Consistent spot color naming to die-forme

A pain-point I see regularly concerns inconsistencies in color names, particularly spot colors that are used for embellishments. Take for example a color that is used for representing a forme-shape. For consistency sake, the office has implemented a CC library with standard swatches for regularly used embellishments such as Dieline, Perforation and Spot UV. The concept is that anyone who requires an embellishment can simply open the CC library and choose one from the embellishment colors that have been established.

Despite creating this CC library, embellishment colors and names can still be inconsistent for reasons such as:

  • The artwork was legacy artwork prior to introducing the CC library;
  • Operator error; or
  • Art was supplied by a third party, such as a client or supplier.

Naming consistency is important with workflows that have been established with these embellishment colors. Take the color “Dieline” for example. This should be clearly visible on the native files, but not on the printed output. In this instance when printing to digital devices, the RIP will identify the color “Dieline” and assign it a white color value that will treat it as if it were transparent and not print at all, though it will appear in the PDF. This eliminates the need to toggle a dieline layer on and off in the application that made the artwork, and eliminates any errors associated with art being mapped to incorrect layers.

However, if the artwork contained a color named as “Dieforme” for example, the RIP would not identify the color as “Dieline” and the formeshape would be visible on the final print. This issue could be resolved by adding the color “Dieforme” manually to on the RIP, but the concept is to have every file the same so that operators aren’t interrupted having to make adjustments on the RIP for specific tasks.

A solution via Acrobat

My preferred solution is to use a custom fixup from Adobe Acrobat’s Preflight dialog. In this example, I’ve created a PDF that contains ten variations of Dieline spot color using different names, but the color value is identical. Here is what the separation preview looks like:

Acrobat does have pre-made fixups for similar tasks, such as Make custom spot color names consistent.

Let’s give that a go.

The fix has reduced the number of spot colors but only down to five. Names that had different casing have been merged together, and spaces or dashes have been removed and then merged together with the results.

Let’s revert that and try an alternative fixup Merge spot color name if appearance is identical.

OK, that has remapped all of these spots to one spot color.

However, this color is the wrong name. It is also unlikely that the forme-shape colors would ever be set with different names yet have the same underlying CMYK color conversion. The following would be more likely:

Let’s run the Merge spot color name if appearance is identical fixup again.

Some names have been culled but there similar names such as die and Die have not been mapped together, so this solution hasn’t worked.

Make a custom fixup in the Preflight panel

Luckily we can make our own solution from the Preflight panel by clicking on the options button at the top right of the panel and selecting Create Fixup

In the new window, the fix will be given the name Diecut Fix. Choose Color spaces, spot colors, inks from the Fixup category in the top centre dialog; and select Map spot and process colors in the Type of fixup dialog on the top right hand side.

In the options at the bottom of that dialog box, make sure the Source color name matches with RegEx and in the field to the right, type the GREP ^die.*?$ – this will look for any word that begins with die. The destination should Map or rename, and the destination color name will be Dieline, with a CMYK value of 100% magenta, overprint on, and applied to Spot color is used. The checkbox should be checked on for ignore upper/lower case. Once OK’d from the bottom right hand corner, the fixup can then be activated using the Fix button on the bottom right of the Prepress dialog.

The fixup has worked – all of the colours have been mapped to the one color with the correct name and color value. An added bonus is that the color is set to overprint so that the color beneath won’t knock out.

Other applications

In this instance, the fixup has been used to fix a one-off issue concerning an incorrectly named spot color. But this fixup can be added to a larger workflow so that artwork from external sources can be cleansed for a workflow. See this article for more information (

This particular fixup is also used to fix artwork that – while being set in the right color and name – did not have an overprint applied to the color. This fixup will correct this issue.

New Year’s Message for 2021

Given that the last general news update about this site was November 2012, it’s about time to provide another news update about the goings-on at Colecandoo.

10 years of Colecandoo in April 2021

April 2021 will mark ten years since was launched. The site started its life in the year 2000 on a former employer’s web forum in the form of a rant about what frustrated me about the files I had to handle on a daily basis. Upon being given the suggestion to turn frustration into education, I started documenting pain-points and writing suggestions on better practices for anyone who may be experiencing the same pain-points.

It wasn’t until 2011 that I had enough material to create a book, but given the pace of change in the printing industry, it would not be long before the information was out of date and revisions or reprints would be necessary, so what better platform to convey this information than a website?

