When it comes to creating printed promotional materials such as leaflets, brochures and any other print design medium, what should the person deciding on the size consider, and why?

The few considerations I can think of are:

  • Price - I assume that custom sizes are more expensive.
  • Familiarity - Sticking to sizes that are common to the industry will be more familiar for potential customers
  • Purpose - If it is an informative piece it probably needs to be large enough for a fair amount of information, though on that topic I suppose that the volume of information doesn't hold that much weight when deciding on size, unless it's a one page flyer.

I'm sure there are many more things to consider..

  • The size of the artwork determines the size of the press. The size of the press determines the length of the run. Presses only earn money when they run. Printers often sub-contract jobs for presses they don't own for ones they can support.
    – Stan
    Aug 31, 2013 at 19:30
  • Speak to your printer before you present your ideas to the client as the "standard" press sheet sizes will vary by the press used and the length of the run. There are a myriad of decisions to affect the actual press makeready, run, and finishing. You can take advantage of some of the press features if you are aware of them with no extra expense. Your printer or production dept. can advise you.
    – Stan
    Aug 31, 2013 at 19:43

1 Answer 1

  • Use. For example direct mail has Postal restrictions. You can't just arbitrarily create a size you want. Well, you can, but mail costs increase dramatically for custom sizes. Sticking to standard postal sizes greatly reduces mailing costs.

  • Audience. A six-color, spot varnish, gold-foil piece is not going to be received well if your target audience is monster truck viewers. And at the same time, a distressed, retro-inspired, "rugged" design will not be received well by Fortune 500 companies. (Generalizing a bit, but you get the point.)

  • Standards. This may fit under your Familiarity headline. But some pieces are expected to be a specific size, for example, business cards. Over or under sized business cards, or cards on unique materials such as steel or wood, can be cool to look at but as soon as you try and file them in a Rolodex or other standard card file system they become a problem. If they are a problem for the recipient, they are often tossed.

  • Bindery. Pieces which require die cutting (non-rectangular pieces) or custom folding will increase costs.

I don't know that I agree with your price sentiment. While exceptionally oversized pieces can drive production costs up, if a design fits on a standard size of stock, there should be no cost increase. For example, anything that fits on an A4 or 8.5x11" sheet should be the relatively similar in cost. It doesn't matter if it's a 6x9" or 10x4" or 2x3" piece. Obviously the more individual pieces you can gang on a sheet of stock, the lower the cost will be. Heck, online printers utilize gang printing all the time to offer lower prices.

  • Could I suggest "Distribution" as an alternate suggestion for "Use" as you depict the consideration?
    – Stan
    Aug 31, 2013 at 19:25
  • 1
    I think they are synonymous for the most part and "use" fits just as well as "distribution" in many cases. You may have choose the word distribution, I chose use. Since it's my answer, I win :)
    – Scott
    Aug 31, 2013 at 19:39

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