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Adobe InDesign for Spiral Binding

... switch binding? Or the Text Block?

A reader in the Design Cafe recently asked some questions about designing a pocket booklet using Adobe InDesign. It was an unusual project in that it would be spiral bound from the TOP of the booklet -- therefore could not use InDesign's default "center" binding layout. The reader asks:

Here's a question for InDesign... I've been working in InDesign with master pages -- not working with spreads in the traditional sense, since the guide will be bound on top. Is there a way to change the binding side of the document.

This is a mystery to me, because I had not dug deeply enough into InDesign to see if binding could be switched to the top. I was sure it had to be there, for calendars and the such, so rather than digging in myself, I thought this would be a good question for Anne-Marie Concepcion, the high-priestess of geekness herself, "The Design Geek." (Author of numerous books, including several on InDesign.) So I popped out an email.

The Design Geek replies
      Nope ... would be nice though. A lot of people would like to be able to specify the top or bottom of a page as a binding edge; like when you're creating calendars for example. I'd encourage people who want this feature to let Adobe know about it; they do read what people request:

Back to the drawing board

Undaunted, I returned to InDesign to figure out how I would do the project.

My first advice to the project was to get in touch with the printer who would be doing the job and attain their specifications for trim and binding allowances. With that info, set up a new InDesign file giving the exact dimensions, using landscape mode for the pages. We'll use the traditional page set-up for proper imposition and binding, but ROTATE our linked text blocks during the production and proofing stages. Once approved, we would simply rotate the pages back into their proper position to be printed, trimmed and bound.

spiral bound book


For a booklet with more than 50 pages, "Creep" would be an issue if it were to be saddle-stitched. I do not know if InDesign offers Creep (or "offset") adjustments -- I suspect not -- but printers DO adjust for it in their imposition process.

For spiral binding there is NO creep. So each "leaf" is trimmed exactly the same. Your vendor will have the specifics for that process -- in all likelihood, keeping uniform trim throughout.

I sent the diagram back to Her Geekness, who replied the following:

Tips from the Design Geek

Anne-Marie ConcepcionThat is one way I'd consider doing it, especially if I didn't know who the printer was. One tip is that after text frames are rotated, if the designer needs to make edits they might find it easier to do so in the Story Editor (Command/Ctrl-Y). The Story (SE) editor will show all the content (sans formatting) in normal orientation.

And a story editor tip is to make a text selection in the layout before opening the Story Editor; as it's easier to orient yourself in the SE that way (the same text will be selected in the SE window). And vice versa ... make a selection in the SE before pressing Command/Ctrl-Y -- which toggles the SE window open/closed -- so the same text will be selected in layout.

However if I knew who the printer was going to be, I'd ask my printer rep or pre-press guy first. Show them the project and see what their suggestion is. Always best to ask the printer first before proceeding with any out-of-the-ordinary job.

But most likely, I'd lay this out "normally":
Make a facing pages spread with normal portrait orientation, and use the Master page to put the color bar/folio on the top of the left-facing (even) master, and on the bottom of the right-facing one. Allow for the spiral binding via the top and bottom margins of the two diff. pages.

I mean, why go to the trouble of rotating everything yadda yadda ... the printer will be imposing the individual pages differently than that for their press, anyway. It will probably be easier for them to do so if they could just start with a PDF of the individual pages in normal orientation.

Again, this is why I'd start by asking the printer who'll be doing the job.

Anne-Marie Concepcion

The Solution that Satisfies

Thank you Anne! So this is how we helped solve one Cafe listee's design and publishing problem. It's always nice to know help is just an email away.

And by all means, never be afraid to ask for help... that's what we're here for!

Thanks for reading
      fred showker


THANK YOU Anne-Marie Concepcion! Be sure to check out Ann's books on InDesign, and visit "HerGeekness", Fearless Leader at Seneca Design & Training and, of course, DesignGeek Central for all her great Tips & Tricks for the Digital Designer.

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