Brochures: Writing for Audience and Purpose

9 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
Nine 50-minute sessions
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This brochure assignment follows another writing assignment, giving students the opportunity to see how shifting purposes and audiences creates changes in their strategies as writers—in the stance they take, in the information they use or leave out, and in the processes they follow to complete the task. After exploring published brochures, students determine key questions about their previously-used topic by first generating their own questions and then asking others what they would want to know. They then research the topic to find answers to three key questions. Finally, they work through the writing process to create their own informative brochure which incorporates visual elements as part of the informative communication. During the process, they re-examine sample brochures, looking for the types of texts included and how the text is laid out on the page.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

In the book, Strategic Writing, Deborah Dean explains this brochure lesson as a way to help students understand that writing for differing purposes and audiences may require using different genres, different information, and different strategies. Developing a sense of audience and purpose in writing, in all communication, is an important part of growth as a writer. Shifting from one genre with its incumbent audience and purpose to another, builds sensitivity to these factors in students. Additionally, today's students are confronted by a variety of texts that integrate verbal and visual materials to create a unified message. Creating a text that combines verbal and visual elements can develop students' ability to navigate increasingly complex uses of text types in their world, especially their world online.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Materials and Technology

A collection of informative brochures




  • Have students complete another writing assignment, preferably a paper that requires inquiry and has a different purpose (such as persuasion or argumentation) and a primary audience of the teacher. Although this unit can be taught by itself, it more effectively accomplishes the desired objectives if it is taught after students have written a paper for another purpose: to persuade or to take a stand, rather than to inform. For an example that uses this strategy after both a research paper that requires students to take a stand and a reversal paper, see page 98-110 of Dean's Strategic Writing.

  • Gather informative brochures from a variety of sources. You can collect in a range of places-car dealerships, college campuses, school counseling offices, doctors' offices, visitors' bureaus, and so forth.

  • Check the Brochure Assignment, and decide if changes are needed. If necessary, your own version of the brochure can be created using a word processing program or using the Printing Press.

  • Review Websites in the Resources section, and prepare handouts as needed, making copies or overhead transparencies of the Investigation Sheet, Assignment, Inquiry Sheet, Research Guide, Evaluative Reading, and Questions for Reflection.

  • Arrange for time in library to conduct inquiry and gather visuals.

  • Make sure access to computers is available for students to format and print their brochures.

  • Test the Printing Press on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • explore how texts work more or less effectively.

  • understand how writing reflects purpose through genres, writer stance, content, and presentation.

  • use strategies for inquiry, investigation, drafting, and revision effectively to create an informative brochure.

  • reflect on how their use of strategies for this assignment can help them in future writing situations.

Session One

  1. Ask students what they already know about brochures. Be sure to have students consider anticipated audiences and possible purposes. They should note that usually brochures are written for an interested audience (after all, who would pick up a brochure to read it if the topic wasn't of interest to them?).

  2. Have students investigate brochures in small groups. Using the Investigation Sheet (one per group), have them draw conclusions about the characteristics of brochures and how those characteristics are responses to the intended audiences and purposes.

  3. After small groups have finished their investigations, bring the class together to summarize the findings.

  4. Encourage students to make connections between audience/purpose and characteristics to reinforce the concepts.

  5. Pass out the Assignment, which is presented as a brochure. It models some of what the assignment asks students to do as well as gives them information they need about the assignment and serves as the grade sheet for the completed brochure.

  6. If, as suggested, students are writing the brochure on the same topic as a previous paper with a different purpose, topic selection is already done. If, however, teachers choose to have students write the brochure as a stand-alone unit, they should allow time and procedures to help students select appropriate and interesting topics. This would add, probably, another session into the plan at this point.

  7. Give students the Inquiry Sheet for their homework, which asks them to to predict the questions a person might have about the topic and then directs them to ask at least three other people what they think the top four or five questions are about that topic. Students then synthesize what they see as they primary important questions an audience would want answered by a brochure on the topic-and they come to class ready to conduct inquiry on those questions.

Session Two

  1. Check whether students have completed the Inquiry Sheet, which was assigned as their homework.

  2. If students have trouble synthesizing the questions, have them work on them in small groups for a short time to ensure that everyone has questions ready.

  3. Briefly discuss what students have found from the procedure that was interesting. Frequently, students find that the questions they had originally considered either weren't accurate representations of what others wanted to know about the topic or were inadequate-they rarely find that their own preconceived ideas were entirely accurate.

