Hopefully won't be too vague a question or specific, but understand that it might be.

I rarely touch design work, but my employer has asked me to take an A4 page advert (PDF) for a client and "simply" resize it in to an A5 advert.

To me this sounds like practically a complete redesign as in my eyes there won't be any way to re-fit A4's worth of information in to half the space.

Do you have any tips for this kind of task? Seems a ridiculous thing to ask; but I'm struggling to think how to go about doing it short of redesigning the whole thing; and even then there won't be enough space for all the information!

  • Portrait A4 to landscape A5?
    – e100
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 11:17
  • 2
    This is called a "10 pounds of potatoes problem": You have to squeeze 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag. (Of course, we usually use a cruder word than "potatoes." :) Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 11:35
  • I am reminded of the 1st year illustration assignment where we picked product, worked up some 8 x 10 ish sized renderings and then had to resize it to 1/3 page column.
    – horatio
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is a complete redesign. It would be a complete redesign if you were keeping the dimensions and just turning it 90 degrees.

My usual quick-and-dirty way just to see what needs to happen for all the info to fit: I make a single item out of the ad (in your case, you're working from a PDF, so save it as a JPG; if it was an original in InDesign/Quark, I would group everything) and then squash and stretch (50% high, 200% wide, or whatever) until it fits into the new hole.

This is not going to be your actual design, of course, but you will now be able to see how small the text will be and how the relationships between the items are affected.

You can also show this to your boss before embarking on the task. S/he might not realize what was involved in the order given.

  • I would not show it to the boss. My experience is that one of two things will happen: a) the squashed redesign will be printed or; b) the poor quality will impact the boss' opinion of the employee. There is NOTHING you can say to deflect either of these things with an inexperienced-with-design process individual: they always hear your caveats, but they don't seem to apprehend that you are providing drafts suitable for a single aspect or part of discussion.
    – horatio
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 16:52
  • Good point; one's mileage always varies. If you have a boss who doesn't understand design, showing the squashed version might not be a good idea. Although by "show" I mean "walking into boss's office with a printout," not "emailing a PDF which could be forwarded to a printer." Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 17:35
  • I had a meeting with a client & I grabbed a "rough" to show him some folds. ONLY the folds. The rough had the pre-production text he sent me which HE TOLD ME was far from finished and would be changed definitely for sure 100%. I dropped it in with some images he gave me to see if I could make it work in the allotted space or if we needed to change size and get new quotes etc. If it wasn't a drop-everything and run out the door meeting, I would have made a blank dummy. I told him 2 times before handing him the item to ignore all content. I told him two more times as he started marking it up.
    – horatio
    Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 17:50

I think you have your answer: you might need to reduce the amount of information.

What I would do first however, is try and work it all in. Once you have it all in and in the new format, it is time to decide if you have enough white space and if your text is legible. Also time to decide if the important parts are emphasized suitably.

The most straightforward way of moving a portrait to a landscape format is to split the page in half and move the bottom half to the right side. Then scale it down: but not necessarily a straight percentage across the board. If you have 12pt type set in 14pt lines, you can try 10/12. Reduce any margins or gaps by 25% (arbitrary). Reduce images by 10%.

Stuff it all in, then decide if you need to remove content. And then before removing content, look to rephrasing and redundancy reduction first.

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