Catalog Design Handbook

10. Document and asset management

Page-layout applications typically allow you to manage visual assets as linked or embedded files. To minimize the size of your layout file, maximize the quality of visual output, and keep your document efficient to edit, always choose to link rather than embed your visuals. Embedding often relies on copying images from other applications and pasting them into your page layout. This technique can affect the fidelity of color output at the same time that it makes the size of your layout file balloon unnecessarily. Using linked files, you can make changes to graphics and reflect those changes in your layout without the need to copy and paste them into the file again.

Note on prodalist: prodalist keeps the original files separated, and embeds a copy at the last minute when generating the final pdf, with the selected size, resolution and color space.

Consistent file naming conventions make it easier to find specific milestones in your work. As you develop prototypes of your layout and versions of your working document, use numeric version-control signals in your file names to help you track the chronology of individual ideas and changes. Any time you make significant alterations to your work, save your layout file under a new name and increment the version-control portion of the name accordingly. Under this system, your first file version might carry a name constructed as follows:

[season][year][prototype or working file][0x, where “x” is a versioning digit]

In practice, this becomes something like this:


This nomenclature would represent a first-draft prototype of a Spring 2020 catalog. Along with this patterned file name, the document also would carry the file extension associated with your page-layout program.

Most page-layout applications include specific commands you can use to collect linked files or produce publication-ready asset collections. These commands can simplify your ability to preserve a complete set of catalog versions over time. In addition to this as-produced archive, your working files enable you to track design features and other elements throughout your work process. After you complete a catalog project, save a copy of the document, along with all its linked file assets, in a new folder reserved for archiving the project.

Note on prodalist: except the dedicated prodalist file, prodalist saves all the documents (table, images, templates ..) in non proprietary formats, in one open folder dedicated to the project. All accessible. It is recommended to duplicate the complete folder to make revision or backups.

Tip: Page-layout applications include the ability to auto-save your working files. This function can help you recover from an application crash. However, it’s important to create your own form of file-name version control so you can track your project through the development process. Consider maintaining a log file that identifies the significant additions to or deletions from each version of your layout file.

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