How to Set Up a Restaurant Menu

Written by sally murphy
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How to Set Up a Restaurant Menu
A menu can either surprise or disappoint a guest. (knife fork and menu image by Warren Millar from

A menu is the crucial step between diners and their restaurant experience. As important as decor, service or even the food itself, a well-designed menu can guarantee a positive dining experience. The layout and organisation of each item on the menu impact diners and sometimes guide their choices. Creating a successful menu takes into account many different factors and produces a menu that will satisfy both customers and restaurateurs.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Think strategically about the arrangement and price of items. According to Must Have Menus, it may be a wise idea to round prices up or down and leave the decimal points and dollar signs off the price. For instance, "Calamari, £6.0" would become only "Calamari, 9." This is a unique and upscale touch that makes even a simple meal seem luxurious. Abandoning the dollar sign will take the emphasis off money being spent and instead place the focus back on the meal itself, which should be the most enjoyable part of the experience for diners. You can also move the emphasis away from money by listing the price right beside the description of the meal, rather than in a separate column. The separate column makes price comparison the main focus. Be clear and upfront with prices, but let the dishes be the star of the show.

    How to Set Up a Restaurant Menu
    Let the focus remain on the food, not the price tag. (nice starter image by Werg from
  2. 2

    Present the restaurant dishes in descriptive, appealing language. This is the diners' first experience of the food. You should provide restaurant patrons with a clear idea of what they'll be ordering, but still do the food justice by describing it in interesting and vivid terms. Diners tend to respond well to plenty of adjectives that give them an exciting mental image If a meal is very basic and not very expensive, it's fine to use simple adjectives and short descriptions. But for most dishes, you should try to describe them in words that will match the complexity, value and quality of the food.

    How to Set Up a Restaurant Menu
    Using descriptive language makes dishes appealing before they're even on the table. (fancy cake image by AGphotographer from
  3. 3

    Keep the organisation straightforward and bold. Diners shouldn't be distracted by an overabundance of confusing graphics, clashing colours or a crowded layout. The focus should remain on the descriptions of the dishes. Keep items organised so that diners can identify their selections easily, whether they want appetizers, main courses or drinks, for example. Choose a font that is basic and easy to read, and avoid tiny sizes or badly contrasting colours. If you want to highlight a particular item or break up rows of text, a simple box around a section of text will naturally guide the diner's eye.

    How to Set Up a Restaurant Menu
    Arrange menu text in a basic and attractive layout. (al ristorante image by Ramino from

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