By: Marty Anson
Reprinted from Print & Graphics
Issue: December 1998
Some marketing materials never go out of style. The demand for presentation folders
(sometimes referred to as "pocket" or "kit" folders) has continued to
grow steadily over the years. They are used in nearly every industry and provide
businesses with a simple but professional sales tool.
Although there are many variations in presentation folder design, the standard folder
is 9"x12" with two 4" pockets. One of the beauties of pocket folders,
however, is that, unlike many of the products created in the postpress world, graphic
designers can use creative license in their designs (without making us pull our hear out).
We can easily take that standard 9"x12" folder and create any number of
variations in size and shape. Single-and multiple-pocket folders are common requests,
depending on the customer’s needs. For multiple-pocket jobs, the design includes a
foldout. Following are some tips for planning your next pocket folder job.
Weight of stock. Paper stock weight should range from 8 point to 24 point.
Anything outside that range can be difficult to run; heavy or brittle stocks in particular
often crack when they are folded.
Type of paper.
Certain types of paper mark easily and may not be the best
choice for pocket folders. Use caution when selecting a matte laminate finish or a dull
varnish, as they are more prone to marking. Even if folders with these types of finishes
make it out of the bindery unscathed, once they are handled a couple of times they may
look like they’ve been through a war zone.
Tab placement. Plan carefully when placing the tabs during the design process.
If the glue tabs are on the pockets and glued to the front and back covers, the covers may
pucker once the glue dries. If the tabs are placed on the body and glued to the pockets,
the only possible puckering will occur on the pockets – a relatively unnoticeable
In addition, be sure the tabs and the areas they will be glued to are stripped of all
ink, varnish, UV coating, etc. This ensures the best possible adhesion once the glue has
Layout. Whether the folder is done one-up or four-up, keep in mind that one
portion of the folder will always run against the grain. For instance, if the spine
follows the grain, then the pockets will fold against the grain (this is usually the best
way to run the job).
In addition, multiple-up jobs should be run sheetwise to avoid scoring any of the
folders backward. If this type of job was run work and tumble, one (or more) of the
folders would be backward and the stock would be folded against the score, causing a
potential cracking problem.
Inks. As with nearly all the jobs that pass through the bindery, ink choices
and placement for pocket folders should be considered early on. Avoid inks that do not dry
properly, such as Reflex Blue, and when using designs with heavy ink coverage protect the
ink with varnish, coating or even a laminate.
The number of options that are available in pocket-folder design is enormous. Some of
the more common options include foil stamping, embossing, die cutting. UV coating,
varnishing and film lamination. Of course, the more complex the design, the higher the
Die cutting can include anything from two business card slits on the inside pocket to
dramatic and complex designs – we’ve done pockets in the shape of cats, dogs,
telephones and houses, to name a few. Some designers create interest by simply altering
the shape of the pocket. For example, they design the pocket with an angle so that, when
the folder is open, the pockets form a V shape rather than the typical rectangle.
Often windows are cut out of the front and back covers to call attention to text or
pictures inside. Even small changes can make a difference. Some designers change the
typical business card slits (these slits are included in about 60% of the pocket folders
we do) into half-moon shapes to give it a richer appearance. In addition, perfs can be
incorporated into the folder to remove Rolodex cards, business cards or other important
Beyond decorating options, kit folders can be designed to accommodate
materials such as CDs, diskettes, pens, rulers and sales gimmicks. They can also be
converted into three-ring binders. These designs are trickier and require different types
of folders. Gussett, or three-dimensional folders, for instance, have two scores that are
parallel to each other and, when folded together, create a capacity. The spine of a
gussett folder looks similar to the spine of a book.
An expansion folder, on the other hand, requires three scores that fold
on the center score. Expansion folders are nice because they allow for expansion but can
still be folded flat This is handy for the consumer because it conserves space, and
helpful to the binder because the folders can be run automatically and do not require hand
Incorporating reinforced edges is another option in kit folder design.
Reinforced edges are typically 3/4" to 111 in size and are folded over and glued.
This technique enhances the look and the life of the folder. Sometimes the front cover is
designed smaller than the back to expose the reinforced edge of the back cover. The
exposed area is then used for advertising text or decoration.
If you are planning anything more complex than a standard design,
contact your binder. He should be able to tell you the best layout for the design to
minimize waste, flag potential problems, and provide ideas for possible solutions.