Tri-fold brochure design tips advises you on ten basic steps that will guide you through the making of the trifold that your company needs.

1. Defining the text

The first step in the design of a trifold is to prepare the text which will be included in it in detail. Therefore, it is fundamental defining what the company wants to achieve through the trifold and what will be the message transmitted through it.

The text must be synthetic and explanatory, precise and clear. If there is an excess of information, or if this information is irrelevant, then the recipients will not read the brochure and will get rid of it immediately. Therefore, all the efforts made to design and print the trifold will have been useless. It is very important to use simple, understandable language and avoid difficult terms that obstruct the message (even if the trifold is aimed at a specialized public, it is advisable to use easy language, as it is assumed that a very technological or academic language is not appropriate for such a small brochure). It is also important to organize the information by using titles, subtitles and vignettes, in order to make reading easier and, thus, let readers decide what they want to read. It is effective to address clients directly, as, in this way, there can be a close dialogue between the company and them.

Besides, another important point to consider is which piece of information should go in each panel (see 8).

2. Deciding the format, the fold and the size

Once the text has been prepared, it is time to start thinking about its position in relation to the format and the folds chosen for the trifold. Paper folds may be more or less conventional, depending on the image the company is looking for and also depending on the budget allocated for the making of the brochures. Trifolds can be vertical or horizontal, and they can be folded in a closed or in an open way, straightly or diagonally, with its panels completely superposed or not. Regarding the size, if the trifold is bigger than the standard, then the text can be larger (although it should not be left out of consideration that characters will be bigger too).

3. Making the message suitable for the company

The content and image of a trifold must express the values of the company which is promoting its products and services through it. It is fundamental that not only does the text clearly describe the benefits of a product, but it also reflects the principles of the company, since a trifold is a long-lasting graphic piece which represents it and introduces it to clients. Furthermore, to maintain the corporate identity, the style of the trifold must be coherent in relation to other graphic pieces of the company.

4. Defining whom the trifold will be aimed at

There are two things that are extremely important for a trifold to be really effective: defining what is the target public, in general, of the company, and which target public, in particular, the brochure will be aimed at. Defining whom the trifold will be aimed at is determinant in choosing its content and esthetics. For instance, a design aimed at young people will be very different from another aimed at businesspersons. If the target public is taken into consideration, then the trifold will be an assured success, as a design thought according to recipients will make it easier for them to take and keep the brochure because they will feel identified with the company.

5. Hiring a graphic designer

A graphic designer fulfills a central role in making a trifold which is suitable for a particular company and its public. Only a graphic designer can express the values of a company graphically; no one but a graphic designer can create a catchy design. Moreover, innovations in the size and folds of trifolds also depend on them. They know well how to combine text and image in the more effective way, and they also see to getting the brochure printed without difficulty. Consequently, for a trifold to be successful, it is absolutely essential hiring a graphic designer.

6. Organizing text and image

Trifolds are characterized by the fact that text is very important in them, given that there is enough space in the panels to describe the product or service that is being promoted clearly and also to explain what this product or service is about. It is equally important, however, in addition to this, to find a graphic style that is coherent with the text, because the brochure as a whole must be a unit, capable of expressing the essence of the company and, at the same time, of attracting clients. Images should be literally or rhetorically related to the message, and they should be clear and catchy.

7. Defining the typography

Due to the importance of text in trifolds, these graphic pieces must have a clear typography which makes reading easier. Legibility is also favored by a typography in accordance with the amount of text and the space available. It is usually recommended using no more than two different typographies �preferentially classic typographies such as Garamond or Helvetia, for instance- in order not to create confusion. The fact that the public reads the front panel of a trifold and then go on with the others depend on how legible this brochure is. For this reason, legibility is extremely important in trifolds, since if the text cannot be easily read, then people will not go on reading further.

8. Considering the fact that each panel is important

When it comes to designing a trifold, the function of each one of its six panels should be carefully considered. The front cover must be attractive to make recipients feel curious to open the brochure and go on reading it. This panel usually includes a short phrase which synthesizes the message, the name of the company and its logo, and an attractive image- nothing more, nothing less.

The back cover of the brochure must contain all the information about how to get in touch with the company, that is to say, address, telephone number, fax number, e-mail, website, etc. No important message should be included here since people do not pay too much attention to this panel; a color background or even a picture, however, can be added to highlight the information.

The front inside panel is the most important. As a result, the reasons why the product or service that is being promoted is the best and the most suitable for clients must be explained in it. It is advisable to include the telephone number of the company and its website.

The three inside panels are perfect for a detailed description of the different activities, products and services of the company. It is here that working methods must be explained and the relation between the company and its clients must be described. As this is where most of the text will be concentrated, it is important to organize information hierarchically to make the main points of the message perfectly understandable. The harmony of text and image is essential, too. One must be a complement to the other in order to reinforce, by a mixture of verbal and visual language, the real meaning of the message that is being transmitted.

Besides all this, there must be coherence between the inside and the outside panels of the trifold. Therefore, it often happens that the same graphic elements -the same chromatic palette, pictures and images of the same series, the same type of lines and the same typography- are used for all the panels. However, different variants of these elements are introduced to avoid monotony and to create a consistent attractive design.

9. Taking into account the printing conditions

The printing conditions must be taken into account in order to achieve the desired design. Firstly, the graphic designer must consider which type of paper and texture, which colors and which printing system is going to be used, because these are all important factors that will affect the design. In addition to this, it is also important to choose the right printing house, since a bad printing can spoil all the work previously done.

Besides, before the whole printing is done, it is necessary to make a previous printing test which allows controlling the colors, the edges, the definition of the image, etc. Thus, all the necessary changes for the trifold to be printed successfully can be carried out in time.

10. Taking into account the delivery methods

There are different ways in which trifolds can be distributed. On the one hand, they can be sent by post to a list of present and potential clients. This is possible when the trifold is standard-sized (8 1/2"� x 3.67"�, when closed), since it would go in a conventional envelope. On the other hand, trifolds can also be given out in commercial meetings specially organized by the company itself. Another possibility is putting them on display (in the company buildings and in shops or any other place linked to the products and services offered by the company) for people to take them. In these two latter cases, it does not matters at all if brochures are standard-sized or not.