Menu Design 102

Last week we deviated from our outdoor blogs and began talking about winning menu design and TerraSlate’s water resistant paper. To begin with, you must have menu item descriptions that appeal to the senses and help build the experience of your restaurant. As we talked about last week, your restaurant isn’t just about serving good food; it’s about creating an unforgettable and unique experience that will keep your patrons coming back and bringing their friends. Once you’ve nailed down your menu descriptions, it’s time to begin designing the perfect layout. Here are the keys to having the best menu design for you:


There is a science to how people will read your menu. For one panel menus, the top of the menu will always be looked at, gravitating towards the top left to right side in a zig-zag pattern; two panel menus, towards the top-right area, and three panel menu, the top third. As you design your menu, put the menu items that you want to draw the most attention to, generally those that are the most expensive or your best sellers, put in the place that your patron’s eye will naturally go to.


Color is an important part of menu design, for you can use color to evoke an emotion from your patron, and as we have discussed, eating out is an emotional experience. Basic color theory can help you decide what colors will best fit your menu design: green evokes a peaceful feeling and reminds the viewer of natural ingredients; yellow is an energizing color and can be a great color for breakfast or brunch menus; menu’s with a lot of white space can indicate an air of sophistication.

Eye Magnets

Eye magnets are exactly as the name implies: They draw attention to a particular menu item or section. Eye magnets can be areas that use pops of color, banners and design elements that fit your overall restaurant theme (i.e. images or flourishes, etc.), larger type-face and more. For greatest impact, put an eye magnet in one of the areas of the layout that the eye naturally gravitates towards.

Price Hiding and Softening

Price hiding and softening is another element of winning restaurant menu design. Instead of putting the prices of your items in the column across from your food item allowing patrons to scan the right side of your menu and pick the least expensive item, put your prices near your food description.

 Also, when you are indicating the price of your meal, get rid of the dollar sign. Your patrons know what currency they will need to pay you, and getting rid of the dollar sign will remind your guests less that they are exchanging you for goods, and will enhance the feeling that you are offering them an experience. The most effective pricing is “friendly pricing”: Simple, without decimal points.


Photos can either help or hurt your menu design depending on your restaurant type and the experience you wish to give your patrons. If you use photos, use them sparingly. Contrary to marketing design rules, a picture doesn’t help in the case of making your menu more dynamic: Photos have a tendency to cheapen your restaurant and food. If you have used descriptions that are worded well with evocative language, you won’t need a picture of your delectable eats!


Some of the best menus are simple. The ultimate purpose of a menu is to tell your patrons what you serve. A menu that is hard to navigate will frustrate your guest and may deter them from eating at your place again. Use these design elements to your advantage while still employing the necessary white space. White space is like a comma in writing, a breath in the flow of your design that allows your design to have greater impact.

TerraSlate Restaurant Menu Printing

For greatest impact, have TerraSlate print your menus on their water resistant paper that can help prolong the life of your menus and allow you to clean them with ease...And you will never wipe the ink off! TerraSlate’s water resistant paper is made with longevity and quality in mind. We offer multiple menu printing options, so that you can longlasting menus with the design that best fits your restaurant!

Laser printer paperMenu paperUnderwater paperWeatherproof paper