Types of Folds

Having the correct panel sizes before you begin designing, can help you avoid common errors. Figuring out panel sizes is easy for tri-fold brochures, but when you work with four and five panel folds and odd sized papers, it is a little tougher. The outside panels of a folded piece should always be the same width. Any panel which folds into another should be at least 1/16th smaller than the previous panel.
When designing, always keep type and graphics away from folds. Uneven sized panels and copy which flows into the folds will not portray a professional appearance.

Folding panel sizes


A letter or tri-fold brochure has three panels. The two outside panels are the same size and the panel which folds into the brochure is ⅛” shorter. This type of fold is known as a letter fold, because most letter or brochures which fold and get inserted into a #10 envelope use this fold. When folding an 8.5”x11” sheet size, the two common panel sizes are 3.6875” for the outside panels and 3.625” for the panel which folds in to the fold.

Single fold

Z Accordion Fold

The Z fold and an accordion fold are very similar to each other. Each panel is the same size, but they do not fold into each other. Instead, the sheets are folded back to back making the final piece look like the letter “Z,” for a three panel fold, when viewed from the top, and an accordion for a four or more panel folds.

Single fold

Double Parallel Fold

To create a double parallel fold, take a sheet of paper, fold it in half horizontally and then fold it horizontally again. Many times people will leave all four panels the same size with this type of fold, but this can lead to the inside folds protruding from the finished piece. The correct way to design a double parallel fold is to have all of the panels a slight bit smaller than the front panel.

Single fold

Half Fold

You simply fold a sheet of paper in half to create a half fold.

Single fold

Closed Gate/Double Gate

A closed gate or double gate fold design will give your print project a professional look. This type of fold has two inside panels folding into the outside two panels which creates the operation of a gate when the piece is opened. It’s very important to pay attention to the panel sizes when you design this type fold. When creating a closed gate/double gate fold, each panel should be slightly smaller than the next.

Single fold

Pocket Folder

Similar to a half fold, both panels of a pocket folder are the same. If the pocket folder you’re designing will have a finished size of 9”x12” and has either one or two pockets with the standard size of 4”, the flat size upon which you should base your design is 18”x16”.

Single fold

The aforementioned folds are the most common folds used in offset and digital printing. If you have any questions regarding the design of a printed piece, please contact your salesperson. It’s a lot easier to start with the correct information rather than having to go back and change the artwork afterwards.