Design a Tri-Fold Brochure using InDesign


This tutorial will take you through the steps of creating a basic tri-fold brochure. There are endless variations on this but the underlying idea is to keep the document structured and to consider how you want a viewer to experience the information. Designing a tri-fold brochure presents a small difficulty as the finished product is three dimensional and is intended to be folded – you will see on page two of the document, the front panel appears on the right. The copy used in this tutorial is actual advice for the production of a brochure, I hope you find it helpful.
For this document, you will need to download these three typefaces – Montserrat Bold, Medium and Regular and install them. You will also need to download these three images – they are in a zip file and will need to be unzipped, if you are using a MAC it will most likely do this automatically and generate a folder, if you are using a PC, you should be able to double click the file and extract them to a new location. After you unzip them, copy the folder to the location where you are saving your InDesign layout.
1. Start a new document 51p0 x 66p0 (8.5″ x 11″) in the vertical orientation. Make 2 non-facing pages with 3 columns with a 3p0 (1/2″) gutter and 1p6 (1/4″) margin on all sides. Click Create.

2. In the Pages Panel double-click the A-Master. This will allow us to make guides that appear on all pages of the layout.

Go to the LAYOUT menu > CREATE GUIDES and make 3 column guides with 0p0 gutter and fit the guides to the page size – this will show you exactly where the brochure will fold. Click OK.

Go back to the LAYOUT menu > CREATE GUIDES and make 3 rows with 0p0 Gutter, fit the guides to the margins. Click OK. This will provide a basic modular grid for the layout.

3. In Pages Panel doubleclick on back into Page 1 and save your file. Name it Brochure.indd and place it in the folder you made for this project.
4. Open the Swatches Panel (WINDOW menu >COLOR>SWATCHES) and create a new swatch by clicking on the new swatch icon or by going to the menu.

Make a swatch with the following formula C=0 M=79 Y=69 B=14 Name the swatch Salmon. Click Add.

With the New Color Swatch window open, make another swatch with the following formula C=0 M=0 Y=0 B=65 name the swatch 65% gray. Click OK.

5. On page 1 use the content frame tool (the rectangle tool with the X through it) to create a series of Content Frames – three on the top row with each frame completely filling a grid rectangle. On the second row make a frame that spans two grid rectangles on the left and middle and another that fills the rectangle on the right. Finally, on the bottom row make 3 frames (exactly like the top row) Zoom in to ensure that the frames are snapped to the guidelines and the edge of the paper (not the magenta colored margin lines.)

6. Open this text file and copy the first headline and paragraph “put your panels in order” and the paragraph starting with “Keep it easy…” With the type tool click on the top left content frame – this will turn the frame into a text frame – and paste in the copied text.

Paragraph and Character Styles are essential to keeping your brochure looking professional. By using paragraph styles the same type treatment can be applied throughout the document and changes to the style can be made all in one place. Character styles allow you to make discrete changes to the paragraph formatting and again, allows you to make changes throughout the document all in one place.

7. Highlight the paragraph you just pasted into the frame (“keep it easy…”) and in the Character Panel change the height to 11pts and the leading (the space between lines of text from baseline to baseline) to 16pts. Keep the typeface the default Minion Pro Regular.

With the paragraph still selected, go to the WINDOW menu > STYLES > PARAGRAPH STYLES and click the new paragraph style icon at the bottom of the panel. Double click Paragraph Style 1 and rename it Body Text.

8. Highlight the Headline (“put your panels in order”) and in the Character Panel change the typeface to Montserrat Bold at 14pt height with 16pts of leading. Go to the Character Panel Menu and make the type All Caps.

With the paragraph still selected click on the new paragraph style icon to make a new style, then double-click PParagraph Style 1 and rename it Headline.

9. Deselect all text by clicking out in an empty area of the artboard. Go to the WINDOW menu > STYLES > CHARACTER STYLES. Click on the new character style icon and then double-click Character Style 1 and rename it, Salmon. In the Character Color Tab change the color to the Salmon swatch. This style will only change the color of a selected piece of text but retain all other formatting from the Paragraph Style. Make two more styles, one that changes the color to white (paper) and the other that changes the color to 65% gray.


10. Copy the remaining headlines and associated paragraphs from the Brochure Content.txt file into the indicated text frames.

Apply the Headline Paragraph Style to each headline and the Body Text Paragraph style to each paragraph. Save your file.

11. At this stage, the text occupies the entire frame which makes it look like its running into other frames, to give the text some space we will inset the text within each frame. Select all text frames on this page (hold down the Shift key to make multiple selections) and go to the OBJECT menu > TEXT FRAME OPTIONS and change the Inset Spacing for the text frames to 1p6 (1/4″) on all sides.


