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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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Brochure Printing: Producing a Gatefold Brochure

A print brokering client of mine who is a graphic designer has a new client, a local restaurateur. That means I, too, have a new client. The first commercial printing job I won from this new client is an eight-page gatefold brochure selling the food and service for the restaurant. I’m excited.

The Brochures

This particular client of mine, the designer, is very easy to work with, in part because she is so complete in her descriptions of her jobs. To begin the bidding process she sent me not only written specs for the job but also a PDF version of an early draft of the brochure showing color and type placement, bleeds, and folding.

The job is 16” x 6” flat, folded to 4” x 6” final size, with the two outer flaps folding in to the center. This is what makes it a gatefold, just as the name implies. After some discussion with the commercial printing vendor, my client and I decided to put the job on a white, uncoated press sheet (Accent Opaque). Specifically, we chose this stock over a fancier paper to ensure that, with the complexity of the folds, the paper would not be likely to crack (as might have been the case with an eggshell or felt finish paper stock).

We decided the paper should be 100# cover stock to ensure that the folded brochure will be thick enough to meet the US Postal Service regulations for automation, to make sure the overall heft of the folded brochure will project a serious and opulent tone for the restaurant client, and yet to make sure the weight of the folded piece will not unduly raise the cost of postage.

My client requested pricing for 1,000; 1,500; and 2,000 brochures.

What makes her mock-up so useful is that it shows the amount and placement of process color on her client’s gatefold brochure. You can see in the PDF sample that the interior of the brochure will have a white background, a row of small color photos across the bottom of the four panels, text, and scattered headlines reversed out of slanted strips of color. The two outside, or rear-facing, panels of the brochure will be light brown, with all brochure cover copy and the back mailing panel printed in black type with black line art. Finally, the fold-in panels of the gatefold are light blue with black surprinted text and line art reversed to white.

With this unfolded visual representation of the brochure as a PDF, I could visualize the final printed and folded brochure, and the offset printer could do the same.

Considerations for the Print Job

I have already mentioned the reasons behind the choice of the paper stock, regarding the physical requirements of the Post Office (size, folding, and placement of the address and other postal information). In your own print design and print buying work, to ensure adherence to postal regulations (i.e., to make sure that the Post Office will mail your job), it is wise to have a business reply mail specialist at your Post Office review a mock-up of your job. He or she can make sure it will be the right size, aspect ratio, and thickness when folded; that the folds will be in the right place to ensure machinability; that the wafer seals or fugitive glue seals will be in the right place; and that there won’t be any surprise surcharges (or worse) due to design or printing problems. It’s always best to get the blessing of the business mail specialist before you print the job.

In addition, it’s always good to get the commercial printing supplier’s feedback regarding the foldability of the paper based on its surface formation in order to avoid any paper cracking.

But there are other things to consider as well.

For instance, the outermost panels fold in and touch in the middle of the brochure. For this to happen smoothly, the two outermost panels must be slightly shorter than the two innermost panels, or they will bump into each other when the brochure is folded. To be safe, in a situation like this, it is always wise to ask the custom printing vendor just how large to make each panel, to make sure the columns of copy fall in the right place (vis-à-vis the folds) and to make sure the folds are also appropriately placed.

Another thing to consider is the benefit of this particular format: the gatefold. In my client’s case, the first thing a recipient of the brochure will see is the gestural, freehand drawing of both the logotype and the restaurant image surprinted on the light brown background of the front cover. This will set a festive and casual tone.

Upon opening the two outer panels, the reader will see the two inner doors of the gatefold, and the light blue will provide a contrast to the outer light brown panels. Most probably the inner light blue will give a lightness to the piece after the more toned-down brown panels, and yet the similarity in style of the freehand drawings (reversed out of the light blue) will show a consistency of design style between the outer panels and the gatefold doors.

Finally, the reader will open up the brochure fully to display the interior. In this case the airy, white background will provide visual relief from the light, full-bleed brown and blue screens. And the slanted presentation of the headlines reversed out of the solids will provide a bouncy, informal tone to the interior, linking it with the exterior of the gatefold brochure.

This treatment of the headlines along with the horizontal line of photos along the base of the interior will provide contrast to the line drawings on the outer panels. But at the same time it will maintain the visual consistency of the brochure through its informal presentation.

With any luck, the reader will come away feeling hungry and ready to eat at this classy, upscale and fun restaurant.

What You Can Learn From This Case Study

    1. Carefully plan out the interior and exterior space of a gatefold brochure. Think about the order in which the reader will see each chunk of information (image or text). How will the reader’s eye fall when she or he sees the closed brochure, then when she or he opens the outer panels, then when she or he opens the other panels. Ideally, when the reader reaches the interior of the gatefold brochure, the four innermost panels will be like a wide billboard, offering 6” x 16” of horizontal marketing space (or whatever other dimensions you choose).


    1. Remember that the feel of the paper is important. Think about the appropriateness of coated or uncoated stock, but also think about the physical limitations of the paper. If the felt stock you absolutely adore will crack when folded, choose a more appropriate paper.


  1. Always include the US Post Office in your design decisions. If something is wrong (anything from the folded size, to the placement of the folds, to the aspect ratio, to the placement of the type), your job could be unmailable, or it could incur a surcharge. Find this out and fix it before you print.

4 Responses to “Brochure Printing: Producing a Gatefold Brochure”

  1. Great designing and work. inspiring blog..
    for more details visit:


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