Producing Brochures? Size Really Matters!

Printing brochures? Size really matters!

When it comes to brochures and other promotional documents, size really does matter. Along with the design and finish, the size and format of printed sales and marketing documents has an impact from a marketing perspective. A carefully selected size could make your printed marketing piece literally stand out, making it both different and memorable when you get it right. Once you’ve accomplished that, half the marketing battle is already won.

Marketers have only one chance to make a good first impression

For these reasons, many brochure and marketing literature designers will often consider sizes outside of the bog-standard A4 that we see so often. This consideration will almost be part of the design process itself, in fact. After all, marketers and designers have only one chance to make a good first impression.

It’s a very tricky balance, however. While format, looks and size play an important part in the overall impact of a printed brochure or marketing piece, it’s all too easy to stray into unnecessary extra expense if it’s not fully thought through.

A balance between design, impact, cost & ultimately R.O.I.

The approximate size for your brochure or marketing piece may simply be steered by the volume of content it needs to contain. If that’s substantial, then clearly you may have to choose one of the larger document sizes, or at the very least go with a smaller size with a greater number of pages if you don’t mind the document or brochure being fairly thick — but, as we’ll see below, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Conversely, if your brochure or sales piece doesn’t include an enormous volume of content, then right away you have a wider choice of sizes and formats available to you. So — a good starting point when considering sizes.

Why not A4 portrait?

Hmmm … well, that’s probably the most cost-effective size/format for large-ish brochures because paper sizes in the UK are generally optimised for that size (or derivations of it like A5 etc.). With ‘A’ sizes generally, there is usually minimal paper wastage from off-cuts, because the base paper sizes that printers use are set up so well for it (SRA3, SRA2 etc.). However, as such, A4 is very “standard” and therefore rather predictable. And predictable does not make your service or product stand out from the crowd!

So what can you do to create more impact, only using size/format?

There are a few obvious alternatives to the bog-standard A4 portrait when it comes to brochures and marketing literature:

  • You could consider going landscape format instead or portrait. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that A4 landscape is not usually as economical as A4 portrait. Ask your local printer about it, though, as it depends upon several variables. Simply going landscape, though, is not particularly radical, so won’t change the impact of your marketing piece much, if at all.
  • You could consider going square, for example 210mm x 210mm. While also not likely to be as wastage-free as A4 portrait, it’s a little “different” and square brochures do have a certain style and sophistication about them. How much that potential wastage affects price is again something that’s governed by different variables. For example, if printing quantities are low, then any additional cost is likely to be fairly negligible. However, such wastage can make more of an impact on your pocket when printing volumes are particularly large. So, again, check with your printer at an early stage.
  • Going extra-large (e.g. A3 portrait) will create its own impact and make your sales or marketing piece literally stand out from the crowd. They’re big — and hard to miss! A3 mailers have been shown to have high response rates, in fact. In theory at least, this larger size should use more paper, so the actual printing cost would be more than the equivalent A4. However, that’s not always the case because it could use half the number of pages (because there’s twice as much room for the content) and therefore be accomplished using the same ‘base’ paper size and number of sheets as an A4 equivalent.
  • Alternatively, you could go with a small brochure but produced unusually well. For example, instead of an A4, saddle-stitched, portrait brochure, you could perhaps go with a DL (third A4) or A5 brochure that’s actually produced like a book. At Southside Print we can make perfect bound booklets (these are like a paperback book) or, even better, case-bound (hardback) books. At a smaller size, but with a lovely thickness and rigidity about them, they have an impact of their own and are ‘pocket-able’ unlike some of their larger counterparts. Add in some fancy printing techniques and you have yourself a real jewel of a marketing piece! All of this would mean that your brochure or sales piece is made to feel more precious and, as such, will be much more likely to be kept rather than discarded.
  • Unusual brochure sizes can be just as economical as standard sizes when thought is put into them.Unique brochure sizes can also have an impact and create an impression on your prospects. So, perhaps you could consider a bespoke size or an unusual fold that results in the same. Such a size will be unusual and thereby stand out from the crowd, which is usually a good thing, so long as the design is good, of course. TIP: One sneaky way of using a standard size/format (e.g. A4 portrait), but making it stand out from the crowd, is to fold it vertically along it’s longest size. In our A4 portrait example, that would give you an unusual brochure with a size of H297mm and a width of only 105mm (tall and thin).
  • Finally you could consider a shaped brochure. Bespoke shapes are entirely possible for brochures and suchlike. However, irregular shaping using a traditional ‘cutter’ or by laser cutting will definitely add extra steps and costs to production. They’re worth considering, though, because a bespoke shape will really make your brochure stand out from the crowd, create a positive impact and be memorable. That’s priceless!

