Some InDesign Basic

A few people missed class on Thursday due to the weather, so I figure I would put together a quick post about InDesign. In this sort-of-tutorial, I go over everything you need to create a basic layout, like the sample I used in class. [It is important to remember InDesign is a layout tool. It does not do charting. That means we still need to build our chart in Illustrator or Excel.]

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Here are some very basic tips to using InDesign. Please shoot me an email if you are having problems or try to Google away the problems.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 9.32.51 PM1) Basic tools – The basic layout tools should be on the left side of the screen when you open InDesign. The toolbar includes straightforward tools, such as the selection tool, the text tool, the line tool, and the rectangle tool. For basic layout, such as the example I used in class, this should be just about everything you need. Other convenient tools include the eyedropper – for coping colors or styles -, the pen tool, and the zoom tool – though you might want to use the shortcut key instead (Command and + or -).

2) Columns – One of the first things you want to do when laying out a story or page is come up with a basic grid structure. Hopefully, this was taken care of during the storyboarding process. If not, draw out your graphic now. How many columns do you need to make your layout? I needed three columns for mine – two columns of text and one column for the sidebar. I didn’t want the sidebar to be a full third of the page, so I actually made my layout four columns, using the first three columns (75%) of the page for the text and one column for the sidebar.

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Turning on the columns in InDesign is simple. Go to Layout > Margins and Columns.

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At the bottom of the dialog box, enter the number of columns you want.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.30.45 PM3) Columns 2: The New Batch – Besides using columns at the page level, I also needed to break the text box into two columns. First, I created the text box, with the text tool in main toolbar. Then, I filled it with filler content (since we don’t have real copy) by Control+Clicking on the text box and choosing  “Fill with Placeholder Text.”

Once I have the text made, I can change the number of columns by selecting Object > Text Frame Options and entering the number of columns I need in the column box at the top of the dialog. You can also use the shortcut key (Control and B) to get the dialog box.

4) Place – When you want to bring in your graphic from Illustrator or Excel (or if your want to bring in graphic like the book cover), you select File > Place…which is weird. In nearly every program the command would be insert not place, but I digress. Once you place the image, you might have two issues:

  • It might look crappy. That is because InDesign doesn’t display images at high quality. This is a way to save processing power, but if you don’t know it is supposed to do that you might just think your graphic looks bad. You can turn this off by Control+Clicking anywhere and selecting Display Performance > High Quality Display.
  • You might need to scale the object once you bring it in (i.e., change its size). When you place an image, the tool that is turned on by default is the cropping tool. To scale, hold Command+Shift and drag any corner of the image.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.09.20 PM5) Text Wrap – I placed one of my images (i.e., the book cover) on top of my text box. Initially, the text did not move and so some of it was covered by the image. To change this, I need to adjust the text wrap options. Text wrap can be adjusted in numerous ways. First, you can change the wrapping style in the top toolbar (across the top of your screen). The image to the left, shows the icons you should look for.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.06.01 PMYou can also adjust the text wrap options in the toolbar on the right side of the screen. This toolbar might not be displayed by default on your computer. If not you can turn it on by selecting Window > Text Wrap.

Those are a few of the most important, general things you need to complete your assignment.