This is a tutorial on how to use an InDesign book to create a catalog, book, or other document where each chapter has its own color scheme. This is a process that was originally developed for catalogs that I create where I work and then I wrote a variation of this for internal process documentation, and then I posted it on StackExchange for someone who needed help doing this exact thing. Now I have decided to post it on here as well, hoping it can help someone out, if you have questions, please ask, I will be happy to clarify.

The way I have gone about doing this is the past is to:

  1. Create a Master Folder for your project.
  2. Create a Master Template file containing your master pages and your first 3 pages, one front page and a spread.

    Inside this file you want to set up the colors that will change in your color pallet.

    This would be something along the lines of:

    • chapter color 1
    • chapter color 2
    • chapter color 3

    or how many colors you have in each color scheme. This will allow you to swap out colors later on in the process.

    Save this file in your Master Folder as tmeplate-master.indd, as shown below.

    A note from experience: It is helpful if this file is well thought out before it is built to save work updating the chapter masters after you have created them and added them to the book file.

  3. Inside Master Folder create a book file, shown as book-file.indb below.

    You can create this file in the initial InDesign splash window under the heading:

    Create New > Book

    You can also do it under the menu:

    File > New > Book

  4. Create your first chapter folder, shown as 01-'Chapter 1 Title' below.
  5. Copy the file template-master.indd into your first chapter folder and rename it to the same name as your first chapter folder, shown as 01-Chapter 1 Title.indd below.
  6. Repeat Steps 4 & 5 for the total amount of chapters you have in your book.
  7. Once you have all of your chapters created open book-file.indb in InDesign.

    Add each chapter file using the + button in the Book Dialog Box. The Book Dialog Box will automatically pop up when you open the book file.

  8. Open your first chapter 01-Chapter 1 Title.indd in InDesign and open the color pallet.

    When in the color pallet open up the template colors you set up way back in Step 2 and change the colors, save, and close them.

    This will change the color for every object that the color is attached to in your file.

    Now you can do this for each file you created in Steps 4 & 5 and added to your book file in Step 6.

This process will give you consistent masters across all chapters while not having to override anything. Also if you need to make changes to your master page you can make you updates inside your tmeplate-master.indd file and then open each chapter and just paste your changes in and you will be all set.

Example: I just finished a 200 pg. catalog in english, now I am re-creating it in french, so it was easy to change every footer by making the change in tmeplate-master.indd and copy/pasting that change into each Chapters Master Pages. Objects I would have otherwise overridden.

This does take some time and patients to set up but I can tell you that it is well worth it in the time you will save in the end, especially when you would have had to change all of those files that you had to override in your current process.

The way Scott said to do it is ok if your working in a small file, but I assume because your using the ‘chapter’ terminology that your making a larger file. I would split any file up into separate indd files that are considered different chapters for practical reasons such as finding issues easier and keeping track of changes, and E/Os.

Below is the file structure I typically use when building book files as referred to several times in the list above

File/Folder Structure

  •   Master Folder
    •   tmeplate-master.indd
    •   book-file.indb
    •   01-‘Chapter 1 Title’
      •   01-Chapter 1 Title.indd
      •   Links
      •   Fonts
    •   01-‘Chapter 2 Title’
      •   02-Chapter 2 Title.indd
      •   Links
      •   Fonts

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