Brochures designed with equal-size panels that won’t fold flat is a very common mistake. This post provides information and downloadable files for an easy solution.

This post is specifically about designing for folds. Our example is a 4 x 9 finished size, four-panel roll fold. If the file is set up as 16 x 9 pages, with four, 4-inch wide panels, it won’t fold flat. 

Why does this happen? The paper folding against itself takes up space. Every fold-in panel bumps up against paper. We suggest subtracting 1/16th-inch from each fold-in panel for text-weight paper; for heavier paper use 1/8th-inch – this amount is cumulative, so keep taking it away from each subsequent panel width as it roll-folds along.

Do we fix it this mistake here? Quite often, but not without calling you. Here’s why: Sometimes your design must be altered in order to accommodate a smaller panel – for instance, a picture would need to be recropped or resized, or text would re-wrap.

Can’t we just fold it smaller and leave the file as-is? Not usually, because art from one panel will fall onto another panel.

Here is a guide to use for a 4-panel, 4×9 roll-fold brochure. It illustrates how panel sizes are determined, so you can use this logic for any size or number of panels.

These are links to InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop templates.