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PLIC Books: Designing Your Book
PLIC Books: Designing Your Book

Helpful design and editor tricks in PLIC Books

Scott Jackson avatar
Written by Scott Jackson
Updated over a week ago

When you first enter the Composer for your Book, it should look something like below:

Along the top you have your batches on the left which take up most of the top. Your batches are groups of students, and are usually set up either by teacher or grade. You can drag those batches onto a page in order to add a batch to your Book. If they are already in the Book, you can click on the batch to go to that page.

At the top right you have a few different tools. You can see a green dot in this screenshot. That dot represents another user who is looking at the Book at the same time I am. If no one else is looking at the Book at the same time as you then there will not be any colored dots there. If there are more users logged in at the same time, you will see more dots of different colors in that same spot. You can hover over any of the colored dots to see which user that dot represents, and which part of the Book they are currently looking at.

To the right of the colored dots is a comments button. It will show as green if you have any unread comments to view. You can click on it to see all of the comments which were made anywhere in the Book, as well as add new global comments that everyone who accesses the Book will see.

To the right of that is the save status indicator in the form of a cloud icon with a checkmark in it. Anytime you make changes to your Book, that indicator will briefly change to loading while we are saving those changes back to the server. It is important that you do not leave the page when that indicator is showing as loading. If you see the white checkmark, then you are good to leave the page as all changes have been saved.

To the far right is the green hamburger menu. When you click on it, some additional options will pop out for you to access. You can go back to the Dashboard, view Subject Management, view a subject index of which subjects have been placed in the Book, and where, view Project Management, change your personal settings, and view a Quality Report for your Book. Each of these options will be detailed further down.

The main part of the designer is made up of the left sidebar, book design area, and the right sidebar. The left sidebar has options such as Themes, Layouts, Backgrounds, Masks, and Page Behaviors. The center design area is where you will work on your book. When you first open the project only the front cover will be showing. As you advance through the Book, you will see the left and right pages side by side to work on. The right sidebar is where images can be found. Here you will access our global list of clip art, and any candid images you have uploaded to use in your Book.

Along the bottom row, you will see some additional options. On the far left is a undo and redo button. As you make changes to your Book, you can click on undo to revert that change. To the far right of the bottom row is the zoom button. You can use this to get a closer look at your Book. From this menu, you can also view a high resolution preview of the Book.

Near the center are the page buttons. On the left is the previous and first page buttons. On the right is the next and last page buttons. In the middle is a text box that says which page you are on. You can also click and type in that box to go to a specific page. Next to that box is a Preview button. Clicking on this button will bring up a page ladder of your entire Book. It will also bring up options to preview the Book and submit it when you are finished with your designs. Clicking on Preview will generate a lower resolution pdf preview of the Book for you to view. Clicking on Finalize and Submit will lock the book and submit the Book to your studio for printing.

To the left of the page buttons are how many days you have left until your Book is due. Setting a deadline in PLIC Books is optional, so that space is blank it just means your studio hasn't set a deadline for you in the system. To the right of the page buttons are how many pages you currently have in your book out of how many you are contracted to have. It will show in red if you are over your current limit, and you will not be able to submit the Book until you delete some pages to get back under the limit.


When working on your Book, you will look at it as if it in front of you. When you are viewing the front cover you only see just the front cover, but once you go forward a page you will see the left and right pages side by side. Here for example you can see pages 2 and 3 at the same time.

When looking at a page, you will see a dotted line around the outside of the page. The area inside of this dotted line is where you are supposed to do your design work. The yellow area is the safe space. You should be careful about putting content in this space because it could be cut out of the Book. The red area is stuff that is definitely going to cut out of the Book. The colors of the safe are and bleed are dependent on how your studio has your project setup. No matter the color, when you hover over the space you can see a tooltip that will tell you whether it is the safe space or the bleed area where content will definitely be cut out of the Book.

On each page there is an orange gear options button on the outside of the page and a yellow comments button on the inside of the page. Clicking on the options button will bring up additional options such as Lock page, Save Layout, and Preview Page. Clicking on the comments button will open a sidebar where you can add and view comments for that specific page. Any comments which you make here will show up in the global comments bar at the top right as well.

Everything in PLIC Books is designed around drag and drop. You can add content from the left and right sidebars by dragging it onto the page where you want it.


By default, the right sidebar loads a clip art album. You can access all of the different albums available to you by clicking on the dropdown on the right sidebar.

