Perfect Brochure Setup Using Adobe InDesign Master Pages

by Abbey Fitzgerald | July 20, 2013

SHAREShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+

Easy Setup with Multiple Pages Size and Master Pages

Are you looking for an alternative to grids, guides, and precise measuring when setting up your brochure print file? Are you looking for a faster way to get perfect panels? If so, we have some helpful layout tips for you.

We are going to explore a new way of creating brochure panels with the multiple page sizes using Master Pages. This tutorial explains how to setup trifold brochures, but this concept can work for any folded project. This tutorial is for CS5 or later.

Creating folds for tri-fold brochure printing can be challenging when you need to calculate the widths of each panel and manually create guides for the folds. It’s a lot of extra measuring so read on to learn how to save some time and create perfect sized panels for your brochure.

First, let’s get a rough idea of the panel layout in brochures. I find that with folded projects I need to have a reference. To get a good visual, simply fold an 8.5 X 11″ sheet into thirds and label the panels. I’ve created a quick mockup that shows which panel is which.

Brochure Printing Layout with Adobe InDesign Master Pages

The inner panel is 3.604″ and the other two panels, both the middle and outer panel, are 3.6985″.

What are Inner, Outer and Middle Panels?

“Inner” refers to the panels that fold in. “Middle” refers to the center panels and “Outer” refers to the outer panels (typically the cover and inside cover).

Why are the panels slightly different sizes? Why can’t they be equal thirds?

It may seem like just dividing the 8.5 X 11″ sheet into thirds is how to get three panels for each side of the brochure. However, doing this without slightly adjusting the inner panel (the panel that folds in) to be slightly smaller than the middle and outer panel, will most likely cause a “bow” in the middle because chances are it will not lay completely flat.

Create Your Brochure Layout

Step 1.

You will need to know exact measurements for the panels with an unfolded size of 8.5 X 11″. This can vary depending on the printer.

At, these are the preferred requirements if your unfolded size is 8.5 X 11″, however, the same concept applies to any other sizes:

  • Middle and Outer Panels: 3.6985″ W X 8.5″ H
  • Inner Panels: 3.604″ W X 8.5″ H

Step 2.

Create a new document (File > New > Document) and enter “6” for the number of pages. This will be the dimensions of the outer and middle panels. The dimensions for this example are 3.6985″ (Width) X 8.5″ (Height). Make sure the option for “Facing Pages” is unchecked. This handy trick will allow for six panels, and the start to the new arrangement of having them next to each other.

Brochure Printing Setup with Adobe InDesign Master Pages

Step 3.

This is where the fun begins. You can really see your layout taking shape. In the Pages panel menu, make sure that “Allow Document Pages to Shuffle” is deselected. Go ahead and drag the panels next to each other.  Drag three of them together because it takes three pages for each side of the brochure. As you will see, each page is one panel.

Please note that in this example, the first grouping is for the outside of the brochure, and the second grouping is for the inside of the brochure. Make sure that you have two groupings, each containing three panels.

Step 4.

Right now, there are only “A” Master Pages. These “A” pages are for the middle and outer panels. For now, it is fine to have six panels the same size. You may want to rename the “A” Master Page to “A-Outer/Middle” or something like that (this can be done in Pages > “Master Options for A” and then you will see a field where you can type in a new name).

Step 5.

Brochure Printing Layout Tips with Adobe Master PagesYou will need to have a “B” size Master Page for the inner panel. This is the shorter one because it is folded in and should be slightly smaller. If you’d like, you can rename it to something like “B-Inner”. Go to Control Panel (it probably is still open from step 4), which is the same option dropdown in Pages, and you will see an option for a “New Master”. Choose this and you will be able to make new Master Page “B” which should be sized at 3.604″ X 8.5″.

Optional: It is helpful to have the “A” and “B” panels different colors. There is a Color Label option that can be chosen from the Pages panel menu under Page Attributes > Color Label. Choose your desired colors for each Master Page.

Step 6.

Colored Labels on Adobe InDesign Master PagesNow you have the two different size panels that you will need. Drag the “B-Inner” over the top of the very left page on the brochure outside. On the brochure inside, this “B-Inner” should replace the panel on the far right.

Step 7.

It’s time to design! Do you plan on having print go all the way to the edge of your brochure? If so, please add a .125″ bleed to your document. Go to File > Document Setup > Bleed to do this.

Optional: I have created a 1″ Slug as well where I have added front and back labels for the document. I am going to save this as a template by going to Save As > InDesign Template. Having these labels in the slug area will help me remember which is the “Brochure – Outside” and “Brochure – Inside” when using this in the future.

Step 8.

After the design is complete, simply make a PDF of your finished brochure artwork. When submitting files for online printing at, we prefer that PDF files have crop marks. When you export the PDF, go to General Tab > Spreads > Marks and Bleeds, and make sure the Crop Marks option is selected. You will get fold marks for the panels and crop marks for the outside!

In most cases, at the maximum unfolded size is about 11 X 17″ for brochures. However, there are a lot of opportunities to print custom sizes. If you liked this tutorial and wish to print a different size, you can use these same concepts for your next project. You now have a great solid base to start to your brochure printing.

Do you need a quote for your next brochure printing project? Visit the brochure printing page to get an instant quote, now.

SHAREShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+

Related Articles

Get On the list!

Be the first to hear about our exclusive offers, latest news, and more. Sign up now.

Affordable, High Quality Prints. Even on the smallest Jobs.

Print With