Portfolio Length

Hi everyone,

I am a student graduating in May. Currently my whole portfolio is roughly 50 pages, or 25 spreads. This seems way too long to include in an email and expect professionals to look through for a potential job position.

My question is, what do you typically send out for a job application? A shortened work sample? A teaser? How long is this document? What does it include (the whole design process, just topic and hero shots…)?? Professionals, what do you want to see? How many pages per project, on average?

Currently I have made a “work sample” document that is 7 pages long (cover, one page for each of my five projects, resume, and an about me page). It covers my project topics and gives a teaser of the ID work and final product. Ideally, this would spark interest and then I could follow up by sending my full portfolio with a more thorough process.

Thanks for your expertise!!


Hi Alex,
There is no pre-determined length. What you described sounds reasonable. 7 pages sounds reasonable as long as you feel it covers yours skill set like ideation, CAD, Modeling, Rendering, etc. I think as long as you keep the PDF to less than 5 mbs it should be fine. You can also include a link to your online portfolio (website, coroflot, behance, etc.) for more in depth or additional projects.
It’s all about how you tell the story. If the person receiving your email takes a look at your PDF and is interested to find out more, then they will click on your links or send you an email.

I’d say 15-20 pages. No spreads. Spreads don’t read well digitally, single screens do. Make sure you include your resume in that. The likelihood of me clicking an additional link is low unless your portfolio is so hot it atomically melts me screen. I’ve always erred on the side of longer and it has worked for me. Less is less in a portfolio. I’m trying to get to know you through your work. If there isn’t much there I’m going to assume the same of the person.

I’d second Yo’s comments. I typically flip through a portfolio in less than 1min unless it’s really good then will go back and dive deeper. 20 pages or so is reasonable. I’ve had an 80 page portfolio before, and that’s too much… 3 page teaser, I better really be teased, or you’ve just shown me that you don’t have much to show off.

Most important I want to see process. If there are no sketches, I pass.

Organize by project, or by skills, but show me what you can do and a variety of interest across the length while telling a story of who you are.


For initial contact I would send out a cover letter, resume, references, and a work sample teaser (1 page). I make sure to include that my portfolio is available upon request and that includes 5-7 projects each with 2-4 pages (depending on the project) highlighting my process. This also allows a dialogue to be opened when a request for a portfolio is made. Not sure if that helps at all, but it’s my two cents.


I agree with the above on the 15 to 20 pages. I learned this from a mentor early on in my career and it has always seemed like a good length. It is really about prefect for a student because if you are really good you are condensing you good work in to just your best work. If you are middle of the road you are showing only your best work with nothing that would feel out of place. It is a great length for a pro to review. I taught a digital class for a while at a design program. I did this exercise with the students were I reviewed a portfolio on the screen like you would a pdf. They were shock at how little time I spent pre-page. Once you have seen hundreds of portfolios you don’t really need to look for very long to see what you need to see.

Why would I request a portfolio when you already sent me something? Don’t make the person hiring you work. I don’t want to have a dialog at this point, I want to see work. I’l save a dialog for the 2-3 people shortlist I may hire, not the 100 people who don’t send me enough to look at.


Would it be adequate to say, stick within the 15-20 page limit and tailor a specific set of projects (maybe 3-5 depending on length) to the company/firm you’re applying to, then perhaps add either a link to a website or footnote saying that there is more work available for viewing (either online or via a more complete portfolio that could be brought in at an interview)?

That way, the employer has an overview of your skills (tailored for their industry or what they’re seeking) but has the option to see more if they’d like?

15-20 isn’t a limit… But ya, a link can’t hurt. Just chances are it won’t be looked at. Either the portfolio does the trick and you are considered or not. I might only dive into a link if I was later deciding on a few candidates between them.


This reminds me of when students had to print their portfolio and would ask. Portrait or Landscape, 8.5" x 11" or 11" x 17" or 18" x 24" (I just dated myself), etc. 7-30 pages, whatever you feel tells the story. Just please show your process and technical skills. Don’t add or remove pages just for the sake of it being 15-20.
In new grads I usually focus on their core skills first; ideation, refinement (ill, psd), 3d cad, rendering, etc. If they are good then I evaluate their research, process etc.
Don’t do like 5 pages of research and then 1-2 pages of sketches/renderings. I would rather see the opposite.
I’ve received everything from single pages to novels. I think I have download and clicked on whatever they send. As a teaser/unsolicited email I think I could evaluate the skill level and follow up with an email no matter the number of pages. Just use some common sense.

You typed it before I could. If I had an opening and the job posting said send your portfolio, and the person just sent a teaser and said portfolio available upon request… then the person did not follow the simple directions… again, unless it is an amazing teaser, like you designed the original iPhone or the AudiTT level of amazing… then pass.

I agree with everything here.

Shortest condensation of all this advice?

How many pages should an email portfolio be? As many pages as it takes to get the job.

Tell the story of why you have to be hired. The page count will take care of itself.

Thank you for the replies. I didn’t mean to imply 15-20 as a hard limit, more in the sense of tailoring your portfolio for the job you’re applying to (both in terms of skills shown and project scope) as opposed to just shoving the entirety of your work onto someone.

I was simply asking if it was inappropriate to, in addition to this tailor-made content, either link to a website if they did want to see more. I agree that chances are they won’t click on it and if you did a good job with the above-mentioned tailoring of what you show, they shouldn’t need to unless they’re trying to nitpick between 2 similarly qualified candidates.