How to Make a French Brochure

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French fold brochures are ideal for maps and menus.
French fold brochures are ideal for maps and menus. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

The French fold brochure design, also called the right-angle half-fold brochure, is one of the most popular. Because it looks like a book, it is traditionally used for menus, price lists and programs. However, achieving the French fold design can be confusing. While the fold is easy to make, a proper layout can be difficult to execute.

Buy your paper. There are only a few traditional sizes associated with the design. Most printing press will only accept sheets that are 8.5 x 11 inches, 8.5 x 14 inches, 11 x 17 inches and 11 x 25.5 inches in size. The 11 x 25.5 inch size is reserved for posters.

Fold your paper in half lengthwise, and then width-wise. The fold looks like what you do when you are finished writing a letter and you are ready to send it out. You probably fold the letter horizontally, and then vertically. That’s the French fold. Hold the paper; it shows four panels recto and four panels verso.

Write your main content inside the brochure. You can also use it as a map or as a diagram to show rather than explain. The inside panels are more uniform than the outside panels, this is why it is useful to have there a layout of a building, a theme park map, touristic attractions, a labeled object, directions to a conference or a building’s plan.

Use the two outside panels as the cover of the brochure. The two remaining outer panels are just flaps. Place attention-grabbing text and eye-candy content on the two cover panels. If these two panels are not attractive enough or provocative enough, the brochure may be discarded. If the two covers are successfully made, the content is more likely to get read. Write additional content on the flaps, such as contact information, references, resources, menus, lists and practical details about the product or the company.

Visualize your brochure before printing it. The inner panels usually do not cause any problem. Print the inside page with a design that covers the four inner panels. The outside panels present a major challenge: they are fragmented. When you open up your outer page, the lower, left panel will be the left flap; the bottom, right panel will be the right flap; the upper, left panel will be the front cover and it looks upside down; and the upper, right panel will be the back cover and it looks upside down as well.

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