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Magazine Design & Layout


Cola

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Alright, I have been asked to design a small magazine by 2 women. The focus of the magazine is to benefit and draw attention to the organizations these two women run- which are support groups for battered and underprivileged teen and young adult females.

To be honest, I have only dabbled in InDesign and it really isn't where my heart or skill set is at. However, I can get around in it.

I have already designed a cover, article template, and advertising template. The magazine will be quite simple. All article pages will keep the same template, only change the colors...and most are just one page.

Does anyone have any tips for me as far as printing goes? I know a printer who can do this already but don't know how I go about setting it up for printing...since this is my first serious venture into it.

Can anyone provide some insight on any layout specifics or things I should know regarding printing? Is a bleed necessary? Will a PDF file of the different pages suffice? I am assuming the printer will do a bit of the work regarding actual page setup and ordering. Each page I have so far is on A4...yet I think a magazine is actually A3 (double A4).

Anyhow, I'd like to get this right and appreciate any and all help offered. I feel like I have the design side down to it...layout/printing/setup in InDesign, maybe not.

Thanks!

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The best thing I would suggest would be to talk to the printer and ask him what is best. Each printer will tell you what works best for him. I've had printers say not to use .pdf's and I've heard them say that they are the best and easiest thing to deal with. Your printer will be able to tell you what's best for you and keep him up to date on what you're doing or thinking of doing and he'll lead you in the right direction.

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Bleeds are necessary once you have any sort of colour that is placed right at the edge of the paper. Industry standard of bleeds are 1/8", so make sure any images/background boxes are constructed 1/8" outside of your live area.

One thing about magazines/books that you need to look for is whether this is saddle-stitched (2 staples on the spine) or perfect bound (uses adhesive/glue). If it is saddle-stitched, the cover should be fine just as it is, however, if it is perfect bound, you will need to create a gutter/spine area in your cover artwork, which means that when you are constructing the cover, it should be slightly larger than the inside content pages. This depends on the thickness of the magazine (how many content pages there will be), if its not too thick then I think saddle-stitched will be suffice.

I've made a habit of packaging the entire InDesign file, but also making sure I export a high-resolution PDF file (with bleeds) and copy it into the packaged folder, zip the folder, then send the entire zipped file to the printer. I would think most printers would use the PDF file, but if they were to choose the InDesign file, they would still have a PDF to refer to. This is how I was taught in school, and this is what my workplace asks of clients (though we only get what we need like... 1 out of 1000 files).

But I do echo what oddball said, there are printers that like to do things their own way. Contacting them would be a good start.

Also, ask for a printed proof! There may be more details, but can't think of them as of now.

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I'll go along with what the previous two posters mentioned.

Being that I spent a good while doing what it is you're asking help for, it may be a good idea to ask your clients what kind of budget they're looking at, because that then will help (or should help) determine your design process.

From what it sounds like, this magazine might only be, what, a few pages, maybe 20, if that (including covers)? If so, then saddle-stitching should be all that's necessary. If it isn't anything over 50 sheets, saddle-stitching should work perfectly fine. (That's also the cheapest binding method...or, at least, it was at my former place of employment.)

Next, to the actual printing process. I'll just tell you how we did it where I worked...maybe your local printer operates the same way. Basically, we had two printing methods: offset and digital. Offset printing utilizes the plate process (if you know anything about that) to transpose images onto the sheets (via a little blanket that acts as a buffer between the plate and the paper). It's more expensive, but it's also more accurate as far as trapping is concerned (I'll get to that), and the quality is a bit better. Digital printing is pretty much the same except that the whole printing press is pretty much a giant laser printer and doesn't utilize actual plates. Of course, then there's also color reproduction--that is, color copies, off a xerox machine (if the sheet size is 12x18 or smaller).

