02 July 2014

Fliers and Pamphlets

Agitprop, Part 2a

A Typical South African Event Flyer

Fliers and Pamphlets

Fliers (Flyers) and Leaflets

These are handed out free, as advertising. Usually they only have text on one side. Sometimes they are miniature versions of a poster. In South Africa, most political fliers are A5 (half an A4) in size.

Fliers need to project the message that they are supposed to convey, very simply and clearly. People who take fliers do not, on average, spend more than a few seconds looking at them. Very few of them will keep the flier or look at it twice. Therefore the main information must be the most prominent information.

If the flier is to advertise an event, then the main information is Date, Time and Venue. The nature of the event comes after these in importance, even if it is put at the top of the flier. But of course, it must also be there.

As with posters, it is important to avoid the kind of “clutter” that obscures the simplicity of the message.

Text in sentences and paragraphs is unlikely to be read. Text in slogan form, and as announcement, is what goes on fliers. In other words: Less is more. The graphics, layout and illustration should support the text, and not compete with it.

Logos can be used, but what gets most attention on any page is always the same thing: A human face or a human figure. In text, what gets most attention is names of people.

Polychrome is not necessary in a flier design, just as it is not necessary in a poster.


The word pamphlet is used sometimes to mean a one-sheet leaflet, but a pamphlet is really a text publication, normally having a number of pages. It is usually like an essay, or what is sometimes called a tract. It is similar to writing for periodicals like theoretical magazines, or as part of a book. The difference from these is that the pamphlet is an occasional and not a regular publication, and it is shorter than a book.

In South Africa, a pamphlet might typically be A5 in size, several thousand words in length, and anything from 4 to 32 pages, or sometimes even more than that. Pamphlets are often printed professionally. Sometimes they have a cover, sometimes not. A recent SACP pamphlet was “Deepen the Historical Ties between the ANC and SACP”, printed for the Party by Shereno printers. It was a print version of a lecture given on 23 November 2012 as part of the ANC’s Centenary celebrations.

Pamphlets have a long history in politics. One of the most famous pamphleteers in the English language is Tom Paine. The 1848 Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels is a pamphlet, maybe the most successful one ever. Joe Slovo’s “The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution” is a pamphlet-length work.

The Communist University’s booklet format is not different from the historic pamphlet form.

A pamphlet is always an option when an occasional response or publication is needed.

Bua Komanisi

The South African Communist Party keeps a title that is a hybrid between a regular publication and a pamphlet, called Bua Komanisi. It does not come out at regular intervals, but it is numbered in series. It is used for occasional publication of important documents, such as discussion documents. The most recent one, published in May, 2013, is “Let’s not Monumentalise the National Development Plan,” a discussion of the NDP.

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