With all the possibilities available for folded pieces, it’s important to plan your project carefully. This guide provides vital information to help you plan your folded piece.

Folding Terminology

Panel-PageWhen describing a folded piece, a Panel is a single 2-sided section created by a fold.

Each side of a panel is called a Page.

So, a standard Tri-fold brochure would be described as having 3 Panels and 6 Pages.

When communicating a folded piece’s size, you’ll want to include both the Flat Size and the Folded Size. Some common folding types are listed below, showing flat and folded sizes.

Folding Types

Folding Styles1

Basic Fold

The Basic Fold group consists of the most common 2- and 3-panel folds.

  • Greeting Card Landscape – 7 x 5 folded  /  7 x 10 flat
  • Greeting Card Portrait – 5 x 7 folded  /  10 x 7 flat
  • Standard Tri-fold Brochure (fits no10 Envelope) – 3.33 x 8.5 folded  /  11 x 8.5 flat
  • Large Tri-fold Brochure (fits no10 Envelope) – 4 x 9.5 folded  /  12 x 9.5 flat
  • Letter Size Tri-Fold Brochure – 8.5 x 11 folded  / 25.5 x 11 flat
  • *sizes shown do not account for panel size adjustments that may be required.

  • Always make physical mock-ups of your folded piece.
  • Build your digital layout according to the flat dimensions of your mock-up.
  • 3-panel folds require the inner folded panel to be slightly smaller than the outer panels, from 3/32” to ⅛”. See Compensation below.
  • If you are planning on printing a 3-panel fold digitally, note that the maximum width allowed is 17”.
Folding Styles2

Barrel / Roll Fold

Barrel or Roll folds involve four or more panels that fold like a spiral in on one another.

  • Legal Size Barrel Fold Brochure – 3.5 x 8.5 folded  /  14 x 8.5 flat
  • 4-Panel Barrel Fold Brochure (fits in no10 Envelope) – 4 x 9 folded  /  16 x 9 flat
  • *sizes shown do not account for panel size adjustments that may be required.

  • Always make physical mock-ups of your folded piece.
  • Build your digital layout according to the flat dimensions of your mock-up.
  • Barrel folds require the inner folded panel to be progressively smaller as they fold in to avoid buckling. Each panel should be from 3/32” to ⅛” smaller than the panels that contain it. See Compensation below.
  • If you are planning on printing a Barrel / Roll fold digitally, note that the maximum width allowed is 17”.
Folding Styles4

Accordian Fold

Accordian Folds are made from three or more panels that alternate fold direction back and forth.

  • Legal Size Accordian Brochure – 3.5 x 8.5 folded  /  14 x 8.5 flat
  • 4-Panel Accordian Brochure (fits in no10 Envelope) – 4 x 9 folded  /  16 x 9 flat
  • *sizes shown do not account for panel size adjustments that may be required.

  • Always make physical mock-ups of your folded piece.
  • Build your digital layout according to the flat dimensions of your mock-up.
  • Accordian Folds do not require adjustment panel sizes, see Compensation below. All panels should be the same size.
  • If you are planning on printing an Accordian Fold digitally, note that the maximum width allowed is 17”.
Folding Styles4

Parallel Fold

The Parallel Fold group consists of a variety of folds that have panels that stay parallel to each other.

  • Legal Size Double-Parallel Fold Brochure – 3.5 x 8.5 folded  /  14 x 8.5 flat
  • 4-Panel Double-Parallel Fold Brochure (fits in no10 Envelope) – 4 x 9 folded  /  16 x 9 flat
  • *sizes shown do not account for panel size adjustments that may be required.

  • Always make physical mock-ups of your folded piece.
  • Build your digital layout according to the flat dimensions of your mock-up.
  • Some Parallel Folds require the inner folded panel to be slightly smaller than the outer panels, other Parallel Folds do not. See Compensation below and contact us with any questions.