  4. Make a point of noting how asking others for questions can help us consider audience needs more effectively.

  5. Give students the Brochure Research Guide and have them write the four or five questions that will be key to the brochure in the column on the left.

  6. Next, have them write what they already know about the answer to the question in the column in the center.

  7. In the column on the right, have them jot smaller questions that still need to be answered in order to thoroughly address the question in the left column.

  8. When they go to the library to get their answers, have students keep track of sources on the back of the research guide and note their answers in their own words in the last column.

  9. Explain that when they have collected their research, all the information will be grouped by the question it answers so they can draft easily. Remind students that the sources are required on the center back panel of the brochure.

  10. Give students time to conduct inquiry. Depending on students, this may take one or two sessions.

Session Three

  1. When students have conducted sufficient inquiry so that they are ready to begin drafting, have them look at the sample brochures again to notice the different text types that brochures use to convey information. They should identify the following:

    • Lists

    • Paragraphs

    • Charts

    • Graphs

    • Pictures and captions

    • Maps
  2. Ask students to consider and discuss why brochure writers might choose one text type over another.
    In this discussion, students should consider audience and purpose in a brochure writer's selection; in other words, the audience of a brochure is usually looking for information about a topic, but they want it quickly-so it has to be easily accessible. Also, certain types of information are more easily conveyed in lists, while other information might be better explained in graphs or in paragraphs.
  3. Have students analyze the information they have gathered about the primary questions on their topic. For each question, ask them write the type of text organization and format that would be best for explaining the answer to that question and why.

  4. Arrange students in pairs to discuss their choices and see if the partner has a better idea.

  5. Explain any additional organization and formatting requirements for the brochure. For instance, you may want to require at least one of the answers to be in paragraph form-partly to require students to write complete sentences, and partly because almost every brochure has at least one section written in paragraph format. Paragraphs allow exemplification in different ways than lists do.

  6. In the remaining time during the session, ask students to begin drafting the sections of their brochure according to their choices-making graphs, writing lists or paragraphs, and so forth.

Session Four

  1. Before students get too far in drafting their brochures, provide a mini-lesson on parallel structure, using the information in your class textbook or the Get It Write overview.

  2. Explain to students that the lists in their brochures will require parallel structure, and that the grammatical structure is also good for students to use in paragraphs as well.

  3. Allow time for short group practice with parallelism; and then let students continue practice with their own lists or sentences. Ask students to check their parallel sentences with a partner.

  4. During the remainder of the session, ask students to continue drafting and completing the different sections of their written text.

  5. Once students have a paragraph drafted, give a mini-lesson on coherence. Explain that since the text passages in brochures are fairly short, writers need to give lots of information in as few words as necessary. Despite this, they still need to help readers understand how one idea connects to another. In Strategic Writing, Dean uses a mini-lesson on chaining (page 141), but many textbooks offer examples of paragraph coherence or transitional devices to improve coherence that would benefit students during drafting.

Session Five

  1. Have students look at the published brochures again in small groups, this time directing their attention to layout design.

  2. Have them draw conclusions about the use of font style and size as well as placement of graphics, titles, and white space.

  3. After students draw some conclusions about design in their small groups, discuss their findings as a class and make sure they consider audience again in this regard: If a reader has a particular question about the topic, he or she would want to find the answer quickly-and would not want to be bogged down by messy flow or inadequate planning for getting a reader's attention. Again, the purpose of a brochure-to provide information quickly and easily-has to be considered in designing the layout.

  4. Conclude with some guidelines-there are many options-about how best to accomplish the purpose for an audience. Be sure to connect the guidelines you develop to the example handouts that students have examined.

  5. If students will use the online interactive for their brochures, pass out copies of the ReadWriteThink Printing Press Brochure Layouts, and demonstrate the Printing Press for students, displaying the brochure templates. Otherwise, point to the available brochure layouts students can use in the resources that are available (e.g., Word, Publisher). Students might also create handmade brochures with pens and markers.

  6. Discuss the order of the columns in a brochure to ensure that students understand the structure of the printouts. Printout order can be confusing since the front of the brochure is actually the third column in the printout.

  7. Give students two sheets of blank typing paper, and have them design two different layout plans. They don't have to include text, but they should indicate where titles will be placed, the kind of text that will follow (in a shaded box to show approximate size) and squares to show placement of graphics.

