A few years ago, Gallup took a poll and discovered that customers only spend less than two minutes looking at their menu.  This is important to remember when designing your menu. Every restaurant’s menu serves as their internal marketing and sales department, if you will. While the wait staff may suggest a dish, the menu is what diners are most likely going to choose from. Here is a list of common menu “mistakes” to avoid:


✓ Hard to read. Examples include poor readability because of font size, paper color and font style; crowded menu pages with elements too numerous and font type too small; and printing on dark paper with dark ink making readability difficult under low-light conditions.

✓ Overemphasizing prices. When you align prices in a column down the page, guests can summarily discount items based on price alone.

✓ Monotonous design. Using the same graphic design on all menu items so nothing stands out says, “blah.”

✓ Poor salesmanship. Not emphasizing the items the restaurant wants to sell through graphics, fonts, color, or illustrations reduces your influence on what items will move.

✓ Poor use of space. This includes not using the front and back cover for information about the restaurant, e.g., hours, services, history, address, etc.

✓ Contradictory. This includes failing to design the menu to fit the décor and personality of the restaurant. Your menu is your primary communication tool and it should be designed in a way that if a customer who had never heard of your restaurant were handed a copy of your menu they would be able to visualize your décor, type of food, price range and whether you were casual or upscale dining.

✓ Too big. The size of the menu needs to consider the size of the table, the place setting and the table appointments. Oversized menus can be awkward to hold and handle while sipping a martini and trying to have a conversation with your dinner companions.


Your menu should tie in with the general feel of your restaurant. Be it a corner sandwich shop or a fine dining establishment, your menu should mimic the ambiance you’ve worked so hard to achieve. There is an entire psychology of menu design, should you care to read it or you can have one of Documart’s graphic designers walk you through your very own menu design.