Printing a Brochure: Creating the Folds
When preparing a brochure to be printed, it’s important to design everything with the final printed product in mind. It doesn’t matter whether everything looks good on your computer screen; what matters is if it will look good on paper, after it is printed. When printing a trifold brochure, one of the most important steps is the alignment of the three panels, or folds. If the positions of the folds are not precise, it can throw off your entire brochure.
Because of the important of the folds, it is extremely important that the folds are precisely measured. Never, ever “eyeball” the lines, as this will almost certainly result in your folds being off. To make sure that you are completely precise, consult your printer to find out what measurements they use. Generally, the size of folding panels can be calculated by determining the finished sized of the two outside panels, then subtracting 1/16” from each panel.
How does this look? For a standard letter-sized paper, brochures are usually done in landscape mode, meaning the overall dimensions are 11” x 8.5”. To give yourself a safety margin (and to ensure that nothing gets cut off when the final document is trimmed), the document margins should be set to .25” with a .125” bleed. For this general template the fold locations are as follows:
Outside Panels: 3.625″ and 7.3125″
Inside Panels: 3.6875″ and 7.375″
That leaves you with the final panel widths of:
Outside: 3.625″, 3.6875″ and 3.6875″
Inside: 3.6875″, 3.6875″ and 3.625″.
However, heavier paper stocks, different sheet sizes, and unique folding layouts can all contribute to different measurements, so make sure that you consult your printer.
Once you have determined your measurements, you want to create a guide on your document that lets you know exactly where those lines are located. Check your design software to learn exactly how to set up the guides in your program.
If you plan on making several brochures for your business, it is a good idea to save the document as a template so you can have the right fold guides for all of your future brochures.