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To Fold or Not Tri-Fold

by | Jan 25, 2015 | Marketing | 0 comments

Graphic Design for Flyers With and Without Folds

Coleen Stinson of Pathway Programs marketed her in-home speech therapy to parents through doctor’s offices. She wanted to be as professional as possible. So she went online and used some free templates she found on Vistaprint. And what she got was pretty mediocre. Washed out colors. Generic look – but she kept trying.

By the time she got to me, she had done this at least three times, winging her graphic design. She needed a better tri-fold. And she actually needed a tri-fold, not another layout of flyer.

When should you do a trifold? How can another option streamline your budget?

Let’s talk about it.

When my clients say, “I need a brochure,” I never assume they need a trifold. Stick with me, and I’ll share the four, extraordinary forms of brochure that I do.

1. 4 PAGE TAB (also called a bi-fold)

For Community Association Management, their one-page blue astrobright flyer could have easily fit on a trifold or even another one page flyer.

One major purpose of paper in a business transaction is credibility. That’s true with lawyer’s contracts, and it’s true for brochures and flyers. For CAM we wanted to up the credibility. So we went for a four-page tab. Threw in an article the client had already written, and created a custom infographic. And Voila! We have a brochure that looks like a newsletter.

We were also able to send him files of the front and back of this publication as a digital pdf, in case he gets a request by email for more information. I really prefer to design pieces for my clients that are multi-purpose.

The fold of a 4 page tab adds a little heft to a presentation And the newsletter design format makes people think they are not getting a sales piece, but rather a news piece. This is the ideal sort of piece to put in a pocket folder. A tri-fold will fall over or fall out.


Not every piece that my company designs gets printed. My designer finished a flyer last week for Tracy Stuckrath. It’s built with a white border so that she can print them as she needs them on a digital or desktop printer. We can also do them with bleeds – where the color goes to the edge.

We used the same newsletter style to build it. The day is over when you can slap someone with a sales message in your graphic design. Humans are now programmed to ignore sales messages and traditional-style ads. So Tracy’s features a recipe on one side.

Tracy will use her piece as a hand-out at her presentations to event planners across the world. In the next 4 weeks she’ll be all over the place at conferences. And this will go with her as her marketing collateral.


Carpet Direct HAD a tri-fold produced by their company. Terrible graphic design, overuse of bullets and a non-luxury palette had their local reps calling me for a better option. Because they would be using their piece primarily at trade shows, we designed it as a postcard, since they are more durable when put in a bag. We kept the same feel that we use on my newsletter-style flyers. We included personal photography of each of the local reps – creating two versions.


I actually DO use tri-folds. I believe I’ve designed 5 or 6 already this year. Because sometimes nothing else will do. Here are some tri-fold facts.

  1. You can’t successfully email a tri-fold to someone, like you can the other formats I’ve mentioned.
  2. A tri-fold needs to be professionally printed to be successful. I’m sure you’ve all seen a tri-fold done on a desktop printer and hand-folded – not impressive.
  3. Designing a tri-fold is like building 4 separate flyers. Front. Back. Front fold with the left. And the full inside. And so we make sure to brand on nearly every view – including a logo on all views.

A tri-fold is ideal for putting into stands at referral sources. It’s also perfect for when someone says they want more information by mail. Tuck it into an envelope with a branded post-it note on it or a letter on letterhead.

Remember Coleen with her speech therapy practice? Here’s what she said after finishing up her brochure with me: “My new brochures are disappearing at a faster rate, which tells me that it looks more appealing and credible. My brochures have already paid for themselves in new client self-referrals. Ellie is fun to work with and flexible with her time and with changes that occur midstream. She took every aspect and change seriously and talked through choices to make sure I understood how my ideas may be perceived in the market.”

No matter how you fold it, I have a passion for creating effective sales materials for small businesses. Call me or shoot me a quick email at guru@dirt1x.com if it’s time to improve the professionalism of your sales presentation.

Ellie White-Stevens
Marketing Guru & Creative Director
(770) 301-8706