• Medical Portfolio Buying Advice

March 22, 2017

Portfolio Buying Guide for Medical and Surgical Professionals

Hartnack and Company specialise in making bespoke and custom surgical portfolio binders in a variety of materials and colours. They can be made to any size requirement as well as be personalised on the front cover.
The objective of commissioning a H&Co portfolio is to have a professional, distinctive, personalised medical portfolio to present for interviews.

Your medical portfolio or evidence portfolio at a core training interview, will be seen before you are. Therefore your objective is to have a portfolio that makes the statement you want it to about you, before you've even had the chance to do so yourself in person.

As far as we can gather, from those that we have spoken to, presentation is key, but also, so easy navigation and access to information. Hopefully you'll find some of the information below in this blog useful.

Our home page for medical and surgical portfolios can be found here

What type of binders are available to you

(Updated December 2019)

Over the last 6 years of making bespoke medical and surgical portfolios, we have used a wide variety of binder types. Over this time we've had feed back on what is considered the ideal choice for a medical portfolio. 

Based on this, what we recommend is either a 6.5cm lever arch binder mechanism. This will fit 100 page protectors and 16 dividers (as per the banner image above) For those looking to put in more than 100 page protectors, we suggest a 2 ring Q binder which is available in either 8cm or 10cm sizes. 

Why a 2 ring binder?

We recommend a 2 ring binder, just because certain medical specialities have made mention in their portfolio guidance to use a "lever arch file". Whether this is mentioned for a specific practical reason, or because it's a generic name, we don't know. They are easier to access in terms of contents (page protectors) also, our page protectors do not fit a 4 ring binder mechanism. 

What about screw post binders? 

For a small number of pages, screw post binders are ideal as they give the effect of a bound book. The pages are held tightly at the spine so read like a book, but that means getting access to the contents is not easy, which in an interview could count against you. 

As you will see from our medical portfolio gallery pages, we also make 4 Ring, ring binders. These are appealing, particularly in the matt black finish and actually it might be argued that the pages are easier to turn, however we must point out that our page protectors do not fit 4 binders, therefore you need to source different page protectors (see the section below for page protectors).

  • 5.5cm Lever Arch Mechanism, which will hold approximately 70 plastic page protectors and dividers.
  • 6.5cm Lever Arch Mechanism, which will hold approximately 100 plastic page protectors and dividers
  • 10cm Q Ring Binder Mechanism, we are sorry, but we haven't done a plastic page protector count on this.

Portfolio Cover Materials

There are no restrictions to what colours are available and in what combination, bare in mind though, that your portfolio is making the statement about you before you've been seen. 

Our fabric swatch page to see the options open to you can be found here.

Our best advice on portfolio outer cover material is this
    1. The cover should be a durable material - Buckram has an acrylic coating, so is water proof and can be wiped clean. Like wise Faux Leather is also cleanable.
      Book cloth is not water proof, therefore it will stain immediately. 3.5mm leather will 'wear'. By this we mean it will show its scratches and marks. We have also had one instance where someone at pre-interview stuck an adhesive label on the cover of a £.5mm brown leather and when it was taken off marked the surface.
    2. There is no ideal colour combination (we get asked). It has to be something that you are comfortable with. Our advice is look at all the Gallery pages, even for other categories like creatives, car collectors etc, as there might be an example that appeals to you there. 

Personalising your portfolio

This is essentially one the key points of having a 'personalised' medical portfolio isn't it? Things to bare in mind are; There are a choice typefaces that you can see below. There are no 'standard' medical typefaces or layouts, therefore if you have seen something on our website you like let us know and we will do our best to re-create it.

  • What are your choices? Your portfolios can be personalised in a number of different ways.

                     Blind Deboss                               Colour Foil                                    Name Plaque
    embossed name on medical portfolio foil name personalisation on medical portfolio name plaque personalisation on medical portfolio

     Where can it be placed? Your personalisation can be placed anywhere you like on the cover. For instance, the bottom right hand corner or centre and a third of the way up. In order to do this we make a metal die plate of your name. (below)
    Having made the metal stamp of your name for the cover, we can also use the same die plate to stamp elsewhere, i.e. On the spine (cost £20.00).

