Why the Best Designers "Chase" their Folds

Let’s say you’re designing a trifold brochure (which has three panels on each side of the sheet) that will be 4” wide and 6” tall. You want to make a mock-up to show your boss, so you print out your design and crease it exactly at the 4” and 8” marks. Yet when you go to fold up the brochure, it’s all weird and won’t lie flat. What did you do wrong?

The simple answer is: nothing. The complicated answer is: you didn’t chase your fold.

When you have three panels at exactly the same size, the piece will never lie flat because of the space the crease of the fold takes up. (Especially on heavier stock, which should be scored.) Believe it or not, just that tiny crease wreaks havoc on your whole brochure. To make the brochure lie flat and keep everything centered on each panel, we need to chase your fold.

Chasing a fold is removing a sliver from the third panel so that the brochure can close. This is typically 1/16” per folded panel. If you’re printing a trifold brochure, you would remove the outer 1/16” and plan your job accordingly. In a trifold brochure with only two creased folds, we can easily fix it for you if you forget to design it that way.

But what if you have a barrel fold brochure, which has multiple panels wrapped inside each other? Each of the inner panels needs to have 1/16” removed from the previous panel. So if you have 6 panels in a barrel fold brochure, your innermost panel will need to be 1/4” smaller than the outer two! If we just sliced off 1/4”, there’s no way everything would line up properly.

Okay, this is an admittedly confusing concept. The best thing to do is to start at the beginning of your design process and ask your account manager for a mock-up of your idea. That way you can measure the panels and design the piece with chased panels from the get-go. Not only will you have more control over your design, but your job will get done FASTER because we will do less prep work for the same great result.

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