In early 2013, interest in the site would be turned up to eleven. I was contacted by InDesignSecrets whether I would be interested in writing an article about Data Merge for InDesign Magazine. Since then I’ve written a few more pieces for the magazine, along with close to 30 articles for InDesignSecrets, and spoken at two conferences in an official capacity (as well as unofficially at CreativeWOW sessions and Ignite sessions).

Since starting this site, I’ve spoken at over a dozen events, including Adobe user groups, Adobe Community Professionals, as well as former and current employers.

My thanks go out to everyone who has supported the site, also to those who have gone out of their way to rally behind me to open doors I would have never thought imaginable. For years I’d wanted to be able to put suggestions and pain-points to Adobe Software Engineers directly, and through support of readers of the site, I’ve been able to do this several times.

Ten years on, some pain-points have gone; some pain-points remain, and new pain-points are introduced. I imagine that with the rise of Canva and the Affinity suite that there will be more to come, so stay tuned!

Data Merge to Single Records Pro beyond expectations

It has also been two years since the launch of the pro version of the Data Merge to Single Records script. The script had been on the back-burner for years after releasing the free version but I’d released the pro version after receiving dozens of direct requests for it. I didn’t think there would be much demand for the script from others, but two years on it has been downloaded more than I’d expected. To everyone who has purchased the script, thank you very much and I hope the script is saving time in your daily workflow.


Many regular readers will note that it has been close to three years since the last upload to the Colecandoo YouTube channel (make sure you are subscribed to the Colecandoo). The aim of the channel was to show some tips and techniques that are hard to convey in the written format of the blog, and also had plans of monetizing the channel over time.

Preparing videos for YouTube takes many more hours and resources than writing articles for the blog. I also would like to increase the production values of the videos that are produced with better audio, graphics and on-site footage to demonstrate real-world applications of techniques shown in the videos. But in this environment that has been difficult to do, and in terms of production – I’m it! There’s no additional director, editor, producer, sound engineer, ADR… I’m it!

YouTube has increased the barrier to entry for monetization in 2019, effectively postponing monetization of the channel indefinitely. In short, eligibility hinges on having over 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within 12 months, in addition to providing advertiser-friendly/family friendly material.

Put simply, I’d like to continue making the videos and hope to do so in the future, but at the moment – videos are on-hold… for now.

Affiliate links

In 2021, I’ll be adding a page dedicated to Amazon affiliate links, and may mention affiliate links in articles that I write. These will always be mentioned up-front because the first and foremost aim of this site is to provide prepress and InDesign advice to anyone.

For those unfamiliar with Amazon affiliate links, they are links to products on Amazon that – if a person who clicks upon a link then makes a purchase using that link – will allow revenue to be passed back onto the person hosting that link, which in this case is Colecandoo.

To come in 2021

COVID-19 has been devastating and 2020 will largely be remembered for this reason alone. Vaccines may be on the way but won’t resolve the crisis on its own, nor do it in a timely fashion. We must still play our part by social distancing and maintaining good personal hygiene.

This year has been a slower year for articles for reasons that should be self-evident – with two articles prepared, compared to 14 articles in 2019. I aim to correct this for 2021.

I also aim to revisit some scripts on the site, and add new scripts to the list, including pro versions of scripts such as the wall planner script.

Additionally, I’d also be interested to hear thoughts on whether or not to set up a Patreon, and also thoughts on merchandise through Redbubble or Teespring.

Lastly, I would like to wish everyone a safe and prosperous new year for 2021, and in the words of my old Design Manager, “Let’s Do This!”.

Document Presets vs New Page Sizes.xml: Adding page sizes

A recent forum post concerning adding page sizes to InDesign’s Document Setup highlighted two different ways to accomplish this task. This article will explain both methods, and the strengths and weaknesses of each method as while they both perform similar tasks, they are not the same and can complement each other.

First method: Saved Presets

Before beginning, it is worth noting that when making a new document in InDesign, users will be presented with one of two different interfaces. In the latest version of Creative Cloud, the default user interface looks like this:

There is also the Legacy interface that long-time InDesign users will be more familiar with:

To choose to use the Legacy user interface, go to the InDesign Preferences (Command+K for Mac, Control+K for Windows) and check the Use Legacy “New Document” Dialog checkbox on. Alternatively if the new default look is preferred, uncheck the dialog box.

Making a saved preset in the default “New Document” dialog

Go to the New Document dialog box (Command+N for Mac, Control+N for Windows) to show the user interface.

Once open, go to the right hand side of the dialog box and enter the measurements, orientation and other desired options.

To save the preset, click on the icon to the right of the Preset Details heading and a new prompt will appear to save the preset.

Once named and saved, the preset can now be accessed in the Saved portion of the user interface.

