today I'm looking for some advice from folks who have laid out event programs.

In this case, the client (a local nonprofit) has a famous keynote speaker at their event, and have solicited donations from local businesses. Each donation over a certain level = a full page ad in the program for the event. Most of them are "Congratulations to on your anniversary", etc. with a company logo sitting somewhere (the businesses that send in their own camera-ready artwork will just have them dropped into place).

I'm going to be laying each ad out in a template so they look consistent; my question to the GD crowd is, "Should I lay the template out in Illustrator and bring each ad individually in to InDesign or should I create a template page for an ad in InDesign and lay each ad out in InDesign?"

Based on your experience, what are the pros and cons of each approach? Obviously it would be easier to lay each ad out in Illustrator (that's what it's there for) but I lose a certain amount of flexibility once I hit InDesign (the program will ultimately be laid out in InDesign).


I've done a bunch of those, and I would do them in InDesign. You can probably get the ads made in Illustrator and the end result will look the same, but the tools in ID are the ones meant for those tasks. The "template" function will probably be easier as well (new master page vs. creating a new document).

And if the rest of the document is going to be in InDesign, why add a layer of complexity every time you need to make a change?

If this were a one-off one-sheet, I'd say you could go with either. Multiple pages, multiple layouts, potential for reoccurring job — go with InDesign.


If it was me I'd do the artwork for the individual ad's in InDesign, save them as individual PDFs and then import them into the 'event program' InDesign document.

InDesign is a page layout program and that is exactly what it should be used for, layout. Try to keep Illustrator for creating complex vector artwork only. InDesign's typesetting tools are far superior and quicker to work with than Illustrator's, this is no coincidence.

I sometimes visit other ad agencies and chuckle when I see designers using Illustrator, or god forbid an old copy of Freehand, to create copy heavy double page spreads. Usually the designers in question are Luddites who miss rubbing down Letraset and reprography.

  • 2
    Or the boss is a Luddite and a cheapskate who won't pony up for new software, and says "make it work in whatever we've got!" Aug 14 '13 at 15:17
  • Ha, yes that's always a possibility if your boss is quite new to the industry. If however your boss is as old as the sands of time or remembers the industry pre 1990's, you can remind them that in the good old days of stick and lift, overheads were much higher with consumables alone. Pantone TriColour markers, Spray Mount, Letraset, Entertaining the client etc...
    – MouseBat
    Aug 14 '13 at 15:46
  • Massive books of clip art that you actually had to clip the art out of, printing out type in strips and using wax to paste it down, rules which came on a roll of clear tape, rubylith sheets... Aug 14 '13 at 16:39
  • I miss Letraset...not for copy layout, but for other lettering stuff. Especially adding a "wo" in front of every men's room sign in the building. Aug 15 '13 at 20:32

Depends entirely upon ad style.

If the ads are more illustrative in nature, I'd use Illustrator for the ad, then place then in a master Indesign document. Ads with text transforms, image interactions (cutouts) or with other non-critical design elements such as spot illustrations or flourishes can often be easier to create in Illustrator.

If the ads are more text-based, I'd use Indesign for the ads as well as a master document.

There is no set rule as to which one is better or should be used - Illustrator or Indesign. It really all comes down to personal preference and features needed.


Either one.

Obviously it would be easier to lay each ad out in Illustrator (that's what it's there for)

Actually, that's not really it's specific purpose. But it does just fine. If you'll be doing any kind of vector work in your ads it may be easier to have such a simple thing all in one doc.

On the other hand, InD does have the better type tools. And templated layout is very straightforward. If you wanted to share styles or colors across the ads (it works in some programs) you could even set them up as a book to make syncing painless.

It all comes down to where you're most comfortable. They are both capable layout environments for simple 1-page pieces. You'll be faster where you know the tool best.

I would avoid saving out the ads as PDF. Since you're controlling the whole scope (program and ads), link directly to the source files and if you have to make updates you can open them directly from the program and updating won't require another PDF export.

  • As much as I'd prefer to not export to pdf (transparency has been a nightmare) the client's printer insists on it. :-( Aug 15 '13 at 20:31
  • Export the final layout as press-ready PDF but not the individual ad spots as you build them. Aug 15 '13 at 20:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.