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How to print a catalog in InDesign

How to Print a Catalog in InDesign?

Creating a visually stunning catalog in InDesign is only half the battle. To really bring your creative vision to life, you need to know how to properly prepare and print your catalog files.

As an experienced InDesign user and content creator, I’ve printed my fair share of catalogs, brochures, and booklets over the years. And let me tell you – the printing process can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The good news? Printing an InDesign catalog doesn’t have to be complicated. In this comprehensive guide, as a professional China catalog printing manufacturer, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know – from setting up bleeds and printer spreads to choosing the right binding method.

So print out this article, pull up a chair, and let’s dive in!

How to print a catalog in InDesign

Preflight Your InDesign Catalog File

Before you start fiddling around with spreads and binding options, it’s critical to double check that your InDesign file is print-ready. This process of running a “preflight check” will uncover any issues that could derail the printing process or lead to a lower quality end result.

Some key things to look out for during the preflight stage include:

Check Image Resolution

Print catalogs require high resolution images. Anything less than 300dpi will look pixelated or blurry in print. To check your image resolution in InDesign:

  1. Click on the image with the selection tool
  2. Open the Links Panel
  3. Review resolution – should be 300dpi

Replace any low-res images before moving forward.

Confirm Color Format

InDesign allows users to work with multiple color formats, including RGB and CMYK. But when it comes to professional printing, CMYK is the only way to go.

RGB images may appear differently in print than what you see on screen. So make sure to covert all elements – including images, graphics, and colors – to CMYK before printing your file.

Review Text Styles

Flawless typography is essential for any design project. Comb through your InDesign catalog and confirm that:

  • All fonts are embedded to avoid substitutions
  • There are no overrides on individual text boxes
  • Styles are consistently applied

This step will prevent formatting issues or missing fonts down the road.

Package Your InDesign File

Packaging your document copies all necessary files and fonts into a single folder. This makes it easy to hand off to your print provider while ensuring nothing gets lost along the way.

To package a file in InDesign: File > Package. Select the printing option, then specify a location to save the packaged folder. Hand this folder off to your print shop for the best results.

Set Up Bleeds in InDesign

Bleeds extend your print artwork past the edge of the page. This prevents unsightly white borders from appearing once your catalog is trimmed to size.

Bleeds allow print projects to be trimmed without white borders

To set up bleeds in your document:

  1. Navigate to Layout > Margins and Columns
  2. Under the “Bleed” section, enter .125 to .25 inches for Top, Bottom, Left and Right

This will extend any images or background colors .125-.25” past the page edge.

Remember, any text or important imagery needs to reside inside the page margins, away from bleed areas. Otherwise that content might get trimmed off!

Impose Printer Spreads

Creating printer spreads ensures your InDesign pages end up in the correct order after printing, folding and binding.

Luckily, Adobe makes it super simple to automatically impose spreads when printing booklets or catalogs:

  1. Go to File > Print
  2. Under “General” tab, check Print Booklet option
  3. Select a booklet binding style:
    • Saddle stitch is best for stapled catalogs
    • Perfect bound works makes sense for catalogs with spine
  4. Review page order preview before printing

InDesign will reorder and impose pages accordingly based on the binding selection.

For short print runs, most digital printers can print directly from the packaged InDesign file you provide. This digital printing method is fast, affordable and offers exceptional print quality.

However, if producing thousands of copies, you’ll likely want to go the offset printing route. This requires sending the packaged files off to a commercial printer to make metal lithographic plates.

The printer will then run editions using these plates and an offset press. While offset printing tends to be more cost-effective at scale, metal plates can only be used to produce a single version of the catalog. Any edits or revisions means remaking new plates.

Choose a Catalog Binding Method

How you plan to hold the pages of your catalog together is a key decision that impacts page ordering and spreads during print preparation.

Some popular binding options include:

1. Saddle Stitch Binding

  • Best for booklets < 40 pages
  • Pages are folded in half, then stapled along spine
  • Automatic imposition with Print Booklet

2. Perfect Bound

  • Common binding for books and catalogs
  • Pages are stacked, spine trimmed, glue applied
  • Custom printer spreads required

3. Spiral Bound

  • Durable option if pages will be flipped often
  • Holes punched then wired/plastic spirals inserted
  • Allow .5” inside margin for holes

I suggest discussing catalog binding and paper options with your printer early on. This will allow proper document setup in InDesign to accommodate the selected finishing method.

Choose a Paper Stock for Optimal Print Results

The right paper stock brings your creative vision to life while staying practical within budget.

When selecting paper, consider:


Lighter paper from 50-100lb text can work for short catalogs. Medium to heavy 105-120lb stock adds visual weight for longer catalogs.


Gloss, satin, matte and uncoated all give a different aesthetic. I suggest ordering samples to see what fits your creative direction best.


Brighter 92+ white paper catches the eye, while natural kraft offers earthy, textured feel.

Paper Finish

Smooth, vellum or felt finishes also impact texture and ink adhesion. Again, sampling different options can help inform your decision making process.

Starting the printing process with a clear vision for paper choice will ensure your catalog looks and feels on point from cover to cover.

How to Print a High Quality InDesign Catalog

Like most things in life, when printing an InDesign catalog you often get what you pay for. Prioritizing quality means being willing to invest more for premium printing.

Here are my top tips for getting museum-worthy print results:

Hire a Pro Printer

Experienced print shops have trained staff along with dialed-in processes that simply produce better quality catalogs, period. Do your research to find printers experienced with handling professional InDesign files.

Choose Archival Quality Ink

Inks are not all created equal. Standard 4-color process printing uses cyan, yellow, magenta and black (CMYK) inks that can fade or discolor over time. Investing a bit more for archival pigmented inks keeps your catalog vibrant for decades to come.

Consider Aqueous Coating

Applying a liquid aqueous coating creates a smooth, protective barrier over the finished piece. This enhances vibrancy while also making scuff marks and fingerprints less visible. Satin aqueous tends to be the most versatile finish option.

There’s inherent value in creating something tangible – especially in our increasingly digital world. By properly preparing your InDesign files and partnering with a professional print shop, you can easily produce stunning, keepsake-quality catalogs worth passing down through generations.

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