Paper Folding Methods and FAQs2023-04-05T13:12:07-08:00

Paper Folding Methods and Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of paper folding methods available?

On this page we list and illustrate some of the standard types of paper folding methods used in commercial printing. Of course, there are hundreds of ways to fold a sheet of paper. We are showing you the basic ones along with some variations.

If you’re not sure which folding method to use, call us at 818-709-1220 to discuss your project.

Or send us your printing specifications here and we’ll be in touch shortly.

Can a folded document be trimmed or cut to size after folding?2023-03-01T13:29:57-08:00

Can I trim a document after folding, and how does this affect the design and layout?

Yes, a folded document can be trimmed to size after folding. This is typically done when producing saddle-stitched or perfect bound books. But there are other occasions where trimming after folding might be desired or necessary.

And yes, it will affect the overall design. The results depend on the type of paper, the number of folds, and design elements.

If the job calls for trimming after folding, a design needs to be adjusted page by page in order compensate for paper thickness, number of pages or panels, and critical design elements.

We take all these factors into account and automatically compensate for them when we design and print a project.

It’s important to make these adjustments during the design phase. Improper compensation can lead to critical elements such as type or graphics being trimmed off.

Call us 818-709-1220 and we’ll work with you to ensure your design is properly prepared for printing and trimming.

Or send us your print specifications here and we’ll be in touch shortly.

Can the folding process affect the final print quality?2023-03-01T13:16:29-08:00

Is it possible that the folding process might affect the final print quality or cause any cracking, wrinkling, scratching, or creasing of the paper?

The folding process must take into account the type of stock and printing coverage. There are special scoring and folding techniques we use at Clear Print to avoid paper cracking, wrinkling, or other unsightly blemishes.

We’ll advise you if there is the possibility of finishing issues with your particular design. We’ll also suggest changes (if needed) to avoid problems.

This is one more reason it’s important to collaborate with an experienced print vendor from the very beginning of a project. It helps to avoid surprises and mistakes in the folding process that would catch an inexperienced printer and their clients off guard.

Call us 818-709-1220 to discuss the best folding options available for your new or existing projects.

Can you provide samples of different folding designs?2023-03-01T12:50:49-08:00

Yes we can send you samples of folding designs that you might want to produce.

If we don’t have a printed sample, we’ll create a folded mockup (also called a “dummy”) on the type of stock you plan to use.

The best way to get a sample is to call us at 818-709-1220 so we can discuss the details of your project and get you an appropriate sample.

Do you offer additional print finishing options?2023-03-01T13:35:24-08:00

Yes, we use a wide range of print finishing techniques to produce folded products.

Scoring, perforating, micro-perforating, and die cutting are some of the options available.

Special coatings and laminations are also available to enhance any given printed product.

We’ll determine what’s needed once we review your job specifications. We’ll also make suggestions if you’re interested in adding enhancements.

The right combination of print finishing techniques can make a design stand out and improve response rates.

Call us 818-709-1220 to discuss what’s best for your print project and to find out ways to enhance the final folded product.

How many kinds of folds are there?2023-03-01T14:04:18-08:00

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of variations on the folds mentioned here in our Paper Folding FAQ. Graphic designers can get quite creative.

The most effective way to plan your print project is to start with the end use and work backwards to design. That’s because there are limitations at each step of the process that need to be factored into the design. By working backwards, you avoid getting caught by an unexpected limitation when it can no longer be adjusted.

For example, a client with an ingenious, unique design that didn’t work backwards, might find that their project can’t be folded by machine, and requires hundreds of hours of expensive hand work.

Or it may not meet postal regulations.

Or it may require a specialty print finishing company located across the country.

Start with the target audience in mind.

  • What do you want them to do with the printed piece?
  • How will it be delivered to them?
  • Is sustainability a factor?
  • What budget are you working with?

These and other questions will narrow the scope of the project.

Call Clear Print at 818-709-1220 for help in this process. Use our experience to keep your design on track and on budget.

How many panels will my document have after it is folded?2023-03-01T14:41:40-08:00

How many panels will my document have folding and how will the information be arranged?

The number of panels depends on the folded design of your print project.

Information is usually arranged in a manner that makes sense for the style of fold.

For example, the front, outside panel of any given brochure will typically have a title and relevant graphics. The inside panels will contain information promised on the cover.

You can submit a quote here with specifics and we can answer that question and guide you on design choices.

Or call us 818-709-1220 to discuss the number of panels available on the type of brochure you’d like to create. We can help with the design and printing process from beginning through to shipping or mailing.


