Tri-fold brochures and other printed documents contain several traps for the unwary. Let’s look at how to avoid common folding pitfalls and create documents that look and fold perfectly.

  1. Set up all folding documents (z-folds, gatefolds, c-folds and so on) as two pages the exact width and height of the unfolded document.

The most common size for a three-fold brochure is letter, so let’s use it for our example. Create a new letter-sized document with landscape orientation. On the pasteboard, put the text “front” next to the first page and “back” next to the second page.

  1. Tri-fold the paper and mark the front.

On the front page, the front panel is on the right. The right and middle panels are the same width, while the left panel is shorter. Turn the brochure around and you will see that on the back page, the left and middle panels are the same width and the right one is shorter.

  1. Make page guides to reflect the correct panels.

There are two ways to do this:

1) Have us make a folding dummy, then you can measure each side and set up your page guides based on the dummy. This will always work perfectly.

2) Make both of the wider panels 3.7” wide and the narrow one 3.6” wide. This works well in most cases.

If you use our rule of thumb, on the “front” page, the left panel would be 3.6” wide and the middle and right ones would each be 3.7” wide. On the “back” page, the left and middle panels would be 3.7” wide and the right panel would be 3.6” wide. Once you have set up the panels, give each one the same margin. This centers your text within each panel.

To make a tri-fold brochure or any folded document work properly, remember that the inside panel must be a little bit (between 1/16” and 1/32”) shorter than the ones around it.

Need help? Just ask!


Linemark is a privately-owned and operated printing communications company headquartered within close proximity of the Washington DC / Baltimore Metro areas (Upper Marlboro, MD). Linemark is one of the fastest growing companies in the region within the communications industry. Operating 24 hours a day from a 90,000sq ft facility, the intensely customer focused company delivers solid and innovative solutions to their client base of associations, corporations and non-profit organizations.


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