How to Make a Folding Card

Create custom cards in shapes and sizes you design with a quick fold

Blank Note or Greeting Card
DaydreamsGirl / Getty Images

If you are just starting to make your own cards, knowing how to fold cards from single sheets of cardstock is a useful technique to learn. Different styles and types of handmade cards can be created from standard sizes of paper and cardstock. Folding the cardstock in different ways creates a variety of looks and styles. Whatever type of card you make, a good, crisp fold is essential to achieving a professional-looking result.

Here are the common types of card folds to master.

Portrait Card

The portrait card is one of the most basic card folds. It's easy to make two cards from a sheet of standard letter-size (8.5 inches by 11 inches) or A4 paper (slightly narrower and longer at 8.3 inches by 11.7 inches).

A simple portrait card is one where the height of the card is longer than the width. The name originates from the fact that portrait-orientated paper was an ideal layout for displaying a portrait of a head and shoulders. This style of card is also ideal for placing a photo or a central feature with a sentiment above or below it.

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Illustration: The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee

How to Fold a Portrait Card

Two portrait cards can be made from a single piece of letter-size or A4 paper by cutting the sheet in half first. Hold the paper lengthwise and fold it in half side to side.

  • A piece of letter-size paper folded in half makes a single portrait card that measures 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches.
  • A piece of letter-size paper folded in half makes a card that's sized 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches.

Landscape Card

A landscape folded card is ideal for displaying photos. This is also easy to make from standard-sized paper.

With a landscape card, the width of the card is longer than the height. Hold the piece of paper lengthwise to create a landscape fold where you fold the top of the paper to the bottom. The term landscape originated from the fact that this orientation is better for displaying wide images such as landscapes. For handmade cards, this style is ideal for displaying a photo, or a feature image and sentiment presented side by side.

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Illustration: The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee 

How to Fold a Landscape Card

Two landscape cards can be made from a single piece of letter-size or A4 paper by cutting the paper in half first. The fold line should go through the center of the narrow width of the card.

  • A piece of letter-size paper folded in two makes a single card measuring 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches.
  • A piece of letter-size paper cut in half and then folded into a landscape card in two will make two cards each sized 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches.

Gatefold Card

A gatefold card works well for invitations. A gatefold card is slightly different from other basic cards. Instead of having a single fold, a gatefold card has two folds, each forming a flap that meets in the center on the front of the card.

In addition to decorating the two cover panels, the inside of the card is also ideal for decorating. Both the inner panels and the inside back of the card can be decorated in a complementary style. An additional design flourish can be added to a gatefold card by creating a closure or overlapping panel to sit on the front of the card to hold the two cover flaps together.

Below is a simple gatefold card made from a piece of letter-size or A4 paper. You can also create a gatefold card from 12-inch by 12-inch paper.

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Illustration: The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee

How to Fold a Gatefold Card

While a gatefold card is a little different to look at, as with the portrait and landscape style cards, two card blanks can be made from a single sheet of letter-size or A4 paper. This will make a single card that's sized 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches.

Tips for Creating Gatefold Cards

  • Try placing the folds in different places to alter the look and the symmetry of the card.
  • Design the card so that a special design or photograph is revealed when the front panels are opened.
  • Score the paper or card before folding to make sure you achieve good crisp folds (uneven folds can spoil the look of the card).

Gatefold Cards From Larger Paper

Gatefold cards can also be folded from 12-inch by 12-inch paper or cardstock, such as scrapbooking paper. One sheet of this size paper makes two 6-inch by 6-inch cards.

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Illustration: The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee

Square Card

A square card is a versatile shape that works well as a gift card. While a square card can be cut from any piece of paper or cardstock, using a sheet of 12-inch by 12-inch paper is an efficient way to get the most from your paper or cardstock. This is useful if you want to make a card using your favorite scrapbooking or decorative papers.

A square card highlights a central feature on its front, such as a ​stamped image or photograph. If you want to make a plain square card, enhance it by adding a feature panel made from your favorite decorative paper.​

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Illustration: The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee

Trifold Card

The term trifold originates from the type of fold used to create leaflets from a sheet of paper. A trifold uses two folds to create three panels. The term trifold describes a card that is folded into a Z-shape.

Simple trifold cards present information in an uncommon and attractive way. They are ideal for invitations where the front of the card can be decorated and the other panels used to relay important information.

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Illustration: The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee

Tips for Creating Trifold Cards

  • Get creative with cutting the folds; for example, cut the card diagonally so the panels graduate in size.
  • Use scrap paper to work out your designs before cutting the real card.
  • Simple trifold cards are ideal for taller images and designs.
  • Note that a trifold card may not fit in a standard-sized envelope, so consider making your own envelope.

TriFold Card Sizes

  • A piece of 12-inch by 12-inch paper cut into two and folded into a simple trifold shape creates a card that measures 6 inches by 4 inches.
  • A piece of letter-size paper cut in half lengthwise creates a simple trifold card that measures approximately 3.8 inches by 4.25 inches.

Aperture Card

An aperture card is folded or cut so that a photo or design can be framed within the front cover of the card. Its design is also known as a window card because the front of the card has a central window or frame which highlights an image or photograph.

You can either add your image to the front of the card using double-sided tape or adhesive. Or, you can use a template to cut an oval, circle, or square on the front cover to act as a frame. Then, use adhesive to add your image from the inside of the front cover. In addition, decorate the space on the front of the card around the image to create an attractive frame.

Use a trifold card as an aperture card, too. The center panel of a trifold card can be the frame for your image. Once the two front flaps of a trifold card are opened, the image is exposed. Or, use a larger piece of paper to create equal panels that fold over each, and once unfolded they expose the image.

Below, you'll see how to create two aperture cards. The first is a basic square or portrait card with a cutout on the front of a card to form the frame. The bottom one is an aperture card made from a trifold card with three equal panels.

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Illustration: The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee

Tips for Aperture Folds

  • Use the window to showcase something special such as a greeting card message, a piece of cross-stitch, a photo, or a piece of original artwork.
  • Aperture cards can be placed in a frame that makes a cherished gift or product for sale.
  • When making (or buying) aperture cards, look for simple shapes to showcase intricate designs; a detailed shape such as a star or flower may detract from the finished design.
  • If you are planning to mail the finished card, allow for extra postage for added bulk and weight that may be the result of the card design or a larger envelope.