Best practices for using the InDesign Plug-in

  • Updated

1. Keep it simple

Use our InDesign plug-in to create and upload a print-ready file.

  • The plug-in creates blank templates in the correct size and specs we require.
  • Don't modify your document size or it will fail our preflight check or need to be re-sized (which can distort your artwork).
  • Yes, those odd numbers you see in the document setup are indeed the correct size. Please don't modify them.
  • You may add pages to, or subtract pages from, the document prior to creating your cover file.
  • Do not add printer marks of any kind. We'll add any necessary marks on the back end. If you add marks of your own, they'll appear in your printed book.
  • If you've got an existing InDesign file that wasn't made for Blurb, don't try to re-size it. Instead, we recommend manually copying and pasting your content into a blank template made with our plug-in. 

2. Set your InDesign color settings

i. Open InDesign.

ii. Go to Edit > Color Settings.

iii. Select the options shown below. You can either download and install the Blurb ICC profile or choose CMYK US Web Coated (SWOP) v2.


iv. Also go to Edit > Transparency Blend Space and select Document CMYK. This will make any over-lapping elements consistent.

3. Don’t use spot or registration color

  • Convert all spot/pantone color to CMYK prior to uploading your PDF.
  • Some spot colors can be converted at the press to a mix of CMYK, but depending on the complexity of your design (drop shadows, etc.) they may not translate correctly. This is why Blurb recommends not using spot colors at all. 
  • Registration color (100% of all four inks) is just that–to check the registration of the color–and should be avoided when designing your book.
  • Black backgrounds should generally not exceed 260% total ink coverage.
  • Black text should almost always be K only (0,0,0,100). Don't use registration black for text!

4. Avoid overly complex vector art

Convert complex vector art using this method to help reduce the likelihood of problems when your PDF reaches the press.

Overly complex vector art embedded in PDF files (such as architectural drawings) can cause great strain at the print device and result in print failure. A page with this type of content can contain thousands of paths that are not easily seen when visually reviewing a PDF, nor is there a way to catch this prior to sending the file to press.

How can you identify overly complex vector art? When you open and review an exported PDF and artwork begins to display slowly (giving it an animated look), that indicates complex vector art. That artwork should be converted to a raster image prior to export. 

5. Design your cover only after you complete your pages

Do not create your cover template from the plug-in until you have the exact page count of your book. This will create a correctly sized cover for your book.

6. Correctly review your exported PDF

In Acrobat/Adobe Reader make sure the following are set in preferences:

View -> Page Display menu of the PDF, select Two-Up and Show Cover Page During Two-Up

Preferences > Page Display > de-select Use Local Fonts

Preferences > Page Display > set Use Overprint Preview to Always

7. Design to the bleed

All exported PDFs include a bleed that will be trimmed when sent to print.

If content is to “bleed” off the page make sure to place it to the red bleed line, not just the black trim line. 

If you see unwanted white edges in your PDF that usually means you haven't placed your content all the way to the bleed edge, and those edges may appear in the printed book.

8. Order a proof

If you're going to order more than one copy, or if the book's for an important project or event, we highly recommend that you order and review a single copy of your book first. This functions as your proof copy and lets you spot any necessary changes before you order the rest. 

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