To create a catalog, you need:
• Product data
• Catalog Layout
Let’s take a look at them in detail.
First of all, to create a catalog you need your product data. By product data, we mean: codes (SKUs / item numbers), category, subcategory, product name, description, attributes, prices, barcodes, etc.
This information can be contained in:
• Business database / ERP systems: SAP, Oracle, IBM AS400, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Infor, ePromis, etc.
• One or more Excel sheets (or CSV, TXT files)
• XML files
• SQL files
• Company website
• Previous catalog files (Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, etc.)
Previously, once you have collected all the textual information you want to insert in your document, you must gather all the articles’ images and the eventual symbols/icons, if needed.
If you are creating a print catalog, you will need high-quality product images (200/300 dpi). Good quality images are essential for making your catalog into a professional document.
Often, you will not have all of the product images at your disposal and might try to retrieve them from your company’s website. These images will not be of a good quality (usually 72 dpi); therefore, they are not suitable for use in a print catalog.
When you have all the necessary elements gathered, you can move on to the operative phase of the catalog layout creation. In this phase, the graphic designer is involved, much more so if you are creating the first edition of the catalog, or if you are looking for a restyling of your previous layout.
The graphic design can be done by an in-house worker or outsourced to a freelancer or communication agency. The designer will help you solidify your ideas about how to organize both the product information and images and take a care of the style of the:
• Cover and back cover;
• The introduction pages;
• Page layout/Master pages: header, footer, thumb index, category’s color, page columns (1, 2, 3, or more), etc.;
• Table of Contents (TOC): Classic sort order (page number sort order), Photographic TOC, Alphabetical order (by category, by product, by what you want) and Chapter Separator TOC;
• Chapter separators;
• Product layouts (check four examples of different product layouts in the image down below);
• Creation of specific industry icons/symbols.
The designer will create many drafts, usually using Adobe InDesign, until all of your requirements have been fulfilled.