How to setup a tri-fold brochure that folds correctly

Publisher is a good program because it offers a simple layout format for the inexperienced designer or the small business owner that does all the marketing and designing. Unfortunately publisher sets up the user for headaches from the beginning. When creating a trifold brochure the main thing is that it folds correctly. The master sheet size is 8.5x11 (landscape) and to make sure your logo or image on the front is centered you have to know where the fold is. I am not sure how publisher came up with their templates but anyone that has created a trifold and then tried to print and fold it, knows of the headaches I am talking about.

Okay so to stop picking on publisher and start helping out those using publisher here is what I recommend.

 Open a brand new document, 2 pages, 8.5x11, landscape and don’t use a template. For a perfect trifold the measurements for each panel (from left to right) are 3 10/16, 3 11/16, 3 11/16. This little offset allows the cover to be slightly larger so the last panel folds and fits nicely into the others. Don’t get overwhelmed by these random and scary looking numbers. Publishers has a ruler on the top and left had of your document use those to make accurate measurements.

 To draw a guideline, the thin green lines the mark the folds but don’t print, roll over the left side ruler, click, hold, and drag to the spot you want (3 11/16 for the first panel on the front side).

 This means from left to right your first guide line will go at 3 10/16 and your second guideline will go at 7 5/16.


The second side of the brochure or page two is set up in the reverse (from left to right) 3 11/16, 3 11/16 and 3 10/16. So click on page two and start drawing your guidelines there. The first fold will be a 3 11/16 (3.6875) and the second guideline will be at 7 6/16 (7.375). You will notice this is just slightly different than the first side but necessary.

You only have to do this once, before you start working save the blank file with the guidelines on your desktop as Then you will always have a template with the correct folds!

Publisher is great because it offers an inexpensive and easy to navigate layout program for the budget conscious individual. Unfortunately Publisher’s templates are not always correct. Anyone that has created a trifold document in Publisher can probably attest to this. Your cover image won’t look centered and when open your content will be too close to the fold on one side and have tons of space on the other side. But there is a way around it if you know the right numbers. I hope this article was helpful. If you have any Publisher questions or if these measurement work for you please leave a comment below.