Reviving the Art of Map Folding: The Unsung Hero in a GPS World

The term map fold might seem antiquated or even obsolete in a GPS world. After all, it refers to a folding technique that maximizes convenience and ease of use of paper maps. The goal is to present a lot of information printed on a large sheet yet folded to a manageable size. Conventional map folds also allow a user to view a particular section of the map without having to unfold the entire map.

So why talk about them?

map folding

Map folds are still a great way to differentiate a client’s brochures and marketing material. It’s one of many print products that are effective as part of a cross-channel (omni-channel) marketing campaign. In some cases where digital media is not available, they are the only option.

For example, they can be used for:

• Local tourist maps as often seen in popular downtown areas or other neighborhoods.

• Topographical maps as used by hikers and necessary in remote areas of limited digital connectivity.

• Unique brochures that tell a story, demonstrate a product or a concept.

• Instruction and installation sheets folded to fit inside a product box.

The image below shows one common type of map fold, also called a broadside or poster fold.

map folds or poster folds

Image Source: FoldFactory

There is no single definition of what constitutes a map fold. Basic map folds are typically combinations of common folds we all know, such as the accordion fold, the half-fold, parallel folds, roll folds, and gate folds, to name a few as shown below. Each serves different end-user purposes and suit different sizes and shapes.

common types of paper folds

Producing a Map Fold Brochure

The key to successfully printing a complex folding project is to start planning with the end user’s needs and work backwards, from bindery back through to design.

The reason is that with complex folds, there are limitations as to what can be done automatically on a folding machine. You don’t want to get stuck in a high-volume project only to learn that it must be folded in part by hand.

Of course, some of the more unusual and unique folds such as die-cut or multi-dimensional pieces, must be done by hand. Just be sure to account for that from the beginning.

Our MBO folders can automatically produce a wide range of map folds from the simple to the complex. Use our folding capabilities to demonstrate your expertise. Work with clients to plan uniquely folded print marketing assets, whether it’s a conventional map or a compact product instruction guide.

Check with us to talk about the types of unique folds you can offer your clients.

Contact our estimating department:

Phone: 559 – 251 – 8595 ext. 1  |  Email:  |  Online: Custom Quotes Form


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