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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Pocket Folder Printing: Upgrade Your Pocket Folders

Here are a few things to consider when designing customized pocket folders. Some of these ideas will save you money while providing a quality product. Others will work subconsciously on your clients and prospects to give a sense of luxury and expense to your custom pocket folders.

Paper Choices for Your Pocket Folder

The paper you choose for your pocket folder will exert a subconscious influence on those who pick up and use your product. Thicker paper stocks will be perceived as more authoritative, credible, even luxurious. In contrast, thinner paper stocks may suggest weakness or lack of attention to quality. Ask your commercial printing supplier for samples, but consider specifying 130# cover stock (or thicker) to give substance to a custom pocket folder.

Also give thought to texture when you specify paper for a pocket folder. Custom printing is a tactile medium. A client who picks up your pocket folder may notice unconsciously that it has a “tooth,” that it is rough and substantial if you have chosen a felt weave paper stock, for instance. Your options include the usual gloss, matte, and silk coated press sheets, but also consider linen, felt, laid, and vellum for their rougher surface.

Some stationery paper manufacturers such as Crane will offer paper stocks that complement one another for business cards, letterhead, second sheets, envelopes, and pocket folders, so you may want to approach all of these items as a set, not only in terms of design but also in terms of paper choices. This may save you money. At the very least, this will ensure a common look and feel among all elements of your identity package.

Ink Choices for Your Pocket Folder

One way to save money when producing pocket folders is to print on only one side of the press sheet.

If you print a solid ink, a screen of a color, or text on the interior flaps of the pockets, and then fold them inward and glue them down (which is called converting, or making a pocket folder out of a flat press sheet), the interior printed pockets will appear to be part of the interior printing of the custom pocket folder. Actually this is an illusion, since the printed side of the flaps is really part of the exterior of the pocket folder. That said, it will add color to the interior of your pocket folder for no extra cost.

As an alternative, you may want to “paint” both sides of the press sheet. This means printing the white sheet with a heavy solid coating of ink. Depending on the color choice, this can be quite dramatic. However, keep in mind that once you trim the press sheet, you will see the interior white color of the paper (up against the solid orange, or blue, or whatever other color coats the rest of the custom pocket folder). The edges of the paper will still be white, since you’re only printing the exterior of the press sheet. If you diecut a window on the front of the pocket folder, the white edges of the cutout might be objectionable. To avoid this, you would need to specify a colored paper stock.

Using Colored Paper Stocks

You may want to choose a colored paper for your pocket folder. This is a wonderful choice, perhaps a navy felt stock. However, you need to keep in mind that inks will not behave in the same way on a colored sheet as on a white stock. Even a thick coating of silver ink, for instance, on the blue background may lose its brilliance, or the blue background may actually show through the silver ink.

To avoid this, consider foil stamping the paper instead of printing it, if you’re using a dark colored printing stock. You do have to pay for an additional process on a letterpress, and the foil stamping die will cost you approximately $500 (more or less), but depending on your budget and the marketing importance of the custom pocket folder, this may be worth it. (You may be able to skip the offset printing step completely, if your design is simple and you can use only the foil stamping for any text or images on the pocket folder.) Keep in mind that hot stamping foil comes in numerous colors now, including clear, white, and pearlescent shades.

Embossing Your Pocket Folder

Another option that showcases the tactile nature of printing is embossing. With an embossing die, you can create a raised image on your pocket folder (perhaps of the company logo). However, you will need to pay extra for this die as well as for any offset printing. Choosing a colored paper stock would be an economical approach in this case, as it would be with foil stamping. If you focus exclusively on embossing the design on your pocket folder, you can avoid offset printing the pocket folder entirely.

A Pocket Folder Makes a Marketing Statement

Keep in mind that a custom pocket folder is a marketing tool. It is also useful. Your client may use the pocket folder for a long time to carry business collateral or other papers, and each time he/she picks it up, your logo will be right there as a reminder. So even though it is an expense, you may also consider a well designed and well printed custom pocket folder to be an investment.

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