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Map Printing: Choosing a Size for your Folded Map

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Most printed maps are oversized documents. So, unless a map is to be mounted on a wall or other flat surface, it is usually folded using a sequence of vertical and horizontal folds. Folding reduces the physical size of the map, making it more convenient to handle, store, and transport.

If you have an upcoming map project that will require folding, be sure to plan the map's dimensions carefully during the design phase. It is especially important to consider the overall size of the map in relation to the folded size of the map.

In other words, the map's dimensions should enable it to fold neatly to its desired finished size. This is accomplished by designing the overall dimensions of the map (flat size) to be multiples of its folded dimensions (finished size).

To help illustrate, let's use one of the most common finished sizes for a folded map, which is 4" wide x 9" high. This is a popular size because it is relatively compact and fits well in display racks, vehicle glove compartments, backpacks, and hip pockets.

Below are small, medium, and large examples of map sizes that would fold neatly to this 4" x 9" size. Each interior rectangle represents a 4" x 9" panel of the map.

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Notice that the overall dimensions of all three examples are multiples of 4" x 9".

Needless to say, map sizes that are not multiples of the desired finished size would yield a less than ideal folding pattern. For example, maps that measure 15" x 20", 22" x 34", or 28" x 40" would not fold efficiently to the 4" x 9" size.

Money Saving Tip: Choose a Map Size that can be Produced on a Standard Printing Press

As mentioned, most maps are created as oversized documents. But your best value will be attained by not going excessively large. Preferably, try to design your maps to fit on a standard-size printing press. If in doubt, check with your printer before finalizing the size of your artwork. Then you will know which map sizes they can print (and fold) in the most cost-effective manner.

By the way, the three map sizes represented in the diagrams above are probably the most efficient sizes for a small, medium, and large sheet-fed printing press. As a result, these sizes will be more affordable for you.

If you have a custom-printed map project, folded or unfolded, get in touch with Formax Printing. Though we don't print one-offs or extremely small quantities, we can help with most map projects of 250 pieces or more.

Just give us a call at 866-367-6221. Or, if you already know your specs, click here to access our easy quote request form. As always, we look forward to working with you!

Take care! Rick

About the Author

Rick Stallings is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing, plus mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Rick is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221. Rick and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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