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Using Crop Marks


The Microsoft Web site explains several ways to create crop marks in Microsoft Word, but they’re difficult to implement and lack the corner “gap” required for serious use. WordSetter’s Insert Crop Marks program makes it easy to place true crop marks (and slug lines) into documents to be printed by a commercial printer.

To start the Crop Marks program:

1. Click the WordSetter menu item.

2. Click “Insert Crop Marks.”


(You can also click the Crop Marks button on the WordSetter Document Formatting toolbar.)

The Crop Marks program will start, and you’ll see a dialog box with four different areas:

1. The first area, on the top left, displays the paper size and orientation of your document. You can change these and other page settings by clicking the button labeled “Change page setup.”

2. The second area, on the lower left, lets you choose the measurement unit you want to use with your crop marks. In the United States, this is usually inches, even though you may be using picas or points as the measurement unit in your documents. Most commercial printers in the United States, for example, use such page sizes as 6 by 9 inches.

3. The third area, on the upper right, lets you set the size of the crop-marked area. For example, if you were typesetting a book with a 6-by-9-inch cropped page size (not paper size), you’d enter a 6 in the box labeled “Horizontal” and a 9 in the box labeled “Vertical.”

4. The fourth area, on the lower right, lets you set the properties of your crop marks, including their horizontal starting position (relative to the left-hand edge of the paper on which you’re printing) and their vertical starting position (relative to the top of the paper). You can center the crop marks automatically by clicking the “Center crop marks on paper” checkbox after entering the cropped page size as described in the previous paragraph. You can also have the program insert a slug line at the top of your document so that pages are less likely to be misidentified at a commercial printing establishment.


Once all of your settings are correct, click the “OK” button to put the crop marks into your document. If you decide you don’t want the marks immediately after running the program, you can remove them by repeatedly using Word’s Undo feature (CTRL + Z). If you need to delete them later, you can use the technique described in step 2 under “Checking and Adjusting Your Crop Marks,” below, but it’s a tedious procedure, and I haven’t yet found a way to do it with a program. For that reason, I recommend inserting crop marks before adjusting word spacing. Then it will be easier to go back to your original document that hasn’t yet had word spacing adjusted. Also, you may want to try your crop-mark settings on a test document before using them on the real thing.

The Crop Marks feature works by placing horizontal and vertical lines into your document’s headers and footers. Since each section of your document may have different headers and footers from the other sections, you may need to run the program for each section of your document. For example, if you’ve set up your document to use a different first page and different right and left pages using Word’s Page Setup feature, you’ll need to insert crop marks (probably with different settings) into each of those sections—for the first page, the left page, and the right page. You can also put several sets of crop marks on one page if you need to print several small items at once. You can even set the starting positions at 0 if you’re going to be cutting a document with a hand cutter and need a single crop mark at the lower right of your document. Pretty slick!

Centering your crop marks. If you want to center your crop marks, click the checkbox labeled “Center crop marks on paper.” The program will calculate placement based on the numbers you entered for the size of the crop-marked area. If you need to adjust the calculated settings, just change the numbers that appear in the boxes, which are accurate to no more than two decimal places. (What that means is that achieving exactly one-eighth of an inch [.125] is not possible, at least while working in inches. Sorry, but that’s just the way Microsoft Word is set up to adjust lines like these. Remember, however, that you can achieve fairly fine measurements by working in points, nine of which are equivalent to an eighth of an inch [72 points = 6 picas = 1 inch].) If you get negative numbers or other strange figures in these boxes, recheck your page settings and crop-marked area settings. You’re probably asking the program to do something unreasonable, such as positioning crop marks vertically at 12 inches when your paper is only 11 inches long.

The default crop-mark sizes for the various measurement units are one-third of an inch, one centimeter, 24 points, and two picas. The default corner adjustment, or gap, is one-sixth of an inch, four millimeters, 12 points, and one pica. The weight of the crop-mark lines is always half a point.

Each time you start the crop-mark program, it “remembers” your settings from the last time you used it.

Inserting a slug line. The second checkbox allows you to insert a slug line at the top of your document that includes fields for the title of the document, the date and time, and the current page number. To include the document’s title, click the File menu and then “Properties.” Enter the name of the document (and a job number, if you like) in the box labeled “Title” on the Summary tab.

Word will automatically update the slug-line fields when you print a document if you have that option turned on. To do so, click Tools, then Options, and then Print. Click the checkbox labeled “Update Fields” and then click “OK.” You can also update the fields manually by opening the header, selecting the slug line, and pressing the F9 key.

The slug line is formatted with Word’s Macro Text style so that you can insert a regular header formatted with the Header style underneath the slug line. To adjust the height of the slug line on the page, use the “From Edge” box in the Page Setup dialog. To adjust the height of the header itself, modify “Spacing Before” in the Header style’s paragraph formatting.