Here's why I just mentioned all that: color usage. If your clients' budget is rather small but they still want a full-color magazine, provided their stock images are good enough quality, you might be better off doing the color copy method. If they'd like a really nice professional-looking magazine in full-color (which, in the printing world, we call "four-color process"), then you may want to look at either the digital or offset printing method. Here's the thing to consider: computers aren't always perfect, and every now and then the trapping may be justasmidge off on some pages utilizing the digital method. With the offset method, it's easier to fine-tune the trapping. What I mean by "trapping" is getting all the images from the four-color process plates--or any multi-color process--to match up perfectly on a page. Needless to day, four-color printing obviously is the most expensive method. But it doesn't have to be, if you know how to "manipulate it" a bit.

One method would be two-color printing. In this instance, since it's a magazine, it'd most likely be black (the cheapest ink color), and one other spot color. The two-color design method is probably the most difficult to do, but it's much cheaper than the four-color method. If you're good with Photoshop, think in terms of duotones...it may help. If not, then one method I used to see used quite often (one that I picked up on myself) is grayscale images, black copy...and some type of color adornment--it's kinda hard to explain without actually showing you.

Another thing that I used to always suggest to some of my customers is that if the guts of their magazines or books (guts = inside pages) didn't have a lot of images and mostly text, to use the xerox method to produce those, and one of the other printing processes to produce their covers. That also helped clients save a little bit of cash.

I know this may be a bit much, so if you need any further clarification, let me know and I'll help you out. But Imma be honest with you...having spent time in each chair of the printing business (the designer chair, the prepress editor chair, and the actual pressman chair), I will say that it's best to get a VERY GOOD understanding of the actual printing process, because that will help you out so much more once you understand all the different little factors involved (one of the major things being ink coverage on press sheets...certain presses cannot hold large solids.) The other thing is that you can take your knowledge of the printing process into account when putting together your comps, and ultimately your layout, to determine first of all your color process (2-color, four-color, or four color +, also called 5-, 6-, or even 7-color, which is basically four-color plus one, two, or three other spot pantones...and yes, I have had customers utilize up to the seven-color process...for what reason I do not know).

As far as InDesign is concerned, there is a function in there that will allow you to check out your file in plate separations; however, without having it right in front of me right now, I can't remember what it is or how to get to it. And when I say "separations", this will allow you to see what your "plates" will look like, which will also help you determine if something is off in your file somewhere. However, all of this is MUCH easier to do in Adobe Acrobat, which, when you become proficient with it, can become a godsend of sorts in regards to prepress editing.

I believe you already know this, but the major thing to remember in print design (unless your client doesn't mind using the color copy production method) is this: CMYK. ALWAYS. Convert your images to CMYK in Photoshop (or whatever photo editing software you're using) BEFORE incorporating them into your layout software (Quark, InDesign, PageMaker if anyone still uses that, Microsoft Publisher--which I hope NO ONE uses anymore--and the like). If you're using black for text, ensure it's 100% black. (If you've ever checked out a default black swatch in Illy, PS, or InD, you might notice that it has different percentages of cyan, magenta, and yellow, as well as, well, black. That's a little secret I tip people off on all the time. True, a full mixture of all four colors will produce a richer black, but depending on what type of paper you're using (which is another discussion for another time), the difference really isn't even all that noticeable--plus, it helps when it comes to plate separations.)

Oh--and one other thing: PLEASE impress upon your clients that their images need to be AT LEAST 300 dpi...especially for any type of cover images...if they expect any kind of decent image quality on the finished printed piece. Far too ofen, when people go pulling images off the web, they do so thinking they will get a very nice picture to use in a book or something, not realizing most web resolutions are about 72 dpi--needless to say, that's a much lesser quality.

(Here's a lesson I used to use with some of the students I used to tutor after I graduated: get an elactic ACE bandage or something, take a thick marker or any sort, and write your name on it, draw a picture, or do whatever. Then stretch it out. See how it loses quality and integrity? Same thing with images with a low dpi--or, really, an image that one tries to stretch to make bigger than its native file size.)

Okay..I realized I've written too much, but I'm on staff duty right now so it ain't like I got much else to do, plus I wanted to help. Hope I achieved that.

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In Design is very powerful. Bucco's covered most of the technical aspects, but In Design can do a lot of that stuff for you, like traps, bleeds and pagination (ordering the pages for saddle-stitching). Most printers will ask for the InDesign file, a press-ready .pdf and any images that are linked in the file. They will then take it from there and do all that other junk.

