How do I refold a paper reference guide when I can't tell what order the folds go in?

I can fold the vertical crease in the center, but after that I have no clue how to fold it back to how it was, along the folds it already has. Is there some method I can use to figure out how to fold it back (preferably one I can use for any paper like this in the future as well)?

• It appears that this document is in multiple languages...? When I store these things away, I always remove all of the irrelevant parts first - that usually makes it easier to fold the rest of it as well. – Lefty Feb 7 at 12:33

Take a good look at the folds: each of them have a direction (up or down). That tells you a lot. You have to follow the existing folds (fold in the same direction).

For instance, the vertical fold down the middle on your photo points down along its entire length. The horizontal folds all alternate. That tells me you have to do all of the vertical folds first, and the horizontal folds last.

There are only a few common ways to fold a leaflet.

1. Vertical-first zigzag folding, as you have here.
2. Doubling up: fold in half vertically, then fold the stack in half vertically again. This risks making very thick folds, so it's less common.
3. Alternating: fold in half vertically, then fold the stack in half horizontally. Even less common, because folding machines don't work like that.
• +1 You can only fold a sheet of paper in half repeatedly five times, no matter how large the sheet. The "signature" is too thick and an alternate kind of fold is necessary. The second kind of fold is the technique of using a zig-zag technique called an accordion fold which can handle multiple layers to achieve a more compact codex. – Stan Feb 5 at 16:27
• Sometimes a paper is folded in half (perhaps off-centre), and then by concertina. In the fully concertina method the main folds goes alternately, but if it was folded in half first, there will be two adjacent folds in the same direction. In the case of the first fold being off-centre, you can try one of those two adjacent folds first: if the next creases don't align nicely, then fold at the other one. – Weather Vane Feb 5 at 19:18
• @WeatherVane You're describing the classic technique for folding paper road/highway maps for travel by automobile in years past. They were given out by gasoline retailers as promotional items in the last 60 odd years. – Stan Feb 5 at 19:49
• @Stan I wasn't thinking of maps, but where the first fold is parallel with the concertina folds, resulting in two adjacent folds bent the same way. Instruction / setup leaflets are sometimes folded like this. – Weather Vane Feb 5 at 21:00

Hobbes (& the comments below) are definitely going in the right direction here, but I think I can figure this particular one from the picture.

First, the verticals are a map-fold (concertina) so you don't fold it in half first you start with the left-most vertical folded towards you, then that pair away, then towards… until you end up with one vertical piece, 6 sheets thick.

Then you fold that exactly in half; that leaves you with rather an odd three-way fold, both folds the same way (vaguely like you rolled it then flattened it).

Trying to explain it more pictorially…
First vertical set is like WW
second fold is a U
Last two folds are both in towards each other (no letter for that;) a bit like an envelope.