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Which Type of Map Fold is the Best Fit for Your Project?

There are many types of map folds. A mathematical quandary, map folding options increase exponentially with the number of panels, equating to an overabundance of choices that leaves many a mapmaker scratching their proverbial head in their attempts to puzzle out the best choice. Specializing in user-friendly operation, the printing professionals at MapPrinter are keenly aware that this decision is pivotal to your completed product, and are here to help guide you through the process, from pre-press to printing, folding, and finishing.

Why is the Right Map Fold Important?

While there is no right or wrong way to fold a map, certain methods of folding may marry better with your particular map type, allowing faster access to information and easier storage. Some folds will conform to standard size requirements, such as display cases or pocket-sized folds. Other folds will offer your map a more booklet-style look or improve manipulation capabilities. In any case, user-friendly folding is key.

Common Map Folds

These universal folds are compatible with any map type, however each affects maps looks and functionality in its own unique way.

Half Fold

These basic folding styles may seem confusingly named to some: Folds with vertical folding lines are called horizontal folds, while horizontal folding lines are called vertical folds.

Cross Fold/French Quarter Fold

This fold is often used when home printing greeting cards, featuring two folds at right angles to each other, one vertical, one horizontal. With it, your map can begin booklet size, but open up to a poster-size print.


Tri-folds mimic a letter fold, with the right panel folding in, the left folding atop, and the inside panel remaining narrower than the other two. It tucks together neatly, but can cause design issues if you don’t adjust for panel size variations. This fold is used by some to better organize information into sections.

Roll Fold

Unrolling to slowly reveal your map, this fold consists of four or more panels, each sheet folding inward from the right to left. With this fold, each panel gets incrementally smaller. On a four panel model, this would include two panels that are large in size, a slightly shorter panel, and an even shorter one.

Gate Fold/Double Parallel Fold

This fold uses two parallel folds to create six panels (3 per side). Opening up like double doors (or a gate), the two center panels hide a doubly large panel beneath, folding over and meeting midway without overlapping.

Double Gate Fold

A gate fold, folded inward one more time – a commonly used fold for tourist/informational brochures.

Accordion Fold /Zigzag or “Z” fold/Fan Fold

This versatile fold of many names remains the same, its unique, Z-shaped, zigzagging or accordion-like folds capable of opening your map with a single pull to reveal rows of same-sized panels – a great way to simplify the design process.

The Turkish/Pop-Out Fold

This origami-like foldwas invented before the digital age, but is still in-use today due to its stunning presentation and versatile capacity to add simple elegance to any map – or literal “in-your-face” boldness with pop-outs.

Miura Fold

Another origami-like creation by JapaneseastrophysicistKoryo Miura, the fold’s inventor, this amazing fold allows users to open and close a map in one swift motion. This sophisticated combination of two accordion folds at a very slight incline compacts into an amazingly small package, and when opened, reveals crease patterns that form a tessellation of parallelograms across the map surface.

Falk Fold

Another map with inclined folding lines, the Falk folds utilizes slits or cuts to allow you to fold parts of a map separately from other neighboring parts to create a smaller, more readable version that can be quickly assessed and put away.

Crumpled Fold

The uncontrolled folding lines of this map, such as are found in the famed crumpled city maps of London and Washington D.C., are fun and functional, allowing users the single easiest way to fold: Simply cram or stuff into your pocket or bag when not in use. Its specialized substrate is
100% waterproof and nearly indestructible.

Content Dependent Folds

Customized folding lines dependent on pop outs or topography (3-D maps, buildings, mountains, etc.) can create a unique visual representation of landmarks.

Not Sure Which Fold is Best for Your Map?

Let the map printing experts at MapPrinter guide you to your destination, helping you choose fromour many precise and functional true map folds. Ensure a beautiful, highly functional printed product. Contact the experts at MapPrinter today.

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Denver, CO 80216-4420

Phone: 800-833-4263
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Fax: 303.393.6584


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"I have been printing maps with Vision Graphics since 2009. I had no experience with professional printing when I started my company. Vision Graphics was very helpful introducing me to the process and capabilities of professional printing. I was very impressed with how they handled my novice experience in printing and 8 years later I am still happy to be printing with them. I had one other local company print a map and it did not compare in quality to Vision Graphics. For map printing they are hands down the go to print shop."
Farid Tabaian, Owner / Chief Cartographer.
Singletrack Maps, LLC