     Can I have a different one elsewhere? Yes, you can have as many as you like, but each new personalisation will require a new metal die plate (as above) and therefore an extra charge.  

     Choose Your Typeface. When ordering you will be asked to choose a typeface/font. A clearer version can be found here, but for reference please see below.

        personalisation fonts for medical portfolios
    If none of the above appeal to you, you can tell us another font, but it would depend upon whether we have it available in our Adobe Fonts system.

Page Protector Pockets

We sell very good quality, A4 sized, top loading, polypropylene plastic page protectors that are 110 micron thick and glass clear. These are archive safe, so will not affect the printed contents  in future years. They can be ordered either here or while ordering your lever arch portfolio on tis page. PLEASE NOTE. These do not fit 4 Ring Binders.

The best quality pockets that do fit 4 ring binders are also made from Polypropylene but are 80 micron thick. They can be bought from Ryman Stationers or Abbey Stationers.


This can be the important bit, because having dealt with the portfolios appearance, you now have to effectively deal with organisation and making sure your portfolio can be quickly navigated (very important!)

medical portfolio with dividers

Unfortunately we do not supply dividers. The photo above features dividers from medicalportfolios.com which are just one of the options we think you have. 

The first and cheapest option is to purchase either numbered or blank tabbed dividers which you either number or label yourself. These can be bought through Office World, Ryman or Amazon. Make sure whatever you buy is described as A4+ or large A4. This is important, as if they are just A4 they will not protrude beyond your page protectors.
The issue we see with these, are that for A4+ sized dividers, they come in sets of either 5 tabs, 10 tabs or 20 tabs. This is not a calamity, it's just that some specialties have 16 or 13 sections, therefore buying numbered ones can be tricky - probably better therefore to buy blank sets.

The section option is to go to medicalportfolios.com and buy their dividers which are sold as per the specialty you are applying for. As you can see from the photo, they look very good and are clearly legible. 

The third option is to go completely bespoke (like your portfolio). A company called Carlsson Express Tabs will print up a bespoke, colour coded version. The problem is that each bespoke set requires bespoke printing plates and they therefore cost between £100 - £150 a set.

Out of the ordinary medical portfolios

Double Lever Arch Files

Double lever arch files as the name suggest are two lever arch files in one as per the examples below.

 Double lever arch medical portfolio

double lever arch surgical portfolio open

Clamshell Box Portfolios

Our final offer is the clamshell box portfolio or box file. We haven't done many clamshell box medical portfolios, but we have certainly done some.

Clamshell boxes can be found here

surgical portfolio box binder hartnack and co

More information can be found out about personalisation on this link here

Find out more about our Medical and Surgical Portfolios

If you have any further questions, as always drop us a line or give us a ring. Our details can be found on the Contact Page.

Also in Portfolio Case Studies

custom made pilot logbook binder and slipcase
Custom Made & Personalised Pilot Logbook Binder

August 17, 2020

Last year we made a bespoke leather portfolio that was to be used a pilot's logbook for airline pilot Steven Robbins. After seeing our Instagram feed over the last few months, he decided however, what he really wanted was one of our personalised casebound portfolios with a slipcase.

Continue Reading

Photography Portfolio Advice From Industry Professionals
Photography Portfolio Advice From Industry Professionals

June 18, 2019

This first article appeared in the AOP May 2019 newsletter. It asks the question of photographic commissioners and photography agents, the importance of a photography portfolio book and ultimately, what makes for a good photography portfolio. Here they offer their insights and advice.

Continue Reading

double lever arch file binder medical surgical portfolio in faux leather
Double Lever Arch File Medical Portfolio

April 10, 2019

A lot to say in a single portfolio, but in a organised fashion, where presentation is key - Yup, it has to be a double portfolio binder in one.

Continue Reading