How to plan and develop publications - ESRC


Choosing the type of publication

You may want to produce a range of publications as part of your strategy.


Leaflets can be useful for promoting activities and events. They have a short shelf-life, so use them for marketing specific activities such as conferences or publications rather than conveying information you want readers to retain long term.

Make sure you always include contact details and reply slips on leaflets and code them so you can evaluate who is responding.

Remember that leaflets inserted into other publications may never get any further than the person who first receives the information.


Booklets are a good alternative to larger publications, particularly if you want to provide summary information.

The same rules apply to the production of booklets as any other publication – they need to be well written and designed and appropriate to the target audience.

Avoid the temptation to cram too much information into a booklet or to lower the production values. This often results in the booklet being difficult to read and can convey a negative image.


Use brochures to promote the overall aims of your project or to highlight a specific initiative.

They can be particularly useful when launching a new research programme. Include enough information to make the brochure something a reader might want to keep, but do not overload it with detail.

You should include key contacts and ensure high production values.


Many projects produce newsletters to keep internal and external audiences informed about their activities.

Think about the frequency of the newsletter and whether you actually have enough interesting material to fill it. It is better to produce a more infrequent but highly relevant newsletter than to send out monthly updates that contain little real news.

Production values are important. Avoid poor layout and low-quality images. If newsletters are an important part of your communications and impact strategy, consider employing professional designers and writers to produce them.

Electronic newsletters are cheaper to produce but the same principles about the quality of the content and production apply.

Research summaries and briefings

You may want to produce regular briefings and summaries of your research. If so, develop a standard format and consider employing a professional copywriter to ensure that complex technical information is communicated in the most accessible way.

You should establish agreed terminology and a consistent approach to charts and graphics so that the briefings have a standard look and feel

If you plan to produce a series of briefings, you can send your target audience a simple, branded binder for filing them.

Presentation slides

It is useful to develop a standard set of PowerPoint slides, which can be used and adapted for publicity purposes.


Keep a supply of general purpose, branded folders available for publicity. You can use them for events or to send out packages of specific information to key audiences, for example, briefings.

Remember that you can use the space on the folder to communicate key messages and facts and figures about your research. Some folders also include a space for a business card to be inserted to follow up any contacts.

Stationery and business cards

You will need basic stationery – including letterheads and compliment slips – as well as business cards for key people.

Remember that you have some space to communicate key messages and facts and figures about your research, for example, on the reverse of business cards.

Last updated: 31 August 2021

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