If you are looking for more clip art, click on Clip Art after opening that dropdown and all of the various clip art albums will show up. We supply a wide range of types of clip art for you to choose from.

Try dragging one of the clip art from the right sidebar onto a page to get started. Next, you can click and drag it where ever you want it to be on the page. If you want to see options for that image node, click on it to bring up its toolbar. You can change the layering of images, add a border or drop shadow, crop, remove it from the page, etc... from this toolbar.

Next, you probably want to start adding some candid images into the system so you can actually start designing your pages. When you click on the album dropdown on the right hand side, you will by default see a Misc album underneath the Clip Art menu option. You can click on Create Album to create as many albums as you need to organize things. For now, click on the Misc album. You should see an empty sidebar. Next, click on the Add Images button at the bottom to get started. An uploader will pop up which you can use to upload some candid photos.

After you are done you will have images ready to drag and drop onto your Book pages.

You can add shaped masks to your images from the left sidebar. After opening the left sidebar, click on Masks and select which group of masks you want to apply. The top group is Shapes, which is a good place to start. To add these masks to an image, simply drag them on top of the image you want them to be on. To remove a mask, drag the square placeholder at the top.

You can tag subjects in candid images. Click on the image, then click on the tag button.

Now you will see a dropdown with all of the available subjects to tag. Select all of the subjects in that image, then click OK to save. Now you can better track who is placed in the Book and where. These subjects will now show up as tagged in candid images in the index if you place an index page in your Book.

Candid Layouts

From the left sidebar you can access candid layouts. Like images, you just drag these onto the page to apply them. If there is already stuff on the page, you will be asked to confirm you want to replace the existing page with the new layout. Most layouts are designed with candid placeholders that show up as gray boxes like below. If you try to preview or submit your Book like this, those placeholders will NOT be in the rendered PDF. In order to put an image in that placeholder, simply drag an image from the right sidebar onto the placeholder. The image will automatically be cropped to fit the space given.

The top layout in the Global Layouts section is an auto collage builder. After you drag the collage layout onto a page, you will see a screen where you can select which images you want to build the collage with. You can choose to pad between the images and margins on the outside of the layout. Click on the images you want to be included in the collage, or click Select Random to pick a random group of them.

Click OK when done to generate a collage. If you click the orange gear button in the top left of the page, you will see two special options for collage pages: Collage and Shuffle Collage. Clicking on Collage will bring the collage options again so you can change which pictures are selected or any of the provided options. Shuffle Collage will simply recreate a different random layout with the same selected photos.

Text Boxes

To add text anywhere on a page, simply double click on the page. This will create a new text box with some placeholder text. Start typing whatever you want in the text box. You can use the toolbar to change the font, size, color, etc... If you don't type anything in the box or make any changes, it will automatically be removed to prevent you from accidentally leaving "Type here" boxes in your final Book.

Themes and Backgrounds

You have two ways to set a background for your pages: Set a theme that sets a background for all of your pages at once or put a background on each page one at a time. Themes are only available from the cover pages and are what is loaded in the left sidebar when you first load your Book. Dragging one of those themes onto the Book will set a default set of backgrounds on all of your pages.

If you want to control your backgrounds on a page per page basis, go into the Backgrounds section on the left sidebar. There are a wide variety of backgrounds for you to choose from built into the system. If you want to bring your own background in to use, open up the Backgrounds section and click on Your Backgrounds. At the bottom there is a button called "Add Backgrounds" which you can use to upload as many backgrounds as you wish. After they are uploaded, you can drag them over onto each page.

Above the Your Backgrounds section is another section called Favorites. This is a special list of backgrounds that you have already used in your Book. If you find a good background that you want to re-use, you can go into Favorites to more easily find it in order to put it on another page.


There are some special tools that only show up when you have selected more than one image or text box at a time. There are two ways to multi-select:

1) Shift click to select more than one thing at a time

2) Click down on the page and drag to select more than one thing at a time

When selecting more than one node at a time, changes to one will affect them all. You can move them together, resize them together, add drop-shadow together, etc... You can also now access the group alignment tool. From here, you can align everything to the left, right, top, bottom, spaced evenly, etc. You can also group everything together so every time you select one of them again, you will select everything at once by default.

Advanced Usage

There are some more helpful tips and tricks here.


When you first open your Book, you will see the front cover of your book. If you want to put text in the spine or add a single cover image to both the front and the back, you will want to be able to see the cover together at the same time. Click on the Front Cover button to bring up a sub menu, and then click on Edit Spread.

