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I’m new to working with grids and tri folds, and I was wondering if anyone could help me out?

As you well know when creating a tri fold, the fold in panel width becomes a different size than the other two panels. And from some templates I’ve downloaded or looked at online they have made one panel smaller than the other two.

I understand a grid system won’t work across these different panel sizes, so what is the best way of creating a grid system that works across the whole page and also with my base line grid?

Do I just create a basic grid across the whole A4 landscape page (or whatever size page you may have) with three columns that are all the same width, and simply make the margins a lot bigger to compensate when folded, or is there some jazzy thing you have to do?

Sorry if I haven’t explained myself well enough but I’m very nervous because I have done a poster for this charity and they really like it and now they want me to design a tri fold. I’m just a little scared that when it’s printed and folded it will all go wrong.

Please see the image below of the grid I designed on a A4 landscape page. Would this work in the real world when printed if I used this for both sides of my tri fold?

Thank you for your help!

enter image description here

  • Be aware that a tri-fold will not have pages of equal width! The right page will be folded in first, and then the left page will be folded over. Therefore, the right page is usually just a mm less wide than the other two. To make matters worse, you'll have to reverse that situation for the, well, reverse of your A4. – Vincent Sep 11 '14 at 10:18
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Don't let the grid get you into problems. It's a tool, a means to an end, but it should never govern your work. If it's in the way, ignore it.

More concretely: try and determine your outer margins, your leading and your vertical pacing (baseline grid is great for that last one). Then include those margins on each of the tri-fold's six pages separately. Mark them with guides by hand, and turn off your grid (leaving on the baseline grid).

Even without a (horizontal) grid, you can still use default horizontal distances. If two elements need to be apart horizontally, start out with a distance of x, where x is your chosen margin width, or the leading set in the baseline grid (the latter yields a rather 'square' appearance). If that doesn't work, use a multiple of x.

Other composition tools that may help are horizontal and vertical centers and Golden Ration distances in both horizontal and vertical directions.

Take into account that the right page will be folded in first, and then the left page will be folded over. Therefore, the right page is usually just a mm less wide than the other two.

As an example, here's my usual setup. This is an image of the 'outside' of the folder, so the leftmost page is the less wide one. The rightmost page is the folder's front when folded.

example of a grid and margin layout for an A4 to DIN folder

  • Thank you for your reply it means a lot! I've just added a snap shot of what I'm working on. Would that grid work in the real world when printed if I used it for both sides of my tri fold? – Samuel_C_1234 Sep 11 '14 at 10:16
  • See my comment on the Q. You forgot to take into account that the pages' width isn't equal :) – Vincent Sep 11 '14 at 10:19
  • Ha! Who new a sheet of A4 paper could cause me so much hassle. Superb and thank you for your time and I will now start looking more into horizontal and vertical centers and Golden Ration distances in both horizontal and vertical directions. Again thanks! – Samuel_C_1234 Sep 11 '14 at 10:42

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