menu Printing cloud 8 printing

You can save money by printing menus on standard sizes.  Here are some common sizes that restaurant owners use for their menus:

Establishing your brand with menu design

Branding is an often overused word in business, but it really is important here.  And your menu design and printing is one of the best tools you can use to define your brand.  Tell customers your story, inform them on your unique qualities, and communicate succinctly with them on what you offer.

Choosing Printer and Graphic Designer – Menu Design & Menu Printing

When choosing a printer most people turn first to internet which is a good place to start.  But don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.  It may save you money in the long run if you have a printer you can actually communicate with and talk to over the phone. 

Better yet will this printer come to your restaurant and meet with you for a consultation?  If so email your rough layout, this will enable him to come to your meeting with ideas.

Ask if your printer provides graphic design services.  Now you have a creative team for marketing without hiring any employees.  Speaking directly with a printer will help you decide the best size for your menu.  Discuss many menus to order so you save on printing costs, but don’t buy too many due menu or price change obsolescence.

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Ask the printer about paper stock and whether you should choose glossy or non-gloss.  Discuss whether the menus should be double sided or be printed on only one side.

Menu Printing Tip:  If you are inserting your menus into a menu holder sometimes they only show one side of the menu.  In this case you can save money by printing one piece on two sides and using the appropriate side for the right and left readers. 

Consider delivery charges.  Your local printer may offer free delivery.  You can discuss collateral printed items like business cards, flyers, vinyl banners, table tents, yard signs even a new web site design.

Best of all a printer can be one more set of eyes to review your artwork and catch errors or provide changes that may enhance your printed menu.  This is especially good because he prints menus more often then you and brings expertise to the table.

Menu design and printing as well as takeout menu design may seem intimidating, but we will give you many tips to make things go smoother.

Create A Rough Copy Of Your Print Menu

  1. Make a list of your items. Once you finalize what your final menu food items are write them down in spread sheet (ie: Excel).
  2. Divide your list into sections.   Appetizers, salads, soups, desserts.  Or you can divide Into meals ie: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  3. Discuss the layout and design of your menu with your graphic designer. Strategize on how you are leading your customers through the menu.

How to Lay Out Your Menu

The 3 places on the menu customers look at first is called the Golden Triangle by menu engineers and psychologists.

The Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle is a term that menu engineers use to refer to the three areas on your menu that most customers tend to look at first. This is where you want to feature your most popular and profitable items.  The three points that create this triangle are:

  1. Middle.  Most customers are first attracted to the middle of the menu. Most restaurateurs lead here with specials or limited menu items.
  2. Top Right. The second place eyes tend to go is the top right corner of the menu. This is a good place to highlight entrees or main course items.
  3. Top Left. Appetizers and your most profitable entrees may be listed here.

Menu Sections

Deciding on how many sections you will have on your menu is an important question because things can quickly get out of hand and you can end up with a 20-page menu.

Think about if you plan to have item descriptions.  A nice feature to utilize, but again your menu will quickly get very large.  When creating sections, it’s best to be specific, so customers can quickly locate what attracts them.

Things to Consider When Creating a Menu Layout

  • Studies reveal that if your desserts aren’t on a separate menu, customers are less likely to order an appetizer. 
  • Separate your beverages and drink specials so not to overwhelm your customers with a long menu.
  • Consider special diet customers by adding vegan or gluten-free items in their own section. 
  • Limited-time-only or seasonal specials can be highlighted with a separate card or by placing a box or border around them on the regular menu. 

Menu Pages: is less more or is more too much?

  • The number of pages on your menu will to depend most importantly on how many menu items you have. But when it comes to menus, less is more. If your menu has too many pages, it can be overwhelming for your customers.

Usually a one or two-page menu is satisfactory, providing ample room to highlight your food items.  Many restaurants choose to do this in an oversized format.  Sometimes more pages are appropriate, but try to limit it first.

