The formula for a perfect tri-fold brochure 
Wednesday, June 13, 2007, 04:04 PM - Page Layout
Have you ever been frustrated when your brochure comes back not folded where you intended? It is a common mistake for designers to make three equal sized panels for a tri-fold brochure. The reality is that the inside panel should be smaller than the other two so that it physically fits inside the brochure. If you do use three equal panels, most often the brochure will be trimmed short on that inside panel or the cut of the whole piece will be shifted to make folding easier. On many designs this is just fine, as the design might have large margins and be forgiving for the folding.

But if you want your tri-fold to always come out right, there is a formula for calculating the size of each panel.

Length of the sheet = (3X)+0.25

Solving for X gives you the size in inches of the smallest (inside) panel.

See this example for an 8.5x11 tri-fold:
X=3.58 inches

Then just solve for the other two panels, keeping in mind that the front cover can go slightly past the middle panel. Remember that the other side of the sheet is a mirror image and not the same exact layout. The following two images show the panel sizes, front and back, for this example:

This formula will work for any size tri-fold if you simply plug in the length of the sheet and solve for X. No complaining, a little algebra never hurt anyone.
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Requirements for a postcard when Bulk mailing 
Thursday, July 27, 2006, 02:18 PM - Page Layout
The Post Office has certain requirements for postcards when bulk mailing. There are areas on the back side of a postcard that the Post Office needs; and, if these areas are covered with graphics or text, the Post Office will not make a delivery. Below are examples of four different postcard sizes: 3.75x6, 4.25x6 (considered standard size), 4.75x8.5 and 6x9. These illustrate what the Post Office requires for bulk mailing. Refer to the first illustration below with the following description:

1. ( blue area ): For first class, Postage return address must be placed here.

2. ( purple area ): Your indicia should be in this area.

3. ( white area ): This is the indicia. The smallest font size on an indicia should be 6pt and the size of the indicia should be 3/4 wide by 3/4 high. Check your mail house, they should be able to supply you with a file.

4. ( purple area ): Your mailing address should be in this area. Graphics or text used as a background in this area should be grayscale and SHOULD NOT be greater than 7%.

5. ( purple area ): The Post Office prints their barcodes in this area. There SHOULD NOT be any text or graphics in this area.

6. ( yellow area ): No addresses with a Zip code and State. This will eliminate the risk of your postcards being returned to you by the Postal automation process. If necessary, an address can be placed in this area if it does not contain a state zip code. The Post Office will scan this entire area for recipient addresses and zip codes.

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A great design piece can become ugly at the cutter 
Friday, June 30, 2006, 02:48 PM - Page Layout

Designing a job for print that will cut correctly at the cutter is very important because an excellent design piece that's cut wrong will be rejected by the customer. The most important part of designing is knowing the final cut size of the job and determining whether there's bleeds on the page or not. Bleeds are extra space of art work that extends off the edge of the trim area of a page. We recommend that our customers give us 1/8 inch of extra bleeds on jobs that have art work extending off the edge of the trim area. The graphics above are a good example of a business card with bleeds included by the designer (top left) and the same business card not having any bleeds (top right).

For the sake of this demonstration, let's use the business card on the top left of this page as reference. The top left busines card is a good example of a job submitted with bleeds. The standard size of a business card is 2 by 3 and a half (2x3.5). Let's do a quick tutorial on creating bleeds by using the top left business card as an example.

STEP 1: Make the page size of your file 2 inches high and 3.5 wide. The orientation of your page should be horizontal because this card is a horizontal card.

STEP 2: Draw a square box that has 1/8 of extra space on all 4 sides and center the square so that the center point of the square and the center of your page are at the same location. The size of your square should be larger than your page size ( your square size should be 2.25" X 3.75" ).

STEP 3: Once your square is centered correctly with your page size, the size of the square is your bleed size. The card in this case will be cut 1/8 inch smaller on all sides and the final cut size will be 2 by 3 and a half inches.

The background image of the business card above was created in Adobe Photoshop and the height and width of the image is: 2.25 X 3.75.

STEP 4: If the width and heigth of your image with bleeds is the same size as the square you drew, you should be able to center it with the square you've created and they both should line up correctly.

In the example above, I used Adobe Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. What I did was I drew a box that was 2.25 by 3.75 in Adobe Indesign and centered it with my page size ( 2 by 3.5 ). I imported the backgound graphic with crop marks and type into the box I created in Indesign. I then selected the graphic inside of the box I drew, press and held the command and shift key on my keyboard and then press the letter "e" to center the graphic automatically inside of the box I drew. I've already type set the text and created the cropmarks with the background graphic in Adobe Illustrator and saved the file as an EPS. The crop marks you see on the the top left example about were created in Illustrator by making a box 2 by 3.5 inches, centering the center point of the box with the back ground graphic and converting the box into crop marks using Illustrators crop mark filter. Keep in mind that I turned off the fill and strokes for the 2 by 3.5 inch box before I converted it into crop marks.

We recomend crop marks to be created automatically and not manually. The are options in most layout programs to automatically creat crop marks. The amount of inches the crop marks should offset from the bleed should be larger than 1/8 (.125) inches. We use .125.
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