Categories: Print Tips

Folding Types for Printing: A Beginners Guide

There are literally dozens of variations of folding types, some simple and others as complicated as origami. Shown here is a sampler of different folding types. Although there are too many variables to provide a reliable cost comparison, it can generally be assumed that the more difficult the fold, the longer the production time and greater the cost. For a detailed explanation of all folding types and to see how the folds are achieved, we recommend the book, FOLD: The Professional’s Guide to Folding, available from

The Basic folding family (single fold, half-fold, tri-fold, four pagers) consists of the easiest and most commonly folding types, offered by virtually any printer or bindery. The sample shown here can aslo be called a tent fold.
Accordion folds get their name because each fold is in the opposite direction of the previous one, creating a zig-zag or pleated effect. This example uses successively narrower panels giving it a stepped appearance.
No score, rotary score and letterpress. For the highest quality fold, scoring is recommended.
The Parallel fold is characterized by panels that run parallel to each other. This particular fold opens downward, rather than out to the side, which is more typical.
The Roll fold (also called barrel fold) consists of four or more panels that roll in on each other. The roll-in panels must be made incrementally smaller to tuck neatly into their respective panels.

The poster style features combination folds that open out into a large format. The first fold serves as the base fold and the final fold gives it its finished format. Here, a letter fold forms the base and an accordion fold gives it its finished look.

Gate folds are generally symmetrical, with two or more panels folding in towards the center from opposite sides. This example opens out vertically.

The exotic family consists of challenging folds, including propriety configurations, that may require hand folding or the services of a special bindery that can automate the process. A twist fold is shown here.

A fold can be a way to illustrate an idea. It can serve as a story telling device that gives designers the ability to control the “reveal”, letting readers take in the first level of information before lifting the fold to move deeper into the story.

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