Be careful in this window as deleting a saved preset will remove it without prompting for a warning.

Making a saved preset in the Legacy dialog

Go to the New Document dialog box (Command+N for Mac, Control+N for Windows) to show the user interface.

Once open, enter the measurements, orientation and other desired options. To save the preset, click on the icon to the right of Document Preset dropdown and a prompt will appear to save the preset.

Once named and saved, the preset can now be accessed Document Preset dropdown of the user interface.

The preset can be deleted by clicking the trashcan in the top right corner of the dialog box, but unlike the default interface, a warning dialog is presented.

Managing saved presets

Regardless of the interface used to make the preset, they are managed by going to the File Menu, Document Presets, then Define. This will present a new dialog box:

From this dialog box, it is possible to save presets so that they can be shared with others as a .dcst file; load preset .dcst files that others have created, as well as make new presets, edit or delete existing presets. Again, a warning will be presented if a preset is to be deleted.

Note though that when making a new preset or editing an existing preset that the Legacy dialog box is used.

Second method: New Page Sizes.xml

This other method calls upon an XML file that InDesign references for custom-made sizes. On a Mac, it can be found here:

InDesign/your_version_of_indesign/language_installed/Page Sizes/New Page Sizes.xml

/Users/JohnCitizen/Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/Version 14.0/en_US/Page Sizes/New Page Sizes.xml

This file can be edited to add custom sizes. By default, the XML file looks like this:

The syntax to create a new page size looks like this:

The <Name> tags refer to the name of the page size that the user will see in the New Document dialogs. The <Width> and <Height> tags refer to the measurements and these measurements are in points. Each page name, width and height are wrapped in their own <PageSize> tag.

For this example, I’ve taken in all A, B, C, D paper sizes as well as some imperial sizes and saved the XML file.

Anyone interesting in having this file can do so by downloading it here.

When I now open the default New Document interface, the new options now appear in the Print portion:

And here is what it looks like in the Legacy user interface:

Distinctions between Document Presets and New Page Sizes.xml

  • The default user interface will allow users to add Document Titles to new documents and also allow users to see page sizes at a glance, as opposed to the Legacy interface where page size measurements are only visible once a preset or page size is selected from the dropdown.
  • Selecting Create Alternate Layout from the Pages panel will show a new dialog box that contains pages added via the New Page Sizes.xml file. These page sizes will be able to be selected from the dropdown, while page sizes made via the saved presets will be unavailable.
  • The New Page Sizes.xml will only add names of page sizes, widths and heights; while adding presets stores more information such as total number of pages, page orientation, page size (including pages that can be accessed from the New Page Sizes.xml), amount of columns, margin dimensions, bleed and slug settings, and whether to have facing pages or primary text frames.

Add a “Night” mode to InDesign

In the same way that different political or religious views can polarise a group of people, so can one specific InDesign feature: Light or Dark interface.

Introduced into InDesign CC in 2013, this change brought InDesign in line with other Creative Cloud products that had a dark interface. That said, I was not a fan and chose to remain a user of the light interface.

Many years later and Apple released the macOS Mojave with its Dynamic Desktop and Dark mode. The Dynamic Desktop feature shows a bright desktop during daylight hours and a dark desktop during the dark hours. In addition, popular apps also followed suit allowing users to switch from the usual view to a “night mode”.

In addition, I have found myself working late into the night on projects, and have found that a darker interface during these hours is easier on my eyes. That said, I still like to use a light interface when working in daylight hours.

With this in mind, I wondered if it was possible to create an InDesign startup script that – upon performing a common task such as opening a file – would check the time of day and if it was beyond a certain time of the day, would invoke the dark interface… and it was.

I’ve now added this script to the site and it can be downloaded from here or the scripts/download pages. As this is a startup script, it has to be added to the Startup Scripts folder (see Ole Kvern’s excellent instructions for doing so here).

The script can also be modified to suit by going into any text editor such as textedit or notepad and editing the following lines of the script:

if (hours <= 7 || hours >= 18)

This indicates the hours of the day. In the script, 7 = 7:00 am, and 18 = 6:00 pm.

app.generalPreferences.uiBrightnessPreference = 0.0;

This refers to how dark the interface should be. 0.0 is totally dark, 1.0 is bright, but values from 0.1-0.9 can be used as well.

app.generalPreferences.pasteboardColorPreference = 1; 

This refers to the color of the pasteboard. The number 1 will match the pasteboard color to the interface, whereas 0 will leave the pasteboard white.

So technically it’s not a night-mode per se, but for those who like the light interface until the night-time hours, this script may be something to consider.

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