Reading direction

When setting up the artwork in a layout program, it is important to observe the reading direction and/or folding of your printed design and set the page orientation accordingly. Otherwise, it can happen that the design is upside down on one side of the finished product.

 

Below you will find the following product examples for artwork setup:

Why the reading direction of the printed design matters

During production, one page of the product is printed first. Then, the page is turned around its vertical axis like turning a book page. Then, the reverse is printed. Due to these technical processes, unexpected constellations can occur depending on the reading direction. This frequently happens with products that have a different reading direction on each side. 
 


 

Example: Postcards with a design in portrait orientation 

on the front and a classic landscape format on the back.

The following application examples will explain what to pay attention to when setting up the artwork.

Flyers

Flyers (portrait orientation)

Printed product

A flyer printed on both sides with the same reading direction is probably the simplest example: The artwork on the front and back is in portrait orientation with the text running from left to right.

Print-ready PDF

Set up the pages of your artwork in portrait layout one below the other. This is the default setting in most layout programs. Your print-ready PDF should look as shown above.

Flyers (landscape orientation)

Printed product

Flyers printed on both sides with the same reading direction in landscape orientation: The design on the front and back is in landscape orientation with the text running from left to right.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange the pages one below the other in landscape orientation.  

Note: Our flyer templates are available in portrait orientation only. But you can still use them if you convert the template to landscape format. In InDesign, this is done via File > Document Setup > Adjust Layout.  

Important: In the layout program, set the page layout as shown above. Do not subsequently rotate the print-ready PDF.

Flyers with different reading directions

Printed product

The printed design and text of the two-side printed flyers have a different orientation: The panorama design on the front is in landscape orientation. The text on the back is in portrait orientation.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, position both pages one below the other in portrait orientation. Do not mix portrait and landscape format

The reading direction of page 1 is now from top to bottom. 

Tip: To rotate the front page in landscape orientation in InDesign, click View – Rotate Spread so you don't have to turn your head sideways to look at the rotated content. Once the page is finished, rotate it back to portrait orientation before exporting it.

Folded leaflets

Six-page folded leaflets (zigzag fold, portrait orientation)

Printed product

This six-page flyer will be produced with a zigzag fold. The reading direction is the same on all pages.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange the assembled outside and inside page one below the other. They will be folded twice after printing.  

Example: The outside and inside page of a DL folded leaflet (9.9 x 21 cm) each measures 30.1 x 21.4 cm in the artwork file before being folded. This value is obtained by adding 2 mm bleed on all sides with three times the width of the final product. 

     0.2 + 9.9 + 9.9 + 9.9 + 0.2 = 30.1 cm total width      
     0.2 + 21 + 0.2 = 21.4 cm total height  

When working on the layout, make sure that the title page (1) is located on the right outside. The inside pages with the reverse (6) will then be located on the lower assembled inside page.  

Note: The position of the reverse varies with the folding type. With a letter fold, for example, the reverse is the middle outside page (see next paragraph).

Six-page folded leaflets (letter fold, portrait orientation)

Printed product

This six-page flyer will be produced with a letter fold. The reading direction is the same on all pages.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange the assembled outside and inside page one below the other. They will be folded twice after printing. 

Example: The outside and inside page of a DL folded card (10 x 21 cm) each measures 30.1 x 21.4 cm in the artwork file before being folded. However, the three parts of an assembled page have a different size due to the letter fold. The bleed is 0.2 mm. 

     0.2 + 9.7 + 10 + 10 + 0.2 = 30.1 cm total width                 
     0.2 + 21 + 0.2 = 21.4 cm total height 

When working on the layout, make sure that the title page (1) is arranged on the right outside page next to the reverse (6). The inside pages will then be arranged on the lower assembled inside. 
  
Note: The position of the reverse varies with the folding type. With the zigzag fold, for example, the reverse is the lower right inside page (see previous paragraph).

Six-page folded leaflets including reply card (zigzag fold, portrait orientation)

Printed product

The six-page flyer will be produced with a zigzag fold. But we want the flyer to include a reply card that can be sent by mail and has a different reading direction.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange the assembled outside and inside page one below the other. They will be folded twice after printing. 

Example: The outside and inside page of a DL folded leaflet (9.9 x 21 cm) each measures 30.1 x 21.4 cm in the artwork file before being folded. This value is obtained by adding 2 mm bleed on all sides with three times the width of the final product. 

