[New Content] How to Design a Killer Trifold Brochure Layout | Clarke Inc. Creative Marketing & Print Communication
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[New Content] How to Design a Killer Trifold Brochure Layout

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Stop the lies.  Print is not dead.  In fact, print marketing can be more powerful than digital marketing if used properly.  Consider the basic trifold brochure.


Trifolds can be a powerful tool in your marketing when thoughtfully planned with their end-use in mind. Designing a brochure that appears thoughtfully planned and flows naturally is a lot of work, but the results are well worth the effort.


You need a brand style guide to get started.


The terms “Gate”, “Tri” and “Z” all refer to types of folds. The type of fold you use will determine how your information flows as the reader reads through your brochure. This should be decided before selecting what information goes on which panel. Each one also requires different panel sizes inside of your design. Let’s look at each one in detail:


  • Gate-fold– also called double fold. This style of fold opens first like a book with 2 panels visible, then it unfolds like a gate, with one panel unfolding to the right and another panel unfolding to the left, revealing a 4-panel spread underneath. This is perfect for large landscape images that you want to emphasize; or something that you want to have a grand reveal type of feel to it. However, it can cost double the other fold options so use it wisely.  When designing a gate fold, divide your page into 4 panels, and make the two panels to the extreme left and the extreme right 1/16” inch narrower than the 2 panels in the middle. This will ensure the “gate” pieces won’t collide with each other when folded.


  • Tri-fold – This is the typical fold everyone usually thinks of when they think “brochure”. The reader opens the brochure to reveal two panels, then the right most panel unfolds to show a 3-panel spread. People are used to this kind of fold, which makes any brochure done this way seem rather ordinary and plain by nature. However, because printers are accustomed to printing this type of fold it tends to cost less than more unusual fold patterns. Tri-fold brochures work well for hand-outs, and easily fit into pockets. When designing a tri-fold, divide your page up into 3 panels. Then make the panel that folds in 1/16” shorter than the other two panels. Like with the gatefold, this is to prevent the panel from colliding with the rest of the page when folded and making the whole thing bunch up.



  • Z-fold– So named because the page is folded into the shape of a “Z”, you can also think of it like an accordion or fan. Upon opening the reader can see two panels, then they can see the back panel, then open again to see a different two panels on the back, or some people may just lay the whole thing out flat viewing the 3 panels of each side at once. When designing a Z-fold, you can make each panel the same size. Unlike the other two-fold patterns, there is no danger of one panel running into another.


Size Matters

I like large brochures, but my budget doesn’t. Here’s a plain and simple marketing fact; standard sizes are the most cost effective option. They’re cheaper to print and standard size paper is more readily available. Standard sizes include 8.5” x 11”, 9” x 12”, and 11”x17”.


The importance of your cover

What is the reader going to see first? The cover. If it doesn’t grab his or her attention your whole brochure is likely to be thrown into the trash. Place your value statement here. It tells them what you do and how that benefits them. Make it short and sweet like, “Why cook tonight? ReadyCook delivers!”


Brochure back

The back is where you place your contact information. That’s it! Include social media website addresses and homepage too. Phone number and email address can also go here. This is also a great location for QR codes. For more information on QR codes, read our blog post, “How to Properly Use QR Codes.”




Inside flap

The inside flap or flaps are your most important panels on the brochure layout. That’s where you must convince the potential customer to choose your products or services. Positive testimonials and stories about your business go here. Keep in mind that depending on your fold pattern the viewer may see your inside flaps first before the inside panels, or they may see an inside panel at the same time as the inside flap. Plan accordingly.


Inside panels

This is what the reader sees when the brochure opens. In a tri-fold you have three panels, in a gate-fold you have 4. Here are some things to include:


  • Begin by complimenting the reader (indirectly) for choosing your company. For example, “our customers know a good deal when they see one!”
  • Don’t just list product or service features – outline the benefits of your service or product that resonates with your target market.
  • Why are you better than the competition?
  • How do you treat your customers?
  • Testimonials are a great way to communicate the same thing and demonstrate social proof
  • A call to action – something like, “Contact us for a consultation. Call 555-0000 or go to www.example.com now.”


Target your market

If you want a top-notch brochure design, keep your target market in mind always. For example, if it’s females under the age of 40 with kids, focus on ways you can solve common problems that modern-day mothers face. Specialize your brochures for product lines, services, or targeted demographic. When working on a brochure, take a break and then come back. That way you can return with a fresh new perspective. Keep these tips in mind and add one more important ingredient, imagination, and you greatly increase your odds for success.


How else do you target your market using printed materials?  Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Andrew Osborne

Andrew works as our Preflight Engineer, Graphic Designer, Web Designer, and all-around computer guru. He has won several academic and design awards during his career. Print, Web Design, and Tablet applications are his specialties and he knows how to make effective designs that call out to customers.

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