Should a church use bifold church bulletins or trifold church bulletins? It’s kind of a silly question, considering the far more important things that church committees could discuss, but it’s a question that does need to be answered. For more than eight years, Sharefaith has provided solutions on church media issues. The church bulletin size question is one which we happen to have an opinion on. Here’s our solution…
We think bifold church bulletins are best.
First, a little information and some definitions.
- The most common paper size (in the U.S.) is 8.5″ by 11″. This is the paper size used for a bifold bulletin. One horizontal fold. Four “panels” or pages. Done.
- The paper sizes used for trifold bulletins are 8.5″ x 14″ and 11″ x 17″. Two horizontal folds. Six panels. Done.
Both sizes have their advantages, and both have their disadvantages.
Why we think bifold bulletins are best.
Now, of course churches can choose whatever bulletin size they want. Want a wall poster size? A billboard? A postage stamp? Go right ahead. However, for a variety of reasons, we recommend that churches use the bi-fold church bulletin size. This isn’t a heresy vs. orthodoxy issue. It’s more a matter of preference, but here are some of the realistic and practical reasons we make this recommendation for most churches.
1. Trifold bulletins are more expensive.
First, let’s compare costs of trifold vs. bifold church bulletins. Larger paper costs more money. For example
- $48.99 – 8.5x 11 standard size (for 5,000)
- $69.99 – 8.5 x 14 legal size (for 5,000)
- $113.98 – 11 x 17 ledger size (for 5,000)
(From Staples.com, prices current as of October 18, 2011. Price quotes on 20 lb. printer paper, conventional stock)
One paper supply company, catering to the needs of churches, offers low prices on church bulletin paper (non-perforated, non-punched). Based on these prices, notice the following facts:
- 8.5 x 14 paper is 48% more expensive than 8.5 x 11 paper
- 11 x 17 paper is 150% more expensive than 8.5 x 11 paper
Put this way, it’s a simple economic decision. Bifold bulletins are just cheaper. “Cheaper” doesn’t mean lower quality, either. Bifold bulletins can look just as nice as trifold bulletins. Sure, we’re just talking about the cost of paper, and using standard-size paper instead of legal isn’t going to let you pay your mortgage off next month. But it will save money. And what church doesn’t want to save money?
2. Trifold church bulletin templates are cumbersome and hard-to-design.
If you’ve ever tried to design a church bulletin in a word processing program, you know how difficult it can be to get the formatting just right. Whether it’s church newsletters or church bulletins, there’s always some problem with the margin, the fold, the image…something. These problems can be compounded if you’re trying to design a trifold church bulletin. Here’s a sketch-up of the fold pattern for two types of trifold church bulletins.
Kind of complicated, especially for a novice at Microsoft Word. Sure, it becomes routine after a while, and you learn the ropes. But what if you have to hand off the bulletin design to another person while you’re on vacation? Or what if you want to change the program art for some reason? Welcome back to complication and keyboard-pounding frustration. Bifold bulletins, on the other hand, are a lot simpler. Save money on punched-out keyboards.
3. Trifold church bulletins allow limited horizontal space.
Any designer will tell you that space is important. The more space you have on a church bulletin, the better, especially when it comes to horizontal space. After all, we read from right to left, horizontally. Trifold bulletins fall short in this area, by an inch or two. Notice the diagram below. The top line represents a trifold 14″ paper (legal). The bottom line represents a bifold 11″ paper (standard). Notice that the bifold gets 18% more horizontal space. (Image not actual size.)
That slight increase in size for the bifold bulletin translates into more design options, more white space, more text, more room to play with, more options. Bifold bulletins just have a better design approach than trifolds.
4. Trifold church bulletin templates are very difficult to find.
If you’re hunting down trifold church bulletin templates online, you’re going to be looking for quite a while. Sharefaith recently conducted a massive survey of church media usage, and discovered that most churches are using Microsoft products for their media design and production. Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Word are the tools of choice for in-house church bulletin design. It is difficult and/or expensive to purchase trifold templates for Microsoft Word. Additionally, customizing the premade templates in Microsoft Word may prove to be a difficult and time-consuming task.
5. Trifold church bulletins are more difficult and time-consuming to fold.
Speaking of difficult, let’s turn to the whole question of folding these bulletins. I grew up in a pastor’s home, and had the task of folding the bulletins. As a small church, we did not own a folding machine. Thankfully, we used bifold bulletins. I also did my share of folding gospel tracts, some of which were trifold. I quickly learned that bifolds were much easier to fold than trifolds.
Folding a paper in half is simple. Just line up the edges and press down. Folding a paper in thirds requires you to eyeball it, or buy an expensive folding machine. Either way, bifolds take the cake for simplicity and cost-effectiveness.
6. Sharefaith produces bifold church bulletin covers.
Sharefaith provides thousands of church bulletin covers in bifold format. You can view all of them for free on our Church Bulletin Cover page. All church bulletin designs are print-ready, high-quality, designed by professional Christian graphic designers
Why do some churches opt for a trifold design? Perhaps the most common reason for preferring a trifold design over a bifold bulletin design is an aesthetic preference. To them, the trifold looks nicer, perhaps more elegant. A quick survey of Sharefaith’s church bulletin design options will make it clear that you need not sacrifice beauty for the practical functionality of a bifold design. You get both: stunning designs in a bifold format.
Every church is entitled to their own approach, style, design, preference, and liking. (I go to a church that uses bookmarks instead of bulletins.) It’s not a doctrinal issue. I don’t expect vitriolic comments below (hint). As a church media solution provider, we’re just offering our take on the issue. But feel free to weigh in and express your opinion.