Folding Style: Square Cross Fold
Subcategory: Cross Folds
Level: Advanced
Uses: Print Marketing Collateral, Event Promotion, Product Announcements, Creative Direct Mailers, Folded Mailer

Cross Folds are awesome—in fact I could probably produce 40+ different variations for you to consider, but for today, we’re focusing on the original, classic Square Cross Fold. The square proportion is the most common for cross folds—and I think that’s because it’s often chosen for occasions where there might be a bit more room in the production budget. Designers, when given the chance to break out of standard mail-friendly rectangular proportions often gravitate to squares. They’re fun to work with. However, please keep in mind that this format is not limited to a square proportion. More on that another day.

The consideration on the square, of course, is the hand sorting surcharge for mail—but as long as that’s a conscious decision on your part, good on ’ya! I would also mention that Square Cross folds don’t nest well on the sheet, so you may be printing one per sheet. As long as you’re prepared for a higher paper cost, there should be no surprises. Pro Tip: consider placing some other, smaller print products in the empty spaces on the sheet.

The Square Cross Fold looks like a large plus sign, and is achieved through a unique perimeter shape, scores, and folds. Here’s what the Square Cross dieline looks like:

Square Cross Fold
Square Cross Fold: creative direct mailers, custom direct mail

It’s very important to consider the order in which your panels fold in, and to plan for the thickness of the paper. Without getting too deep in the weeds on file setup, panels that go under other panels will be sized slightly smaller than the cover panel. Also, if the weight of the sheet is very heavy, you may need a box score (two parallel scores close together) on the cover to add some lift to the cover that will accommodate for the thickness of the layered panels. Your printer can help you modify the dieline if you’re uncertain about how to do it yourself.

The Square Cross Fold Done 5 Ways

The Square Cross is an exciting format, but you may be wondering where it can fit into your marketing mix. Below you’ll find three real-world creative ways to use the Square Cross, PLUS two bonus examples of how to creatively modify the format with layered die cuts, which is just one of many, many ways to make this format stand out.

Square Cross Fold For Promotion:

Sample: Fifth Advertising with Walker 360 /

This self-promotional brochure designed by Fifth Advertising and printed by Walker360 uses bold typography with distinctive brand colors and a clever crossover technique to communicate the agency’s offerings. I love how every panel reveal features the same huge crossover text with a different message as a way to connect the concept with the company’s name. This piece is part of a larger brand kit, but it can also stand alone as a custom direct mail or handout. It was printed on 120 lb uncoated cover and has a really nice texture and weight to it.

Square Cross For Marketing Promotion:

Sample: Freddie Mac /

If you don’t have a lot of imagery to work with, don’t despair! Square Cross Folds look really stylish with bold colors and simple messaging. This brochure from Freddie Mac was designed to tease the launch of a new program for hiring talent at the company. In lieu of photos, they use a geometric pattern and a different bold color on each panel. As the panels unfold, the message builds. Note: an insert (not shown) was placed in the center of each piece. This sample was printed on 100 lb gloss coated cover.

Square Cross For Events:

Sample: Resorts World Catskills with Oliver Inc. /

This oversized Square Cross was designed as a high-end folded invite promoting a weekend-long lavish party for the most valued guests of Resorts World Catskills. The event is called “Live. Laugh. Love.” I really like how each panel dissects the theme of the event: Live it up. Laugh out loud. Love every minute. I also love the design decision to make a large “night sky” image when the piece is completely open. This Square Cross was printed by Oliver Inc. on 120 lb premium silk coated cover with spot gloss UV coatings, and mailed in a luxurious pearlescent envelope.

BONUS: 2 Square Cross Fold Creative Mailer Ideas Featuring Layered Die Cuts

Square Cross with Layered Die Cuts for Dimension and Focus:

There are so many ways to modify cross folds—changing the panel shape, adding panels, inserts, trimming panels, etc., etc. Here’s an easy way to add style without changing the format itself. I’ve got two examples that use layered die cuts, where the panels overlap to create an effect. From a cost standpoint, you’re already die-cutting, so adding a few extra cuts shouldn’t add much to the production cost.

Sample: Brianne Swezey for Healthe Systems /

One of my favorite ways to use a layered die cut technique is with one geometric shape (often a square brochure or circle) that gets progressively smaller to create depth, dimension and a strong focal point on the cover. This design by Brianne Swezey for Healthesystems uses alternating hot and cool imagery and layered cut squares to focus in on an event at Red Square (get it??). The square format of the invitation combined with the layered cut squares draw the eye to the square logo and create a cool-factor that is really hard to ignore. This sample was printed on 100 lb gloss coated cover.

Square Cross Fold with Layered Die Cuts for Messaging:

Sample: Allianz Life Insurance Company with John Roberts /

This is one of the most mind-bending and creative Square Crosses you’ll ever see. The design features creative layered die cuts that hide and reveal a changing message that tells a story. The layout required tremendous planning and precision on the part of the Allianz in-house design and team their printer, John Roberts—but the result is truly inspiring. The sample was printed on 100 lb gloss coated cover.

To learn more about this design, you can check it out on Fold of the Week # 262.

Love it? Make Your Own Square Cross Custom Fold

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