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Planning Aids

1/4 Inch Thickness Requirements

The importance of early, thorough planning and layout cannot be overemphasized. The better job you the publisher, and/or you the printer do in planning, the more effective the indexed product will be. We welcome the opportunity to assist in the planning including concept cutting and samples or prototypes.


In both Thumb Cut and Step Indexing it is important to allow sufficient margin from face trim to copy for the cuts. In Thumb Cut Indexing margin allowance varies depending upon size or radius desired. In Step Indexing, machines can be set for any depth of cut. Additional allowance should be made for web or folding variations that might occur.

Print Locator Marks

Locator marks are very important to facilitate indexing. These marks need to be placed (printed) in the correct position on the proper page. They allow us to quickly locate the proper page(s) to cut, thus expediting production and maintaining favorable pricing.

  • In Step Indexing, locator marks need to be placed inside the trim area on the left hand page below the tab so they will be cut out when indexed.
  • Thumb Cut Indexing locator marks should be printed on the right hand page exactly where the thumb cut should be. Tabs will be placed on top of the marks. In the case of tabs printed as part of the text, they can serve as the locator marks.
  • In both methods of indexing, print locator marks are not necessary if, in the case of Thumb Indexing, the tab is printed as part of the text or, in Step Indexing, if each step is defined by different paper, different color, etc.

An important note concerning step indexing: Step Indexing machines can only cut 1/4" thickness (bulk) per cycle. Therefore, if the interval between cuts exceeds 1/4", additional cuts are necessary—this will add to the book’s number of cuts and thus to its cost.

Step Indexing Paper Covered Books

There are indexing options for the paper cover. The cover may be left as is, namely flush trimmed as the text, it may be step cut as part of the first position, or it may be cut its entire head to foot length to expose all of the Step Indexing.

Overlapping: Care should be exercised when planning tab locations so that tabs do not overlap or hide lower tabs. An even stagger from head to foot and alignment in and out will assure a quality product.

Mechanical Binding: Wire-o or spiral bound product can be indexed as perfect bound books before four-sided trimming or as finished books. If indexed as finished books, it is important to allow for greater variation and margin due to the loose pages (also applies to loose-leaf text).

Tab Print: Make sure the type to be exposed is correct, of adequate size and format (head to foot and side to side) to be clearly read and understood by the book user.