Pocket Guides: 7 Tips to Make the Perfect Petite Conference Companion

Pocket Guides: 7 Tips to Make the Perfect Petite Conference Companion

By Valerie Romack

When it comes to conference guides, many associations are finding out that smaller is better. Foldable and easy to slip into a pocket or bag, a conference pocket guide is ideal for attendees who want to quickly navigate an event’s many offerings without having to pull out their phones or tablets. Here are 7 things to consider when creating your perfect petite conference guide.


The key to an effective and readable pocket guide is a concise schedule. Try to limit the length of your schedule by removing speaker names (or only including last names) and session descriptions. Think about what your attendees will need to know spur of the moment: When is this session? Where is this session? When is the next break? Any additional information can be put online.


If you have effectively reduced your schedule and have some space left, pick a key event to highlight, such as a fun run, after party, prize drawing, or unique educational content that you don’t want attendees to miss.


A map is a must if your conference is spread over a large space. For optimum readability, your map should occupy two to six panels. Unfortunately, some maps provided by conference venues aren’t compatibly sized for a pocket guide. In that case, just ask your graphic designer to highlight the specific areas that are most important to your attendees, such as the exhibit hall and session rooms. With a pop of color and some added text, the map easily becomes user-friendly.


If you happen to have a free panel, consider including sponsor logos or even small ads. Ask your designer what size to request from your advertisers. Keep in mind if you include panels with sponsor logos, they will be small and most likely packed closely together, so gathering high-resolution logos is ideal. If you are producing a conference app along with your pocket guide, create a special advertising package option for both to generate extra revenue.

Conference App or Microsite

Because the pocket guides provide short snippets of information, they are best accompanied by a mobile app or microsite that has full details of all the conference events. Include a section in your pocket guide about how to download your conference app or access your microsite to drive traffic to your online content.

Social Media

If you plan to engage your social media followers, make sure to also include information about how to follow your accounts. Hashtags are a great way to engage attendees and encourage them to share their experience with peers. Mention your conference-specific hashtag in several locations on your pocket guide to get attendees hyped about sharing and connecting.


One of the most important things to consider with your pocket guide is the design. A great design will make it easy for attendees to navigate the information and conference. First, let’s talk about fonts. The more information you choose to include in your pocket guide, the smaller the fonts will have to be. Smaller fonts can be a hindrance for those with vision impairments, so be mindful of your attendees’ needs when adding content.

Visual elements can help brighten up your pocket guide. No one wants to unfold your guide only to see stacks of text packed tightly against a plain, white background. Break it up with a festive footer that spans the length of several panels or add color shading to your schedule headers. You can even add icons to indicate educational content or special events. Be careful not to go too far and clutter your pocket guide. Always keep in mind that the purpose of this piece is for attendees to find information quickly as they move around the conference.

It’s also important to know how the guide and panels will fold. Strategize which panels and content you want to appear first when the piece is unfolded. Your designer and print vendor can help with this. Also, keep in mind that the more panels you have, the more difficult it will be for users to unfold and refold it efficiently. Pocket guides typically have 18–36 panels (multiples of 6). If you’re not sure what size is best for your piece, think about what information you’d like to include and how the different sizes align with your budget. If your budget isn’t flexible, divide the information you want to include into “Must Include” and “Would Be Nice to Include” buckets so you have a plan for what you can add or remove if you end up with more or less space than you thought.

You’ve Done It!

Now you have the perfect foldable companion to help attendees navigate your conference with ease. If you follow these steps, you’ll end up with a concise, easy-to-carry piece that attendees are sure to enjoy.

Valerie Romack is an assistant editor on the Creative Media Services team at 911.

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