InDesign Help Noob 4 Big Job

Hi world,

I work as an IT in a fashion company. Recently, due to covid-19 and budget cuts, they assinged me to design the next catalogue for winter 2021 ( i have some knowlegde in graphic design - photoshop, illustrator and after effects, as its my passion since college ) but I have some blank spots in InDesign, not (yet) in the designing process but in printing mostly. The catalogue is supposed to be around 100 pages. I think it’s not correct just to set up the catalogue using pages. My logic says that it must be developed by sections and then must glued together in the printer. Am i right ? Any advice on how shoud I set up my document ?

Don’t start it from scratch; use the previous catalog and just change content as needed. Save As…

Those sections are called signatures, and yes, you’ll need to ask the printer how large the signatures will be. Books, magazines, catalogs, etc., aren’t printed one page at a time. Instead, multiple pages are printed on one large sheet of paper. The individual pages are “imposed” by the printer (which means the printer arranges them) in a way that when the sheet of paper is folded and trimmed, all the pages are in the right order within the signature.

Signature sizes vary depending on the size of the book and the size of the printing press. A typical signature might be 24 pages, so your approximately 100-page book would actually be 96 pages. That said, the printer can insert an extra four pages, but those four extra pages will, in effect, constitute a separate signature and will cost more since it might require a separate press run. Keep in mind that you need to think in terms of multiples of four pages.

You mentioned the pages being glued together. This would be called perfect binding, but are you sure it will be perfect bound? A 100-page book might be stapled or saddle-stitched instead, which is a bit cheaper. If the book will be perfect bound, you’ll need to allow for extra space in the inside gutter since perfect bound books can’t be fully opened without cracking the spine. There’s also the matter of whether or not the catalog will be self-covered or a separate heavier paper stock will be used for the cover.

Or as HotButton suggested, if the size and page count of the catalog hasn’t changed since it was last printed, use it as a guide. Also keep in mind that I live in the USA. The processes will be the same wherever you live, but the terminology might differ.

Just a follow-up on your sentence since it could be interpreted several different ways.

If you’re saying you think the signatures should be created as separate InDesign files, no, that’s incorrect. You only need to make one InDesign file containing all the pages for the entire catalog. The printer will break it down into signatures and determine the imposition depending on their needs.

Just be aware that the total page count must be in multiples of four and, if possible, those pages should add up to the total pages available in the signatures. Only using 28 pages in a 32-page signature, for example wastes four pages that you otherwise could have used. Likewise, adding 4 or 8 extra pages beyond what’s available in a signature will increase costs.


Right. I’d expect the trim size and binding method would be the same as the previous edition, and in any case, with someone who is inexperienced in print design taking it over, it’s no time to change those aspects. Presumably, the source file setup for that previous edition worked, and will work again without tossing in any surprises for the output provider. Page count is flexible regardless. Get in touch with the output provider and seek their guidance. No one can tell you better how to go about submitting what they need for trouble-free output.

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I sympathize the position you find yourself in. I question the decision made by your boss (of a presumably fair-size fashion company), despite the current predicaments, to heap the trust of the whole season on your sole shoulder. Have you discussed with him/her about your capability, your strength and weaknesses, and available resources?

Good leadership is to set people up to succeed. If you are worthy of his/her trust, fine. I, personally, would prefer everyone understand the situation, and have the company’s best interest at heart.

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Thank you all for your fast replies…
Each answer make the puzzle easier for me.

They have full confidence in me because the last 3 years i work there i have developed and helped a lot in tech development and even designing ( banners , flyers , tags and labels for our clothes ) , so they discussed it with me , and i accepted. I was not forced to do that. They know that it may be a risk but they trust me. Fingers crossed, everything go fine.

Unfortunately the previous graphic designer gave us just a pdf file. I tried to import it but i think that i need the InDesign file.

Surely you do need the InDesign file. Frankly I’m shocked that a company whose ability to do business relies on effective printed catalogs would fail to protect their intellectual property to the extent that the absence of one graphic designer could take down production.

That InDesign file and everything in it (+backups) should be resident on the company’s network server(s), and that designer’s employment contract should clearly bestow full ownership of all those files upon the company. So, if it’s really true that all the company rightly has is a PDF of the previous edition, which, I repeat, would by a gargantuan management failure, has anyone asked the designer for the files?


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