Besides roll (or letter) folds and z-folds (sometimes called concertina or accordion folds), the gate fold is one of the three most-commonly used types of flyer folds – and it is the subject of the last in our series about folded leaflets. I’ll start by giving you a rundown on how this format got its name, how it is folded, and before going on to give you some tips about making good gate fold leaflets that maximise the potential of your message. I’ll finish, as ever, by giving you the basics on creating print files for gate fold leaflets.
Name and background
Like so many other kinds of fold, the gate fold is based on a parallel fold – i.e. where the folded edges run exactly parallel to one another and the outer sides are folder in one direction.
As for the name, if you guessed that the “gate fold” (sometimes written “gatefold”) is called so because it opens a bit like a double gate, you’d be right. It’s also called the “window fold” for a similar reason: i.e. it is divided down the centre into two flaps which are “hinged” on the folds and can be opened out – much like an old religious triptych. On a six-sided folder, the two flaps fold over a flat, square side, but this square can also be folded down the middle to make an eight-sided, closed format.
The slightly unusual nature of the gate fold makes it ideal for creating excitement or surprise in the person opening it. One of the best ways of achieving this with an open-format six-sider is to print an intriguing image across the exterior of the flaps and to juxtapose another image inside the flyer directly behind this. You can accompany this with a question which literally begs the reader to open the flyer up.
Is your mother-in-law on her way to visit?
Are you still single?
When’s the last time you saw your cat?
Once you’ve caught the readers’ attention like this, you have the interior side to make them laugh and to make clear the connection to your company, event, etc. The backsides of the flaps – which the reader moves into after the central panel – can carry further information, and the back of the central panel, which is read last, is where you can put your price-list and contact details without detracting from the powerful centre image. If you’ve done your work right, the reader will be curious enough to turn the flyer over!
The gate fold leaflet does require some thought, however: you really do have make sure that the reader wants to open it, otherwise it is more likely to remain closed that “auto opening” formats like the z-fold. Think about whether you are using an open or closed format and how you can make sure that the reader is tempted to open out the “gates” on your flyer. These graphics should give you an idea of where you need to grab your readers’ attention:
6-sided gate fold
8-sided gate fold
General advice about your print files
You need to make sure that there is a bleed of 2mm all around the flyer – i.e. the format as a whole is 4mm higher and wider.
All of the text and images must be situated at least 3mm from the cropping margin – i.e. your objects need to be moved 3mm inwards if they are too close to the edge. This all-round margin will give your final product overall coherence, and you should keep to it unless some of your images cover two adjacent sides, of course.
To avoid white stripes along the edge of the folded leaflet once it has been cropped, make sure you extend background images or colour areas into the cropping margin.
You might find guiding lines or markers for your folds useful while designing your flyer, but remember to remove them before you go to print to avoid them appearing on the finished product.
We would recommend producing a trial folded leaflet or dummy with the creases you intend to use; this will help you get an idea of how the finished flyer will sit in your hand.
You should send the final print files in closed file formats that cannot be altered: Saxoprint currently accepts five file formats for print, which are PDF, JPG, TIFF, EPS and PS (PostScript).
It is a good idea to have two separate files for the interior and exterior sides to avoid any possible confusion; be sure to mark the side each file applies to clearly in the files names (e.g. OurFlyer_interior.pdf and OurFlyer_exterior.pdf). If you do send both sides in one file, be sure to label each side clearly, because the layout on its own is not always enough.