Simplify the process of designing your restaurant menu with the tips offered in this guide.

So, you’ve finished planning your menu and decided on the dishes, prices, deals, and portions; what remains is designing the menu. Know that your menu plan can be perfect, yet if you fail at menu design, your restaurant may struggle to sell out its dishes.

We’ve written this short restaurant menu design guide to help you build on your menu plan with a compelling menu design. In fact, you can use a 100% free menu maker to design one that rapidly sells your dishes.

Aspects of Restaurant Menu Design

Today, even a free menu template must satisfy all aspects of menu design, or it’s more or less worthless. Let’s break down menu design into components to give our guide a cohesive integration.

Menu design entails the following elements:

  • Readability
  • Clarity
  • Aesthetics
  • Psychology
  • Layout
  • Verbiage
  • Size

Let’s examine each of these and how they contribute to the overall menu design.

1. Readability.

Have you ever tried reading grey text on a white background?

There are pages like that on the internet, and reading them isn’t always pleasant. During your online reading sessions, you must have come across pages that your impulse disliked for being less readable than others.

Your menu must NOT reek of poor readability, or you’ll lose sales. It may be true that a customer who already occupies a table is unlikely to change their mind about ordering even if your menu isn’t very legible. However, continue to serve them such menus over time and see if they keep coming or don’t complain — even if your food is way better than competitors.

Designing very readable menus.

There are a few elements to pay attention to when improving menu readability.

These include:

  • Background/text color or contrast.
  • Font type and size.
  • Layout and images.

An important rule of thumb is not to use a light background and bright text colors or vice versa. Such color combinations usually create a sense of tension in the reader.

Dozens of fonts are highly legible on menus. However, before using a particular font on your menu, research its readability for that purpose.

Here are some of the recommended ones:

  • Proxima Nova
  • Garamond
  • Cafe Francoise
  • Mollusca
  • Helvetica

2. Clarity in restaurant menus.

The overall impression of your menu should be that of clarity. Font sizes, types, images, descriptive texts, etc., should all complement one another to produce an attractive menu that simplifies selection for customers. Simply put, clarity is the harmony within the collective simplicity and aesthetics of your menu’s components.

3. Aesthetics of restaurant menus.

Readability and clarity are the essential features of a restaurant menu. However, there’s no fault in making your menu even more appealing by decorating it with high-quality food pics, stylish fonts, beautiful colours and designs. Summarily, the aesthetics of your menu gives it a visual appeal.

4. Restaurant menu psychology.

Restaurant menu psychology is a collection of menu design features intended to manipulate a customer’s perception of value. Restaurants do everything they can to make customers spend more money without feeling overcharged or exploited.

Some of these tactics include:

  • Price anchoring.
  • Strategic placements.
  • No currency symbols.
  • Clever wordings.

5. The correct menu layouts.

The correct menu layouts are those that maximise the exposure of dishes you’re trying to sell more of.

Such layouts don’t draw a customer’s attention to how much money they’d spend. Neither do they embarrass them with easy price comparisons, such as two-column menus with prices listed in one column.

Rather, a good menu layout should accommodate most of the psychological tricks used in menus.

6. Verbiage or descriptions.

You don’t want to write a 5-line paragraph description of any dish on your menu. People visiting your restaurant may be tired, hungry, and even irritated. So, they won’t have the patience to study several blocks of text to choose a meal.

Make your descriptions short and powerful. Let it complement the food images or at least paint a picture of the dish in the customer’s mind. You can learn several ways to describe dishes precisely by studying how your competitors do it.

7. Size of a restaurant’s menu.

Would you like to be handed a menu the size of an old newspaper? Not only might such a menu engulf your customer, but they would also definitely feel overwhelmed before even studying it.

As a rule of thumb, your menu shouldn’t contain more than 32 items, and a customer holding it in front of their face should be able to see the occupants of adjacent tables.

Frequently Asked Questions on Restaurant Menu Design Guide

What are the steps to creating and designing a restaurant menu?

Outlined below are the seven key components of a good menu in brief. Feel free to arrange them into steps:

  • Readability
  • Clarity
  • Aesthetics
  • Psychology
  • Layout
  • Verbiage
  • Size

What are the three basic rules in menu planning?

There are more than three rules in menu planning, and these include:

  • Competitive analysis.
  • Recipe formulations.
  • Deciding portions.
  • Creating unique offers.
  • Branding.
  • Pricing.

What are the golden rules for planning a menu?

The golden rules for planning a menu are:

  • Understanding your customers and competitors.
  • Offering the right recipes at acceptable prices.
  • Minimizing the costs of creating recipes.


From this brief restaurant menu design guide, we’ve learned many things about one of the most important aspects of the restaurant business. The menu design requirements are well-known in the industry, but you’d be amazed how many restaurants fail to meet these requirements. They may get away with this ignorance due to low competition, irresistible prices, tasty meals, or sophisticated marketing; however, less readable menus will chip away at any restaurant’s revenue on a level playing field.