23 Tips for Developing an Effective Park District/Recreational Catalog

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.


Little girl in the parkI often receive park district catalogs and recreational catalogs in the mail. Having designed several of these magazines, I would like to relay some suggestions to my readers:



In order to develop an effective park district/recreational catalog you should have:

  1. An easy-to-use magazine layout that allows readers to easily locate classes with category headers or tabs.
  2. A table of contents that properly navigates the reader to the major class categories in the magazine.
  3. Child having fun at a playgroundAn inviting cover with photos that has a theme for that season.
  4. An easy-to-use registration form at the front or back of the guide.
  5. Under each class listing, the class description, instructor name, fee, time and dates.
  6. An effective use of white space to give visual relief.
  7. Classes arranged in sections by topic or interest.
  8. Within each section, a grouping of classes by instructor or location.
  9. A consistent color theme that wraps throughout the book.
  10. Photos which illustrate the classes and which are strategically placed.
  11. A supplemental online registration portal.  This should allow readers to register online using a website or a mobile app.
  12. A welcome and/or introductory message at the front of the catalog.
  13. A section that highlights the most popular classes and special announcements.
  14. A park district map with locations of parks, classes and events.
  15. A calendar of important events.
  16. A theme and design that promotes fun, healthy living and exercise.
  17. A not too crowded, user-friendly and dynamic layout, with easy to find classes.
  18. A large print vendor that can provide print runs of 50,000 or more with an in-house bindery and fulfillment services.
  19. A call-out in the magazine for NEW classes to help draw attention to these recently added offerings.
  20. A section of kids classes, classes for senior citizens and adults.
  21. A very organized fulfillment department at the printer that can deal with multiple postal zones and a bulk rate mailings.
  22. A desire to build a fun publication that promotes recreation, learning and enjoyment for participants and the community.
  23. A paper stock that is recycled to help sustain a livable planet and to promote an environmental consciousness.
Pages of a recreation guide rolling off the printing press.

Pages of a recreation guide rolling off the printing press.

Freshly printed innards of a recreation catalog await binding with the cover.

Freshly printed innards of a recreation catalog await binding with the cover.


These tips are critical to developing an effective publication.  My firm, HWDS, currently designs and prints recreation guides for municipal clients.

Remember: parks make people happy.  Recreate your local recreation guide with a new design and help perk up the parks as well as the community!


If your company or organization needs an innovative or unique design solution for a publication, recreation guide or park district catalog please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

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