Having a fancy dinner party? Formal menu cards might be the ticket to making your party just the right amount of fancy. If you're going to make formal menu cards, though, you'll want to make sure that they really do look professional. Fortunately, that professional look does not come only from a high-priced printer. You can make nice menu cards in your own home.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- High-quality paper, such as heavy cardstock or linen paper
- Scissors or paper cutter
Set the document size for your menu card. A half-letter document (5.5 inches by 8.5 inches) is often sufficient. Certain programs, like those in the Adobe Creative Suite, will allow you to decide every dimension, but basic word-processing programs, like Microsoft Word, have set sizes from which you can choose.
When setting the margins, choose wide dimensions (for a half-letter document, 3/4-inch to 1-inch margins are a good starting point). The most important design principle here is that you don't want your menu card to look crowded.
Type the menu before you decide fonts and spacing. It will be easier to decide fonts and spacing when you have the actual text in front of you. Organise your menu card in order of courses. Typically the first course is an appetizer, followed by a soup course (if you're having a really fancy meal), the entrée, and dessert. You would be wise to title each section (as appetizer, entrée, etc.). If you are offering drink options, include them at the bottom.
Choose your fonts. Pick two fonts, one for the course headings and one for the actual menu options. The heading font can be more decorative, but make sure that you can actually read the font. When it comes to menu options, readability is even more important than with your headings. Choose something simple for the body text font; readability is especially important here.
You don't want your font size to be too big, though, because the menu will look sloppy. A too-small font, though, will be unreadable. A 10-point font size for the body text is a good starting point, with the headings being 12-point or 13-point. Depending on your chosen fonts, putting the headings in bold type is a good idea for distinction because size difference often won't be enough to distinguish the headings from the body text. For additional notes on the menu, italics are another good way to distinguish parts of the menu.
Work with your spacing. Your menu sections shouldn't be crowded together but shouldn't be miles apart either. Work within your page size and play around with what spacing works best.
Print your menu. If you're using a half sheet, you can print two menus on one sheet of paper and then use scissors, or a paper cutter, to divide the menus. If you have paper that is already the right size, make sure to adjust the settings on the printer so that it prints correctly.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure that your fonts coordinate and that one doesn't overpower the other. When choosing fonts, keep in mind that the font, while it can be pretty, shouldn't be the focus. The text should be.
- You also can play around with colour on your menu, but as with fonts, the colour shouldn't become the focus.
- Don't be afraid of negative space, or space without anything in it. White space in text really can heighten the sophistication of a document. Start by widening your margins if you want to try this out.
- Use a high-grade paper for your menu cards. Well-designed menu cards will lose their punch if printed on flimsy paper.
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