You will now be seeing the front and back covers together as if the book was laid out flat in front of you. If you have a cover design that spans both sides of the cover, drag and drop it to the top left corner of the back cover. Next, resize it across to cover both the back and front covers. Now you will have a single design that spans both covers.

You can view more information about designing your cover in this article.

Class Pages

When you are ready to start laying out your class pages, click and drag one of the batch names at the very top onto a page.

That class will be added to the Book with a default layout. Notice that the 12 label at the top is now blue. This means that it has been placed in the Book already. Batches with white backgrounds are the ones that still need to be placed in the book. All of the blue batches that are already in the Book can be clicked to go directly to that page. When hovering over that batch, you can also see a red X button to remove that batch from the Book.

When you hover over a class page, you will see some buttons appear to control how big the subject cells are. Click on small, medium, or large to change the default size of the cells. If you click on the orange gear button, you can also set an exact number of columns and rows to have per page.

In the left sidebar you can see a list of available class layouts to use. To apply one of those layouts to a class, drag it over and drop it on the page.

Clicking on the subject labels or images will bring up toolbars. Changes to one subject will apply to all of the subjects in that group/batch. You can change the font, color, or add a stroke and drop shadow from these toolbars.

Some adjustments can be made from the left sidebar under Class Behaviors. From here you change whether students are shown as "First Name Last Name", "Last Name, First Name", "First Name" only, etc... There is also a section called "Subject Cells" which has some cell behaviors such as aligning cells to the outside, inside, left, or right sides of the page. There is also an option to remove the side margins from the page so it goes right to the edge. The last section under Class Behaviors is called Page Behaviors and can be used to set a page to have no page numbers, or to be in black and white.

Index Pages

From the left sidebar, one of the categories is called Index Pages. You can drag one of these layouts onto the page in order to create a special index page. This index page will include a list of every subject in the Book, and what page they are on. If subjects are tagged in candid images, this index will include those as well.

Project Management

If you click on the green hamburger menu button in the top right of your screen, a sidebar menu will pop out. Click on Project Management.

Here some additional tools will be available. The first tab is Page Assignments, which allows you to set other users to only be able to view/edit certain pages. This is particularly useful when you have a yearbook class helping to design your Book.

The next tab is User Activity. This will give a high level overview of some of the changes your users have been making to this book. You will not be able to see what exactly has changed, but you can see when a user has made changes to a certain page.

The last tab is Snapshots. Every day you have made changes to your Book, a snapshot is automatically created that night. You can also create a new snapshot at any given time. At any point after that, you can roll back to a previous snapshot to roll back your entire Book to that point in time. If a kid goes in and wrecks your designs, you can easily roll back to before they did that. Please note that subject data (ie: changing names, teachers, grades, etc...) is not saved as part of these snapshots. Only the book design itself can be saved and rolled back to.

Subject Index

If you click on the green hamburger menu button in the top right of your screen, a sidebar menu will pop out. Click on Subject Index.

This will open up a dialog with every subject in your Book, and what pages if any they have been placed on. You can click on the page numbers to go straight to that page in the Book.

Quality Report

If you click on the green hamburger menu button in the top right of your screen, a sidebar menu will pop out. Click on Quality Report.

This will open up a quality report about your Book design. In here, we will list any possible issues we can find. Some general issues it will check for are which batches haven't been placed in the Book yet, low resolution photos, and any naughty words a user might be trying to sneak in. Please note that these are superficial checks only and do not replace QAing your Book!

Page Management

If you have too many pages, not enough pages, or just want to move stuff around, you can do that from the Book Preview dialog. At the bottom of the screen click on the blue Preview button.

If you want to remove a page, hover over the page you want to remove and then click on the red x button which will appear. Clicking on the blue button next to it will go to that page. You can also click and drag the page to a different spot. The only pages you can't change the front/back covers and inside covers. Those are locked into place. If you have a class that covers more than one page, all of those pages will also be moved or removed together.

Submitting Book

Think you are ready to submit your Book? Click on the Preview button at the bottom of your screen. This will open a preview of your Book for you to look over. Before you submit your Book, you should generate a proof by clicking on the blue Generate Proof button. This will render out a proof PDF and email you a link to check it out. After you are satisfied with the results, you can click on Finalize and Submit. This will lock you out of the Book and email your studio that you are all done and ready for the Book to be printed. Once you do this, you will NOT be able to make any other changes without contacting the studio.

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