How to set up a saddle stitch book in InDesign

Rogue Create and Print, Saddle Stitched booklet, a4 booklet, menu, stapled brochure, printing, commercial, a5 stapled booklet, book printing,

Follow our Step by Step tutorial to learn how to correctly set up a saddle stitched booklet for print in Adobe Indesign.

Saddle Stitch books are one of the most popular print products we produce. They can be used for annual reports, capability statements, magazines, school yearbooks, calendars, soft cover novels, poetry books, notebooks, Design and Fashion Portfolios and more.

The difference between a saddle stitch book and a perfect bound book is in the way the pages are collated and bound.

In modern production machines, saddle stitched books are produced 'online' in one process - where the sheets get fed through, are collated, stapled, trimmed and finished as a complete book. With perfect bound, they are printed individually, trimmed, collated and then glued to the spine.

A few things to keep in mind when designing and setting up a Booklet for print:

  • Books must be designed as multiple of 4, otherwise you will have blank pages. A good way to think of this is if you imagine an A3 piece of paper folded in half to A4, there are 4 'pages'. If you had a booklet with, say, 10 pages, you would have 2 blank pages.
  • We cannot print from 'spreads' nor do we require you to paginate the PDF. You only need to supply us with a PDF of single pages, in page order, each with bleed and crop marks (how to do this we will show you in the steps below)
  • If your document is more than 80 pages, you will need to factor in page creep. This simply means that as more pages get folded together, it reduced the space available on the page. So, all you need to do is ensure you have about 2-5mm extra space on the inner page margins and not place any important information there. 

With those considerations in mind - let's get started on setting up your booklet! 

Time Needed: 30 minutes

Total Cost: AUD100

Things Needed?

Current Adobe Creative Cloud License.
Your logo, Images, Fonts etc.
Basic Graphic Design Skills.

Required tools:

A Computer.
Internet connection.
Adobe InDesign installed.

Set up and layout your file:

Step 1: Open Indesign and Set Up Your Pages

  1. Open Indesign
  2. Click 'Create New'
  3. In the Preset details, enter the size of your booklet - for a A4 portrait, enter a width of 210mm and a height of 297mm
  4. Tick 'Facing Pages'
  5. Enter pages in multipoles of 4: 8,12,16,20 etc. 
  6. Margins: 3mm
  7. Bleed and slug: enter 3mm and link to all sides/edges
  8. Click 'Create'

Step 2: Complete your design

  1. Complete your design, ensuring you use the following:
    • High resolution images - 300DPI
    • Logo and other graphical elements in vector or EPS
    • Avoid text-based images but if they must be used, ensure the image is 800DPI
    • Ensure your design has plenty of clear space from the edges - keep important elements within the 3mm margins you created in step 1
    • If your book has over 80 pages, add additional margin to the pages starting from around page 50. To do this, go to Layout-Margins and Columns and on the Inside and Outside margins, add 2-5mm. 

Step 3: Double check your artwork set up

Before you export, double check your design:

  1. Ensure all colours/graphics bleed to the edge (the red outer line), and no text goes beyond the margins
  2. Ensure all placed images/vectors are either linked or embedded

Step 4: Export to Press Ready PDF

  1. Click File - Export - Save AS Type: Adobe PDF (Print)
  2. In the General tab select the following:
    • Export as Pages -do NOT click Spreads!
    • Select All Pages (assuming you are exporting all pages in the document)
  3. In the Compression tab select the following:
    • Colour images: 300PPI, Automatic (JPEG), Image Quality: Maximum.
    • Repeat in the Greyscale and monochrome options if your artwork utilises these
    • click 'Compress text and line art'
  4. In the Marks and Bleeds tab:
    • in Marks just select 'Crop Marks'
    • in Bleeds tick 'Use document settings' which should show 3mm on all four edges
  5. In the Output tab:
    • Convert to destination, select Document CMYK, and DON'T include profiles.
    • Click on Ink Manager and check if there are any spot (Pantone) colours.
    • If they are, just click 'All spots to process'
  6. You can now click the Export button to export your file to PDF.

Step 5: Check your file and send to us for print!

  1. Open up your PDF to make sure everything looks as you want it to.
  2. Ensure that you can see Crop Marks and that the art bleeds beyond that (note: bleed marks aren't required)
  3. Fix any errors in Indesign as required and re-export
  4. If you are happy with your digital proof, send through to us for print.To do so, you can email us the file or upload to our wetransfer site:

Learn more about how to set up artwork for print:

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