2014-08-06

Design of a Funeral Programme

I make this post to outline the thinking process that I put into the design of my grandfather’s funeral program. Consider it something like the director’s comments that come with a movie: only interesting for those interested in how things are made. Apart from the obvious informational purpose of the funeral programme there were two further purposes; to connote something about my grandfather and to potentially last as a family history document. I made design decisions with this in mind.


The front cover and it’s inside front contain family history information. The inside back and back cover contain funeral service information. The programme can be cut down the middle if only one half is desired. The programme can be folded inside out to protect the photograph during transit.
Name and date information placed to allow framing in an A5 frame or to trim the name and frame closer to the photograph Three different photo choices attempt to provide a prompt for conversation at the service and act like a collectible series.


Family history information fits within the area of the photograph so that can be kept if the photograph is put into an album. This was more important than rigidly maintaining typographic rhythm with the opposite leaf.


Large typography so that it is comfortable to read at the funeral service and will better stand up to aging. Additional line-space added to group sections of the service, lighten the feel of the page and provide visual landmarks when glancing for information.


Consistent typographic hierarchy and a three column grid unifies the pages.

Production Notes

Budget and time considerations meant a larger run of about 80 programs on 120gsm glossy satin stock and a limited run of fancier programmes intended for close family.

Photographs are on archive paper, fixed with acid free photography squares. Bockingford paper is also acid free. It was a bit more expensive but should last for a few decades.

While printers have large catalogues of paper stock, most of it must be ordered in. The timeline for a funeral meant I could not wait. Bockingford felt like granddad; classy, solid, even if a bit rough. Garamond seemed to be a fitting typeface for the same reasons.

The guy at printing.com in Frankton was incredibly helpful. Get to know your printer and talk to them early about your job. Printing.com did the 120gsm satin gloss run of about 80 sheets.

Bockingford Watercolour came in artist pads – I separated the leaves, removed the adhesive and found somebody who would feed them through their machines. Thanks Warehouse Stationery!

I was concerned about how much toner drop out there’d be on the Bockingford. That meant an early test print of fancy tiny typefaces with stokes widths from the hairline to the bold. Less toner drop than I expected – just a very slight tasteful amount.

I’m don’t normally work much in print so I’m a bit unfamiliar with InDesign. I spent most of my design time trying to remember how to use the thing! I almost gave up to use something more familiar (Word *cough*) but InDesign’s beautiful text rendering made me perservere. Well worth it. Also, I’m not ashamed to admit I was saved by YouTube tutorials more than once.