A recent job required me to produce a series of tip cards for a piece of bespoke software. The company involved felt that no-one would bother reading a full software manual but users might at least be encouraged to read brief ‘how-to’s in tip card format. This format was a double-sided A4 Letter sheet folded in half to produce four A5 pages.
The template had already been created for me, and all I had to do was fill in the blanks. However, the template was as bizarre: it was composed of two landscape A4 pages with ruler guides dividing them them up into vertical A5 halves. The first page of the layout was intended for the front and back sides of the folded tip card, while the second page was for the centre two.
Why did they do it like that, I asked? Well, that’s how it’s printed onto the A4 sheets, they told me. Oh, and there’s another problem, they said: we also need to produce four-page on-screen PDF versions of the tip cards, so there’ll be a bit of carving up of those layouts required in Acrobat later on.
Naturally, I ditched the two-page landscape A4 layout and created a new one made up of four A5 pages. Oh, but we must have the layout as two spreads, imposed and ready to print, they pointed out. Well, fine, I turned it into two spreads by setting page 2 as the Section Start in the Page Layout palette. The layout would then mimic the original template for anyone who needed to update the tip cards in the future and still be able to print them out without having to think about four-page imposition. Just pretend the first page in the layout (labelled ‘2’ in the palette) is the back page of the tip card.
They thought this was fantastic. This means we can simply shuffle the pages in the Page Layout palette before exporting to PDF, they enthused. Er, what? Yes, they insisted, all we have to do is drag the first page to the end of the layout.
No, I said, just go to File> Export> Layout As PDF as normal and determine the page order in the Export As PDF dialog window. For example, my ready-imposed spreads are labelled as pages 2,3,4,5 in the Page Layout palette, so all they’d need to do is export them as 3,4,5,2.
There’s nothing remotely clever about this, and I can think of several more alternative approaches. I’m almost embarrassed to mention my so-called ‘solution’ here. But it never fails to amaze me how people can turn a simple job into a difficult one.