A handout is something given or distributed free. It can refer to materials handed out for presentation purposes or printed sheets of paper containing information or advertising.
Also known as pamphlets, leaflets, booklets, circulars, flyers, fact sheets handbills or bulletins, the purpose of printed handouts are to inform.
Pamphlet: a small booklet or leaflet containing information about a single subject.
Leaflet: a printed sheet of paper, sometimes folded, with information or advertising, and usually distributed free.
Booklet: a small book consisting of a few sheets, typically with paper covers.
Circular: a letter or advertisement that is distributed to a large number of people.
Flyer: a small handbill advertising an event or product.
Fact Sheet: a sheet of paper giving useful information about a particular issue, especially for puplicity purposes.
Handbill or Bulletin: a small printed advertisement or other notice distributed by hand.
Production criteria such as paper, weight, quality, size and budget must be taken into account when designing any kind of printed handout along with format which is dictated by the information/contents contained within.
The printed word has a high degree of acceptance and credibility. Printed matter is unique in that it can be passed from person to person without distortion and lengthy material can be condensed. It allows for the use of photographs and graphic illustrations and is permanent— the message will not change unless it is physically altered. Printed handouts can be distributed and read, or viewed by a large, widespread (target) audience; and importantly, can be re—read and passed on or re—distributed.
Printed handouts fall into three categories— persuasive, directive and informative. The purpose of a persuasive handout is to induce the reader to do something such as donate money or visit a speech or the zoo, and persuasive or emotional language is used to coax readers.
A directive handout is material which calls for direct action such as attending a political rally or demonstration.
The informative handout is factual— it presents true information to the audience, and in some cases may satisfy curiosity.
Before design can begin a great deal of pre—production, content gathering and objective defining is necessary such as what the handout should achieve and other factors including: creating an awareness of issues or services, a list of different skills, directing viewers to a website, promoting a specific event or activity or; reminding readers of a unique selling point/s. An additional criterion to factor in is: who is the material targeted at? Potential clients/viewers? or, existing clients/viewers?
A.I.D.A. is a term, model and approach attributed to American advertising and sales pioneer, Elias St. Elmo Lewis (1872—1948), who wrote and spoke prolifically about the potential of advertising to educate the public. It is applied to marketing and advertising strategies and describes a common list of events that may occur when a reader (consumer) engages with an advert. Using a system such as this gives a general understanding of how to target a market effectively and later versions of this theory have edited the A.I.D.A. steps to add phrases such as satisfaction (A.I.D.A.S)— Satisfy the client so they become a repeat customer and give referrals to a product and; confidence (A.I.D.C.A.S). Changes in thinking now facilitate a more flexible view of the order in which the steps are taken, suggesting that different arrangements might prove more effective for different consumer—to — product relationships.
Attention—attract the attention of the customer.
Interest—raise customer interest by focusing on and demonstrating advantages/benefits (instead of focusing on features, as in traditional advertising).
Desire—convince customers that they want and desire the product or service and that it will satisfy their needs.
Action—lead customers towards taking action and/or purchasing.
Grammar and spelling must be correct and without errors, typos or mistakes, with body copy presented in short sentences that make the point clearly and concisely. A handout's purpose is to deliver a message with a call to action. Additional information includes contact details such as telephone number, emailand website addresses along with a name or contact window.
Readers always ask: “What’s in it for me?” hence an attention grabbing headline is mandatory. Ask what selling point does this message have that will attract attention or generate interest? Known as the Shelf Shout the top 3" (approx. 7.5cm) of a handout are what people see when the material is in a stand or on display, therefore whether organised (in a stand) or hand distributed, the headline (or name/title) belongs in the top third of the first page. Headlines must be correct in fact and implication and connect to readers in order to attract attention through using interesting, active words that set (or match) the tone of the handout.
Straight or bent? You only get one chance to get it right, so get it right! Headlines are what catch attention and they can be written straight or bent; for example in delivering a punchy headline for an air conditioning company it could be presented in two ways: as a straight headline which might read 'High Quality Air Conditioning' or as a bent headline and read 'Cool Air—Hot Prices'.
A common mistake is failure to reinforce the headline with solid facts— don't keep the tone off beat by a focus on amusing the reader with joke—laden copy. If using a bent headline, keep the body copy clean, concise and full of benefits. Also include a sub—headline which maintains the momentum created by the headline.
Images used in handouts can also be straight or bent and the general rule is: use a straight image with a bent headline, and vice versa. Eye-catching images speak for themselves, however they must be relevant, reinforce objectives and pertinent to text. If promoting a product/s use pictures of people using it/them; and always use best quality. Other graphic elements may include a Wordmark or logo, charts, graphs or statistics of some kind— ensure that these elements are designed with the same care as the body text.