Some people prefer making zines by hand, others like making them digitally, but either way works. Nowadays I intergrate both digital and handmade practices, but my initial experience with zine-making was digital. As I started spending more time on my laptop in 2012, putting the zine together was more of an extension of the things I was already doing. I will write another workflow/resource post on my current flow, but for sake of providing different making options, I'll first go over zines that are made mostly on a computer. 

My workflow in making digital zines looks something like this:

  1. Collect my personal writing from doc files and personal blog (and compile into a master Google doc)
  2. Make folder of select images
  3. Scan printed images and add to folder
  4. Edit images via iPhoto, Photoshop, or Paint.NET 
  5. Overlay writing onto application, play around with the typography (fonts), layout, spacing, colors, etc.
  6. Save original file for later edits 
  7. If working with InDesign, export the entire document as one pdf file
  8. With other applications (Pages and Photoshop), export every document as pdf files 
    1. Lay out all the pdf files in one Preview document
    2. Shuffle around into the desired order
    3. Make a master pdf file
  9. Upload to ISSUU

When I started making zines I worked with the app Pages.  I'd edit photos I had taken via iPhoto, and pull writing from the journaling I had done on my computer (usually TextEdit files and Tumblr posts). I'd drop the images onto Pages, and then play with the layout and words. Sometimes I'd magnify an image over a page, and use that as a background for the writing, usually affirmations and realizations. 

After Pages, I used Photoshop, which I liked because I could edit the images there, and play with more effects and elements.  As with Pages, I'd start with a Letter-size document that I'd save as PDF files. I used the pdf reader Preview to make a master pdf file containing all the pages in the desired page order (image below). From there, I'd upload the file to ISSUU, a free digital publishing platform for magazines, e-books, zines, and more. 

PDF files got the job done, but I eventually moved onto InDesign because I wanted to use something tailored specifically for multi-page publications. Since I make 5x7 booklets, I set up the InDesign document as Letter-Half, and make sure to have at least 8 pages. For online publishing, the number of pages doesn't matter, but if the zine will be printed at some point, the total of number of pages will need to be a multiple of 4 (8, 12, 16, 20, 24, etc). Since DIY booklets are made up of folded paper, there are 4 different 'pages' or sides, in one paper. Which means that if you have 8 pages and want to add another, you will have to bring it up to 12, because every 'page' is connected to a paper containing 3 more pages/sides. But if online publishing is the end all, page number doesn't matter much. 

Fancy software isn’t at all required to make digital zines. Essentially what is needed is a PDF file, which can be obtained from most word processing programs, or even Google Docs. As for putting the big PDF together, there are many PDF readers that you can use. 

Additional resources for digital zines:

For digital zine inspiration, check these out:

Remember to start where you are, and work with what you have. Happy making! 


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