     0.2 + 9.9 + 9.9 + 9.9 + 0.2 = 30.1 cm total width            
     0.2 + 21 + 0.2 = 21.4 cm total height 

When working on the layout, make sure that the title page (1) is located on the right outside. The reverse (6) is located on the far right of the lower assembled inside page and forms the reply card with page 5. 

Tip: To adjust the layout of the front page in portrait orientation in InDesign, click View – Rotate Spread so you don't have to turn your head sideways to look at the rotated content. Once the page is finished, rotate it back to portrait orientation before exporting it.
 

Postcards

Postcards (landscape orientation)

Printed product

The back of postcards is almost always in landscape orientation. In this case, the design on the front page is also in landscape orientation.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange the pages one below the other in landscape orientation. 

An A6 standard postcard is 10.5 cm high and 14.8 cm wide. If you add the required 2 mm bleed on all sides, the postcard measures 10.9 x 15.2 cm.

Postcards with different reading directions

Printed product

The back of postcards is almost always in landscape orientation. In this case, the design on the front page is in portrait orientation.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange both pages one below the other in the same orientation. Do not mix portrait and landscape format

Remember that both sides have different reading directions. If you lay out both pages in portrait orientation, the reverse will appear rotated by 90 degrees. If you lay out the pages in landscape format, the front page will have a different reading direction. 

Note: Our postcard templates are available in landscape orientation only. 

Tip: To rotate the page with a different reading direction in InDesign, click View – Rotate Spread so you don't have to turn your head sideways to look at the rotated content. Once you have finished the page, rotate it back to the original format before the export.

Folded cards

Four-page folded cards (landscape orientation)

Printed product

The outside and inside pages of the folded cards have the same orientation. You can open the card like a book page and the reading direction is the same on all pages.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange the assembled outside and inside page one below the other in landscape format. They will be folded in half after printing. 

Example: The outside and inside page of a DL folded card (21 x 10.5 cm) each measures 42.40 x 10.90 cm in the artwork file before being folded. This value is obtained by adding the required 2 mm bleed on all sides with twice the length of the final product. 

     0.2 + 21 + 21 + 0.2 = 42.4 cm total width 
     0.2 + 10.5 + 0.2 = 10.9 cm total height 

This is also responsible for the page sequence which seems odd at first: The reverse (4) and the title page (1) must be located on the upper spread, inside pages 2 and 3 must be located on the lower spread.

Six-page folded cards (letter fold, portrait orientation)

Printed product

A folded card is folded multiple times similar to a folded leaflet. The reading direction is the same on the outside and inside pages.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange the assembled outside and inside page one below the other. They will be folded twice after printing.  

Example: The outside and inside page of a DL folded card (10 x 21 cm) each measures 30.1 x 21.4 cm in the artwork file before being folded. However, the three parts of an assembled page have a different size due to the letter fold. The bleed is 0.2 mm.  

     0.2 + 9.7 + 10 + 10 + 0.2 = 30.1 cm total width                
     0.2 + 21 + 0.2 = 21.4 cm total height 

When working on the layout, make sure that the title page (1) is arranged on the right outside page next to the reverse (6). So the inside pages are arranged on the lower assembled inside.   

Note: The position of the reverse varies with the folding type. With the zigzag fold, for example, the reverse is the lower right inside page (see next paragraph).

Six-page folded card (zigzag fold, portrait orientation)

Printed product

The six-page folded card will be produced with a zigzag fold. The reading direction is the same on all pages.

Print-ready PDF

In the layout program, arrange the assembled outside and inside page one below the other. They will be folded twice after printing.  

Example: The outside and inside page of a DL folded card (9.9 x 21 cm) each measures 30.1 x 21.4 cm in the artwork file before being folded. This value is obtained by adding 2 mm bleed on all sides with three times the width of the final product.  

     0.2 + 9.9 + 9.9 + 9.9 + 0.2 = 30.1 cm total width 
     0.2 + 21 + 0.2 = 21.4 cm total height 

When working on the layout, make sure that the title page (1) is located on the right outside. The inside pages with the reverse (6) will then be located on the lower assembled inside page. 

Note: The position of the reverse varies with the folding type. With the letter fold, for example, the reverse is the middle outside page (see previous paragraph).

Folding type

To get an impression of the folding, reading direction and page orientation of your printed product, you can make your own folded sample. Take a sheet of paper, fold it as desired and write numbers or sample text on it.

Our example is a six-page folded leaflet (letter fold, portrait orientation) with: 

  • Title page (1) 
  • Reverse (1) 
  • Inside pages (2–4)