When making Magazines, it's pretty clear that there will be Advertisements that will be placed in with different sizes (full page, spread, 1/2 page, 1/6 page, with bleed or without etc.).

1. When planning/making a new magazine in InDesign, I also create Library where I place all the planned sizes for ads, so later it's easier to put them in when they are ready. At the start, when one of the first things I know from technical point of view is the magazine size, do I need to make this Library with all possible ad sizes at this point OR only start to make them when magazine other specification (margins, guides, bleed are set)?

2. What should I keep in mind when I make measurements for ad sizes that there will be placed, both with or without bleed? Is there the one and only right system that I need to keep in mind when doing this?

3. Any other helpful information about planning ads in magazines would be much appreciated!


2 Answers 2


I've done a lot of magazine templates and series so maybe my experience can help.

Do I need to make this Library with all possible ad sizes at this point OR only start to make them when magazine other specification?

In general, you do the ads as you need them. There's so many combo possible that it's almost a waste of time to prepare them all in advance. Over time you will fill your "library" with all the sizes you need, and in fact you'll come to a point when you'll need to update the ads to their new style and layout anyway. That's why it's better to simply gather them than creating them before you need them. Some ads even get changed on every edition.

Personally, I never used any "library" system besides having folders with the latest well identified ads. You can imagine how heavy your file will be once the magazine will be completed and how it slows down performances to use too many addons or object libraries. The best way to proceed for this is probably to use the same ads from your last magazine; that's how your clients will ask for them and you also know these ads will print properly.

You will probably need to have a folder with all the different latest companies logos as well, in colors and grayscale. Depending on what kind of magazine you work on, the logo bank ends up being something you'll need to re-use probably even more than the ads themselves.

What should I keep in mind when I make measurements for ad sizes that there will be placed, both with or without bleed? Is there the one and only right system that I need to keep in mind when doing this?

Ads shouldn't need bleed but I recommend you use bleed anyway even if it's a very thin bleed (e.g. 1/16".) If you ever need to ad a border to one of them someday, you can avoid bad thin white line between your border and the ads' edges. It can also be useful if you ever need to trap them manually.

Ads should be built in the same way as any other print-ready file but you can use a safe margin of 1/16" instead of 1/8" for the ads that don't need any bleed at all. It will look good and be easy to read.

I also recommend you do the biggest size ad first then the smaller ones from the same ad; you'll save a lot of time. For this reason, it's not a bad idea to create your small ads at 2-3x the required resolution; this way you can always resize them bigger later if you need to. If an ad is a small 2x2" square at 300ppi, you simply create it already at 600-1200ppi. This way you can almost use the same ad for a half of full page later and simply readjust the layout instead of starting from scratch.

Any other helpful information about planning ads in magazines would be much appreciated!

What's very challenging with magazines is to fill every corner well and in a balanced way. You might also need to restrict the content to a fixed number of pages.

The way I always did magazines was to first put all the text content and what's part of what people read. Then the images. And at last the ads. Some ads need to be on an odd or even page, some need to be half page, some just in a corner or within classified ads section for example; by doing the main frame and texts first you'll see easily after you're done where everything should go. Then it's more like doing a puzzle and fitting everything.

You should start by placing the full page ads first, then go with the next big ones and adjust your text layout accordingly if necessary. You should also be careful to not put too many full page and half page ads too close to each others and leave a few pages between them.

Finally, you WILL need some "filler" content. Your manager or clients should provide you with small parts of content that will be used as fillers if necessary. That content should not always be used but can be used if necessary to fill some blank corners; it's backup content in a way. For example: tool tips, the magazine own ads, promotions, reminders, etc.

As an extra tip, the content of the magazine is very important but you need to make sure at 150% that the paid ads are perfect! That's why I don't recommend you use software libraries for this. If you ever make a mistake or there's an ad that doesn't print well, you might lose that paid ad and in the end, it's these ads that really make a magazine profitable, not the sales of the magazine. I don't know what kind of magazine you work on, but some corporations can easily spend up to $10,000+ for a full page (e.g. Pfizer, Bayer) and usually have a few months or even a 1-year contract. That's a lot of money for the magazine owner. That's why your first focus should be on these guys' ads and then fixing the commas in the magazine layout.

