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How to display prices with Menu Engineering

How to display prices with Menu Engineering

Your menu is more than a price-list. The aim should be to sell your food and drink based on their fantastic recipes, great descriptions and the quality put in to serving it - not simply the price you charge!


Menu Engineering is a term all bars and restaurants should become familiar with, ultimately because it could be the next step to increase profits and productivity.  

If you haven't heard anything about Menu Engineering yet, we've put together a four-part introduction starting with: Costing your Menu (Step 1/4). Displaying your prices is a different step altogether. 

So you have your menu design ready, and you think it's ready to print?
Check these steps to ensure you aren't falling in to common traps that may be making your items perform below par. 


1. Don't line up prices in a column. (Especially not the same size as your headers!)

Most menus adopt a basic format:
Menu items on the left - - - - - - £ Price on the right. 
It's simple and easy - - - - - - - but it isn't the best way.

And here's why:
Lining up prices in such a way places more importance in the cost than the description. The ordering process for customers is simplified into picking the price they feel happiest paying. The goal should be to sell the item to them before they even read the price, organise the list by what you want to sell most and use descriptive language to convey the quality of the dish/item. 

Once you've got the customer excited for the dish, they do need to know the price, it doesn't need to be in huge bold letting with an easy to spot currency symbol next to it. Change the £10 to a simple '10', or better yet 'ten', written at the end of the description - using italics or a little space between description and cost should suffice.

2. Drop the currency symbol

As hinted at above, losing the currency symbol is wise.

The reasoning is that the eye will be drawn to the currency symbol and customers used to reading menus as a price list will still be able to do so fairly easily. It's not that you want the menu to be difficult to use, but you certainly want to prioritise the menu options over the costs of the choices.

The difference between £10 and 10 is subtle, but we're confident in the positive effects.

3. Consistency

Just as a rule of thumb, proofreading is important. 
Many menus can become inconsistent when undergoing edits, tweaks, critique, upgrades, rebrands, repricing, or whatever! 

In France, the French put the € after the price and use commas instead of decimal points. €5.55 to an English reader and 5,55€ to a French reader. This is an extreme example, but you can imagine the number of price mistakes that could appear when tweaking menus in multiple languages. 

Even with one language, we've seen sections with the £ symbol used, sections without it, sections when it's in italic and sections when it isn't, and all for no real reason. We always reiterate that consistency is key to reflect the high quality of your brand that you want to promote. Mistakes all over a menu will make your establishment look sloppier than it is!