moving cheese

May 24, 2002

I have been working on a magazine layout for the past few days. I put this magazine together a couple of months ago, using a raw PDF file from the publisher. Using Adobe Acrobat, I stripped out all of the text and graphics, leaving the backgrounds. I then pulled those into Photoshop, saving the files as Photoshop-native PSD files. From there, I could place those into an Adobe InDesign 2.0 document that I saved as a template, meaning I made it read only. Some of the other elements taken from the original PDF file were images that we use as “color” elements in our pages. We use them to show transition and also to fill space. I pulled a couple of header logos using the process I used to gather the background pages.

The original design was put together by a private designer. My job is to take the graphics she designed and put a layout together with them. The editor sends me Windows Word documents that I can directly import into InDesign without having to actually open word and copy and paste from there. The last issue took over a week to complete from gathering the PDF to the time we had to have it to the publisher. Much of that time was developing the template and testing the different elements, not to mention that we had extra problems since the publisher is a Quark shop…more below. This time, since the templates are in place, we will spend 3 days putting the magazine together. Not 7 full 8 hour days like the last issue. I have enough time to test different fonts and a couple of other ideas. The writer emails me docs, and I (almost) immediately save those to a text folder and then start InDesign and place the text on the correct page. Testing usually if this information needs to be in a column format or one main page. Usually our feature will be in one column while other pages that hold things like class data and research updates will be at least two columns.

Adding extra problems was the fact that our publisher doesn’t officially except InDesign, they are a Quark and Illustrator shop. The printer has put together a standard, but our publisher doesn’t have a way to view those proofs. We send our final files out overnighted and include the actual files, thanks to InDesign’s built-in preflight tool, and we also include a PDF proof to the printer’s specs.

Without getting too geeky about this, I really like to separate all of the elements so I know what I’m looking for. If I did this in a flat-file format, it would take more time. I have a “magazine” directory that has sub-folders like “templates” & “issues”. Under “issues” There are folders for each edition/issue of the magazine. Under the edition folder I keep the actual InDesign document and I have folders for “text”, “graphics”, “proofs” & “final”. Since we change out photos for each issue, this is also a good way to keep track of who we’ve used and if we need a photo for another of our publications.

I’ve been trying to find good examples of research magazines, to see how they design and see the possibility of what we have. The format we use works, works well. But I also want to see what changes we might need to make. We already produce an award winning magazine, and we want this new physician’s magazine to be just as good. I’m putting together a new portfolio, and I’ll include this magazine as an example.