Trifold Brochure Design Tutorial

This trifold brochure graphic art tutorial features illustrated and text advice for creating 8-1/2 × 11 brochure artwork. Follow the design advice in this brochure design tutorial, and turn your digital graphics and text into powerful print marketing materials.

Advice for Creating a Professional Trifold Brochure

Maintain a familiar market identity with print and online graphics by having consistent layouts that match your corporate image. Begin with a company logo, simple or professionally designed. Next, use the same color scheme in your business card design. Each should match your web site design and other printed marketing materials.

If you do-it-yourself and want to design a trifold brochure for professional printing, there are basic technical requirements that you need to consider. You will need vector graphics software that will create high resolution artwork in CMYK for 4-color printing. This tutorial is for basic panel layout advice only. My choice for vector graphics design uses Xara Xtreme which is less than $100. Once you select a program or if the terminology is unfamiliar, learn as you go with the help files for your software.

Trifold Brochure, 6 Panel Layout Tutorial

This template is shown less than actual size for ease of viewing and includes size, panel, and folding illustrations. Samples of finished trifold brochures are 8.5 × 11 inches; however, artwork must be oversized by 0.25 inches vertically and horizontally to allow for trimming. Use these guidelines when creating trifold brochure artwork, and hire a professional printer to make sure the edges are all even when folded.

NEW: I’ve included a free trifold brochure template to download on my blog for owners of Xara Xtreme.


Brochure View – Outside

trifold brochure illustration 1Printers will require 2 pieces of artwork, 8.75 tall x 11.25 wide, for the outside and inside trifold brochure. This first illustration is the outside, and panels are marked A, B, and C and must be the following widths: A = 3.70”, B = 3.81”, and C = 3.74”. The top, bottom, and each side edge will have 0.125” trimmed, so the final overall dimensions will be 8-1/2 × 11.

In addition, all text must be at least 0.25” from all edges which keeps it 0.125” from the edge once trimmed. Otherwise, text may be blurry if not kept inside this “safe” area.


Brochure View – Inside

trifold brochure illustration 2The inside is similar to the outside, yet it requires a mirror image template. Panel D will be printed on the back of Panel B, therefore the dimensions for each must be the following widths: E = 3.70”, D = 3.81”, and F = 3.74”.

When setting up your 2 templates, use guidelines for the safe area on all edges, PLUS have one center line (where folded) with two 0.125” guidelines separating each of the 3 panels.

Unlike the outside, the 3 inside panels may have elements that cross over several panels (like the faded photo).


Brochure View – Completely Folded

trifold brochure illustration 3Here is the outside once completely folded. Here you may see where the stamp and label are placed, plus see how the “teaser” advertising will appear on the “back” when received by your customer and then flipped over.

Knowing how people handle and view your brochure when received in the mail is part of the strategy used to maximize impact and improve chances they will keep your information.

In addition, the “back” (teaser ad) is perfect for grabbing attention when used as a vertical display on a counter top or rack.


Brochure View – How the Outside is Folded

trifold brochure illustration 4Next is the outside to illustrate how it is folded. Note that panel C is more narrow (slightly) than the others so the outside edges are even once it is folded.

Panel C is folded first and then panel B, so Panel B becomes the “back”. Create your design so that Panel B will be the “front” when displayed vertically on a rack or countertop.

First impressions are always important. Viewers decide within 5 seconds if they want to keep your brochure, so take advantage in your message on Panel B.


Brochure View – How the Inside is Folded

trifold brochure illustration 5Next is a view of the inside artwork to see how it is folded. Here Panel F (which is the back of C) is again slightly more narrow so that it tucks in neatly without leaving a bulge, and the folded edges will line up evenly.

As your customer opens your trifold brochure, Panel E is “hidden” until it is completely opened, so Panel D is another opportunity to list bullets, or some other eye catching feature.

People read left to right, and top to bottom, so consider eye movement in your layout to lead the reader naturally through your message.


Brochure View – How Panel C is Viewed

trifold brochure illustration 6Finally, here is a view showing part of the inside and how panel C is folded. As the customer views the “back” teaser advertising (Panel B above), and then opens the brochure, they will see Panel C plus Panel D.

Obviously the information in Panel C may not get much attention initially. Most viewers will be anxious to see the inside, much like opening a gift. Not to worry. If you have considered how they view and open your brochure, make a good first impression and they will enjoy flipping and reading everything more than once.


Final Advice: Photographs in Your Design

The biggest mistake clients make when providing content for printed material is poor quality photos. Pictures taken from your web site are usually low resolution, and while they may look fine on your computer screen, they are inappropriate for professional printing. Use high resolution (300 dpi) photographs to avoid having artwork rejected by the printing company.

Visit the Royalty Free Photos Directory to search through galleries of more than 300,000 high resolution free photos online. You may want to visit the photo edit tutorial for more advice using photographs, also.


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