"Presentation Folders - A Simple Idea with a Multitude of Options"
[Column #48, 12/98]

Presentation Folders - A Simple Idea with a Multitude of Options

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.

While there are many variations in presentation folder design, the standard folder is 9" x 12" with two 4-inch 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 hair out). We can easily take that standard 9" x 12" folder and create any number of variations in size and shape. Single- and multiple-pocket folders are common requests depending on the customers’ needs. For multiple-pocket jobs, the design includes a foldout.

The 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 area. 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 been applied.
Layout - Whether the folder is done 1-up or 4-up, keep in mind that one portion of the folder will always be against the grain. If the spine is with the grain, then the pockets will be 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 we do throughout the bindery, ink choices and placement 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 or coating or even a laminate.
The options that are available in pocket-folder design are enormous. Some of the more common options include foil stamping, embossing, die cutting, UV coating, varnishing, and film lamination. The more complex the design, the higher the cost.

Die cutting can range anywhere 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 slightly 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 certain text or pictures. 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 information.

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 have two scores that are parallel to each other, and when they are 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 which 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 they can be run automatically and do not require handwork.

Incorporating reinforced edges is another option in kit folder design. Reinforced edges are typically 3/4" to 1" 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 on doing anything more than a standard design, it is best to contact your binder prior to designing a pocket folder. The binder should be able to tell you the best layout for the design to minimize waste, flag potential problems, and provide ideas for possible solutions. In addition, the binder can create samples ahead of time to help tweak out unanticipated glitches.

Presentation folders have endured in a world where communication on paper is becoming obsolete. In fact, demand continues to grow. These products are effective marketing pieces because they are professional, versatile, cost-effective, and somewhat timeless. Or perhaps it is because we all like (a little more than we care to admit) that tangible product we can take home and thumb through without using a machine.