Making Your Own Leaflets
A. Making words count
People won’t read a long, complicated leaflet. So keep your sentences short and clear, and don’t use language or acronyms your audience may be unfamiliar with. Use descriptive headings, subheadings and quotations to get your main points across, and use three or four headings to a page so that if people only read the headlines they will still get the message.
The leaflet must answer the questions: what, where, when, why and who.
It must tell people specifically what they can do to help. Include a telephone number and contact.
If you make outlandish, loaded statements, readers won’t take the information seriously. Words like “oppression,” “injustice,” and “ridiculous” can be heavy. Rather than telling someone that something is an injustice, explain it so that they can’t come to any other conclusion.
You don’t have to be an art major or a computer programmer to make badass fliers. Microsoft Word is an incredibly easy, powerful design tool. Yes, Microsoft sucks, but they made a good program.
Open up Microsoft Word. Go to FILE, then PAGE SETUP and pick the orientation of your file (horizontal or vertical?). Click VIEW, TOOLBARS, DRAWING. This brings up a bar of handy icons. You can make lines, insert text boxes, and add images.
After you insert a picture, (do this by clicking INSERT, PICTURE, FROM FILE) double click on it. This brings up a menu of other things you do to the image. Click the LAYOUT tab and click “in front of text.” This makes it so you can move the image anywhere on the screen by dragging.
In some Word programs, when you click FILE, NEW you can choose to use a template (there are a few types, like brochures, leaflets). Pick one, and mess with it to make it your own.
Here are some general design tips:
Keep a file of well-designed, easy to read leaflets. Look at what others have done, decide what you like and what works best, and copy it.
Students have access to incredibly powerful computers on campus. Take advantage of these. Also, take advantage of the artists and designers in your groups. Learn from each other.
White space is a design element. Don’t box in everything. It makes the leaflet feel heavy.
PROOF READ. Spelling and grammar errors, and poor writing, hurt credibility.
Don’t use small print. Write concisely instead.
Don’t write out fliers by hand. Typed fliers are easier to read, and look more “professional.”
Use simple fonts, like Ariel or Helvetica. These are san serif (without the little feet).
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Students don’t need to have fliers approved before handing them out, although many college campuses require this. There aren’t restrictions to where students can leaflet, but the West Mall and South Mall are the most trafficked areas.
Don’t wait for people to approach you. They won’t. Walk up to them and explain what you are doing. If you’re having a demo or teach-in, say something like, “This explains why we’re out here today,” then move on. If you are just handing out leaflets, say a quick, interesting statement. For example, if leafleting sweatshop fliers you may say, “Information on Nike using child labor,” then move on.
Make eye contact and be confident, but don’t be pushy.
Hold the flier so the passersby can see the title
Prepare some brief answers to questions you may be asked. If you’re having a demo, you’ll probably hear “who’s doing this,” and “what’s this all about.”
Take people’s telephone numbers if they seem interested, but don’t spend all your time on one person.
Don’t waste time arguing. Say politely, “I think if you read this material, you may change your mind,” and turn away.
Leaflet in pairs. Or better yet, have one person staffing a table full of literature and another person passing out fliers and directing people to the table.
Pick up discarded leaflets (including ones in the trash) before you leave.
Depending on where you are leafleting, you may want to dress more conservatively so you seem more approachable.
Gather a few people together, and divide up the campus area.
Posting fliers in dorms, and some buildings, requires a stamp of approval. Go to the information desk in the dorm, or a main office in a campus building, and get the fliers stamped. It’s better than having them torn down.
There are “kiosks” around campus (wooden things with fliers all over them). It’s important to hit these, but remember that EVERYONE puts fliers there. Make sure yours isn’t covered up (or torn down by opposition, which happens quite often). If you do put them there, make your flier stand out with a different color, size or shape of paper.
Hit places like Wheatesville Co-Op, Sound Exchange, Metro coffee shop, etc. These places allow you to put fliers in their windows, if you ask first. Also hit apartment buildings around campus and student coops.
Wheatpasting is a more permanent form of advertising. Have you ever seen movie posters plastered one after another down the street? Wheatpasting is the punk rock version of that. It doesn’t cause permanent damage, but it’s hard as hell to get down. Because of this, it isn’t suited for posting meeting fliers. But it is good for posting information on an on-going issue that isn’t time dependent.
There are two strategies for wheatpasting: covert and overt. Some people swear that if you wheatpaste in the middle of the day, and act like you have every right to do it, people will believe you that you have every right to do it and leave you alone. Others prefer to wheatpaste at night, moving quickly with a lookout or two. We haven’t heard of anyone getting busted for wheatpasting, but it’s always good to avoid confrontations.
Wheatpasting takes a little practice, but it isn’t too difficult. Make the wheatpaste recipe and put it in a bucket (medium-sized, preferably with a lid). Hold the poster up to the wall, and using a paintbrush, evenly spread wheatpaste across the surface. You can also spread wheatpaste, then put up the poster, then cover it with another layer of wheatpaste to make it extra sturdy. After you paste up your poster, you can make horizontal and vertical slashes across the surface with a razor blade. This way, if someone tries to peel it off, the poster comes off in small bits (very, very frustrating for them!).