Catalogs vs Line sheets: What is the difference and which do you need?

You only get one chance to make an amazing first impression and using a catalog or line sheet for your product based businesses will help you do just that.  If you are planning to wholesale your products you are going to want a catalog and/or line sheet ready to hand your buyers. This is my favorite selling tool because they really showcase your products, highlight all the important info and help buyers to see the full scope of your product line. It’s not always realistic to have every sample of every item in your line if you meet with a buyer in person, and sending every sample to stores outside of your geographic region will add up fast.

catalogs and line sheets

The line between catalogs and line sheets become a bit blurred because, in many instances, these terms are used interchangeably. Google one and you will inevitably find mixed information. While they share many similarities, there are definitely some differences. Today, I’m breaking down the differences between the two so you can decide which is the best option for your business. :)


A catalog is awesome at telling your brand story because it typically includes more stylized images in addition to featuring images of your products. It’s the best way to offer a potential new buyer a look at what your business is all about! Catalogs give you more space to include some background info about the designer/company and your wholesale policies and terms + conditions. Because they are printed on a higher quality paper and bound they make for a much more memorable presentation which is why most trade show exhibitors opt for catalogs over line sheets. In many instances, though, they lack some of the specifics your buyer wants to know before placing an order because including all this additional info can make for a cluttered feeling catalog.

Why catalogs are awesome: 

  • They give a beautiful first impression of your brand
  • They immediately make you look like a pro
  • The additional info about the company and designer behind the brand can often time compel buyers to place an order

Some drawbacks to using a catalog:

  • They tend to be much more expensive to print
  • They cost much more to update

Check out this awesome example of a gorgeous catalog by Haven Paperie (image via Pinterest)

And this one by Dahlia Paper Press is as equally amazing (image via Pinterest)

Line Sheets:

Line sheets are a much more budget friendly option that places emphasis on the products you are looking to sell. They still get the point across without some of the bells and whistles and stylized images you’d get with a catalog. These individual sheets of paper contain images of your products and include more of the detailed info a buyer needs in order to purchase from you like:

  • packing info
  • Sku/style numbers
  • colors/sizes options
  • Wholesale costs and MSRP’s
  • delivery dates
  • contact details

Why line sheets are great:

  • They are much easier to update-no need to commit to a major print run. just print what you need.
  • They make it easier for a buyer to focus on one specific collection because the buyer doesn’t need to look at everything to get what they want.
  • They are easy to rip apart and make notes on (some buyers only want to keep images of what they order)

Some line sheet drawbacks:

  • Single sheets of paper with images of a collection are not as glamorous as a catalog that’s printed and bound
  • They are product specific and typically don’t include background information on your business
  • They are not meant to be a PR tool (you probably wouldn’t want to include them in your press packet)

Check out this example of a line sheet for an apparel line (image via Pinterest)

It's important to note that while some line sheets use line drawings (like the one above) many include photos of products. Sometimes, catalogs + line sheets use a combination of the two. It's always better to have some image for your buyer to reference than to leave a style out completely (because if they don't see it, chances are they won't buy it!)

From a sales standpoint, I always recommend a combination of the two. Catalogs are a GREAT eye-catching introduction to your brand and biz when you’re trying to get the attention of a business who doesn’t know you yet, which is why it is the tool of choice for most trade show exhibitors. Depending on your design calendar and new release dates it may make sense to create a catalog for your main collections and use a line sheet for supplemental seasonal lines (such as holiday) Upload your catalog to a publishing site like Issu to make it easy to share with buyers.  

So, I’d love to know, which will you choose?