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How to Create a Saddle Stitched Calendar Using Adobe InDesign

This tutorial on how to create and print a saddle stitched calendar using Adobe InDesign will walk you through the basics of setting up page spreads in InDesign, rotating pages using the page panel, and exporting printer spreads as a press-ready PDF. Before building our calendar template in InDesign, I would suggest sketching out your ideas on a full-scale mockup. ie: 11×17” paper folded in half (landscape) and labelling/numbering each page.

Step 1: Design Research + Sketches

After choosing your typefaces, create a collection for your project using FontBook or Fontbase. Establish a modular grid system that you would like to work with to keep your calendar design consistent and easy for your viewer to read/locate information.

Step 2: Creating a New Document

Saddle Stitch Calendar Creating a New Document

Launch Adobe InDesign and create a new document (CMD+N) File > New Document.

  • Give your document a name: client-typecalendar-version
  • Make your document 8.5”x11” (portrait)
  • Facing pages
  • 28 pages
  • Add a bleed of 0p3/.125” (1/8th”) on all sides
  • Set your margins based on your design. ie: 3p9 + 4p6.

Since we will be rotating our pages, the top and bottom will refer to the left and right margins and the inside and outside will refer to the top and bottom margins.

Step 3: Margins and Grids Setup

Saddle Stitch Calendar Margins and Grids

Open your pages panel and set up your margins, modular grid, and any consistent graphics on your master pages. Select both master pages and then go to your Layout menu to adjust your margins and create guides.

To adjust your margins, go to Layout > Margins & Columns

To create a modular grid, go to Layout > Create Guides

Note: We will be rotating our pages and some artwork in the next step so that your calendar appears in landscape mode. This will give you a better sense of your calendar’s true layout. With this in mind, when adjusting your margins, your top and bottom margins = your left and right margins and your inside and outside margins = your top and bottom margins. When creating your guides, your rows = columns and columns = rows.

Step 4: Rotating Page/Spread View

Saddle Stitch Calendar Rotate Pages

Now that you’ve finished adjusting your margins and creating your modular grid, select all of your pages (1–28) by clicking on page 1, hold SHIFT and then select page 28. All of your pages should now be highlighted.

We will now rotate all of our pages 90 degrees clockwise so that we can layout our artwork in the intended view, which will later be printed in landscape view.

To rotate your pages, click on the Page panels’ fly-out menu or ‘right-click’ on a selected page and go to Page Attributes > Rotate Spread View > 90 degrees CW

Step 5: Design + Layout

Saddle Stitch Calendar Design Layout

In this step, you will layout your design, add all your graphics, set your type and create/style tables to enter all of your calendar days and dates.

Note: Before placing all of your artwork on each spread a good practice is to label and number each page using your type tool. This will allow you to test your printing setup before finalizing any artwork.

Page 1 will be the front cover of the calendar and page 28 will be the back cover. Keep in mind that your back cover’s artwork will need to be rotated upside down so that it prints in the proper orientation.

Page28 will be the last page of your calendar. You may use this page for your name, notes, extra information, such as colophon or designer info, etc…. The layout and information on this page is totally up to you.

Step 6: Print Setup (InDesign, Print Booklet)

Saddle Stitch Calendar Print Setup InDesign

Now that you’ve labelled and numbered each page, it is recommended that you test your printer spread setup before laying out your artwork. To do this, go to File > Print Booklet in InDesign.

We will be printing our calendar as a 2-up Saddle Stitch. If your pages don’t fit or you get a yellow warning symbol under the Preview tab, click on ‘Page Settings’ in the lower right corner of the dialogue box.

Saddle Stitch Calendar Settings

Once you click on the Print Settings button, choose the ‘Setup’ tab and select your printer, which should print a tabloid (11×17”) size paper. Select ‘Tabloid’ or ;’11×17’ from the ‘Paper Size’ drop down menu. Then choose a landscape mode from the ‘Orientation’  section, and finally select ‘Scale To Fit’ your calendar on the printed sheet of paper.

Note: We will scale our artwork down to accommodate for our crop marks and bleed. Choose the ‘Marks and Bleed’ tab on the right side of the dialogue box and select ‘Crop Marks’ and ‘Use Document Bleed’.

Saddle Stitch Calendar Preview

Once you’ve completed adjusting your printer and print options, click ‘Ok’ and you will return to your Print Booklet preview. You should now be able to scroll through each printer spread and the numbers within the proview should match up to the numbers you have labelled on your artwork. If the numbers match up, you are good-to-go and can move forward with laying out your artwork on each page spread.

Step 7: Print Setup (Export PDF + Acrobat)* Optional/Alternative to InDesign Print Booklet

Saddle Stitch Calendar Crop Marks

Another option for printing your calendar is to export a print-ready PDF. This option will not show you the number indicators but is the preferred way for print shops to produce your final artwork. Instead of packaging your InDesign files along with images and fonts, you may simply supply your print bureau/print shop with a PDF file and they will conduct the following process to create printer spreads and print your calendar.

From InDesign, go to File > Export and choose PDF (Print). Check with your local print shop before applying your PDF present so that you select the correct profile. My printer prefers PDF/X-1a 2001, so this is what my example will use. You will also include crop marks and bleeds, which can be added through the Marks and Bleeds tab on the left-hand side.

After setting up your profile and print options, you may also select ‘View PDF after Exporting’ from the ‘General’ tab so that your PDF opens in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Acrobat Pro Print Booklet

Saddle Stitch Calendar Acrobat Print Booklet

Once your PDF is open in Acrobat Pro, go to File > Print and select ‘Booklet’ from the page Sizing and Handling section in the middle of the dialogue box. Make sure ‘All’ is selected under the ‘pages to Print section at the top of the dialogue box so that you can preview the printer spreads in the preview pane in the bottom right corner.

Next, you will need to set the printer destination and the paper type; along with any other print options that your printer has available, such as double-sided printing, which will need to be turned on. To do this, first select ‘page Setup’ in the bottom left area.

Saddle Stitch Calendar Acrobat Print Options

Choose your printer and Tabloid/11×17” from the drop down menu and then click ‘Ok’.

Finally, you can click on the ‘Printer’ button in the bottom left area to adjust your printer’s features such as paper type, print quality, activate double-sided/2-sided printing, and more…. Once you are done setting up your print options, you can choose to print your calendar by selecting the ‘Print’ button in the bottom right area of the dialogue box.

Saddle Stitch Calendar Print Features


This is just an overview for my students on how to create and print a full, 14 page spread saddle stitched calendar using Adobe InDesign CC.

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