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10 Basic Graphic Design Principles for Tri-Fold Brochures

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 3/14/2013

This article offers 10 graphic design tips for effective tri-fold brochures. Even a non-professional designer can implement these tips to make your own brochure more successful. This article is part of a series highlighting design tips and the best practices for desktop publishers.

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    The standard letter size (8 1/2 x 11") tri-fold brochure is a staple in the desktop publisher's arsenal of marketing materials. Here are ten considerations to make your own brochure successfully.

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    1. Define the Purpose

    When creating brochures, it is important to determine the brochure goals at the outset of the project. Will it highlight a specific event or promotion, offer an overview of products and services, or encourage involvement and feedback from others? Will it be mailed to recipients? Will it be included in a packet of other marketing materials? These answers will influence the design and content of the tri-fold brochure.

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    2. Set the Tone

    Determine a tone and theme for the brochure design. Consider the tone of the message being conveyed about a company, event or organization when creating brochures. Whether the message is reliability, innovation, trendy, etc., desktop publishers can select fonts, verbiage and other design elements that will reinforce the chosen theme.

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    3. Create Consistency

    A brand image is reinforced through consistent use of logos, fonts, and imagery. Take into consideration any other pieces that have been created for the same company, event, or organization. If related, design the tri-fold brochure to be a companion to existing marketing materials.

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    4. Write Successful Text

    Brochure readers often don't actually read, but skim text. Make it easy for viewers to absorb the information by editing verbiage to only what's absolutely necessary. Consider converting paragraphs to bulleted lists for quick readability. Use headings to direct the reader to important information.

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    5. Balance Text and Images

    Increase interest in the brochure text by interspersing images or photographs to cause the eye to pause when scanning the piece. Graphics, charts or clipart are a great way to convey part of the message without overwhelming the reader of the tri-fold brochure with too many words.

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    6. Design Around Folds

    Don't forget to take into account where the brochure will fold. Use appropriate text margins to create breathing room. Be wary of overlapping folds with text since the crossover may hinder readability. Place crossover photos carefully to avoid awkward distortions.

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    7. Use Backgrounds and Textures Wisely

    Brochures are primarily for imparting information. Don't distract from the message with an overbearing background image, texture or color.

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    8. Choose Fonts that Serve Brochure Goals

    Let font choices support the overall theme or tone of the tri-fold brochure. Remember the rule of three and don't complicate your message with too many fonts in one piece. Make readability the determining factor.

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    9. Follow Mail Requirements

    If the brochure will be mailed to recipients, be sure and adhere to postal guidelines for the brochure mailer panel. Check with your local post office or visit the USPS website for bulk and first class mail design requirements.

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    10. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

    Use the spellcheck feature found in desktop publishing software. Read carefully to check for grammar and syntax errors. Print a copy of the design at full size to review photo and image clarity, readability and color choices.

    Ensure your marketing piece is the most effective it can be! Let us know if these tips helped you or leave your own favorite tip in the comments.

Design Best Practices for Desktop Publishing

Easy to implement design tips that can make your desktop publishing projects more effective.
  1. Desktop Publishing Tips and Principles of Design Basics
  2. Best Practices: Tips for Creating Newspaper Ads
  3. 10 Basic Graphic Design Principles for Tri-Fold Brochures
  4. Best Business Card Design Practices
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