How to write a design brief

When you are commissioning a designer or inviting quotations for the production of a brochure, mail shot, website or exhibition system, one of the first and most important things you should do is write a design brief.

Here are 10 points to bear in mind when writing a design brief

    1. State clearly what your organisation is all about. What are its aims and aspirations? What does it do or what does it hope to do in the future. Maybe you could include a mission statement if you have one.
    2. Explain what the project should achieve, the sort of audience it is aimed at and how it is to be delivered.
    3. Describe fully the physical characteristics of the proposed item. For print media: the finished size, the number of pages etc. A copy of the draft document, if available, could be also be sent at this stage to give an idea of how many pages the publication is likely to run to.
      (Note: the number of pages in a printed publication are normally divisible by four. Please specify if this includes the cover or not. The same considerations apply for exhibition panels, ie: the size and type of exhibition stand. etc.
      The important point here is that by giving as much detail as you can, it will enable you to make an “apples for apples” price comparison later.
    4. Describe what content you will be supplying and what you expect the designer to provide. Will you be supplying finished copy or will you supply a rough outline and expect the designer to do the copywriting? If you are producing a bilingual document, how is the other language to be supplied? Will you be supplying the translation or is this to be included in the quote? How many photographs or illustrations, graphs etc. etc.
    5. State the quantity required. Also it is a good idea at this stage to ask for a run-on cost. For instance 1,000 off and a run-on per 1,000. This is for an extra 1,000 to be printed at the same time, not to be confused with a reprint cost, which is the cost of reprinting the same job at a later date.
      Also include the delivery address.
    6. Put down any ideas that you have in mind. Have you seen anything else, maybe from one of your competitors, that you like the look of? Not so that the design can be copied, but in order that the designer has an idea of the sort of thing you like and dislike.
    7. State your budget.
    8. Specify a deadline for the quote and a deadline for the delivery. If it is needed for a specific event ie: an exhibition or annual general meeting, give the date of the event and allow yourself a safety margin for unseen contingencies. Timetable when you will be supplying your content and when you expect to receive back proofs.
    9. Give the project a name that can be used as a working title.
    10. Include any corporate identity guidelines that need to be followed. For instance, if certain fonts or colours have to be used. How the logo should be reproduced etc.


A well-written brief will help establish the aims and expectations of both parties, set the ground rules and avoid misunderstandings and the need for a lot of unnecessary to-ing and fro-ing between yourself and your designer.

If you have any design and print projects in mind that you would like some help writing the brief for, please give me a ring on 01656 782956.
or email me on