Über-Master Pages

The Master stalks Buffy..
As an unashamed Buffy fan, I have to admit that every time I hear the word “master” I get visions of Buffy’s original Big Bad. The aged vampire who she eventually ends up beating after making a witty remark about him dying (poofing actually, since he was already dead). While he was a A Big Bad, he wasn’t nearly as Bad as he thought he was. Not if he could get beat by a snappily-dressed high-school cheerleader. And all of this is a non-subtle intro to master pages for people who think they’re Bigger and Badder than they actually are.

Over the years, I’ve talked with a lot of designers who are just as afraid of master pages as Buffy was of the Master. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But once Buffy was given knowledge of the Master , she became less afraid. And I think the same would happen with a designer or production person who is making or needs to use a template.

Like so many things I’ll probably end up talking about, master pages are great because they save time. Time that I’d rather spend watching Buffy, time that Michael would rather spend Photoshopping space suits on his cats, time that you may rather spend reading Tolstoy. Or, time that you may be able to spend working for another client or working for that promotion. Master pages lead to measured efficiencies. Impress your boss with that line.

This is our sample file. This is the first spread, there are other pages that follow this that contain the last bit of our story but this is the perfect example of how to begin creating a template from this document. I wouldn’t consider this a template, but some people would. It’s a point of preference and comfort. Since I often think my way is right and therefore the only way something could/should be done, I’ve become shocked lately to see how some people’s thinking differs from mine. Mine is still right, of course, but I’m willing to be understanding that they’re different from me.

I like a template to contain empty boxes/frames that are linked as needed but minimally styled. For example, my version of the perfect template for this layout to be used across all file types would like this:
Template Outlines

How I got this was by selecting ALL, cutting, going to Master Page A and Pasting in Place. I then deleted all of the content from the text boxes and applied the “none” object style to each frame, except for the footer. Now I have the frames I need to begin creating any of the four types of files without having to remove any text. All I have to do is select a box and style it with the desired object style before I begin pouring. There are a few other things I need to do to make this template work better. By taking a few extra steps now, I’ll save myself a lot of time later.

There are just a few things I’d like to explain more. Let’s start with the red line around the outside of my spread. This designates how much bleed the printer requires of me. This number will vary from printer to printer so be sure to ask yours how much to prepare for. This particular printer asks for a p9 bleed. (That’s 9 points, for all of you who work with other measures. I hated points when I first started, but after trying to do the math with fractions, I realized points were easier.) To set your bleed line, go to your File menu and choose Document Setup. Click on the “More Options” button on the right. At the bottom of the window are selections for bleed and slug.

By adding a measurement to the bleed boxes, you’ll get the nice red line outside your spread so you can visually check that all of your images bleed off the page as required. If “Snap to Guides” is selected, it’ll be even easier to make sure that you have the right amount of bleed on frames that run off the page. It also means that you can easily set up your print styles to include this area when you print a paper copy, or print a postscript file. If you want to have the exact same amount of bleed on each side of your layout, all you have to do is input the number into the Top box and select the little chain icon to the right of the entry boxes. This will apply the same amount to each box without you having to type the information four times. “Measured efficiencies” remember?

We won’t be using the Slug yet, but if you wanted to include a frame that would appear outside the layout when the InDesign file was viewed and easily be printed or not printed you would set your slug area as desired. One possible use for slugs might be to create a box in the slug area where you can leave notes for the Designer to view.

Another time saver is to set up our file so it automatically applies the page numbers in the footer. And this is much, much easier than you may fear. Simply place your cursor where you want the auto-number to appear. Now go to your Type Menu and select Insert Special Character and then Auto Page Number. Click and you’re done. If the pagination changes, your page numbers automatically update and you never have to manually change a page number. In fact, I would highly suggest never manually changing a page number.

Now I briefly talked about layers in my first entry here on Mike’s wonderful site, but I want to revisit it. I propose a simplification and standardization of layers. Your organization mileage may vary, but there’s no reason to have dozens of layers in a file. For this layout I propose 4 layers:
Art (which isn’t being used for this spread, but will be used for the spreads that come after this one)

Very simple, right. You can look at the name of the layer and look at the item on your page, and probably guess on which layer that item will reside. The only thing which should live on the Footer layer are the footer boxes that contain the page numbers, and any book title, chapter title, etc. info. That’s it! This layer will begin in the unlocked position, but once you add the needed info to your master page, you will lock this layer. This will help you feel confident that you won’t accidentally edit this item.
Template with links showing.

The second layer in your palette is the text layer and it should contain any boxes that will have text poured into them. I would also suggest linking all of your text boxes together in the order you’re most likely to come across the text. This will help your pouring job easier in CS2 and even easier in CS3. I also suggest selecting all of your text boxes and grouping them together. Since the text boxes will remain on your master page, but you’ll actually begin to pour the text on the working page which means you’ll have to break the link for these items from your master page. And only these items, actually.

There are still a number of “efficiencies” we can express in this template, especially for the pages that we’re going to add to it next time. But we’ve got a really good start, I think. I may not be as witty as a cadre of Hollywood screenwriters made a high-school cheerleader sound, but hopefully I’ve at least given you a little more confidence so you can start to tackle the über-master pages in your own documents.

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