Design advice

Here we set out some general design rules and advice, which you may want to consider when designing your practice leaflet.

To help you design your leaflet material we have produced a range of optional design templates for you to use. A professional designer or printer will be able to set your supplied text to one of the templates provided.

The importance of the NHS logo

If you choose to design your leaflet yourself, or if you employ a designer to do this for you, we recommend that you use the NHS logo on your cover. While the use of the NHS logo is optional, it is a registered trademark and you should follow the guidelines for using the trademark. If you are briefing an external designer or printer, make sure that they are aware of the NHS logo guidelines and other key design considerations (see below).

Key considerations

When designing your leaflet, you should keep the following considerations in mind.

 

Font and spacing

To make your text engaging and easy to read, use the following where possible:

  • The NHS corporate font, Frutiger: if Frutiger is not available, Arial is a good alternative.
  • Font size of at least 12 points: any smaller than this, and text becomes difficult to read.
  • Short sentences: in general, no more than 15 to 20 words long.
  • Lowercase letters: easier to read, although uppercase is always required for the first letters of names and sentences.
  • Present and active tense: will make your text more direct and engaging. For example: ‘your appointment is on…’, rather than ‘your appointment has been made for…’
  • Question and answer format: will help you to divide up your text.
  • Bulleted or numbered points: will help you to breakdown complicated information, and will help patients to digest it.
  • Small blocks of text: long paragraphs can look daunting on the page; use headings and paragraph breaks to divide up your information.
  • White space: makes information easier to read.
  • Large bold font: very useful for highlighting and emphasising text, whereas uppercase letters, italics and underlining can make text more difficult to read.
  • Numbers as words: from one to nine, numbers are easier to read if they are written as words. From 10 onwards, they should be represented as numbers.
  • Diagrams and pictures: can be very effective for illustrating and enhancing text. Make sure that all imagery you use supports our communications principles. You should clearly label all individual pictures and diagrams, but avoid printing over them. And never use clip-art, as this can detract from our professional reputation.

 

Colour

Consider using NHS Blue (Pantone® 300) and black when printing your leaflet, as it is widely recognised. Use a light background with dark print to make your text easier to read. Avoid using background pictures or design, and never use text over an image.

 

Photography

If you want to illustrate your practice leaflet, we recommend you choose photographs that contain people in real settings rather than just buildings. To ensure you can reproduce them effectively, choose images that are high quality, bright and clear.

The Department of Health (DH) manages a photo library and has negotiated royalty-free images for use in NHS communication materials. These can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/photolibrary.

If you want to use images from the DH photo library, your leaflet must carry the NHS logo on the front cover. This is not a Department of Health stipulation, but a legal requirement concerning copyright.

If you decide to use your own images, please ensure that you have a signed consent form from the person who appears in the photograph and that you hold the copyright.

 

Advertising

Practice leaflets fulfill an important role in demonstrating the NHS’s accountability to local people. Advertising from local or national organisations can often influence the public’s perception of your practice.

For more information, visit our Communications partnerships section within Tools and Resources.

Consistent features

In the design of your practice leaflet, there are certain consistent features you need to include, depending on which brand category you belong to. These are:

 

Front cover:

  • The NHS logo (for general practices within category A).
  • Your own identity (for general practices within category B).
  • Your NHS PCT logotype (for practices within category C). 
  • The name and contact details of your practice.

 

Back cover:

  • Website address.
  • Date of publication.
  • Leaflet code.
  • Copyright note of organisation.

Further information

For further guidance on the NHS corporate identity, contact the communications lead at your local PCT.

Tools, resources and other design templates for producing patient information are also available on this site.

You can also find additional materials in the section on presentation, print and production: general guidance, which cover:

  • Information and advice to help you when working with printers and designers.
  • Information on specifying format, design and production; this includes information on how to use our design templates, and which paper weight to specify.
  • Information on the planning, delivery and distribution of your printed materials.

Last updated: 04/06/10