6 Tips for Tri Fold Brochure Design

February 22, 2011 | Design Basics

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This post was originally created in 2011 and was updated in 2019.

Small brochures, such as #10 tri-fold brochures, are a staple in the marketing world. They fit into envelopes and display racks and can serve as a low-cost sales and marketing piece for nearly any business.

As a professional—and some might say “high end”—graphic design firm, we used to rarely design this type of flyer. Rather, we were frequently hired to design more elaborate brochures and catalogs. When I started Visible Logic in 2001, the majority of our design projects were print design. Now, we earn more of our revenues from web site design. Yet, we’re seeing an uptick in requests for tri fold brochure design.

Why the #10 brochure remains important

These trends contribute to the reduction in elaborate printed marketing pieces and the resurgence of the #10 brochure.

  • The increased importance of a web site for marketing, education and sales conversions
  • A more environmentally conscious public who prefers to avoid wasteful paper promotions
  • A continued need for printed materials
  • The perfect size to be handed out, mailed in envelope, or displayed on a rack

Print is definitely not dead, and many business owners still find printed marketed materials to be worth the money. Sales people rely on printed materials to initiate or help move forward a sales conversation. Trade show participants want something that can be handed out to prospects. Consumers request printed information about products and services. A #10 tri-fold brochure fills these needs for minimal expense.

6 Tips to improve your tri fold brochure design

  1. Set up your margins correctly. The margins that are between panels should be twice as wide as the outer margins. This may look slightly odd when flat, but it means that you’ll have an equal left and right margin on each panel when the brochure is folded.
  2. Use a template from your printer. If your printer can provide you with a template, use it. Often the inside flap is designed to be slightly smaller than the outer flap. This way it folds and opens neatly. You can figure out these details yourself, but a template will ensure it’s correct and also match the printer’s expectations.
  3. Think about the order of information. Both the front outer flap and back (center) panel are visible without opening the brochure. Then, the inner flap becomes visible, at the same time the start of the inside left is exposed. The inside, inner flap (far right panel) is the last section to be seen and may be overlooked, don’t put your critical message there!
  4. Use the inside 3-panels wisely. The biggest restraint on a small brochure design is that each panel is very narrow. This can be hard to fit certain types of content. So save that inner area for what really needs the space.
  5. Print and fold your design mockup. Whether you are designing the brochure yourself, or receiving a proof from your graphic designer, print it out and fold it up. Printing it at full size ensures that the type size is as you expect (don’t rely on just viewing it on screen). Folding it will force you to make sure your panels are in the right order and that elements align pleasingly from one part of the layout to another.
  6. Try something big. Most small, tri-fold brochures tend to suggest a very column-based layout. You know, each panel is a column of text. With that layout nothing ever gets bigger than about three inches wide. But choosing graphics that bleed off the edge or run into another panel can be a way to make your design much more impactful.

Here are a few a tri fold brochures designs that we’ve completed recently.

Maine Technology Institute brochure

Tri fold brochure for Maine Technology Institute


Dental Lace tri fold brochureTri fold brochure for Dental Lace


Enable tri-fold designTri fold brochure for ENABLE



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