Basic Origami SymbolsTo have another language is to have a second soul


Basic Origami Symbols

Below are the basic origami symbols used in diagrams throughout this site.  These symbols, or origami expressions, are based upon those developed by Akira Yoshizawa (he designed this origami butterfly and many more) and modern internationally recognised conventions.  These are the ‘language’ of origami.

In 1991 Robert Lang published an excellent series of articles on diagramming conventions for the Friends of the Origami Center of America (now OrigamiUSA) recommending a standard set of origami symbols.  This would update the symbols originally devised by Akira Yoshizawa to account for modern folding and diagramming techniques, and reduce the number of variations that had arisen. Lang’s articles have since been published on his website here

The basic origami symbols used on this site largely conform to Lang’s recommendations.


Valley foldSymbol for a valley fold
Mountain foldMountain fold symbol
Fold in this directionSymbol for fold in this direction
Fold behindSymbol for fold behind
Fold and unfoldSymbol for fold and unfold
Crease made in a previous stepSymbol for a crease made in a previous step
Crease hidden between the layers of paperSymbol for a crease hidden between layers of paper
Push hereSymbol for push here
Pull paper out from hereSymbol for pull paper out from here
Turn the paper overSymbol for turn the model over
Rotate the paper clockwise by the indicated amountSymbol for rotate the model clockwise by the indicated amount
Rotate the paper counter-clockwise by the indicated amountSymbol for rotate the model counter-clockwise by the indicated amount
Inside reverse foldReverse fold symbol
Outside reverse foldOutside reverse fold
Fold a rabbit earSymbol for a rabbit ear
Squash foldSquash fold diagram
Sink hereSymbol for sink
PleatSymbol for pleat
CrimpSymbol for crimp
Repeat the indicated steps on the flap shownSymbol for repeat
Hold hereSymbol for hold here