  8. When they have finished, ask students to share their layouts with at least two other students for feedback.

  9. Ask peer reviewers to look at the two designs and choose the one they find most visually appealing and accessible. On the back of the selection, ask each peer reviewer to write the reasons for the choice and to sign their comments.

Sessions Six and Seven

  1. Before students begin to create their brochures, make sure they understand about using visuals and the copyrights associated with those taken from the Internet.

    1. Students need to have a reason for every graphic they include in their brochures. They need to understand that pictures aren't just for decoration-they also help to inform the reader at the same time as they provide interest.

    2. Students need to be aware that unless they have drawn the images themselves, the images that they use are owned by someone else in most cases. If an image is in the public domain, students need to give credit to the source for the image. If the image is owned privately, they need to obtain permission to use it; the contact to obtain that permission is usually available on the site with the image. It's best to steer students away from privately owned images for the sake of time in obtaining the permission. Helpful information about fair use and copyright can be found at A Teacher's Guide to Fair Use and Copyright.

  2. Make sure students have some basic understanding of design principles associated with font style and size. Although a number of sources are available, these design principles from the Penguin Handbook (Pearson Longman, 2006) are a good starting point:

    • "Make similar items look similar" (p. 141): All headings or section titles should be the same font size and style.

    • "Make different items look different" (p. 143): Use contrast to draw the audience's attention to key features.

    • "Understand type styles" (p. 146):

      • Serif fonts (with the little lines at the ends of letters) are easier to read in print, so they are better for longer stretches of text.

      • Sans serif fonts are better for headings and shorter texts.

      • Decorative fonts are often hard to read and should be used with discretion.

      • The size of font needs to be readable.

  3. During the remainder of time during these sessions, have students begin to create their brochures.

  4. Review the options available for creating printed brochures. There are templates available with different software programs, depending on what each school has available, or students can use the Printing Press. For example, students can set "page setup" to "landscape" and create three text boxes with or without borders to establish the brochure panels.

  5. Be sure to remind students of the order in which the columns should appear on the printouts if they are to be folded properly. Use the diagrams at the bottom of the Printing Press Brochure Layouts handout to illustrate the organization.

  6. As students work, circulate through the classroom, providing feedback and support.

  7. Have students bring a draft version of their brochures to the next session to conduct peer evaluative readings.

Session Eight

  1. Pass out the Evaluative Reading handout and review the questions. Draw connections to the exploration of example brochures that students have made. Answer any questions that students have about their drafts.

  2. Arrange students in pairs, and using the Evaluative Reading handout, have students give and receive feedback on their brochures.

  3. After receiving feedback from at least one peer evaluator, have students review the criteria for assessment given in the Assignment handout.

  4. Considering both the peer feedback and the teacher criteria, have students reflect on what they will revise for the final draft.

  5. Ask students to write their goals for revision on the draft so that their ideas are clearly available for them during revision.

Session Nine

  1. If necessary, give students time to finalize revisions on their brochures and print out two copies. Have them hand in one copy, attached to the grading criteria from the Assignment Brochure.

  2. Conduct round-robin readings of the brochures. Include a blank 5X7 card in the brochures so that students can write their comments about the brochure, focusing on how well it addresses purpose (informing an audience) and audience (will readers get answers that matter, and will they be able to find those answers with ease?).

  3. After students have a chance to review other brochures, have them reflect in writing individually. The following questions are possible prompts for that reflection (partly taken from Dean's Strategic Writing, p. 143):

    • Which brochure did you find most effective and why? What did you learn from that brochure that you would like to apply to your brochure?

    • The topic for the brochure was the same one as for your ____ paper. What did you have to do differently with the topic to write about it for the brochure? How might your adaptations be useful to you in other writing situations?

    • For this assignment, I provided you with a number of handouts that asked questions or prompted your thinking in ways that I hoped would be helpful in complete the brochure effectively. In what ways were those handouts helpful strategies to you? In what ways were they not? How might you use what was helpful as a strategy for yourself in other writing when I'm not there to provide the handouts?

    • What strategies besides those you've already mentioned were helpful to you in writing the brochure? How might they be useful to you in other writing situations?


Student Assessment / Reflections

Review the brochures according to the assessment criteria included in the Assignment handout. Students can assess their own work using the Reflection Questions.

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