Don't type any text! Copy/paste everything, even if it's only a 2 words sentence! The titles are often the ones that contain a lot of typos that no one notice because people tends to skip reading them after a few reviews. Make sure you take the time to review the titles every time.

One good last trick to review your proofs: Look at the proof 3 times. The first time, read it normally. The second time, review the proof upside-down! I know it may sound funny but that's a good way to see things you've missed and somehow your eyes will notice things you skipped the first time. Then the third time you can review the proof again normally after doing the last revisions you found the 2 first times. Then you can show the proof to your client.

  • Really great tips! Thank you! About the Libraries - I was thinking the Libraries in InDesign where I can place placeholder blocks for ads when they will be in my hands.
    – istoby
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 21:02
  • 1
    Maybe I'm old school, I personally wouldn't use this because of performance and because of the risks of mistakes (e.g. using the wrong version of ad that wasn't updated in a library.) A lot of paid ads will arrive each month and might look exactly the same but aren't; that's an extra thing to manage when you use a library and you need to make sure you and the ones who work with you have an excellent discipline for this if you use libraries. Placeholders are alright but you might not need them; doing magazine layout is like doing a puzzle and you'll need to improvise a lot each time!
    – go-junta
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 21:15
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    @The1stLeo since go-meek went off-topic a little and gave you some tips I'll edit mine to give you a few more
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 21:52

I've never planned a magazine just worked on existing ones. Unless you're doing a more "indy" magazine even if its only in feel I would look at some of the industry standards.

Full Page, Full Page with Bleed, Half Page Vert, Half Page Horizontal, Half Page Island, Third Page Hor and Vert, Third Page Island (Square), then the smaller ones like 1/6 or 1/8 page are pretty typical.

The IAB puts out some guidelines but you might just be better off getting the Media Kit / Media Planner from established magazines and seeing how they do it.

This isn't the only system mind you. When you get into more "indy-feeling" magazines it can be very loose and open what you want to do with the ads. But this is pretty standard on a traditional mag.

As far as Library goes, I'm not exactly sure what you mean. It might be helpful to make placeholders if that's what you're referring to but you can do that within InDesign using a Box Library that you'll then open as you layout each pub. As the Ads get sent in or approved you then just place them within those boxes.

I don't think margins and bleed and all of that should be a huge issue if you look at the established method. If you're doing a different size magazine or more open layout then ya you'd probably have to do a lot more calculations to figure out all the dimensions you want to offer without compromising the content.

Hope this helps you get started.


Just to give you some tips to go with Go-Meek's tips:

  • Once you have your phone number format in place figure out some Find methods to get alternatives. ^9^9^9 ^9^9^9-^9^9^9^9 was the format I used for example so I'd look for things like ^9^9^9 ^9^9^9 ^9^9^9^9 or ^9^9^9.^9^9^9.^9^9^9^9 etc. This was after running phone numbers through a macro I had in Excel, but I was probably dealing with way more phone numbers than you will.
  • Along with the Proofing tips Go-Meek gave depending on your layout you can also take a straight edge to starts and ends of lines to help spot problems like a single word that ended up on its own line, a name getting split between lines, some funky hyphenation happening, etc.

To go along with what Go-Meek said about ensuring the ads in place. Our system was probably not the best but might give you ideas. If I can recall exactly it was something like:

  • Ad Prelims
  • Ad Finals

Then a Spreadsheet as well with that information, and a binder. After each magazine was laid out we'd go through the binder to make sure every ad matched what was in it. This would catch if the wrong year was placed, or a prelim got placed, or might be correct but forgot to change in the binder. We would then print the magazine entirely and again go through that binder. And then after we've now checked twice would have the sales team check for their own client's ads as well. At this point they were checking with the binder we had, their contracts, the final draft printed out --- and they were checking not only the ad was placed but was placed in the right position and the correct page number in the Index to Advertisers.

  • Thanks for the answer! So it seems that I already made the right decision when making the new magazine and how much size versions depends on how much I want to put there in or how much client want... maybe even only four different sizes there will be, maybe other magazine ten sizes, so it's pretty random. It seems that there also can be a ad size that is 1/3 page, but in real size there is a bit more or less, just stands for 1/3 and size is given.
    – istoby
    Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 18:48

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