How to prepare a print ready flat and single fold document in InDesign

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Time spent on setting up a job will save you time in the long-run and mean the resulting PDF will accurately reflect your requirement.
This guide focuses on the use of Adobe InDesign but a lot of the principals are transferable to other software.
Before you start make sure you have all the key information you need to create the page, particularly trim size, bleed information, print resolution, and colour type (CMYK or Spot colour).
There are two main zones to bear in mind when creating artwork. The Safe Text Zone (Margins) and the Bleed Zone.
The Safe Text Zone is the amount of distance required from the edge of the page to the text margin. The MINIMUM recommended distance is 5mm.
The Bleed Zone is the space outside the page. The MINIMUM amount of bleed required is 3mm extended out from the edge of the page. When you want a graphic or photo touching the finished trim edge you must add bleed by extending the image past the trim edge. Guillotines are not always 100% accurate so you need to add ‘bleed to take into account any movement when the product is being cut to its finished size.
Setting up InDesign for a 2pp Flat artwork

Launch InDesign and go to FILE>NEW DOCUMENT

1. Select the number of pages you want. So in the case of a 2pp document such as a postcard just put 2 pages. If your document will only have artwork on one side then you can put 1 Page. Please note that this will still be referred to as a 2pp because paper has two sides even if the back has no content. Do not select ‘facing pages’ for flat work.

2. Select page size (this will be your final trimmed size) and orientation.

3. Margins refers to the ‘Safe Text Zones’. The minimum recommended is 5mm and is usually set at 10 or 12mm.

4. Set Bleed to 3mm and press OK.

new doc flat

A blank document will open and you will see the following lines:

5. The Red Line indicates the reach of your Bleed Area

6. The purple line shows the Safe Text Zone (Margins)

7. The white box with black outline indicates the trimmed page size


Setting up InDesign for a 4pp Flat artwork

Launch InDesign and go to FILE>NEW DOCUMENT

1. Put 2 pages in here. This is because with 4pp we recommend setting the artwork out at its ‘flat size’. This is the size of the final document BEFORE its folded size. So a 4pp A5 Portrait documents flat size is a 2pp A4 Landscape dimension.

2. Set the ‘Flat size’ in here e.g. A4 Landscape for a 4pp A5 Portrait.

3. Margins refers to the ‘Safe Text Zones’. The minimum recommended is 5mm and is usually set at 10 or 12mm.

4. Set Bleed to 3mm and press OK.

See points 5, 6 & 7 above about the page guides


swatchesColour Swatches Please ensure that all colour swatches are CMYK unless you are printing a specific Pantone Colour or using a custom spot colour to highlight personalised areas of text for lasering/inkjetting. You can tell what type of colour swatch you have by the icons after the colour name.

swatch keyCMYK (Cyan, Magenta Yellow, and Black) also know as 4 Colour Process

RGB (Red, Green and Blue). Used for computer VDUs. Requires converting to CMYK.

Book Colour (Such as Pantone). Industry Standard specialist ink colours.

Process. The colour has been mixed using the primary colours of either CMYK or RGB.

Spot Colour. This indicates that the colour is in its own unique colour channel and not part of the process colour channels.

Checking Image Resolution

When you scale an image in InDesign you are affecting its final resolution. If you put in a large 72ppi image and scale its dimensions down, its effective resolution will increase. Likewise if you increase a small image you reduces its effective resolution. You can view an images effective resolution by going to WINDOW>LINKS. Click on the image and in the LINK INFO box is the images information. This shows the ACTUAL PPI and the EFFECTIVE PPI. The recommended EFFECTIVE PPI needs to be 300 PPI or above but as a absolute minimum we recommend no less than 150PPI.

Check image resolution

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