Friday, March 30, 2012

Using Document Grid and Visible Guides to Create Imposition Templates

At our recent Raleigh IDUG meeting, we went through the process of making printed business cards. As I was creating the 8-up template, dragging out guide after guide, one of our members asked why I didn't use the document grid feature for that purpose. To be honest, I've never used document grid for anything. So I really had no educated opinion on the matter.

Here is the document that prompted her question.


When I got home, I wondered how I could have bypassed such a simple feature as the Document Grid. For some reason, I has always ignored the Document Grid, probably because I don't generally do grid-based layouts; at least, that's what I thought...

After a little experimenting, I learned that the document grid can actually handle many of my guide-dragging tasks. For example, if I need to create an 8.5 x 11 template with four frames on it (2 wide by 2 high), I can use the document grid for this purpose. (Be sure to: View > Grids and Guides > Show Document Grid.)



Something to keep in mind about the document grid is that the grids starts at the zero point of the document. So let's see what happens if we use document grid for business cards (12 up on 8.5 x 11).


 If we make a letter size page and set up the document grid for 3.5" x 2", it will start off looking wrong. Though technically, there are 12-up on a page, they go right to the edge, and there is no room for crop marks. See how the grid is not centered on the page?

Document Grid as it looks before adjusting the zero point

But once we adjust the zero point of the document to .25 inches on both the horizontal and vertical rulers, it will place the grid in the correct spot.




But, as great as this works for creating n-up templates without bleed, how does it work for documents with bleed? The short answer is that it doesn't. For my n-up templates that require bleed, I like to create placeholder frames and manually drag out ruler guides. Why all the guides, you ask? Well, years ago when I worked in print shops, we would have to "rule up" each of our designs after we printed a proof. Bascially, we would draw in these guides by hand (with a ruler and pencil, not a computer) for every single proof.  I found it to be a waste of time (though not unimportant), and rather inaccurate. For this reason, I like to add guides to all the crop marks. Then, by exporting a PDF with layers and visible guides and grids, we no longer have to rule up the proof by hand.


Because we used included Acrobat Layers (only available in with Acrobat 6 compatibility or higher) and we included Visible Guides and Grids, you'll see the PDF now has layers, once of which is called "Guides and Grids." We didn't have to make a separate layer in our InDesign document just for the guides. By checking the "Visible Guides and Grids" checkbox in the PDF export dialog box, when InDesign created the PDF, it automatically placed all those visible guides and grids on their own PDF layer.

This is how I would print the document as my proof. See how nice it is not to have to rule up the document by hand? And if by chance one of the business cards has gotten shifted inside the frame, you'll be able to easily see it if the visible guides are included in the printed proof.

8up PDF with Guides layers visible
And when I am ready to run the job (for real, not for proofing purposes), I then turn off the Guides and Grids layer.

8up PDF with Guides layers hidden