Folding Styles3

Gate Fold

  • Legal Size Gate Fold Brochure – 3.5 x 8.5 folded  /  14 x 8.5 flat
  • 4-Panel Gate Fold Brochure (fits in no10 Envelope) – 4 x 9 folded  /  16 x 9 flat
  • Letter Size Gate Fold Brochure – 8.5 x 11 folded  / 25.5 x 11 flat
  • *sizes shown do not account for panel size adjustments that may be required.

  • Always make physical mock-ups of your folded piece.
  • Build your digital layout according to the flat dimensions of your mock-up.
  • Gate Folds require inner folded panels to be slightly smaller than the outer panels, from 3/32” to ⅛”. See Compensation below.

Folding Styles5

Poster / Map Fold

Poster and Map Folds involve various combinations of Barrel and Accordian Folds that fold in both dimensions of a sheet.

  • Large Poster Fold Portrait – 8 x 12 folded  /  24 x 36 flat
  • Small Poster Fold – 6 x 8 folded  /  18 x 24 flat
  • Small Map Fold (fits in no10 Envelope) – 4 x 9 folded  /  28 x 18 flat
  • Large Map Fold – 4 x 8 folded  /  36 x 24 flat
  • *sizes shown do not account for panel size adjustments that may be required.

  • Always make physical mock-ups of your folded piece.
  • Build your digital layout according to the flat dimensions of your mock-up.
  • Poster / Map folds require the inner folded panels to be slightly smaller than the outer panels in both directions. The amount of compensation is dependent on the paper chosen. Please consult our Prepress department. See Compensation below.
  • Paper has a grain that goes in one direction. Poster and Map Folds require folding across the grain which results in varying levels of break up on the folding edge. It’s recommended to avoid putting ink on the fold lines.
  • Paper choice is important for these types of folds as you need a paper that is light and thin while strong enough for folding.
Folding Styles6

Custom / Exotic Fold

The Custom / Exotic group consists of all manner of specialty folds and often require special bindery services and/or hand labor.

  • Are you kidding? Look up the words Custom and Exotic. ;^)
  • Always make physical mock-ups of your folded piece.
  • Consult with our Prepress department to determine the optimal way of producing your custom fold.

 

CompensationCompensation

As noted in the Production Guidelines above, panels that fold inside require a slight adjustment to their size to avoid buckling when folded. The typical range of adjustment falls between 3/32” – ⅛”, depending on the thickness of your paper.

There are several ways you can adjust your layout document to allow for Compensation.

  • Create a new document adding the total number of pages (2 pages per panel) and making each page the size of an individual panel.
  • Open the Pages Panel and click on the drop-down menu in the upper right of the Pages Panel.
  • Un-select both ‘Allow Selected Spread to Shuffle’ and ‘Allow All Pages to Shuffle’.
  • In the Pages Panel, move the page icons so that they ‘snap’ against the edge of another page. Do this until the grouped pages resemble both sides of your piece.
  • Make a physical mock-up of your folded piece to determine which panels require Compensation adjustment.
  • Choose the Page Tool and use it to select a page in your layout (not in the Pages Panel).
  • Resize the panel using the numerical input at the top of the screen.
  • Re-adjust the position of the panel if necessary, it may have disconnected from it’s neighboring panels.
  • When printing or creating a PDF, choose ‘Print Spreads’ and also choose to print crop marks. Fold marks will automatically be inserted.
  • Create a layout document that is larger than your intended flat size.
  • Create boxes in your layout for each of the individual panels, and scale them to size.
  • Make a physical mock-up of your folded piece to determine which panels require Compensation adjustment.
  • Resize the boxes in your layout that correspond to the panels requiring Compensation adjustment.
  • Arrange all of the panels edge to edge and group them to determine the new adjusted flat size.
  • Change your document size to the new adjusted flat size and center your boxes.
  • Create guides along the intersection points of the boxes.
  • Create folding lines and place them on the guides, ⅛” outside the page boundaries.
  • Set the stroke of the guides to the color ‘Registration’ in your Swatches Panel
  • When printing or creating a PDF, choose to print crop marks. Your fold marks should be visible as well.

 

Please don’t hesitate to contact our Prepress Department with any questions.