Too many pages make it time consuming for customers to reach a decision and this can lead to making your restaurant less efficient.

Choosing a Style for Your Menu

Just as you spent time deciding on a style for your food, the menu should be a reflection of this.  What image are you going for?  A Family restaurant that is kid friendly with many photos or illustrations, an elegant upscale whose menu is usually more subdued and stylish.  Or is it a themed restaurant which may want to visually portray your identity graphically.  This would probably be complimented by your wall decorations which would set the mood for your menu and food.

Menu Style

Communicate with your graphic designer so it is clear what personality you seek in menu design.  You will then more likely be in tune on fonts, images, and colors.  Also, communicate to your designer which menu items you want to stress for maximizing profits. This is key to menu layout.

Food Descriptions

Your menu is an important sales tool for persuading customers to sample items, quickly find their favorite dishes or warn them of ingredients that either they thoroughly dislike or lead to health issues.

Adjectives will help give diners an idea of what they are actually ordering and what the experience will be like.  i.e.:  Crisp and perfectly fried, creamy, cheesy, light, or smoked.

Adding Images To Your Menu

Menu Design & Menu Printing
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Professional looking photos make a difference

When you add images to your menu you want to be accurate.  Utilizing a stock image that looks nothing like the dish the customer will receive is not a good idea.  Yet professional food photographers can be expensive. 

But good menu images can quickly close a sale for you by communicating with customer instantaneously “this is the dish for me”.  So you may have to spend a few bucks to acquire effective visuals.  Pepper in the number of photos.  Too many photos will yield the impression  you are a low-end restaurant. 

  • Use the highest quality photos preferably 300 dpi. Otherwise they will be grainy or out of focus when printed.
  • Highlight your signature items and most profitable dishes.
  • If you are not using a professional food photographer and tking the photos your self be especially mindful of lighting.  You may also want to have a water spray bottle to make salads and fruit look more appealing.

Deciding on a Color Scheme

Your choice of colors are a reflection of your image and brand.  Do you have signature colors?  Then be sure they make it to your menu.  Colors can make your food more appetizing, conversely the wrong colors can make your food seem distasteful. Get opinions from friends and family one you have layout ask them for their initial reactions.

Just as we wanted to limit the number of fonts it is also import to limit the number of colors on your menu.

Menu Font and Typography

Most people don’t think about it much, but fonts have personality and may help you convey your restaurant’s personality via your menu.  The size of font, the style, the uniqueness of it reveal a mood. Is it playful font, a bold style, does it enhance a cultural feel or ethnicity.

  • Think about how you want to portray your prices.  You want customers to scan your menu for the food not the prices.  If all of your prices an even dollar amount i.e. $12.00 then leave out the two zeros and go with $12; it looks less expensive.  In fact, you can even leave off the dollar sign and go with 12.
  • Restrict bold and uppercase for your menu item names, Dish description should be like regular sentences where only the initial letter is capitalized and none are bold, except if you are using a named item i.e. Idaho potatoes
  • No small type.  Lighting and individual eyesight may sometimes be compromised, so make sure your menu can easy be read by all.
  • Create symbols for labeling dishes as:  spicy, vegan, gluten-free.

Printing Menus and Take Out Menus

Menu Sizing

You can save money by printing menus on standard sizes. 

Here are some common sizes that restaurant owners use for their menus:

  • Lunch Menu: 8.5″x11″, 8.5” x 14”
  • Dinner Menu: 8.5″x11″, 8.5″x14″, or 11″x17″
  • Drink or Dessert Menu: 4.25″x11″, 4.25″x14″, or 5.5″x8.5″ or use table tents.
  • Be sure to have a mobile phone and tablet layout for your website.

Branding is an often overused word in business, but it really is important here.  And your menu design and printing is one of the best tools you can use to define your brand.  Tell customers your story, inform them on your unique qualities, and communicate succinctly with them on what you offer.

Call or text us if we can be of help with concerns or questions about your menu or any print or design project.