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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: Pocket Folder/Brochure Update

They say, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and a recent creative solution provided by a print brokering client of mine exemplifies this approach–totally.

She has been working on a custom pocket folder with either four or eight interior pages as well as the pocket. To make the piece stand out, she has chosen a 12” x 9” oblong format over the traditional, upright, 9” x 12” version. The folder will have a pocket on the inside back cover into which her client will insert about six or eight laser printed, 8.5” x 11” sheets. This pocket will be vertical rather than horizontal, open on the left rather than at the top. That is, the pages will slip into the pocket on their sides. To keep them from falling out, my client is considering a diecut tab to hold the exposed, short edge of the inserted sheets.

We have discussed using a 130# cover stock for the custom pocket folder and 100# text for the interior pages. To add visual interest, my client plans to stagger the interior pages. That is, they will be stepped down, with each successive leaf (two pages) being 1” longer than the preceding leaf. All interior pages will be saddle stitched into the center of the pocket folder.

A Perfect Hybrid Printing Project

Since my client’s client only wants 100 copies of the product, I initially suggested having the job digitally produced. Unfortunately, the vendors I approached said the pocket folder was too large to fit on the 13” x 19” HP Indigo digital press sheet and would therefore need to be produced on an offset press (an expensive proposition).

More than anything, this was due to the oblong nature of the project. Had the pocket folder been vertical (rather than oblong), it would have just fit on an Indigo press sheet (although the printer would have needed to produce the pocket separately and glue it onto the folder).

In short, the HP Indigo 7000 series’ 13” x 19” format was limiting. Going to the larger format (approximately 20” x 29”) used on an Indigo 10000 and above might have been a good idea, but I didn’t know anybody with one. And by “know,” I mean “trust”—deeply. I’m a firm believer in not starting out a new custom printing supplier with a complex job.

So the preferred option came to be the following: Print the interior brochure sheets digitally, and print the exterior custom pocket folder traditionally on an offset press.

Such a hybrid job would play to the strengths of both offset and digital technology. The exterior pocket folder would contain “evergreen” information (that would presumably be accurate and useful for years). My client’s client could print 1,000 (rather than 100) of these and then store and use them as needed. (This would be more economical on a per-unit cost-basis.) The interior pages would be printed digitally in batches of 100. Their text material could be updated with each custom printing run, and the pages could contain the dated material relevant to my client’s client.

Problems with Paper Size Begin to Occur

All of this seemed to work well as a concept, but the 13” x 19” Indigo format still provided challenges. If the custom pocket folder contained four stepped-down pages, the folded and stitched pages would fall several inches from the edge of the 12” x 9” pocket folder (its face margin). The interior brochure would look very small inside a big pocket folder. Adding eight stepped-down pages would make for a more substantial interior brochure. (Assuming each successive, stepped-down leaf were 1” longer than the preceding leaf, the final page would fall much closer to the trim.)

A Solution to the Problem

What I found both intriguing and encouraging was my client’s solution: a pocket folder with a short-fold front cover.

The front cover would be 8” wide rather than 12”. The back cover would still be 12”. This would afford a 9” high and 8” wide area inside for the brochure pages, while the pocket would be visible to the right of the 8” wide front cover. Depending on how my client handled the overall design, this would break up the booklet into a brochure with cover on the left, and a pocket folder containing the six or so pages laser printed by her client on the right.

The physical design of the piece would group (or separate) the various components. As long as the visible portion of the back interior cover included a design that was integrated with the rest of the job (rather than just looking “uncovered”), this could actually be a more interesting piece than initially conceived.

In addition, the widest stepped-down pages (flat, before being saddle-stitched) would be no larger than 16” x 9” (small enough to fit comfortably on the 13” x 19” maximum HP Indigo 7000 press sheet).

In fact, there would be even more room if my client continued with her approach to staggering (or stepping down) the interior text pages.

The only question now is where to put the business card slots?

What You Can Learn

Here are some thoughts:

    1. When you’re totally stumped by the physical limitations of a job, think creatively (sleep on it, if necessary). My client created a more interesting overall design when she couldn’t fit her desired brochure pages on the 13” x 19” Indigo press sheet. You can do the same. Granted, it requires sweat, insight, and good luck.


  1. As noted in the prior blog posting about this job, consider blending technologies. If you need to do an ultra-short press run, perhaps you can justify doing part of the job offset (and printing more than you need, to be spread over multiple years) and part of the job digitally (and then updating this section as needed).

2 Responses to “Pocket Folder Printing: Pocket Folder/Brochure Update”

  1. Very good post! We will be linking to this particularly great
    content on our site. Keep up the great writing.


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