Folded Brochures

Posted on August 16th, 2011 | Tags: Brochures, Direct Mail, Flyers, Greeting Cards, Technical

The most common type of folded brochure or flyer we create is the good-old-fashioned tri-fold. An A4 page folded into three sections, usually with one flap being folded between the others (known as a “C-Fold” as opposed to a “Z-Fold” or “Accordian fold”).

Margins are perhaps one of the least thought about items in the files that we receive. In fact, most people simply stick with the software default – usually 2.54cm (or 1 inch) with no real thought. This is most obvious when it comes to flyers that will be folded – having a wide document margin, but a narrow column margin.

As a rule of thumb, your column margins should be double your document margin at a fold, so that the folded section will have the same margin on all edges. A document margin of 10mm is usually great for folded flyers, and 15 to 20mm for other documents. If you have a 10mm document margin then your column margins should be 20mm (double the document margin) to maintain visual consistency.

Section Width
When making a tri-folded document most people simply take their A4 page and divide it evenly into three sections (99mm each). However, if you want a C-fold then this is likely to cause folding problems, especially on high-speed folders. The flap that goes inside needs to be slightly narrower than the other flaps or it might not fold properly which significantly reduces the visual presentation of your work. We recommend making the inside flap on 97mm – for a total page width of 295mm (A4 is usually 297mm). This allows an extra 2mm for folding crunch but doesn’t make a big difference in the overall document design. Make sure that you set this up in your document properly and watch front-to back alignment (the inside fold is the left panel on the outside face, but the right panel on the inside-face). If changing this is problematic, simply increase the appropriate edge margin by 2mm and we can trim accordingly.

What get’s read?
There are six panels on a C-folded brochure. Here are some pointers on what to put on each panel (“outside” face means the side of the printed page that contains the front section and “inside” face means the section that’s not visible unless you open it all the way out; we’re assuming a standard A4 C-folded brochure here):

  1. The left-most panel on the outside face usually becomes the front panel. This is the most read panel and lots of people won’t see past this page, especially if it is in a display rack. In fact, the top half may be the only section visible. Make sure that your headline, fear-based or need-based message is clearly visible here. Most people put their logo here – this is a waste of opportunity.
  2. The center-panel on the outside face becomes the back of the brochure. This is the second-most read section (people may pick it up, look at the front then turn it over – many won’t bother to open it if you haven’t given them a good reason to do so in the front and back panels). A lot of time this panel is left blank, or has sponsorship information on it. Again, a wasted opportunity. On this panel you need to clearly give a reason why they shouldn’t just put down the flyer, but open it instead. Consider putting your offer, a great testimonial, or well-crafted benefits of your product.
  3. The left panel on the inside face is the third-most read section. Once you have convinced someone to open it, their eyes naturally go to the left. Here is where you start your more technical information, answer common questions or continue your benefits of the product.
    The right panel on the outside face becomes the inside folded flap. This is the fourth-most read section as it is parallel to the inside panel when the brochure is first opened. This would be a great place to put your call to action. Remember that if you have a tear off form, this is the bit that will be removed, so don’t put anything here you don’t want the customer to lose.
  4. The center and right panels of the inside face are hidden behind the flap and will only be seen if the customer opens the brochure fully. The right side can be used for a tear-off response flap. These two section are where you put your other information that helps convince people why they should buy. Start by asking yourself “what objections or problems might someone raise?” and answer them here.
  5. As always, show us your design and we’re happy to critique it for you and advise how you can get the best out of your print dollar.