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How to Create a Tri-Fold Brochure Using Only Microsoft Word

I'm a graphic designer from Australia who works in web and print.

This article will break down how to make tri-fold brochures in Microsoft Word.

This article will break down how to make tri-fold brochures in Microsoft Word.

All right, so you want to get a tri-fold brochure printed for your business, but you don't want to fork out the big bucks for a graphic designer to design and lay it out for you. Assuming you have a small knowledge of computers and Microsoft Word, this guide will get you up and running in no time.

The Tri-Fold Brochure

The standard tri-fold brochure is an A4 sheet of paper folded twice so that the sheet is divided into thirds. Because you can use the front and the back of each section, this creates six pages. There are two different styles of folding to choose from:

  1. Z-Fold: This is the most common fold, whereby the A4 sheet is folded twice to form a "Z" as illustrated below.
  2. Roll Fold: This is less common but might be what works for your business. It is once again an A4 Sheet of paper folded twice, only this time the two outermost panels (far left and far right) are folded in over the middle panel as illustrated below.

What You Will Need

  • A computer with Microsoft Word 2007 or above. (For these directions, I am using Word 2007.)
  • A4 paper, at least a sheet or two to play with. The weight, or GSM, of the paper can vary between 120–300 GSM depending on your needs.
  • A printer, if you would like to print out a test brochure before sending it off to be printed.

The Process

Here's how to put it together in MS Word.

1. Make a Mock-Up

  • Choose which layout you wish to use: Z-fold or Roll-fold. These mockup instructions will work for either layout.
  • Let's first make a quick visual aid, so that later on when we are putting our content in, we don't get confused. Take a A4 sheet of paper and write "Page 1" across the whole page. Then flip the paper over and write "Page 2" on the back. Now, roughly fold the page into the tri-fold brochure shape you have chosen. It doesn't need to be super accurate, as this is only a guide.
  • Now that you have it folded into a nice mock-up, hold your brochure so you are looking at the front and label it "Front." Then open one fold and on the panel furthest to your left, write "Panel 1." On the panel directly to the right of "Panel 1," write "Panel 2."
  • Now close the brochure and flip it over so you are looking at the back and write "Back" on it. Open the brochure up and on the last two panels write "Panel 3" and "Panel 4." Now we have an easy guide to assist us when we are putting the content in (it's easy to get confused otherwise).

2. Familiarize Yourself With Microsoft Word

  • Next open Microsoft Word. There are three menu items in Word that I will be referring to throughout this tutorial. The first is the "Office Button," which is used for saving and printing. The second is the "Menu Bar," which is used to select different "Ribbons." The third is the "Ribbon," which is used to select and adjust settings. Please have a look at the diagram below that displays these three items before we start.

3. Get Started with Your Easy Brochure

  • The first things we need to do are to change the default measurement of Word to millimetres from picas (pi) and turn on text boundaries. To do this, click the "Office Button." In the bottom right of the box that appears, you will see a "Word Options" button; click this.
  • A new window appears labelled "Word Options." Look at the list on the left-hand side and select "Advanced." Then scroll down in panel on the right until you see the heading "Show Document Content." In the list below, you will see "Show text boundaries." Click the check box beside this.
  • Next, scroll down to "Display." In the list below, you will see "Show measurements in units of" with a drop-down menu displaying "Picas." Change this drop-down menu to "Millimetres" and click "OK" at the bottom right of the window.
Microsoft Word Options

Microsoft Word Options

  • Now we need to set up the margins so your content doesn't spill onto the unprintable edge of the paper. On the Menu Bar, click on "Page Layout." On the Ribbon that appears, click "Margins," and at the bottom of the list click on "Custom Margins." A new window labelled "Page Setup" will appear. In the "Margins" tab on the "Page Setup" window, you will see the margin widths for your tri-fold brochure ("Top," "Bottom," "Left," and "Right"). Change all of these measurements to 10 mm.
  • Below this, you will see "Orientation." Change this from "Portrait" to "Landscape," as displayed below.
Brochure Margins

Brochure Margins

  • Now it's time to set the paper size to A4. On the "Page Setup" window, you will see three tabs up at the top: "Margins," "Paper," and "Layout." Click on "Paper." Below, you will now see "Paper Size" and a drop-down menu displaying "Letter." Open the drop-down menu and change "Letter" to "A4."
Scroll to Continue
Tri-Fold Brochure Paper Size

Tri-Fold Brochure Paper Size

  • Next, it is time to set up the columns that will hold the content of your tri-fold brochures. On the Menu Bar, click on "Page Layout." In the Ribbon that appears, click on "Columns," then click "More Columns" at the bottom of the list.
  • A "Columns" window will appear showing a section named "Presets." Click on "Three" to make the three columns of our brochure.
  • Next, we need to set up the "Width and Spacing" listed below. To do this, change the spacing to 20 mm. This is the space between the two columns, and we have made it twice the width of our margins so the columns of the brochure sit evenly on the page.
Three Columns for the Brochure

Three Columns for the Brochure

  • Now you are ready to add your content. You can see two pages comprised each made up of three columns. Using the paper diagram we first created, you will be able to easily place your content on the correct pages.

If you chose a Z-fold brochure, then the columns will be ordered like this from left to right:

On the First Page:

  1. Panel 3
  2. Panel 4
  3. Front Cover

On the Second Page:

  1. Panel 1
  2. Panel 2
  3. Back Cover

If you chose a Roll-fold brochure, then the columns will be ordered like this from left to right:

On the First Page:

  1. Panel 1
  2. Panel 3
  3. Panel 4

On the Second Page:

  1. Panel 2
  2. Back Cover
  3. Front Cover
  • Now it's time to input your images and text as you normally would in any Microsoft Word document. If you are stuck for design layout ideas, simply search Google Images for "tri-fold brochure," and you will see hundreds of inspirational ideas to spark the designer inside you.
  • Once all your content is in and looks great, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. The only thing left to do is get it printed. But before you go ahead and get 1,000 printed, if you have a printer connected to your computer, let's go ahead and print a trial to see what it looks like in hard copy. To do this, click on the Office Button, then click on "Print." From the "Print" window, click "OK" in the bottom right. Now watch your new tri-fold brochure come out of your printer.

Let's See What You Learned

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What is the standard paper size for a tri-fold brochure?
    • A5
    • A4
  2. What are the two standard brochure folds?
    • Zigzag-Fold and Tunnel-Fold
    • Z-Fold & Roll-Fold
  3. What is the standard GSM for brochures?
    • 120-300 GSM
    • There is no standard

Answer Key

  1. A4
  2. Z-Fold & Roll-Fold
  3. 120-300 GSM

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Brian M Cox on August 18, 2015:

Having followed your detailed instructions I only see 1 page when I reach the end!

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