Designing a cover – part one

This week in class was all about getting the basics right: setting up a cover grid in InDesign.

We had to consider bleeds, turnarounds, adding a slug for the fold marks. Before starting on a cover, you need to know the number of pages to determine the spine width.  And it’s good to keep in mind that page extents are in multiples of 16; and that your covers should work as thumbnails as well as at full size, since a lot of covers are viewed on the web nowadays.

In InDesign this week:

  • extra 3mm are added to the width and height of the jacket as allowance for the thickness of the boards that the book cover wrapped around.
  • 10 mm slug for the fold marks, these will let the printer know where to fold the cover
  • Set up guides where the fold marks will go, make sure everything is accurate by looking at x, y, w, h in the top left.
  • Set up fold marks like this:

week 4 fold marks

  • and place them on the guides in the slug area. Lock the layer once you’re done.
  • Use InDesign for the cover grid and Photoshop for the cover images. Photoshop doesn’t have bleeds (unlike Illustrator), so you’ll have to add the bleed yourself to your cover dimensions when setting up your Photoshop document.

  • It’s important for your image to bleed off the page, so that there aren’t akward white spaces when you send it to the printers.
  • Ctrl + A selects all the objects on a page
  • Ctrl + G groups objects together


Words of wisdom this week:

Double, triple, quadruple check your measurements. You don’t want to send it wrong to the printers. 

Link of the week:

Some great experimental layouts from Thinking with Type and more about the different grid layouts. A good exercise is to grab your nearest book/magazine and look at the grid layout, good page design always has one.


Look also on if you have a subscription.

I find it handy to keep a Pinterest board of tutorials that I come across.

And Google is always a good friend.

Comment below if you know of a great Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign tutorial!

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