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Choosing a Format

office of marketing communications

Most publications fall into one of six basic categories: a simple invitation, an invitation with program information, a brochure, a booklet, a catalog, or a newsletter. Your choice of publication will depend on the quantity and type of information you have, your audience, and your budget. The information below is a general outline of common publication formats and their uses.

Simple Invitation: A simple invitation is generally a single-sided card that contains the basic who, what, when, where, and why of an event as well as RSVP information. This type of invitation is generally best suited for simple events where you just need the basics. The templates for invitations available through the Graphic Identity System measure 5" x 7"; however, other standard sizes are available. Below is a list of standard envelope sizes and corresponding invitation sizes. Be sure to confirm envelope and invitation size with your printer before beginning the design of your project.

Envelope Name Envelope Size Invitation size
A-2 4 3/8" x 5 3/4" 4 3/16" x 5 1/2"
A-6 4 3/4" x 6 1/2" 4 5/8" x 6 3/16"
A-7 5 1/4" x 7 1/4" 5" x 6 7/8"
A-8 5 1/2" x 8 1/8" 5 1/4" x 7 3/4"
A-10 6" x 9 1/2" 5 3/4" x 9 1/8"

Folded Invitation with Program Information: An invitation with program information is generally used when you have a program that merits detailing or when you have a well-known speaker whose presence on the invitation will help to attract people to your event. The templates for invitations available through the Graphic Identity System measure 5" x 7"; however, other standard sizes are available. Below is a list of standard envelope sizes and corresponding invitation sizes. Be sure to confirm envelope and invitation size with your printer before beginning the design of your project.

Envelope Name Envelope Size Invitation size
A-2 4 3/8" x 5 3/4" 4 3/16" x 5 1/2"
A-6 4 3/4" x 6 1/2" 4 5/8" x 6 3/16"
A-7 5 1/4" x 7 1/4" 5" x 6 7/8"
A-8 5 1/2" x 8 1/8" 5 1/4" x 7 3/4"
A-10 6" x 9 1/2" 5 3/4" x 9 1/8"

Brochure: Brochures are best suited for short, text-based informational publications such as overviews of a department, program, or short list. They are usually designed to fit in a #10 envelope with an overall finished size of 3 3/4" x 8 1/2". They can be folded in a number of different formats such as a 2-panel single fold, a 3-panel barrel fold, a 4-panel gate fold, or a 6-plus-panel accordion fold. Because of the relatively small size of the individual panels, photographs should be used carefully as they may lose their impact when reduced to such a small size. Note that, when doing complicated folds, "creep"—the physical space taken up by the fold itself—may factor into the size of individual panels. The amount of "creep" for a given brochure depends on the number of folds, the type of folds, and the weight of the paper. Consult with your printer, and ask them for their recommendations based on your project's specifications.

Booklet: Booklets are useful for course listings, small directories, and longer guides to programs or services. The format and size of a booklet can accommodate more information than a brochure. Usually, they are letter-size pages folded in half and saddle-stitched (stapled) along the fold. A booklet can range in size from 4 pages to 20 or more pages and contain several different chapters or sections. Because of a larger page size, this format lends itself better to the use of photography and illustrations.

Catalog: Catalogs are generally used for higher end marketing pieces, such as viewbooks. They have a larger page size, are usually less dense, and contain more photography and illustrations than other publications. They can, however, be simple, text-based publications suitable for a large amount of information, such as the University Communications Directory. The Desktop Publishers section of the Boston College Graphic Identity System Web site does not contain templates for catalogs. OMC generally recommends that you hire a professional graphic designer to help you with creating catalogs.

Newsletter: Newsletters should be used when you need to regularly communicate a large amount of information. Newsletters are generally based on a letter-size page and vary in overall size and construction from a single folded sheet of paper to a large sheet folded in 4 to 8 places. OMC generally recommends that you hire a professional graphic designer to help you with creating newsletters.

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