• Menu Design

  • This project requires that you combine typography and imagery to create a context-appropriate design.

About Menu Design

To a restaurant, a menu is more than a list of items for sale. A well designed menu will increase profits significantly. We’re designing a dine-in, not a take-out menu. You need to keep in mind that diners at a restaurant want to relax. It doesn’t matter if they’re with family, on a first date, or meeting a client. No one wants to be bogged down in a menu that’s unapproachable and confusing.

We want diners to be able to navigate the pages as smoothly as possible, finding their favourite dishes with ease. Take time to consider how you’ll break up the content in your menu. Will you use very large pages with a lot of white space, or create multiple smaller pages? You can even create completely separate menu to break out desserts and cocktails.

Use white space judiciously. The reader’s eyes are quickly lead to open areas on the page. Use that to your advantage, promoting high-profit items.


Colour selection is very important as it relates to food. The reasons some colours attract or repel us are found deep in our evolutionary past. It has to do with which colours attracted us as hunter-gatherers.

It can be summed up this way: earth tones good, all others bad. Picture all the colours of Canadian fall leaves. Those all work.

Menu colours

As they relate to food, red is a call to action. Green denotes freshness. Yellows and oranges stimulate one’s appetite. Grey, brown, black, and blues symbolize mould, rotting, disease and poison. Nice, eh?

We also want to ensure accessibility. Clients may come to the table with challenges. We need to make sure that our content is as accessible as possible. This means type should have appropriate size, readability and contrast.

Cross Selling & Modifiers

This is a thing. You can choose a wine or a beer to pair with one of your high-margin items. You can also suggest soups and salads with an appropriate meal pairing.

You can also emphasize modifiers as an up-sell. Add chicken for $4.

These factors are key to a menu design. They will be difficult to address here, since we don’t have the data, nor do we need to venture so far out from our main goal, typography. It is important for you to know.

Items should be place in a menu according to their visibility in relation to their profitability and popularity. Proximity of items can increase sales.

Menu Item profitability

Very popular and highly profitable dishes. You’ll want to draw your customers’ attention to these menu items through smart placement and make these items stand out on your menu. Try to somehow highlight one high-profit item per menu category.
Loss Leaders
Also popular but have low profitability. Because these items are popular, you’ll want to keep them. They might be what’s drawing in customers, getting them through the door.
Highly profitable but not very popular. While not very popular, you’ll want to keep these profitable dishes and find ways to highlight them and turn them into stars. Once again, smart placement can help.
Not very popular or profitable. In real life, you would want to remove these menu items. If certain dishes appeal to a specific customer segment, consider keeping them but limit their promotion.

Typesetting Menu Items

Depending on the style of your chosen restaurant and the cost of it’s food items, you may wish to consider removing dollar signs ($). The repetition of this symbol seems to emphasize the cost of the meal. If items aren’t that expensive, it’s not really an issue.

There are different ways to display prices:

  • $9.99
  • $10
  • 10
  • Ten

You can also choose to simply place your prices in the text, rather than aligning them all separately from the descriptions.

Menu prices


Stock Photo Web Sites

Use photography very sparingly. More than one photo per page is distracting. If you do use a photo, make sure it’s a high-quality shot. A bad photo of food is very unappetizing. You should use no photography by default. Only add it if needed.

Another issue with photography is that the appeal of food photography is subjective. What appeals to one may turn off another diner.

All final photography needs to be a single layer .psd file. If you have a layered Photoshop file, create a flattened copy of it in .psd format in your InDesign Links folder.