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Menu Writing Tips & Tricks

 You sit down at a restaurant and what’s the first thing you do? You take a look at the menu. A restaurant menu is not just a simple piece of paper, it’s much more than that. Your menu design should reflect your brand, what your restaurant stands for and pull the guest in. A lot of psychology and thought goes on behind the scenes that can make your menu stand out. Read on to find out tips you can utilize in your menu design to make your restaurant more profitable.


If your restaurant serves specialty drinks, has lunch specials or takes part in “Happy Hour” it’s a good idea to have a separate menu set aside from your regular menu so there is no confusion to your customers. This is also a great way to showcase everything clearly. Don’t bombard customers right away with an over sized crowded menu. You want to provide the most pleasant and stress free environment for your diners. 

Utilize the Golden Triangle

The term “Golden Triangle” was created by professional menu engineers and has become one of the most important aspects when you go to design your menu. The name stems from the fact that when we look at a menu, our eyes typically glance to the middle first before looking to the top right corner and the onto the top left corner. Here you should put the items you want people to order that have the highest profit margin. This doesn’t mean to put your most expensive menu items here, simply put the ones that you notice are most profitable. In this area you can include more than one dish but be sure to put the most profitable item first and the rest below it.

Color Jumble

The colors you use on your menu can affect what people order and you should use this to your advantage. Consider these colors when designing your menu and see which ones make the most sense for you:

GREEN – implies the food is fresh, it can make the customer believe this food was “just picked from the local garden”

ORANGE – can stimulate a customer’s appetite, it’s associated with healthy food, and it’s a fun and light color

YELLOW – known to be a happy hue and often used to grab the diner’s attention, this color can stimulate a customer’s appetite as well

RED – signifies excitement and encourages action. It would be a good idea to use the color red on meals with the highest profit margins (persuade the customer to order these meals)

Rule the Money

Naturally having to pay at the end of your enjoyable dinner is the downside but it has to get done one way or another. Try and “ease” the pain for people! Focus on how you price your items and what it looks like to the customers eye. Take away those dollar signs!!! By removing them, you take away the emphasis from the cost of the meal and can make it seem like you really aren’t spending money. Want people to spend more? Another great tactic is to write out your prices, example: Twelve instead of 12. Instead of ending your prices with .99 which seems cheap to some, end them in .95 making it seem like you are getting a good deal, example: 10.95 instead of 11.

Bang for Your Buck

You can deceive your diners by offering slightly more expensive items at the top of the menu. This can make it seem like all of your other dishes are offering a bang for your buck and people love that. It can also encourage diners to order more. If two of your dishes add up to your most expensive dish, they will feel like they are spending their money more wisely.

Let Your Creativity Shine

Get your creativity out there and put it on your menu descriptions! Don’t be shy. Menu descriptions should entice your customers and feed their imagination. Try using enticing adjectives like, “Fresh-caught” or “Farmer-grown” and stay away from “The world’s best…” because that’s not true. Each item should have a sense of uniqueness so there’s a better chance one will order more. If you want to sell more of a dish aka the ones with the highest profit margins, then it’d be in your best interest to write a longer description. Having a nostalgic description is powerful as well. People connect with the emotional resonance of being brought back to the past.

Limit Choices

The more choices people have to choose from, the more their anxiety builds. Don’t cause stress on your diners…limit the choices on your menu. It’s becoming noted that restaurant owners will only list seven dishes in each section. This is known as the “Golden Number”…not too little, not too many, just right. Doing so can possibly attract diner’s to a different, more expensive dish than what they normally order.


Negative Space

Never have an overcrowded menu. Use white (or negative) space to set your dishes apart. This can draw attention to the dishes that have the highest profit margin. If your menu is crowded and you can’t do anything about it, at least try and use this tip to your advantage so the customers eyes will naturally go towards any blank space to get out of the confusion.

Menu Material

The actual material of your menu should reflect your brand image and the type of feel you want people to get while being there. Menu material should reflect the quality of the food you’re offering. If your restaurant is on the high-end side, with pricier dishes – don’t have a vinyl covered menu. Instead use leather and thicker paper which will suggest the quality of the food is similar. Don’t be cheap about this, you don’t want your diners to get the wrong impression right off the bat.

Glossary Section

It’s a nice for someone to have the option to look at a glossary if they want to see exactly how something is prepared. Guests may be more likely to order a higher priced dish if they can see how it’s going to be made. The intimidation factor goes away. If there’s room on your menu for this option, be sure to add it.

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