Photo Proofing Tips: Zero Padding

Zero Padding is not talking about someone that is really skinny… it is a numbering technique that can be used to keep images in a specific sequence when they are added to a proof magazine or to keep the images in sequence for ordering proofs.

If you number your images 1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg, 4.jpg, etc., you will have problems when sorting by image name or when ordering a proof magazine.  Numerically, you would see 1.jpg, 11.jpg, 12.jpg, etc.  Everything beginning with a 1 would come before 2.jpg.

There is an easy way to keep things in order, though.  Zero padding is the answer.  When renumbering, make sure to do 0001.jpg, 0002.jpg, 0003.jpg…0010.jpg, 0011.jpg, etc.  When every image name has the same number of digits, they will stay in the desired order.

If I have less than 1000 images in a sequence, I will zero pad for a 3 digit number, 001.jpg, 002.jpg, etc. If I have more than 1000 images, I will zero pad for a 4 digit number – 0001.jpg, 0002.jpg, etc.

One final note on this subject is especially important if you order proofs with the option to bind.  If you design something for a cover, it needs to be named in a way that will pull it to the top according to numerical order.  A better file name would be 000cover.jpg.  This can help speed your orders along through production, and keep the flow that you had in mind when the order was created.

Below is a screen shot of the renaming dialog in Adobe Bridge showing a zero-padded setup.

Screen shot of batch renaming in Adobe Bridge
Choosing number of digits in Adobe Bridge's batch renaming

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