Here are some tips for working on a large magazine, which could save you a lot of time and trouble.

Your files

When working in a team, it’s worth deciding on a strategy for file management. You may want to consider:

  • Use a shared folder accessible by all team members (your techies will set this up for you).
  • Keep images in a single folder and give images good names.
  • Convert images to CMYK.
  • Don’t design your entire magazine in one Indesign file (think what would happen if it got lost or corrupted!).
    • Create Indesign documents for each article or section based on your flatplan and include the adverts in these.
  • Put your Indesign files in a single location, not in separate folders.
  • Name your Indesign files using corresponding page numbers e.g. “23-24 agony aunt.indd” – this will help ordering later.


It’s important to use high quality and high resolution images at all times.

Here are some points to remember:

  • Convert Images to CMYK using Photoshop.
  • Always keep all your image files you use – they are linked, not embedded.
  • Use Photoshop – you can edit an image in Photoshop even if it’s already been placed on a page. Just update it in the links panel.
  • Use Photoshop to do image cut-outs. It’s a much quicker and flexible way to work than wasting time in Indesign!


It’s important to use Bleed. This ensures images and colours that are intended to be printed to the end of the page actually do so. If you don’t do Bleed properly you run the risk of having white paper around the edges of your magazine. You can turn on Bleed guides by going to:

File > Document Setup > Choose More Options > Set Bleed to 6mm

You will see an extra red guide in your document indicating where to bleed images and colours to.


Some of the fonts you want to use may be protected by copyright. These include some common fonts such as Helvetica. Before you commit to using your fonts, export a page using the fonts to PDF. The export process will warn you about any font issues.

Indesign documents

Here are a few tips for working on Indesign documents:

Indesign Book

Don’t put all your magazine pages in one big Indesign document! At worst you could lose all your work, but also remember that only one person can edit a document at one time.

It’s best to have individual Indesign documents for each of your articles or sections, this way it’s safe and individuals have control over their own designs.

In order to link the documents together in your magazine, you can use an Indesign Book.

A Book is a special panel which lets you combine your Indesign pages.

The Book will manage ‘auto page numbering’ when you add your documents to it. This will also allow you to move articles around in the book without having to manually update them.

The Book will also let you distribute styles and swatches, but you may want to turn this off as it can be complicated.

When it comes to finishing the magazine, the Book will let you do a Pre-Flight Check to check if there are any problems and then export your whole magazine to PDF for printing.

Workflow summary

A summary of workflow is a s follows:

  1. Basic template (incl. Master pages, auto page numbers, swatches and styles)
  2. Create all documents from template
  3. Create the Book
    1. add documents to it
  4. Close the book
  5. Make your magazine
  6. Open the book
    1. Check number of pages
    2. Preflight
    3. Fix any problems
  7. Export Book as PDF
  8. Check it!

It’s important that you check your magazine regularly for any problems such as poor image quality.

A pre flight check will alert you of any missing images (which will print in low quality) and exporting your pages as high quality print PDFs will give you a visual indication of quality. If you spot pixelated images in the PDF then do something about it!