What brochure format works best?2023-03-01T14:03:45-08:00

Selecting the best format for a brochure is tied to the target audience demographics, budget, type of delivery method (e.g. direct mail, countertop stands, salesperson hand outs, etc.) and effective graphic arts design.

The best formatting choices happen when there is collaboration between the design team, printer, and marketer.

If you are looking for economical brochure formats, it’s best to start with traditional folds based on three common paper sizes:

  • 8.5 x 11
  • 8.5 x 14
  • 11 x 17

These sizes of paper are inventoried in nearly every commercial printing company, including Clear Print.

Most commercial printing companies also have one or more folding machines that allow them to economically produce some of the more common folds including:

Selecting any one of these folds, on any of the three common paper sizes, offers a wide range of economical, readily available brochure folding formats.

However, these are the basics. There are many more folding configurations and sizes available.

Call us 818-709-1220 to discuss the details of your printing and folding requirements. We’ll collaborate to design and print the best brochure format for any given project, new or old.

What is a French fold brochure?2023-03-01T13:48:27-08:00

A French fold is also known as a quarter fold as shown below.

quarter fold or broadside fold

A French fold starts with one horizontal fold that divides the sheet in half. Then a second perpendicular fold is added that divides the sheet in half in the opposite direction.

This creates 8 panels that are all the same size.

French folds are good for pamphlets, posters, or flyers, and can be printed on both sides or just on one side.

The French fold can give a designer more space to convey a message or graphics than might be available with traditional “tri-fold” or Z-fold brochures.

We can give you an exact cost once you submit a request for a quote here.

Or call us 818-709-1220 to discuss the details of your printing and folding requirements. We’ll get you a specific cost.

What is a gate fold?2023-03-08T19:22:29-08:00

A gate fold (sometimes written gatefold or gate-fold) has one fold in the center of the sheet. Then, the two outer panels are folded inward towards the center fold, creating two “gates” that meet in the middle. The resulting brochure has four panels, with the two outer panels being smaller in size than the two center panels.

gate fold examples

Image courtesy of Fold Factory.

The gate fold is often used for promotional materials such as brochures, flyers, and invitations. It is an effective way to create a visually striking design, as the opening and closing of the “gates” can reveal different sections of the content.

For example, a gate fold brochure may use the two outer panels to display an attention-grabbing image or headline, while the center panels contain more detailed information about a product or service.

Gate folds can be customized in various ways, such as adding die-cut shapes or using different paper stocks and finishes to make the brochure stand out. Overall, the gate fold is a popular folding technique that adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to any printed material.

Elevate your next print marketing project with a gate fold.

Find out what a gate-fold style would cost here, or call us at 818-709-1220.


What is a half-fold?2023-02-28T19:16:15-08:00

A half-fold is a sheet of paper folded in half. It’s also sometimes called a 4-pager or 4-page brochure.

half fold

A half fold is a simple, common brochure format that works well for paper that is 8.5 x 11” (folds to 5.5 x 8.5) and 11 x 17” (folds to 8.5 x 11).

A half-fold can also be applied to any other paper size, but these two just mentioned are used frequently for brochures and marketing materials.

What is a map fold?2023-02-28T19:40:59-08:00

A map fold is similar to a poster fold. Map folds are created to convert a large sheet into a compact manageable size. They typically end up with many panels and most often have a vertical format (in other words, the height is greater than the width.)

map folds or poster folds

Illustration courtesy of Fold Factory.

Map folds can use various combinations of accordion, parallel, roll, and gate folds.

Map folds, as the name implies, are often used for tourist and travel maps, hiking maps, and other types of information-heavy print materials that need to be compact and portable.

Map folds can be complicated. So it’s especially important to discuss layout, design, paper, and folding from the beginning of the project.

Send us your map fold specifications here.

Or call us at 818-709-1220 and we’ll be in touch shortly.

What is a parallel fold?2023-02-28T19:15:51-08:00

A parallel fold is a folding technique where a flat sheet of paper or other material is folded along a series of parallel lines to create multiple sections or panels. The fold lines are spaced evenly apart and run parallel to each other. This creates a series of folded sections that are equal in size and shape.

parallel fold examples

Illustration courtesy of Fold Factory.

There are variations on the parallel fold, including:

  • Broadside double parallel
  • 10-page parallel
  • Triple parallel

This type of fold is commonly used for brochures, booklets, and other multi-page printed materials. The multi-page variations are a simple way to add more content while keeping the same size and format.

If you’d like some help choosing the best parallel fold, or any other type of fold, send us your job specs here and we’ll be in touch shortly.

What is a poster fold?2023-02-28T19:41:20-08:00

A poster fold is a combination of folds designed to convert a large poster into a smaller, manageable format, usually for mailing or shipping.