Put a bleed on there if the pictures or graphics need to bleed off the edge of the page(s). It's the same process I outlined in your other post, even though this is InDesign and not Illustrator: Make your pages the correct, final trim size, then make yourself some guides on your template page for the bleed and for your layout grid. When you have it all set, 'Save As' a .pdf and specify the 1/8 inch bleed in the dialog. You'll get a multi-page .pdf with an extra 1/8 inch all around.

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Wow guys, this was way more information than I was expecting to receive which I is excellent and I am really appreciative of.

I looked through a lot of walk throughs and tutorials online but after reading all of this, it is much more than I learned- and certainly explained better.

I'm going to take all of this information and see what I can do with it. Hopefully it all turns out well and I can show off the final product. It will be pretty simple in nature but something I am excited about and want to be proud of.

Thanks a lot guys, if I have any more questions I will post them again here.

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Is designing page-by-page A4 going to be okay when I go to package it all? Or should I be designing in A3? I had a meeting with them tonight and convinced them to bind it by saddle-stitching.

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A4, A3...help me out here. Cuz I know you're not talking about envelopes... :D

A4 is a page size, which magazines come in. It is slightly bigger than Letter sized paper.

A3 is two A4's together.

All our standard office paper Down here is A4.

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A4 is 11.69 in wide by 8.27 in tall.

A3 is 16.54 in wide by 11.69 in wide.

So it's two A4's stuck together.

Well Indesign has a feature called facing pages. It essentially lays the pages out like it would be in your magazine. If you set it up as A4 pages, it will put 2 of those A4 together and you will get that A3 size with the facing pages feature set up. If you would set it up as the A3 page size with facing pages off, you have to set your center fold manually.

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A4, A3...help me out here. Cuz I know you're not talking about envelopes... :D

You just wrote a mini-Bible on InDesign and printing but didn't recognize A4 or A3? Come on man! :P

This might have just been an in-shop thing...but we never went by those A3 or A4 labels, which is why I was unsure. We just called the sheets by what size they were. (But you can see it never was a hindrance to my work either... ^_^ ) The other thing is that we cut down all of our own paper from the 25x36 sizes the bulk shipments came in to whatever size the presses called for.

But yes, PSUdraw is right about the facing pages setup thing...pretty much all the layout programs I used back at the job had that feature (except for possibly Microsoft Publisher...then again, it might have). From what I can recall, InD had the best setup functionality out of all the different programs we had...but even yet and still, I found myself favoring Quark Express for the longest until I forced myself to like InD. (And that probably had more to do with the functionality of inserting/placing/modifying native files across the Adobe platform than anything else.)

Just out of curiosity...you figure out your color usage yet?

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I'm getting together the mock up version of the magazine now. I want to post it here if some of you want to check it out. It is kind of rough and just the layout with some filler text at this point. They want a few copies of it printed out so they can show advertisers to convince them to purchase ads. Maybe if some of you check it out, you can tell me if it is appropriate enough to send to a printer before I actually do (which should be on Thursday).

Andrew, thanks for that bit of advice...I was unsure of that at first but luckily I was working in A4 from the start, although I almost opted for A3.

Also, these women sure are being demanding. They e-mail/text/call me about a change or a magazine they saw where they liked something...and I keep caving in to adjust it for them. Only issue is in most cases, they go back to what I originally suggested. I was a bit more firm with them last meeting in my expectations from them, so hopefully that changes.

They also dropped the most insulting comment possible to a designer in a meeting with me the other day. She didn't know she was being rude but she is really wanting to get the mock up printed and said "what programs do you use? can I buy them and do some of this to help you a bit?" I almost wanted to say "are you going to ask your dentist if you can pull a few of your own teeth or the pilot if you can land your flight?" I wasn't rude to her but it was offputting and I said "if you have around a grand to spend and 3-4 years, you might be able to put out something halfway decent." I said that in the nicest way possible.

Other than that, they have been pretty nice...just don't realize what goes into the design process. Heck, even I am learning some new things in regards to layout...so I am not going to be putting out the next issue of Vogue or Vanity Fair anytime soon.

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