Brochure Formats: Stand Out from the Crowd!

Brochure size & format options

Size matters!

When it comes to choosing a size for your corporate brochure, first impressions really do count, especially if it’s a brochure to promote your organisation, services or products. This is true not only in respect to the graphics and design used but also to the size and format of the brochure, which is what we’ll focus in on in this particular post — because it really does make a difference.

Choosing a brochure size

The size you choose for your brochure may be partly governed by the volume of content it needs to contain. If it’s substantial then clearly you may have to choose one of the larger sizes, although choosing a smaller size with more pages is also a viable option. If you’re not dealing with an enormous volume of content, then straight away you have a much wider choice of sizes and formats from which to choose. But which is the best?

Should you go for A4 portrait?

Well … yes, you could, and most people do. It’s the obvious choice and it’s an economical size to print because it fits in well with commonly available sheet sizes – so there is little or no paper wastage once the job is complete. A4 portrait also fits in well with most printing presses, including the more common digital ones.

However, being the ‘obvious choice’ does rather mean that your brochure is going to be the same size and format as millions of other brochures out there. So, graphics aside, it’s not going to stand out from the crowd – even literally. For example, if a coffee table or reception desk has a few brochures on it, it’ll get rather lost if they’re all A4 or thereabouts, as is likely to be the case. This standardisation of brochures sizes circulating can, though, be used to your advantage!

So what other size should you choose?

With all other factors being equal, your final choice may come down to four main factors:

  • Is the size/format economical to print?
  • Is the size/format going to have any additional ‘impact’ compared to A4?
  • Is the size/format unusual in any way?
  • Could the size/format be described as ‘more appealing‘ than A4?

Being an economical size to print speaks mostly for itself. Factors include how well it suits printing presses and, in particular, the paper sheet sizes that are commonly available. How much paper will go to waste if you are using a more unusual size? We can advise on that of course. Paper wastage is money down the drain although we should add that this affects large volumes much more than it affects low print volumes so don’t be afraid to ask our opinion.

Having more ‘impact’ than standard A4 may come down simply to scale e.g. particularly if your brochure is physically larger than A4. If it is larger in any direction, then it will quite literally stand out when placed in a group of standard A4 brochures. However smaller sizes can also have a positive kind of ‘inverse’ impact compared to boring old A4, often making it look clumsy in comparison.

Impact is also closely tied to whether or not the size you choose is more unusual than the norm (A4). Not only will unusual sizes be visually more interesting, but they may also add to their ‘pick up’ appeal. That’s often true even if the brochure is a smaller-than-average size, within reason, particularly if the graphics, textures and finish are also treated in a suitable way.

Finally, the element of appeal comes firmly into play and this, perhaps, is the most tricky to consider as it is a very subjective factor. We suggest our own idea of which sizes are more appealing in the following ‘at a glance’ table, however everyone will have their own idea of which format and size has more appeal than another, so it’s just a guide. See how we’ve also included the other 3 core choice factors so you can see, at a glance, which brochure sizes (literally below) tick the most boxes:

Brochure format comparison

* How economical it is depends upon unknown factors like the quantity required. The size concerned might be uneconomical for our digital presses and low quantities — but more economical using our larger litho presses and higher print volumes, for example.

** This is very much a subjective judgement – people will have different ideas of what is appealing and what has impact. For example, A3 portrait may be preferred by some people but others may find it too large and ungainly.

Our preferences

While ‘A’ sizes, particularly A4, are the norm, for many of us in the printing and design trade, square brochures have more appeal and style visually, yet they don’t break the bank.

A sizes folded vertically make for a much more interesting brochure sizeWe can also do some clever bespoke sizes which, although based on the more standard (perhaps even boring) ‘A’ sizes, don’t actually look like they are. To explain that, imagine an A4 portrait sheet that is folded in half along a vertical axis. What you end up with is 105mm wide but 297mm tall (so it tall and thin). When that approach is applied to a brochure, it ticks ALL the boxes; it is economical to print because it’s based on an ‘A’ size; it is unusual because it is tall and thin yet it has both impact and ‘pick-up’ appeal. The same is true if you do the same thing with an A3 portrait sheet and, if anything, the impact then is even greater  due to the larger scale — one which is significant visually yet has an element of finesse about it due to its narrow width. A3 folded in half this way gives a result with far greater impact and appeal than the same sheet folded in the standard way (to make A4). Compare the “A4” brochure to the “A3 folded in half” brochure in the above illustration and you’ll see that the latter has a bigger impact despite starting life as the same (A3) sheet size. However, always check on the availability of matching envelope sizes if you are likely to post your brochures rather than distributing them in other ways.

As I hope you can see, with a little bit of imagination and forethought, you can end up with a brochure which is way more interesting and aesthetically pleasing with more impact than standard A4, without necessarily costing you anything extra at all. Once you’ve tried it you’ll probably never go back!

For these ideas and more, contact your nearest branch of Firstpoint Print and our in-house graphic designers and printers will be able to suggest ways to make your sales and marketing collateral stand out from the crowd without necessarily adding anything at all to production costs.