Category Archives: Design

Book Design Template for InDesign

Well, I’ve been meaning to for years now, but I finally went ahead and made myself a cleaner template for designing the interior of books. So I figure I might as well put it online. I want self-publishers to have better books, after all.

indt file | idml file

Use the indt file if you’re using InDesign CS6 or later. It’s a template file, which means every time you open it, it will open as an “untitled” project that needs to be saved. Use the idml file if you’re using InDesign CS4-5.5.

Designing a book is hella complicated. This template can help. Or you can hire someone (like me) to design your book for you. I offer discounts to self-publishers, collectively-run publishers, and to not-for-profit ventures that I believe in. My email address is
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one-inch button template for indesign

Awhile back I made an indesign template for designing one-inch buttons. I’m not sure why I never posted it before now. (I’d guess “sloth” as the most likely answer.)

I’ve uploaded the .indd file for InDesign CS6 and the .idml file for InDesign CS4 and later. 35 buttons fit on each page. The outer black circle is the only printing guide, and it shows you where to cut. The green margin is the safe bleed margin. The pink margin indicates the actual edge of the front of the button, while the blue box within that is the safe margin for text and important elements on the button. When you print, make sure you set it to print at 100% size, rather than “shrink to fit.”
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Going from web resolution images to print resolution images

I like to make zines. I’ve made an awful lot of them. And, for the most part, I do the layout on a computer. In the old days, zinesters (god i hate that term. I think cause it sounds like “hipsters.”) would keep stacks of clipart books and old books and whatever else around to cull images from from. I used to travel with a ziploc bag full of photos and illustrations that I’d cut out of books that I’d rescued from the trash, and I photocopied those images.

But I don’t travel with a scanner. And while I’ve used my digital camera as a serviceable scanner (see, for example, the typewritten text on the album cover for Nomadic War Machine), I mostly get my images off the internet.

But here’s the thing: images you find on the internet are, by default, 72 dots-per-inch (dpi). Printed matter, on the other hand, tends to be 300dpi. So images that look nice and big on a computer screen will come out very small when printed, or very ugly.

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The problems with laying out long books as one file

I’m posting about these problems because I wasn’t able to find anyone else on the internet mentioning them, or their solutions. Of course, I wasn’t able to replicate the problems for a screenshot, but I’ll be more on top of that in the future.

For reference, I’m using InDesign CS5 on a MacBook Pro from 2008 with 2gigs of RAM.

InDesign has a “book” feature that lets you reference multiple indesign files to come together as a book. I never mess with it. There never seemed to be any reason to: with the pages palette, navigation isn’t really a problem, and since you can set section starts to redo page number, etc., it just didn’t seem worth the effort.

But I’d also never done lay out on an 800+ page book before, either. This past month I’ve been laying out Property Is Theft!, a gigantic Proudhon reader. It’s a monster of a file, with 500+ footnotes, dozens of sections, lots of subheads that are set to “keep with next line” etc. Still, I didn’t run into problems for the first 700 pages or so. And then, eventually, InDesign got kind of buggy. The first thing that happened is that a few random pages near the end decided to take forever to render… so whether I was working on them, or whether I was skipping past them, my whole system choked for ten seconds or so. Makes making any changes pretty aggravating.

A few saves and a few restarts later, those pages weren’t causing problems anymore. But then as I started to go through and do widow and orphan control (making sure each page is pretty, with no straggler single lines or words places they shouldn’t be), I found that I simply couldn’t select text in certain, random, pages. Saving, quitting, and restarting did nothing.

The solution that I found was to do a search for a string of text within an affected paragraph. The search dialogue was able to highlight text, and with the window open, I was able to select text freely. It also seemed to “break” the curse that was upon any given page.

The other problem I ran across was that my eyedropper tool would act funny. Specifically, when I used it to pick up the style of certain paragraphs, the entire page would turn black, some sort of screen error, but one that could only be solved by undoing the action. I never found a way around this, and simply applied paragraph styles the slower way by using the paragraph styles palette.

In the future, I guess I’ll start using the “book” feature, though honestly it still seems like more trouble than it’s worth.