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What is the difference between flyer and brochure?

It is so curious how different countries have different names for the same thing. I am sure you have heard at least one of the terms: pamphlet, leaflet, brochure or flyer. These are all English words and are all pretty much the same thing. While it is understandable that countries with different languages have different words for the same things. I always find it particularly interesting how English speakers call the same thing so many names. I wonder if it is region specific or not.

So I ask myself questions.

What is the difference between a pamphlet and a leaflet?

What is the difference between flyer and brochure?

what is the difference between brochure and flyer? professional graphic design specialising in documents breaks it down with definition, visuals, ngram.

The internet is full of these questions and answers. But I also like looking for similarities. As a visual person. I start with an image search. This is very simplified but you get the idea of what I am looking for. How my brain works.

Looking at definitions of the words.

Flyer
4: Noun. A leaflet, often for advertising.

Leaflet
3: Noun. A small sheet of paper containing information, used for dissemination of said information, often an advertisement.

Brochure
1: Noun. A booklet of printed informational matter, like a pamphlet, often for promotional purposes.

Pamphlet
1: Noun. A small booklet of printed informational matter, often unbound, having only a paper cover.

So by definition, a flyer is a leaflet. And a brochure and a pamphlet are both fairly interchangable terms. The difference here being one is a sheet of paper and one is a booklet. Both (or all four) are all informational and used often used for advertising/promotional purposes.

What is a pamphlet?

difference between flyer brochure pamphlet leaflet single page print for promotion and marketing with graphic design folded booklet advertise

  • Single page
  • Glossy full colour
  • Can be folded
  • Very likely to be printed on both sides
  • Promotes something

What is a leaflet?

difference between flyer brochure pamphlet leaflet single page print for promotion and marketing with graphic design folded booklet advertise

  • Single page
  • Glossy full colour
  • Can be folded
  • Very likely to be printed on both sides
  • Promotes something

 

What is a brochure?

difference between flyer brochure pamphlet leaflet single page print for promotion and marketing with graphic design folded booklet advertise

  • Single page
  • Glossy full colour
  • Folded either in two or in thirds
  • Very likely to be printed on both sides
  • Promotes something

 

What is a flyer?

difference between flyer brochure pamphlet leaflet single page print for promotion and marketing with graphic design folded booklet advertise

  • Single page
  • Glossy full colour
  • Not folded
  • Likely to be printed single-sided
  • Promotes something

Conclusion, there are not much differences in what these different documents look like. They don’t even seem to match the definitions.

what is the difference between brochure and flyer? professional graphic design specialising in documents breaks it down with definition, visuals, ngram.

Using keyword search to understand the related terms

So I didn’t really learn much more from this. What about the other keywords that Google identified as similar. So these are words that are normally searched alongside our main word. Using keywords like this might be able to shed some light on how they are different.

In the screenshots before, I kept the additional keywords that Google suggests. They are all very similar:

  • design, school, brochure, background, template, sample, advertisement, food, coaching, business, education
  • creative, background, education, school, layout, product, template, food, modern, vector, gym
  • design, sample, travel, school, creative, tri-fold, business, background, template, graphic design
  • design, event, template, creative, business, real estate, party, school, background, advertising, product

So my theory was correct in that they are all pretty much the same thing. They have the same purpose. A flyer however is more likely to be a single page and for advertising something. Matching the definition. A lot of the other keywords were specific to graphic design in general or whole entire industries. Flyer was the only one more specific with “event, school, real estate and party).

Some of the keywords were actually the same on three or all four of them. Eg. Design, background, template, creative, business. This really does put them all quite in a small window of what they are.

Then of course I wonder, how do you talk about such an item with someone when we are not using the same word to talk about the same thing. But that brings me more questions. Including: did we always have so many words for the one thing.

History of the words brochures and flyers

ngram brochure leaflet flyer history of words and graphic design popularity in terms over time

N-Gram is a wonderful tool. Basically, it has every word catalogued for over 200 years. And you can compare usage of the written word. So from this you can see trends where one word fades out of popular usage and another takes over. According to n-gram, what is the difference between flyer and brochure? And the other terms, leaflet and pamphlet?

Now N-gram isn’t perfect, this is from selected written works and isn’t picking up what is said orally. But there are still visible trends. Example what used to be a pamphlet is not an outdated term. It was the most popular term until pretty much the 1940s. It looks like most terms were pretty popular in the 1940s and all were vying for the number one spot. But the clear winner for term was brochure. Leaflet always being more popular than flyer. This explains the definition for flyer pointing you directly to leaflet. I wonder if the drop in the term brochure is correlating with people thinking print is dead and only using the internet and social for their promotions.

 

Why should I care?

When you promoting your business and you need brochures, flyers, pamphlet and leaflets how you know what to ask for if you don’t know the term. But when these particular things are all so similar does it really matter? Yeah, kind of. When you search for a pamphlet designer or pamphlet template these days, you will only find old school thinkers. This is because this term is not longer as popular. If you are searching for a leaflet or flyer you probably aren’t considering something called “double-sided document” but one of these terms. This is not just to find a graphic designer though. How about when you are finding a printer. You might learn that they are just as likely to alternate between these terms. But maybe the print shop you always go to has flyers as an option on their price list but you don’t know what a flyer is, you are after a brochure. And they don’t have that on their list. Do you ask them? Maybe now you might.

In my store, you can buy a design that goes over one page (I call it advertisement) but you could just as easily print this up as flyers. That is single sided. And brochures, well on my store I have called them a booklet. Just because this term covers a range of things like brochure, magazine, annual report design, report template, strategic plan etc. Basically a multipage document. Which is my favourite kind to make.

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Kassandra Bowers Marsh graphic designer brisbane Caboolture Australia digital nomad remote agency

Hi, I am Kassandra.

I am not only a qualified graphic designer but also a qualified early-childhood educator. I have spent years typesetting educational materials including thick textbooks. My clients are industry experts who now teach others. They use my skills to increase their audience and maximise the value of their content by improving the attractiveness and readability of all their resources.