There are many combinations of folds that can be used. The illustration here shows 2 parallel folds in one direction, followed by 3 accordion folds in a perpendicular direction.

map folds or poster folds

Illustration courtesy of Fold Factory.

Some ways that posters can be folded include:

It’s vitally important to discuss folding ideas during the design process. There are paper and folding machine limitations that vary with each style of fold. You don’t want to design something only to find out it can’t be folded by machine.

As always, call us at 818-709-1220 to discuss your print and folding project. Or request a quote here and we’ll be in touch.

What is a quarter fold?2023-02-28T19:14:39-08:00

A quarter fold starts with one horizontal fold that divides the sheet in half. Then a second perpendicular fold is added that divides the sheet in half in the opposite direction.

quarter fold or broadside fold

(Illustration courtesy of Western Trade Printing.)

This creates 8 panels that are all the same size. These panels are sometimes called pages.

In that case, a quarter-fold might be called an 8-pager, an 8-page brochure, or an 8-page signature depending on its intended use. It’s also sometimes referred to as a “broadside.”

In addition to being used as marketing and sales brochures, quarter folds are often used as “self-mailers.” With the right paper stock, they can be folded, wafer-sealed, addressed and mailed without the need for an envelope. It’s an economical yet effective format for an organization’s newsletter.

If you have questions about the best way to implement a quarter-fold, or how to use it as a self-mailer, call us at 818-709-1220.

Or send us your job specifications here and we’ll be in touch shortly.

What is a roll fold?2023-02-28T19:14:53-08:00

A roll fold is a parallel-style fold with a minimum of 8 panels. The inside panel is smallest, with each subsequent panel getting larger as go outward.

It’s essentially a tri-fold with at least one extra panel added on the inside.

roll folds examples

Illustration courtesy of Fold Factory.

Roll folds are used when additional space is needed to provide more information or graphics while retaining a small format.

There are, however, limits on the number of panels that can be added, depending on the size of the brochure.

For design assistance on a roll-fold project, or any other print marketing project, get in touch with Clear Print here.

Or call 818-709-1220 and we’ll discuss it today.

What is a signature?2023-02-28T19:14:22-08:00

A signature is a folded group of pages that make up the pages of a book. The term is used in offset, digital, and web printing when multiple pages are printed on a larger sheet of paper, then folded.

Here’s an example of a larger sheet of paper with 16 pages printed on both sides. The numbers indicate page numbers.

After it’s folded, it then goes into either a saddle-stitched or perfect bound book or magazine.

16 page signature example

Signatures have a minimum of 4 pages. The number of pages are nearly always a multiple of 4 (although there are exceptions to this.)

For example, a 24 page book can have any of the following combinations of signatures:

  • 3 8-page signatures
  • 2 12-page signatures
  • 6 4-page signatures
  • 1 16-page signature + 1 8-page signature

…and so on.

The number of signatures and their layout depend on the design goals of the book, the end use of the book, paper, printing press capabilities, and print finishing requirements.

It’s important to talk to your printing provider during the design stage to get the most effective layout for the project at hand.

Here at Clear Print, we handle all of the layout based on what you want to accomplish.

Call us at 818-709-1220 to discuss your book project.

Or send us your job specifications here and we’ll be in touch shortly.

What is a tri-fold?2023-02-28T19:15:39-08:00

A “tri-fold” refers to a type of brochure or leaflet that is folded into three sections, creating six panels for content. The term is a bit of a misnomer because there are only two actual folds but it results in three panels.

tri-fold brochure

To create a tri-fold, a sheet of paper is first divided into three equal sections, either vertically or horizontally. The left and right sections are then folded inward towards the center section, with the two outer panels “folding in” towards the center panel. This creates a compact, portable brochure or leaflet that can be easily distributed.

Tri-folds are commonly used for marketing and informational materials, such as brochures for businesses, event programs, or menus for restaurants. They are popular because they allow for a lot of content to be presented in a small, easy-to-read format. The six panels can be organized in various ways to convey information effectively, such as using the front panel for a catchy headline or image, the center panel for an introduction or summary, and the back panel for contact information or a call-to-action.

Tri-fold brochures can also be used as self-mailers when printed with an appropriate weight and thickness of paper.

Need an estimate on a tri-fold brochure or other print marketing material?

Send us your job specifications here or call us at 818-709-1220.

What is a Z-fold?2023-02-28T19:15:14-08:00

A Z-fold is an accordion fold with 3 panels. It gets its name from the Z shape it forms when folded.

z-fold brochure

Z-fold brochures, like the other folds we’ve mentioned, are popular for marketing, sales and informational brochures as well as event programs.

