Smarter catalogue production

Posted by Graeme McKinstry on 3 April 2012 | 1 Comments

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The Trends Collection for 2011 has recently been published—a catalogue that we were intimately involved with. It runs to 240 pages and features the whole product range—hundreds of products in total.

Andrew spent a lot of time on the design, and together with the rest of the team from MCK and with Jim and Pat from Tuapeka Print, the whole project was brought home. It involved lots of product photography and scanning (Wolfgang would take one photo of a product that was to appear in multiple colours and then colour “correct” to get the other product colours), lots of clearcutting by everyone, and some fantastic Photoshop work by Andrew to combine shots of the models (which he organized) with various products.

Catalogues of this size never come to us whole, and take months from start to finish. In previous years a lot of time was spent shuffling pages around when products were added, moved or deleted. Products are not featured the same way in the catalogue—some will have a page to themselves; others will have 1/2 or even 1/3 of a page. We wanted to avoid the hassle of constantly rearranging pages this year as, not only does this cost the client unnecessarily, but it is also extremely tedious.

InDesign (as of version 5) finally allows pages of different sizes to appear in one document. We setup templates for 1/3, 1/2 and full pages. To give the design maximum freedom we didn’t want the designer (Andrew) to worry about where the product would appear on a page, or whether it would appear on a left or right-hand page. We also wanted to remove the drudgery of keeping track of page numbers, table of contents and indexing.

Lanyard 1/2 page
Example 1/2 page without page elements

To collate the catalogue we created a PDF file from InDesign and then I turned to my expertise in TeX to paginate. TeX treated each page as if it was just a box and would set about adding as many boxes to a page as would fit (2 1/2 pages, 3 1/3 pages). The headings, page numbers, sidebars and section text were all added automatically by LaTeX.

Lanyard page
Example page with page elements added

Title information, indexing information, etc., was added to an invisible layer in the InDesign file and exported as a tagged text file. Later on this tagged file was read back into LaTeX to be used in collating the pages.

The index and each section’s mini table of contents were also handled automatically which saved a lot of tedium, as well as being more accurate.


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  • Hi Matthew,Enjoyed poking tohrugh your blog. I've experimented a bit with LaTeX and LyX. I really like LyX but found that cajoling collaborators and editors into dealing with LaTeX / pdf was too much effort. One of the benefits to LaTeX/LyX for me was the sweave integration with R. I've now switched to using OpenOffice with R/odfWeave and Zotero and that works nicely. Still I miss the beautiful output LaTeX and ease of Bibtex.

    Posted by Justin, 04/05/2012 12:20am (6 years ago)

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