Here are some ways we at the Farm Credit Council improved our print program — possibly some ideas that will help make your next print program even better. (By print program, I mean a printed, brochure-type handout for attendees, with all the program information included in it.)

  1. Put a schedule summary on the back cover

    This was the best idea I had last year: having a summary of the entire schedule printed on the back cover of the program. Where's the breakfast? When are the breakouts? — It's all right there. Keep it simple; keep it clean.

  2. Make the map fit on a page

    Fold-out maps can be annoying. With a minimum of Photoshop work, I was able to put the map of our facility's meeting areas on one page and then use the facing page for brief descriptions of the areas (e.g., Here is the main ballroom. All of the general sessions are here, etc.)

  3. Cut out things no one reads

    For us, it was references to registration desk hours. (No one gets a program until they register, so they already know where registration is and few attendees have a reason to come back once they've picked up their packets.)

  4. Compress the speaker bios into the session schedule

    Our old programs used to list speakers in the session descriptions and then go on to have a section of speaker bios in the back. This change saved several pages.

  5. Limit artwork and keep the page count low

    Even if your meeting lasts three days, this brochure/program is only really useful for a few hours. By the last day, everyone knows where they're going and what they're going to do. Keep the fancy design elements and art to a minimum. I also find that this lets the sponsors' ads and logos stand out a little more.

Cutting down on the page count, doing the layout myself on PageMaker, and taking away the full bleed (image or graphics that extend to the edges) on the cover cut my annual meeting program printing budget by about 60 percent.

Mike Mason is director of communications, The Farm Credit Council, Washington, D.C., and writer of the Communicatio blog ( This item was adapted, with permission, from one of his posts.

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