How to Design a Super-Simple Tear-Off Flap

Tear-off flaps are good alternatives for clients who want to save money on order devices while optimizing their effectiveness. So, today, I’m going to show you how to incorporate an inexpensive tear-off form that won’t interfere with the rest of your design.

Let’s say your client wants a 4-page catalog supplement of “hot” products that includes an order device. Though this technique can be adapted to other page sizes, let’s say the catalog supplement is to be printed on both sides of an 11” x 17” sheet that will eventually be folded twice to make a small self-mailer.

To make it easier to understand what I’m about to describe, follow along with a piece of 11” x 17” paper. (Or tape two 8.5” x 11” pages together on the long side to make a page that length.) Once you’ve gone through the process with this physical sample, transfer it to your design software.

Lay your 11” x 17” sheet in front of you horizontally (in landscape mode). Make a perforated line, top to bottom, on the right-hand page of the inside spread, about 3” in from the right-hand edge. (In the final production, this section will be folded on the perforation line toward the inside of the spread to make a tear-off order flap.)

Do that now.

With the flap folded over, the spread will be 11” x 14”.

Now, fold the piece in half, left edge over the new right edge so they line up. This brings the size down to 11” x 7”, with the tear-off flap tucked in on the right side.

This size – 11” x 7” – doesn’t meet standard mail requirements for “letter” size. And if it were mailed at the “flat” rate, postage would be a LOT more expensive. But don’t worry. Fold the piece in half one more time, top to bottom. It then becomes a 5 ½” x 7” self-mailer that’s in the proper size range and under the 3.3 oz. weight limit to mail at the “letter” rate.

Now, let’s design the mailing label area.

Flip the piece upside-down and backward, so the side fold ends up on the right and the middle fold is underneath the recipient’s address.

After orienting your sample self-mailer this way, draw a rectangular box where the address would go, and write the word “Address” inside the box. When the self-mailer is opened, all the catalog copy should be laid out in one direction with the address upside-down.

Do that now, and you’ll see what I mean.

Remember that the open sides of a self-mailer need to be tabbed for USPS automation. So if your client wants to include a return envelope, it could be inserted into the self-mailer, and the folds and tabs will keep it from falling out. Then the customer would simply tear off the order form, fill it out, fold it in half, and stuff it into the return envelope.

A tear-off flap works great for other designs, too.

In a brochure, for example, it could be used to list important dates, office hours, and contact numbers that the reader could remove to keep handy.

In a newsletter, it could provide information to be posted on a bulletin board or the family’s refrigerator.

In a discount mailer, it could be a group of coupons to lure the customer into your client’s store.

Best of all, the flap can be torn or cut off and used without ruining the rest of the publication.

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Published: July 12, 2007

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