The language of folding often has been miscommunicated, misinterpreted
and misconstrued. The problem lies in the fact that folding
largely is tactile, visual and dimensional. Folding terminology,
like any terminology passed along verbally for years and years,
will evolve and change！sometimes it gets better, and sometimes
it just gets confusing.
So we¨re going to set the language straight once and for all.
Here¨s a handy guide you can share with your customers and their
Flat vs. finished size
The flat size is the exact, trimmed dimension of the piece when
laid flat. This measurement should include all folding compensations,
but never includes bleed allowances because bleed is pulled
past the edge of the page in the digital document. Digital document
page dimensions and flat size always should be the same measurement.
Finished size is the exact dimension of the piece when folded
and trimmed to final size. Your vendor will need to know both
flat and finished size. When giving dimensions to a vendor,
be sure to mention width first, then height！this often gets
reversed and can cause problems for estimators.
Panels vs. pages
The most common mix-up in folding terminology is the question
of panels vs. pages. Panels are two-sided sections of the final
folded piece, defined by the crease of the fold. A page is one
side of a panel.
For example: The accordion fold above is three panels, each
of the three panels is two-sided, and each side is considered
a page！so the three-panel accordion has six pages. If that same
fold is made a broadside accordion instead, it then changes
to six panels (although it¨s finished in a three-panel accordion
format) and the page count rises to 12.
Panels vs. flaps
The first fold of any folding style always is a parallel fold.
The next fold can be a parallel fold or a right-angle fold,
depending upon the folding style. Parallel folds are parallel
to each other. Right-angle folds combine with parallel folds
to make right angles. So, a right-angle fold cannot happen without
a parallel fold. The folding style below is a perfect example.
Broadside vs. short fold
Broadside vs. short fold
A broadside-style fold doubles its area by folding in half on
itself before any characteristic folding style is created. For
example, a broadside letter fold is 12 pages, whereas the letter
fold is six. The broadside fold often is mistakenly called a
French fold, but a French fold is the name for a printing technique
used in the broadside folding style. True French folds are in
the broadside format, but they are printed on the outside (side
1) and blank on the inside (side 2). French folds are commonly
used for invitations.
A short fold is a broadside fold, too. The only difference is
that the broadside fold is a little less than twice the area.
In a short fold, the fold-over panels are shorter than the finished
height, depending on design preference, and the short fold can
fall to the inside or outside of the brochure.
Mechanical vs. hand fold
A mechanical fold is a machine-made fold for high speed and
other production factors. Most of the folds we see in print
production today are mechanical folds. Hand folds are folding
styles that must be done partially or completely by hand. Often,
due to limitations of equipment, a fold is taken as far as it
can go by machine, then bindery workers finish the last folds
Some folding styles that are considered hand folds can be done
by machine at specialty binderies. Hand folding is very expensive
and quite impractical for extremely long runs, and requires
a die-score and extra time built into the finishing schedule.
Hello, my name is´
Can we all agree on a naming convention for at least the most
common folding styles? I feel compelled to identify the most
commonly used folding styles while acknowledging and then shooting
down their common nicknames:
A！Accordion fold (commonly nicknamed zig-zag, z-fold, back-and-forth).
D！Double parallel (indecision/ignorance often renders this fold
R！Roll fold (commonly called a wrap, barrel fold, over-and-over).
G！Gate fold. (This is not a double gate! It passes through the
gate attachment once, and for that reason is called a gate fold.)
L！Letter fold or six-page standard. (This is not a single gate!
No gate fold attachment is required to make this folding style,
thus it is not a gate fold. Other common nicknames are C-fold,
E！Eight-page broadside or eight-page signature (often incorrectly
called French fold).
F！Four-page standard. (Single fold is the most common nickname
for this one.)
Old habits are hard to break, but if we can agree on the proper
folding terminology, communication will improve greatly across
Bindery vs. specialty bindery
For convenience and ease of production, most print shops have
some basic in-house binding capabilities. Binderies handle just
about any finishing requirement. Binderies can be very large
or moderate in size, but they generally have more finishing
equipment than the average print shop, which gives them more
capacity, speed and flexibility to manage longer run jobs and
some specialized projects. Capabilities might include folding;
binding books, brochures and periodicals; and often die-cutting,
gluing, foil stamping, shrink-wrapping, wafer-sealing, auto-inserting
and other related operations.
Certain specialty binderies can mechanize difficult folding
styles！often rigging machinery to do critical work that normally
might have been considered hand work. Some can handle miniature
folding, large map folds, stringing tags, folding specialty
papers, pop-ups and more.