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Split Images That Span Across Two Pages (free script)

You’ve placed an image so it spans across a two-page spread, and your printer tells you to split it. That is, they want you to break the image into two — one graphic on each page. This isn’t hard to do, but it takes a bit of time, and if you had to do a lot of them it would get boring quickly. So I’m going to tell you about a script that does it for you.

But first I’m going to show you how to do it yourself, manually, in case you don’t know.

And also: I want to point out that in many (perhaps most) cases, you do not need to do this! Most printers handle this kind of imposition work for you. And if you export a PDF for them, InDesign splits the image for you when it makes the PDF. So the technique falls into the category of: Do it only if your printer insists.

The Manual, Slow Way

Here’s the procedure to change images manually:

  1. Select the graphic frame, copy it to the clipboard, and then choose Edit > Paste in Place
  2. The duplicate is now selected, so drag one of the side handles over to the spine (where the two pages touch). If Snap to Guides is enabled, the frame edge should snap to the side of the page.
  3. Select the original graphic frame, then drag the opposite side handle over to the spine.

In some cases, you’ll also want to move the images inside the frames toward the outside edge (away from the gutter). This adjusts for the little bit of the image that gets lost where the two pages come together. The result is that a bit of the image gets duplicated in the middle. To make this adjustment, double-click on the image (to select the image inside the frame) and move it toward the outside of the spread… for example, on the left-hand page, you might press the left arrow key on the keyboard 6 times (6 points is about 2 mm).

So, here’s the image before (one graphic frame):

Splitimagescript3

And here is it after (two frames; just the one on the left is selected):

Splitimagescript4

Using the Script

OK, so let’s say you need to do 20 of these. At that point, doing it manually is too annoying and you want to find a script to automate it. Fortunately, a guy name Chris Bennett had this problem a few years ago and paid Martinho da Gloria (the brilliant mind behind the company Automatication) to write a script to do it. Even more fortunately, Chris has agreed to offer his script to the public for free!

You can download the script here.

Note that this script is a bit different than most scripts you may have worked with. After you download an unzip it, you’ll find a folder called “ScarletStart”. You should put that whole folder inside the Scripts folder, inside your Adobe InDesign application folder, like this:

Where to put the script

This is a “startup script” which means that, unlike most scripts, you have to restart InDesign, and the script activates when you “start up” the application. But the benefit of this is that the script becomes a feature in the normal InDesign user interface. In this case, it shows up in the Table menu, listed as “Split Frame”:

Splitimagescript2

Why is it in the Table menu? (Makes no sense, because this has nothing to do with tables.) I don’t know, but that’s okay; it works!

To run it, select the graphic frame and select Table > Split Frame. If you had to do this a lot, you could apply a keyboard shortcut to it. The shortcut lives inside the Scripts product area:

Splitimagescript5

So now you know!

A huge thanks to Chris Bennett for sharing this script with the InDesign community!

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at Lynda.com are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at 63p.com.
David Blatner

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23 Comments on “Split Images That Span Across Two Pages (free script)

  1. “Why is it in the Table menu? (Makes no sense, because this has nothing to do with tables.) I don’t know, but that’s okay; it works!”

    I think it’s been told to appear in the sixth menu across and eleven positions down (or something similar) which made sense when it was written for InDesign 2 or 3 or 4. I had trouble finding it in the menu once after an upgrade. That’s my guess, anyway.

  2. Thank you so much for writing this up and making it more accessible for anyone who needs it!

    I have the script installed and it works but for some reason, I’m unable to see it in the Keyboard shortcuts table menu in which to assign it a keyboard shortcut.

    • Go into Keyboard Shortcuts and click on Show Set. In the text file that opens do a Find for Split Image. Doing so will show you where the command lives in ID.

  3. Awesome!!! I’ll never understand people who don’t like (or don’t give a chance to) the scripts usage.

    • Jenn: Well, a compound path is an interesting idea. But you could not move the image in to the left on one side and to the right on the other. And if the page got moved, it wouldn’t work.

      (For example, let’s say someone decides to actually do the imposition in InDesign, with a 16-page doc, and they move page 2 next to page 15… I’m not saying that’s a good idea, but people have been known to do crazy things.)

      I think having two separate frames is probably safer.

  4. I design a perfect-bound magazine for which our printer advises that crossover photos be adjusted to accommodate for content lost in the binding. (Printer advice: https://www.cummingsprinting.com/technotes/designing-perfect-bound-pages/.)

    I see a great future for this script in my workflow — maybe with some modifications to reorient the respective x coordinates of the image in the two new graphics frames.

    At any rate, this is an example of where you could use this script for reasons other than shuffling pages and doing your own imposition.

    • Would there be a way to allow this script to perform the action on multiple items selected at once? currently it seems to only allow one item at a time.

  5. I get an error when I run the script. It’s definitely in the folder above. I don’t see a way to post a screenshot. The error is “Object does not support the property or method ‘pdfs’. Do you want to disable this event handler?” with the option to click yes or no.

  6. Handy script. And for free as well. Many thanks Chris Bennett and Automatication.

    It would be great if the offsets could be changed.

    • I agree with William. The script works well, and I had hopes for some of my jobs, but without the ability to change the offsets I wouldn’t be saving any time.

      • 3mm each way was what the print house asked for, so that’s the amount I got programmed into the script. If the print house was to change their mind, and now said that they wanted 2mm or 4mm, I would simply carry on as usual and tell them that it has been changed. No one would spot the difference. After all, 1mm is slightly less than 3 points (from memory) or 2 poppyseeds or half a barleycorn if you’re American.
        I must admit that I was surprised that I couldn’t find anything available out there before I got the script written. It appears to be a more common requirement from printers than some people think.

  7. any one want to be my hero and tweak this script so that it splits, then offsets the image with in the frames to the left right to account for perfect binding? That’s the only time my printer requests I split images for production, to account for the area lost within the spine.

    I have to do this for 200 page books twice a year!

    • That’s exactly what it does? The offset is set to 3mm each way as that was what my print house required.

  8. I just downloaded this script – It doesn’t seem to work with Adobe CC indesign 2019.. Does you have a suggestion?

    • @Diane: It definitely works in CC 2019 (that’s what I used when writing this article). What’s it doing (or not) for you? Are you getting an error?

  9. Hey there secret players!
    I’m sure this script’s gonna save a lot of time but unfortunately it won’t work on my cc2020, and also I tried it on cc2015! won’t work!

    It show up in the Table menu (check)
    It runs… (check)

    … But it stops after it takes multiple duplicates of the frame. It won’t resize and reposition the frame and abandons the procedure in middle pf way I guess!

    • I’m not sure why it’s not working for you but I just tried it in InDesign 2020 (15.1.1) and it works as expected.

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