When sitting down to design your menu, you may wonder how best to set up the layout. Even if you are a novice designer, following these general principles will result in a dynamic, professional menu customers love.
Consider Your Page Size
Family restaurants that offer lots of food options often do well with tabloid size menus that fit everything in one place. These spacious menus can often be broken up into three columns, which can help you fit more content. Less option-heavy, more upscale restaurants often prefer standard sizes such as letter or legal.
Drinks, specials, happy hours and occasions often benefit from being placed on their own separate menu, so you may consider using half-page sizes or table tents, depending on how much content you have.
Columns Make a Statement
Typically, fine dining restaurants choose a single column and wide margins for simple, elegant appeal. This is also true of other limited-selection menus, like daily specials or this Happy Hour Menu. The extra white space on these types of menus can lend a more balanced and sophisticated look.
Family-oriented restaurants often use multiple columns on front and back to contain their wider range of items, as do cafes and pubs.
You can consider jazzing up your menu by splitting certain sections into two or more columns (you can see examples of this in our Design Services portfolio). This can help keep your menu eye-catching and dynamic.
And keep in mind, items with long descriptions don't look as nice squeezed into a narrow column as those with shorter or nonexistent descriptions.
Placement & Proportion Affect Visual Appeal
Ensure roughly the same number of dishes between two columns and on the front and back of a menu to avoid a petered-out effect. Distribute logos and graphics evenly, like this Cafe Menu.
Menus with similar numbers of dishes in each category assure customers they have choice, so break sections up as evenly as possible.
If you have tons of beverages, don’t crowd them onto the back of an otherwise elegant menu. Use a separate Drink List and divide them proportionally.
Balance Is Beauty
Your restaurant name and logo should balance with the rest of the menu in both size and appearance. Make sure they stand out without taking over, like in this Steakhouse Menu.
All columns of your menu as well as its front and back should contain roughly similar amounts of text. If necessary, rearrange your sections or break them up differently to achieve good flow.
Negative space is important. Use it to set off elements that you want people to notice.
Balance is achieved when all sections of your menu are similar in format (font size and style, for example). Consistency will result in beauty with little effort on your part.
With these simple principles and strategies, you can create a pleasing menu that your customers will find both useful and intriguing.