How To: Set Up a Bi-Fold Brochure
Say good-bi(fold) to complicated brochure types!

Design Master

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A bi-fold, also known as a half-fold, is one of the most common formats for brochures.

Its popularity draws from a very versatile and easy setup, which is much easier than tri-folds (although we have a how-to article for those as well!) and other standard, multifold brochure types.

Given their straightforwardness, bi-folds are especially good for simple presentations, but they can be adapted to a huge variety of uses and needs.

If you are  not set of creating your design from scratch, most people will find it extremely helpful to rely on premade brochure templates.

Templates are easy to customize and they will save you considerable time, especially if you have no previous experience in brochure making.

There are templates available in different file formats and for a wide range of programs, so if you plan to use a template, you should choose one compatible with your software of choice.

Another option, and the one we most highly recommend, would be to take advantage of free templates and online design tools that are provided by a number of professional online printers.

We’ve gone ahead and reviewed the top printers online to find the best brochure templates and design tools. Now you can easily find the printer that works best for you!

Doing it the easy way with templates

Regardless of the fold type, you have a rich selection of tools at your disposal. There are a few programs that will make your task much easier because they are designed for this sort of purpose.

Some we recommend are Word, Publisher and InDesign. These are paid software programs, but there are a few free alternatives, like OpenOffice Writer and Scribus (however, we feel you get what you pay for here.)

Some people use Photoshop or Illustrator as well, even though they are more about image editing than publishing.

If you’re a total beginner, programs like Word or Publisher are much easier to work with, but InDesign allows for better control over your final publication.

What software will you use?


If you have some design experience, and have very specific requirements or if you want more control, you may want to start your project from scratch instead of using a template.

Here are some basics to get you going:

Launch the publishing application and create a blank document sized 8.5 inches by 11 inches, which is the standard brochure size.

If you are planning to make a content-heavy brochure, you can make the document larger by entering 11 inches by 17 inches as your measurements. On the other hand, if accommodating content is not your concern, you can make the brochure smaller and choose 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches as your measurements.

Whatever your dimensions, select horizontal orientation and a resolution of 300 pixels per inch.

Set up your document

Adding bleeds will prevent white borders from showing up in your printed brochure. Bleeds are not always mandatory, but it’s good practice to use them, especially if you have graphics extending to the very edge of the document.

Some programs, like InDesign, let you set your bleeds when you create the document. In other cases, you will have to add the bleeds to the final document’s measurements. Usually a bleed of 0.125 inches will be enough.

Using bleeds

Guides can help you define the spaces of your brochure. With guides you can specify margins, over which your relevant content should not extend, and properly separate left and right panels for back and front.

A size of 0.25 inches is more than adequate for your inner document’s margins.

As for the division in panels for bi-fold brochures, you can simply position your guide in the exact middle of the document to use it as reference for both back and front.

In most programs, you can drag and move your guides around the document to adjust them as you like.

In programs like InDesign, you have to enter the margin and column size from the beginning and the program will automatically add all of the document’s guides for you. Guides will not appear in the final print.

Using guides


Depending on your content, you can make a small or a large brochure. The setup process is the same – the only difference is in the specs. Double-check everything, from measurements to guides position, before starting the project.

Bi-fold brochures are common because they work for almost any type of business strategy, marketing plan or promotional handout.  These brochures work great for both heavy content pieces and graphical pieces.

If you follow these guidelines, they are easy to produce and design. If you need a simple brochure that will deliver what you need, bi-fold brochures are the way to go.

Edited in InDesign CC.

About the Author
Kristi Maddox is a master of graphic design, on-site design and ordering, and is the go-to for template and design tool usage.
Kristi and the team order print jobs from every major printer to test quality, value, customer service, and more. See their reviews here:


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