Request a quote here for your next Z-fold brochure or other marketing material.

What is an accordion fold, also called a concertina fold?2023-02-28T19:16:05-08:00

As the name implies, the final result of an accordion fold is reminiscent of the musical instrument.

Accordion folds are made by folding a strip of material back and forth in a zigzag pattern. The basic accordion has at least 3 panels as shown but can be designed for more panels.

accordion fold variations

Graphics courtesy of Fold Factory.

There are also variations on the accordion fold including:

  • Wrapped accordion, in which an accordion fold has a cover wrapped around it.
  • Stepped accordion in which each panel is a different size. The final folded result has the appearance of steps.
  • Waterfall accordion in which the top edge of the sheet is angled. This is accomplished by die cutting or by using custom jigs on a guillotine cutter.

The number of panels available is limited by the type of folding equipment available and the size of the panel. Some of the more complex accordion folds require hand folding.

Call us at 818-709-1220 for help on creating an attention-getting folding design for your next print project.

What is the cost of folding?2023-03-01T13:44:31-08:00

How much does it cost to fold a print job and are there any cost-saving tips or alternatives to consider?

The cost of folding depends upon many factors including:

  • Folding design
  • Flat size of the trimmed piece before folding
  • Quantity
  • Number of folds
  • Type of paper
  • Turnaround time required

We can give you an exact cost once you submit a request for a quote here.

Or call us 818-709-1220 to discuss the details of your printing and folding requirements. We’ll get you a specific cost.

What is the minimum and maximum size of folded paper?2023-03-01T14:04:12-08:00

There is specialty folding equipment available that can produce extremely small folded pieces. These are commonly known as pharmaceutical folds, or miniature folds.

There are also machines available to automatically fold large sheets of paper.

Hand folding is another option sometimes available for jobs that can’t be done by machine.

Minimum and maximum sizes depend on several factors including:

  • Printing process required for the project
  • Paper or other print substrate desired
  • Print finishing requirements
  • Regulatory requirements where applicable
  • Shipping or postal requirements

To accurately answer the question about minimum and maximum sizes, contact us here at Clear Print at 818-709-1220.

Or send us your job specifications here and we’ll be in touch shortly.

We’ll review the requirements of your project and let you know what specific limitations might be involved, and what the minimum or maximum size is for folding your project.

What is the turnaround time for folding my print job?2023-03-01T13:42:14-08:00

How long will it take to fold my job and are rush options available?

Yes, rush options are available for all print projects.

Turnaround time depends on the complete job specifications and on the date of file submission.

Call us 818-709-1220 to find out current turnaround times on your project, or to get expedited service on printing and finishing.

Or you can submit your job specs here and we’ll be in touch shortly.

What kind of unique folds can reasonably be printed?2023-02-28T19:41:12-08:00

There is almost no limit to the number of fold variations available. Some examples of specialty folds are included below.

Hybrid folds

unique hybrid folds

Illustrations courtesy of Fold Factory.

These are folds that combine two or more common folds to create a unique design. This example (above) of a hybrid fold shows a Folded Cross combined with a Gate Fold.

Exotic specialty folds

specialty folds

Exotic folds are unique, attention-getting designs that typically require extensive hand work when finishing. A few examples are shown in the illustration above.

So be sure to check with us here at Clear Print during the initial design process. We will keep your design on track and within budget.

Call us at 818-709-1220.

Or send us your design specs and we’ll be in touch shortly.

What’s the difference between sheets and pages in printing?2023-02-28T18:20:23-08:00

One Sheet, Two Pages

one sheet equals two pages

A single sheet of paper has two sides.

Each side is considered one page. So a single sheet of paper is two pages.


One Sheet Folded is Four Pages

one sheet folded is four pages

A sheet folded in two is a four page document. Page one is the front cover, page two is the inside front, page three is the facing page, and page four is the back cover.


Two Folded Sheets as Eight Pages

two sheets folded as 8 pages

Two folded sheets that are nested together are an eight page document.

Any questions, please let us know before you send us your files!

What’s the right way to count the number of pages in a document?2023-03-01T14:50:15-08:00

There is often confusion about the difference between what is a sheet of paper and what is a page. They are not the same.

The way that a sheet is folded (or not folded) determines how many pages there are. For example, the booklet below has two sheets of paper that are folded in half and saddle stitched (stapled) along the fold, joining them together. This booklet contains eight pages.

8 page booklet
Another FAQs on this page shows how the printing industry counts the number of pages in a document.

If you have questions about the number of pages in your project, Contact Us so that the job can be estimated correctly. Or call us at 818-709-1220 and we’ll figure that out for you today.

Geoffrey Pick


Please call now to discuss your project.