Designing Coupons with Desktop Publishing

Coupon clipping has been a popular pastime for many years. The weekly Sunday paper ad inserts often come with packets of consumer product coupons shoppers’ clip and bring to the grocery store. A great marketing idea, coupons can bring in new customers, offer one-time savings and bring repeat business. They are easy to design using desktop publishing.


Have a Plan

Before starting the design process, determine what you want to accomplish with the coupon. Are you trying to get rid of excess inventory, offer a discount for a new product or service, bring attention to a new store location or increase business. Any combination of these avenues, or all of them, is possible to achieve with one coupon.

Also, decide if you want to track the coupons by using barcodes or some other process. Having an idea of the outcome you want will make the design stage easier. Too many competing concepts can result in a confusing message.


Start the designing stage. Open a desktop publishing program. Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress are the two major programs. This blog will focus on InDesign.

Coupons need to be small enough to be easily carried with the consumer, either in a purse, coupon wallet or simply folded in a pocket. Open the program and set the page size defaults. Since the coupon may be distributed in various ways, set the page default to the largest size you will need and add an inch all around so you have room to work. If the coupon will be mailed, keep it no larger than the standard business No. 10 business envelope—4 1/8 by 9 ½ inches.

Desktop Publishing


As with any product developed for advertisement purposes, a strong, central image is key. The exact placement of a photo, or photos, is easy using desktop publishing. Pick an image that is a good representation of the product or service offered with the coupon.  Make it big enough to be recognized. Some advertising analyst say using a picture of happy customers draws people in and gets their interest. If the subject of the coupon lends itself to using people pictures, do it. There are many stock photo agencies on the Internet that offer staged shots for varying fees.

Another option is to hire a photographer, or if money is tight, a photography student from a local college. They will work for much less than a professional in order to gain experience.


Several major components must be present. To make maximum use of the space using desktop publishing size every elements. Obviously, the name, address, contact information of the business, what the coupon is for, specifics on the exact details of the products or service covered and don’t forget the expiration date. This is often small but offering open-ended deals is risky. First, if you run out of the product or it is no longer being offered for sale, a consumer with a no-expiration coupon is going to feel cheated and want some compensation. Second, coupons with no expiration often sit unused in the consumer’s pocket. You want them to take action soon after cutting it out.

Other content

Using desktop publishing, drawing a simple map to show the business location is fairly easy to do and provides the customer one more incentive to visit.


If the coupon is being offered on a Website, make it easy to print by itself. Make a notice on the site that says Print Coupon and have it open in a new window so just the coupon prints.


If the coupon offer is going to be mailed, either to existing customers, or as a mass marketing effort to attract new ones, take the file, saved as a PDF (Portable Document Format) to a printer. In desktop publishing, the file can be saved various ways but PDF is the most universal one that any printer can handle. This method makes for a more professional product and can be printed with front and back information.

Coupons have been a successful way to attract business and this advertising method does not seem to be diminishing in today’s cyber world. People still get mail, read newspapers and magazines so even as more coupon sites that are accessible with smartphones proliferate, the old ways of designing and distributing coupons continues to be a valid advertising campaign.