Booklets: making it work

Simon Tranter
by Simon Tranter 4 years ago

Consistent orientation

Each template has a specific orientation, either landscape or portrait. Don’t change this.

If you want to supply landscape pages on a portrait booklet, just rotate the content of the pages yourself so they fit in the orientation required by the product specification. While doing this, pay careful attention to the imposition. Make a mock-up to be safe.

Allow for creep

In a stapled Booklet, the bulk of the paper causes the inner pages to extend (creep) further out than the outer pages when folded. When trimmed, the inner pages are actually narrower than the outer pages, and the some of the outer pages' content is hidden near the spine.

The amount of creep is dependent on the number of pages and paper thickness. The thicker the Booklet, the more you need to keep important objects away from the edges.

Mind your margins

Normally, we recommend that you keep important objects at least 4 mm from the ‘trim’ size. As a result of creep, we’d advise you to increase your margin to avoid anything being chopped off.

When we design Booklets ourselves, we tend to leave at least 10 mm of ‘quiet zone’ or ‘white space’ on the trimmed edge. This means that creep isn’t as noticeable and items won’t be chopped off. The more pages your booklet has, the more likely it is to be affected by creep.

Elements crossing the spine

These are difficult to get right

It’s unlikely that objects that cross pages will line up exactly. It’s best to avoid them, or accept that there will be some movement throughout your booklet (manage your customer’s expectations).

Don’t use borders; they’ll look terrible.
Avoid trying to match colours throughout the booklet.

The first diagram shows two facing pages of a booklet, with the text “OBJECT” crossing the spine of the booklet. Some of this will be lost in the hatched gap.

The production process trims away 3 mm bleed from all edges of each page, leaving only the inner area (shown here as an inner box, which would not usually be present in your design).


Ordinarily, objects crossing the spine would lose 6 mm into the spine. Here’s how to avoid that:

  1. Duplicate the object that spans the pages.
  2. Move the topmost object 6 mm to the right, and crop its left side so that it stops at the (left) edge of the (right) page.

  3. Crop the original so that its right side stops at the (right) edge of the (left) page.

Some design applications might not support ‘cropping’ (clipping, or ‘pasting inside’) of native objects, for example, Quark Xpress. In these cases, you might need to export the elements as EPS format at stage 2, and use a picture box to crop the imported EPS.