Sunday, June 14, 2009


This post is about the mechanics of putting together a booklet at home and making it look as professional as possible.

What you will need:

  1. A nice well lit open area where you can spread your work comfortably
  2. A cutting mat to protect your working area
  3. A metallic ruler (you cannot cut into it)
  4. An Exacto knife with a fresh blade and some extra blades in hand
  5. A sharp point item such as a clothespin
  6. A burnishing tool
  7. A scoring tool or a dull knife (like a butter knife)
  8. A few loose staples

I used InDesign, which is a publishing software to layout all of my pages and layout the text. I would recommend using this or similar software as this makes the layout process more intuitive and simple. I then printed the pages at home on regular printing paper and on both sides. This was tricky and it took a while to figure out. The biggest problem was getting the printer to line up the pages on both sides so when they were folded down the middle, they would match. One option is to print your spreads on one side and then spray the back and glue them together. However, I wanted to end up with thinner pages to make flipping the pages feel more natural. I won’t tell you all of the things I tried that did not work, but I can tell you that I chose the borderless option, and printed using the InDesign printer dialogue (not exporting to PDF as some suggest) and chose the print booklet option, crop marks on. From there, I figured out how to print only the front spreads, then flipped the page in the printer and printed only the bottom (back) spreads. This was really complex and I had to refer to my original sketchbook to figure out which pages went where and in what order they would print.

Now put it together…

Using your scoring tool or dull knife score every page down the middle

Fold each page and gently press on the crease with your fingers, then with the burnishing tool press down the crease to have a defined clean fold.

Stack the pages together and test that you have the pages in the correct order.

Now you could staple your book together, but I find that I can never be precise with my stapler and the staple always lands just off the fold line. This is how to do it manually…

Lay the dummy flat and unfolded on the mat board. Use the ruler to measure the distance from the top of the spine to where the first staple begins. Using your clothespin press down on the paper until you have perforated all of the pages.  Measure the width of the staple and make another hole on the paper to match the width of the staple. Do the same for the bottom part of the spine. You may use a third staple in the middle if you have a long spine. Now take the staple and push it through all the pages. Do this with all the staples. Flip your dummy and lay it flat on the mat. Push the staples inward with your fingers to close them and use the burnishing tool to make sure they are bent in to the paper as much as possible. Close the book dummy.

Use your metallic ruler and line it up with the crop marks and use your Exacto knife to cut off the excess paper. A few safety tips: Always cut away from your body, and apply firm pressure but not too much. Don’t expect to cut through all the pages in one pass. You may need 3 or more passes to cut through all those pages. Repeat on all sides. On my book I moved the ruler about an 1/8” out from the crop marks to allow for the pages that creep out more toward the center of the dummy, you many need to be flexible with where you crop the book.

Voilá! Your book is finished!



Diana Evans said...

Wonderful work Edrian!!! I love making dummies...they are so cute and great to see the whole book you can make any necessary changes....

Roberta said...

This is a great post Edrian... and the DB looks great!
new blog addy

Chickengirl said...

Yes, great post- wonderful craftsmanship :-)

Edrian Thomidis said...

Thank you! I hope it helps someone. I know I'm always finding helpful stuff on the web, and I just wanted to pay it forward...

Vanessa Brantley Newton said...

This is so dang wonderful and so very helpful. I have so many people that I'm going to send to see this cause this is so very important! Great idea and thanks so much for sharing it! How awesome is this!!! Great post!!!

theartofpuro said...

Wonderful work and very usefull writing.
Congrats on your work

artgirly said...

very nice- who took the photos for you?

Edrian Thomidis said...

Thank you guys!
Nicole, My 7 year old did! Isn't she good?