The number of folding styles available for printing seems endless. The amount of information, and what maps or graphics you want to include, can determine which style is best. Choose your fold based on how many panels of information are needed and what order they should be discovered.
Here are some of the most common folds for brochures, menus, greeting cards, and more. Click on any of them for more information about how to make them and when they work best.
A French fold is the combination of a half-fold in one direction followed by a half-fold perpendicular to the first. This results in eight panels.
You may remember making homemade cards with this fold as a child. It is a popular fold for invitations, greeting cards, and newsletters.
When using a French fold, you can choose to only print on one side of the paper. If you do choose to print on both, make sure to include an indication that the entire paper should be opened, so the inside content isn’t missed.
An accordion fold is created by folding a sheet of paper back and forth with three folds. It is similar to a Z-fold but has one more fold. It forms the letter “M” when viewed from the side.
The name comes from its obvious resemblance to an accordion. The resulting eight panels can be opened with a single pull.
The accordion fold is ideal for event brochures with day by day schedules or a self-guided tour brochure that leads the reader from one point to the next. The ease of the design also allows the front and back to be separate images. For example, you can print a map on the back, and still have four panels for information and a schedule on the front.
A roll fold, sometimes called a barrel fold, is created by folding one section of paper inward, then continuing to roll and fold in the same direction. It contains eight panels.
For a perfect roll fold, each subsequent fold is slightly larger than the last. This allows them to fold into each other and the finished edges to line up. For exact dimensions, look at these roll fold templates.
To make a double parallel fold, paper is folded in half and then in half again in the same direction. For the folded paper to line up exactly, the two inside sections (the two on the right of an open paper) need to be slightly skinnier than the other two.
Eight panels are created from the double parallel fold. With that many panels, it can be used to present several products, or can unfold to reveal a large graphic such as a map or chart. It is compact so a large piece of paper can be mailed in a smaller envelope.
A tri-fold is made by folding both sides of a paper, one at a time, to overlap in the middle. This creates three equal sections. Typically the right side is folded first and then the left, so it will naturally read from left to right.
The result creates six equal panels similar to the folds of a wallet.
The tri-fold is also called a “letter fold,” because it describes the way a business letter is typically folded before it’s inserted into an envelope.
A Z-fold is made by folding a piece of paper into thirds, with one third folded forward and another folded backward. When viewed from the end, this fold looks like the letter “Z.”
It contains six panels. When the front flap is opened, two panels are visible with a third that can be opened as well.
- This fold is ideal for large images or charts.
- Multi-page presentations benefit from the Z-fold because the pages unfold in sequence.
- Some automated envelope insertion machines might have trouble with the fact that it tends to unfold.
A half-fold is the simplest fold. It is created by folding a piece of paper in half. The resulting piece opens like a book and contains four panels of equal size.
- The side-by-side panels on the inside make for excellent product comparisons.
- Die-cutting in combination with this fold can create a unique look, sure to catch attention.
A gate fold is created by folding two ends to meet in the middle. This creates a large section in the center and two smaller ones on the sides. It creates six panels altogether.
The name “gate fold” refers to its resemblance to a gate, since the two flaps open like the doors of a gate to show the interior.
This is a common fold for greeting cards and can be sealed with a sticker (of a logo, initial, or other symbolic image).
Gate fold brochures open to reveal a larger interior image that is sure to be seen.
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