Folding 101

folding paper

Folding your project is typically the final step in the production. However, understanding the mechanics of the folding process up front, in the design stage, is vital to ensuring that you receive a quality, professional looking final product. Furthermore a basic knowledge of the terminology will reduce the possibility of misunderstanding your intentions for the look of your folded materials, or incorrectly estimating your project at the beginning.

Please visit our templates page to use’s easy to use templates for folding guidelines on you next brochure, flyer or even hang tag job.

 Panels / Pages / Spreads

Panel – a 2-sided section of the fold piece, separated from the other panels at the creases of the folds. Example is an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper folded in half would have two inside pages which is considered a 2 panel.

Page – a single side of a section of the folded piece. In other words, an 11 x17 piece of paper folded in half would be four pages and two panels.

Spread – the use of multiple adjacent panels for the display of a single image or combined text an imagery, such as the entire inside 8.5 x 11 area of a fully opened pamphlet.

Flat size / Finished size

Flat size – the overall dimension of the trimmed piece, accounting for any reduced panel widths required for he intended folding method.

Finished size – the overall dimension of the piece after folding has taken place. another note to remember, and to save confusion during the estimating period of your project, is that finished dimensions are always defined first by the width, and then by the height. This applies for stitched booklets as well. An 8.5 x 11 catalog is 8.5 inches from the stitches to the face, and 11 inches from top to bottom.


Crossover – the splitting of an image, then distributing it across two non-adjacent panels of a piece. The two halves of the whole image may often time be on opposite sides of the flat printed sheet. The image is joined, or completed, when the piece is folded and the two nonadjacent panels are now beside each other. Crossovers are also commonly seen as spreads between adjacent pages of stitched magazines, often requiring each half of the image to be printed on completely different signatures.