Folding Style: Circular Gate
Subcategory: Gate Folds
Level: Intermediate
Uses: Events, Marketing, Product Announcements, Gate Fold Invitations, Creative Direct Mail

In print marketing, we’re most often working in rectangular shapes and proportions—and that’s for practical reasons, like mailing requirements, production efficiency, and envelope insertion or tabbing. Makes a lot of sense. But what if you could create a rectangle with a circle? Yep, that’s what I said. If we could fold a circle into a rectangle, wouldn’t that be an interesting creative direct mailer? Enter the Circular Gate Fold. This distinctive format gate folds in two directions, creating a rectangle or square when finished.

I love this example of the Circular Gate Fold that was designed by Jennifer Kozak for a special event called “Ball on the Mall” in Washington, DC. Note the use of a belly band and the loose insert on the interior. She used gold metallic ink and dull/gloss varnish effects for added impact.

Circular Gate Fold, creative direct mail

Sample: J Kozak Creative with HBP, Inc., gold fold brochures

You can play with fold placement on this format, which can change the proportion from rectangular to square, and the curved panels from meeting in the center to overlapping—and I’m sharing several examples of variations on these in the videos below—but here’s what the basic dieline for the Circular Gate looks like. This dieline would result in a square proportion with panels that meet at the center, rather than overlapping:

Circular Gate Fold, creative direct mail
Circular Gate Fold: Folded mailers, Gate fold invitations

Circular Gate Folds are fun and unexpected in a world of perfect, 90-degree corners. If you really want to get fancy, you don’t have to stop at a circle, either. The circle is classic and versatile, but you can shape the perimeter edge any way you want to. This format can also hold light materials. Dressed up or down, they’re exciting to work with.

Production Note: Baseline recommended paper weight for this format is 100 lb Text. Given the right angle folds, and the layering of folded panels, this format can be prone to wrinkling and expansion if it’s produced in heavy cover weights. At a minimum, make a paper dummy in your chosen sheet. When produced on the right sheet, the Circular Gate will fold flat, but if you’re looking for extra security, options for closing the piece include a dot of fugitive glue, a small tab, or a belly band.

The Circular Gate Fold Done 6 Ways

The Circular Gate is a very unique print format, so you may be wondering where it can fit into your marketing mix. Below you’ll find 6 real-world creative ways to use the Circular Gate Fold for marketing and events. You’ll want to pay close attention to the finished proportion and overlap of the curved panels, as there is some variety in the samples. There is no right or wrong way to set the scores on this format—it just comes down to what you want to accomplish in your marketing design.

3 Circular Gate Fold Ideas for Events:

Sample #1 JDRF / #2 Cassandra Bryan Design / #3 MedStar Health with HBP, Inc.

These first three examples for events each use this format in slightly different ways. The first design is from JDRF, and I love the solid color and simple icons on the four curved panels that open to a globe with a translucent insert in a bold color. The gate fold invitation takes the shape of a square, and the cover panels open vertically.

In the next sample, Cassandra Bryan Design takes the same format and covers the curved panels with portraits for a personal touch. The third example transforms the circle into a huge golf ball to create an invitation to a golf tournament fundraiser to benefit MedStar Health’s Harbor Hospital Foundation. Note the overlap in the panels on this design, versus the two previous examples where the panels were designed to meet at the center. Another differentiator is the proportion—this invitation was designed in a mail-friendly rectangular shape.

3 Circular Gate Fold Ideas for Marketing:

Sample #1 Mr. Tire / #2 USAID / #3 USPS

The first of the three marketing examples is from Mr. Tire—note that this one takes on the same proportion and panel configuration as the MedStar golf tournament invitation in the previous video, because it’s designed for mail. I love the placement of the large typography and the reveal of the large tire when opened. The second design is from USAID, and the panels meet in the center and turn 90 degrees to open out to the left and right. On this one, the art seems incorrect at first, with an upside-down orientation when folded, but when flat the art matches the layout on side 2 of the piece. Both sides feature really beautiful imagery and a bold color palette.

The final sample is from USPS. Interestingly, this folded mailer finishes to a square, which I would not have expected given that the USPS could design a piece that would ideally suit their own preferred machinability requirements (awkward silence). I’m also taking off points for the sheet being too heavy, which caused some wrinkles at the corner joints, but let’s look past that detail for a moment.

In this design, the curved panels extend almost to the edge in both directions, which *technically* makes it a Circular Tri-Fold, rather than a Circular Gate, but let’s not get caught up in that detail right now, because it’s an interesting variation on the format. The sample features a tipped-on Business Reply Card (BRC) in the center as well. I like the contrast and simple messaging on side 1, and the insert that stays in place rather than falling onto your lap when you open the piece.

Love it? Make Your Own Circular Gate Brochure

So, now that you’ve seen 6 creative ways to use this fold, would you like to try designing a folded mailer for your own print marketing project? Good! Design and print your own Circular Gate here—you can download the template for free and get instant pricing, too.