Need help with your next brochure or sales/marketing piece?

Southside Print are here to help you with all stages of production for brochures and printed marketing collateral of any kind. Our in-house graphic designers are available to help make your sales and marketing pieces look phenomenally good and to create a positive impact. They can also take care of the digital artwork for you if you don’t have your own designer. Our printing and production services are second-to-none and our prices are exceptionally competitive. Quality is excellent and we also offer an unusual array of recycled and sustainable paper and printing options. Essentially, we’re a one-stop design and print shop! We’re based near London Bridge and Borough in London’s SE1 region. Call 020 7378 6754 for further details, contact us here or request a more in-depth quotation here. We’ll be delighted to help. Quotes are, of course, free and without pressure or obligation.

A Handy Guide to UK Paper Sizes

A Handy Guide to UK Paper Sizes

Paper sizes are something even seasoned print veterans find themselves looking up occasionally. While some paper sizes are used on a daily basis at printers and design studios, there are others that are only used a handful of times a year. Those tend to be the sizes most easily forgotten, so we’ve come up with this handy reference guide that can be referred to any time, 365 days of the year. Don’t forget to bookmark it!

The following is not an exhaustive list of paper sizes, but it should cover the most commonly used sizes used by designers and printers around the UK. For the sake of brevity, we’ll leave out the more rarefied ‘legacy’ sizes that we simply tend not to encounter any more.

ISO Paper Sizes:

You may not have heard of ‘ISO’ paper sizes, but you will have used sizes like A4 and A3 perhaps on a weekly basis. A4, A3, A5, A2, B4 and B5 are probably the most easily recognisable examples of ISO ‘A’ and ISO ‘B’ paper sizes.

ISO 'A' paper sizesISO sizes have several neat, and very handy, mathematical properties about them:

  • The ratio of their sides is always 1 to 1.414 (the square root of 2, by the way).
  • To mentally compute the dimensions from one ISO paper size to the next, you simply keep the longest side and double the shortest. So A4 (210mm x 297mm) becomes A3 (297mm x 420mm). We simply doubled the shortest side (210mm) to get that new 420mm dimension, but kept the existing 267mm dimension — easy!
  • Note that the physical paper size at each step up is DOUBLE the paper area. So A4 is half the size of A3 (fold A3 in half and you end up with A4 again). A3 is in turn half the physical size of A2 and so on.
  • You can alternatively enlarge to the next ISO size (e.g. from A4 to A3) by enlarging the original 1.414 times. So, on a photocopier, for example, you would set the magnification to 141.4%.
  • Most ingeniously, the ISO ‘A’ sizes are designed to allow printers to easily compute the weight of a printed stack of papers simply by counting the sheets. It’s based on the fact that the size A0 is exactly 1 square metre in area. So, if you know you have paper that’s, say, 150gsm in weight (paper is specified in grams per square metre; gsm), you know that a stack of one hundred A0 sheets will be 100 x 150gsm, which is 15000grams (i.e. 1.5kg in weight). If your stack happened to be A1, then you simply need to divide that by two (because, as we learned above, the next A size down is half the size). For A2 you halve it again and so on.

ISO ‘A’ sizes:

The ISO ‘A’ series of paper sizes is most widely used for printing and design in the UK; most people will use A4 paper, for example, on a daily basis. As we mentioned above, each ‘step’ down from one A size to the next is exactly half the size, as you can see in the diagram above/right. Here are the main A sizes:

  • A0 = 841mm x H1189mm
  • A1 = 594mm x 841mm
  • A2 = 420mm x 594mm
  • A3 = 297mm x 420mm
  • A4 = 210mm x 297mm
  • A5 = 148mm x 210mm
  • A6 = 105mm x 148mm
  • A7 = 74mm x 105mm
  • A8 = 52mm x 74mm
  • A9 = 37mm x 52mm

If you want to go larger than A0, the next size up is called “2A0” (1189 x 1682mm). Use the maths trick above to go up from there to 3A0, 4A0 and beyond.

ISO ‘B’ paper sizes:

Exactly as with the ‘A’ sizes, each ‘B’ paper size can be Read more