When you create a New Document in InDesign, one of the most important choices you’ll make is whether or not you want Facing Pages. The option is in the Preset Details, where Facing Pages is turned on by default for Print documents. But, if you want a Single Page layout, you can turn that off by deselecting it. In this tutorial, I’ll explain the two scenarios and provide examples for each layout.
If the pages will be seen one at a time, then you use the Single Page layout. Each page will be printed on one or both sides of the paper without folds. The pages can be loose or bound together with staples, metal rings, spiral, wiro, comb threads, screws and posts, slip-in inserts, etc.
Examples of printed pieces that use the single page layout:
- Menu (can also be designed as a spread)
Facing pages in Indesign are spread-based documents. Spreads are pages that are viewed together so that each page “faces” the other. Usually, spreads consist of 2-page pairs of a left-page and right-page, as in books and magazines. This is why 4 pages are the minimum number of pages in a spread-based print piece. Multi-page documents like books must use multiples of 4 for the total number of pages in the document.
Here are some examples of other printed pieces that use the facing page layout:
- Menu (can also be designed as a single page)
- Notecard (for general greeting, birthday, wedding, get well, congratulations, etc.)
4 Pages Half Fold – Thumbnails
All of the above examples have at least two pairs of pages and are printed on a single sheet of paper folded in half. This is called a “Half Fold or Bi-Fold”. To help you visualize the final result, create a small thumbnail size comp of your design on a piece of paper. The size of the paper really doesn’t matter, so long as you fold it in half. This will give you 4 pages total. Make marks on each size of the folded paper to indicate: front, inside-left page, inside-right page, back. Now, unfold the sheet of paper and what you’ll see on each side is a facing-page spread of 2-page pairs:
The paper thumbnail comp is a great guide. It shows us that the default facing page settings in InDesign’s Pages Panel aren’t exactly what we want. We’ll fix that in the next step.
4 Pages Half Fold – InDesign
The default facing pages layout sets up page 1 (front) as a right-side page, pages 2-3 as a spread, and page 4 (back) as a left-side page. For the Half-Fold layout, we want pages 1 and 4 to be a spread instead of separate pages, to match our paper thumbnail.
So, we do one of two things to edit the layout:
- New Document (CMMD-N) > Preset Details > Start Page #: 2
OR, if you’ve already created the new document, do this:
- File > Document Setup > Change Start Page # to 2
After changing the Start Page to 2, our Pages Panel shows two pairs of 2-page spreads:
As you’ve surely seen by now, the Pages panel is a visual representation of the document layout. It’s an easy way to navigate through the document. In this panel, you have access to all of the functions needed for handling pages and spreads:
- Page size
- Numbering and section options
- Alternate layouts
You can change the layout from Single Pages to Facing Pages or vice versa. Since this is a document-wide setting, you must go to File > Document Setup to make this modification. The Parent page in the Pages Panel will then need to be changed from 1 page to 2 (or vice versa) to accurately represent the new layout.
Many print pieces, like menus and newsletters, could have more than 2 pairs of pages. Staying with the single fold (half fold) for a moment, the additional pages would still be in groups of 4 (front/back and inside pair). Each sheet could be printed on both sides, folded, and nested inside each other. Make a paper thumbnail and give it a try! Then replicate your thumbnail in InDesign.
Additional Folding Options
There are a number of other folding options in the print industry. Experiment and see where your imagination takes you. With more than one fold, you’ll have more than 2 pages per spread. You can add pages to a spread, but first deselect Allow Document Pages to Shuffle in the Pages Panel. Then, you can simply click and drag a Parent Page down to the document page section. Hover directly next to the page icon until you see a bracket, then let go of the mouse. It might take some practice, but you’ll get the hang of it!
Here are a few of the more popular folds and their associated setup in the Pages Panel:
Pages Panel Layout
Trifold – 2 folds that result in
3 pages on each side of the paper
Z-fold – 2 folds
Same layout as for the Trifold
Gate fold – 2-3 folds
With 3 folds, the layout would be the same as for the Barrell fold (see below).
Notice that I made the middle page twice as wide as the other two pages on the “wings”. There’s a page tool in InDesign that makes easy work of resizing. Check out my blog post:
Multiple Page Sizes in a Single InDesign Document
Barrel fold – 3 folds resulting in
4 pages on each side of the paper
(8 pages total).
Accordion fold – 3 or more folds
Same layout as for the Barrell fold
French fold or Cross fold –
paper is folded in half twice,
resulting in 8 pages total
Same layout as Half fold, with additional pages. This layout can be a little tricky because of the double-fold. Content on two of the spreads would be positioned upside-down. Check with your commercial printer for details on how they prefer the file to be setup.