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Spiral Folds

A common brochure fold


Spiral fold from the top edge

Spiral fold from the top edge. | Paper Terms | Printing & Finishing Terms | Alpha Index to Full Dictionary:

# | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ SpiralFoldPanels.png

The size differences for the panels are slightly exaggerated here. In your actual layout the differences may be hardly noticeable.

Jacci Howard Bear FoldingBrochuresLayouts.png

In these layouts the smaller panels are on the right for the inside spreads and on the left for the outside so your guides/columns will change.

Jacci Howard Bear


A sheet of paper folded in spiral folds has two or more parallel folds that fold in on each other. It may fold in from the left or right. Seen from above, the folds spiral inward.

Sizing and Folding Spiral Folds:

To allow proper nesting of panels that fold in, some panels are usually 1/32" to 1/8" smaller than other panels with the inside end panel being the smallest. Spiral folds are common for brochures and for folding letters.

For sizing the panels of a tri-fold or 6-panel spiral fold brochure, see C Folds.

For an 8-panel spiral or roll fold, use this formula. In the example I'm using an 8.5 x 14 (legal size) sheet of paper. Viewing the inside spread, the two panels on the left (a & b in the second sidebar image) are the largest. The third panel (c) smaller, and the last panel on the right (d) is even smaller. If you are using especially thick paper you may need to adjust the sizes slightly increasing the difference between the larger/smaller panels so your brochure folds flatter. Experiment with your actual paper to find out what works best.

  1. Take the length of the sheet of paper and divide by 4: 14 / 4 = 3.5 inches This is your starting panel size.
  2. Add 1/16" (.0625) to your starting panel size: 3.5 + .0625 = 3.5625 inches This is the size of your two widest panels.
  3. Subtract 3/32" (.09375) from your large panel size: 3.5625 - .09375 = 3.46875 inches This is the size of your small panel (the larger of the small panels).
  4. Subtract 1/16" (.0625) from your small panel size: 3.46875 - .0625 = 3.40625 inches This is the size of the smallest panel (the on one the far right side of the inside spread).

You may need to round these numbers slightly when actually placing guides but the differences will be very tiny and not noticeable in your layout.

Variations and Other 6-8 Panel Folds:

When creating a 3-sided spiral fold table tent you would make all panels the same size but also have an approximately 1/4" end panel that becomes the glue strip to attach the end panels to form your table tent.

Note that a 6-panel fold may be described as a 3-panel while an 8-panel may be described as being a 4-panel layout. 6 and 8 refer to both sides of the sheet of paper while 3 and 4 are counting 1 panel as being both sides of the sheet. Sometimes "page" is used to mean a panel.

  • Accordian or Z Folds with two parallel folds create 6 panels or with three folds you get 8 panels.
  • Gatefold has a large center panel with two evenly-sized end panels that fold in creating 6 panels front and back.
  • Double Parallel Folds create an 8-panel layout.
  • Double Gatefold is similar to the double parallel but the two end panels fold in toward the middle.
  • French Fold produces 8 panels of even or uneven sizes using crossfolds.

See Folding a Brochure for measurements in inches and picas for three different sizes of spiral folds.

Also Known As: roll fold | barrel fold

Terms Related to Spiral Folds

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