12. Deselect everything, then select the two frames in the middle column and change the fill color to Salmon. Select the text frame on the right and change the fill color to 65% Gray.
13. Highlight all of the text in the Gray frame and apply the White Character Style. Apply the White Character Style to the Salmon colored text frames. Highlight the headlines in each of the text frames on the right and change the Character Style to 65% gray.

14. Copy the pull quote from the brochure text document (“a poorly designed brochure …”) and with the Type Tool paste it into the top right text frame. With all the text selected click on [None] in the character style panel [Basic Paragraph] in the paragraph style panel – this resets the text to all default properties.

With the text still selected change the font to Montserrat Regular at 22pts height and 30pts of leading. This typeface does not have an Italic version but InDesign allows you to skew text to make it appear Italicized, expand the Character Panel and change the Skew to 20 degrees.

Apply the Salmon Character Style to the text. Go to the OBJECT menu > TEXT FRAME OPTIONS and change the Inset Spacing for the text frames to 1p6 (1/4″) on all sides. Save the File.
15. This next step involves placing in the images that were downloaded prior to the first step, make sure they are in the folder for this project so that you can find them easily. Select the content frame the occupies the two grid squares on the left-hand side middle row. Go to the FILE menu > PLACE and select Designing.jpg, then go to the OBJECT menu > FITTING > CONTENT AWARE FIT (or FILL PROPORTIONALLY if you are using an older version of InDesign.) Select the bottom right content frame and go to the FILE menu > PLACE and select Brochure.jpg, then go to the OBJECT menu > FITTING > CONTENT AWARE FIT. Save your File.

16. In the Pages Panel double-click on page 2. Select the content frame tool (the rectangle tool with the X through it) and draw a rectangle that occupies the two large grid rectangles on the top left side. Draw another rectangle below that fills out the bottom left grid rectangle. Draw a rectangle that fills the entire right-hand side from the right vertical guide to the page’s edge and from top to bottom. Draw another content frame in the middle panel, this one will be the size of the margins (the magenta lines) only. Zoom in to ensure that the frames are snapped to the guidelines.

17. Select the top left panel and change the fill color to Salmon, change the bottom left panel and change the fill to %65 Gray. Select the right-hand panel and go to the FILE menu > PLACE and select Cover.jpg then go to the OBJECT menu > FITTING > CONTENT AWARE FIT (or FILL PROPORTIONALLY if you are using an older version of InDesign.)

18. Select the middle content frame, go to the Stroke Panel (WINDOW menu > STROKE, or also now included in the Properties Panel) and change the Stroke Weight to 3pts and set the stroke to the inside and change the color of the stroke to Salmon. Save the file.

19. Go back to the brochure content.txt file and copy the paragraph starting with “A brochure will increase… ” then paste it into the top left rectangle (with the Salmon fill) With all the text selected click on [None] in the character style panel [Basic Paragraph] in the paragraph style panel – this resets the text to all default properties. Change the typeface to Montserrat Medium with a height of 16pts and leading of 25pts, apply the White Character Style. Change the paragraph alignment to Right Align.

With the text frame selected go to the OBJECT menu > TEXT FRAME OPTIONS and change the Inset Spacing for the text frames to 1p6 (1/4″) on all sides.
20. From the Brochure Content.txt file copy “headline ideas for your brochure” as well as the following paragraph that begins with “Gather some examples…” and paste it into the %65 Gray rectangle (the text may be invisible at this point because the type may be the same color as the box – highlight the pasted text and change the character style to White) Apply the Headline Paragraph Style to the headline and the Body Text paragraph style to the paragraph. With the text frame selected go to the OBJECT menu > TEXT FRAME OPTIONS and change the Inset Spacing for the text frames to 1p6 (1/4″) on all sides.

21. Copy the next 4 paragraphs from the brochure content.txt file From “Bring attention” to “explanations and definitions?” Paste it into the middle content frame. Change all headlines to the Headline Paragraph Style and the Salmon Character Style, change all of the paragraph text to the Body Text Paragraph Style and [none] for the Character Style. With the text frame selected go to the OBJECT menu > TEXT FRAME OPTIONS and change the Inset Spacing to 0p6 for the left and right and 1p6 for the top (uncheck the chain link icon to change separate values.)

22. Draw a content frame in the center grid rectangle of the right-hand panel, Copy the title of the brochure “how to design…” and paste it into the content frame with the type tool. With the text selected change the text to the White Character Style, change the typeface to Montserrat Bold with a height of 36 pts and a leading of 50pts, change the text to All Caps .

23. With the text frame selected go to the OBJECT menu > TEXT FRAME OPTIONS and change the Inset Spacing to 1p6 for the left and right and leave the top and bottom at 0 (uncheck the chain link icon to change separate values.)

24. Save your File and go to the FILE menu > EXPORT to export it as Adobe PDF (print)

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