Brochure Design: Is Trifold Out of Vogue?

I’m starting a brochure project for a new client and we’re looking for trend news. My client “has heard” that trifold brochures are no longer the thing. As a designer, I haven’t heard such (other than brochures themselves are no longer used as much). They want a brochure. They want to mail it. Their audience isn’t the most “on trend” audience. Is there any reason we should not use a trifold?

The only time I go for trifold brochures is if the brochure has to fit in a number 10 envelope, it’s a rack brochure or it needs to fit on a display at a desk. You mentioned this was for mailing. As long as the client’s budget will cover the increase in postage, I’d go for something bigger so it will stand out more than a trifold.

I’m trying to recall the last time I received a trifold mailer. It’s rare. I receive a lot of large postcards though.

I’m not sure why it would make any difference one way or another what’s trendy in brochures. Instead, do what’s most appropriate for the job.

I’ve always avoided the standard 8.5x11" trifolds because they come across as average and commonplace, which isn’t the personality I want to communicate.

However, as @Steve_O mentioned, sometimes they need to fit in a #10 envelope or fit in standard-sized racks along with other brochures. Even then, I’ll likely give the trifold an accordion fold instead of a gatefold — just to make it different from the others.

In the absence of those considerations, I’ll opt for an odd size — for example, square or long and skinny or include unusual folds that show part of the inside or use uncommon paper stock or spot varnishes.

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I just created a trifold mailer that was sent to our employees about 3-4 months ago, but it was a self-mailer and not in an envelope. It was also 5x7 once scored and folded.

Yeah, my response somewhat assumed an 8.5" x 11" flat size which, in hindsight, may or may not be accurate for the original poster. In reality, a trifold is not limited to that size.

If someone told me design and designers were no longer “the thing” I’d not be the least bit surprised.

For me, this suggests they don’t want a trifold. That’s enough reason to do something else. If it’s for mailing it helps keep costs down if it fits in a standard envelope. Start there.


The very notion of “trend” is too subjective to hold meaning. And, when a trend is positively defined and identified, it’s often impossible to tell when it started, and when it will end. See a trend? Bucking it is just as viable strategy as following it, so how important is it really?

That’s a good point.

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For a mailer it might make a difference is being stuffed into self sealing envelopes by machine.

But there’s no trend.

People use postcards cos it cuts out envelope design and one more piece to be printed.

It’s all subjective to the content. If there’s a form to fill out then a trifold is good because it can be cut off and the person is left with the brochure.

Can’t do that with a postcard.

Part of the designer process is identifying the best medium to design to.

Sometimes a gate fold or a nother format is more desirable to function as the device to deliver the message.

It’s the job of the designer within reason to steer the client.

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Fold factory is a great resource

Funny enough their opening post on the page is about tri-folds.

They have terrific real life examples

And template builders and things like that.

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I’m with Smurf. I was just about to write something similar. The whole idea of a format being out of fashion is just ridiculous, it depends on content and use.

A couple of years back I did a whole series of walking trails leaflets. All 1/3 A4 (210mm x 99mm, or DL – a standard UK format) .Some bi-fold, most tri-fold, one was even four panel. Why? Nothing to do with trends and everything to do with ergonomics and the convenience of disseminating the information in the most appropriate way – short, easy to read sequential, numbered paragraphs. Given circumstance, for someone navigating, gates, styles, hills, etc. you can hold it in one hand, it is less likely to get caught by wind. It fits easily in a pocket. It fits in standard (UK) leaflet holders, etc, etc.

Absolutely nothing to do with trends.

As Smurf says, if tri-fold is the best format for your client’s needs, it is part of your job to explain to them why. If not, then find what is. If they still don’t want what’s best, then it is their call, but make sure they understand you don’t recommend it, for when it all goes pear shaped.

Some of the people on the board of the client I was doing the walking leaflets for wanted 4pp A5 (half US letter -ish) folded. Thankfully, I persuaded them otherwise. The countryside would have been littered with blown-away leaflets.

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This is true.

I had worked for an education body that wanted to include tri-fold brochures in their educational material to explain a large infographic, that would have been printed tiny on the leaflet.

My idea for a broadsheet map fold worked, and I couldn’t say to them ‘broadsheet map fold’ - I went away and designed it and showed it to them.

Once they saw what was possible they understood the need to have something more substantial than a tri-fold.

As they say on the Fold Factory
Think finishing at the beginning.