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InDesign Basics

InDesign is software used for print and layout projects, posters, pamphlets, booklets, etc.
The following guide is written from the perspective that you have no previous experience or knowledge of InDesign.  In this guide, we hope to provide an understanding of basic skills needed to create a document, adding text and images, and then combing these documents into one using the software’s book feature.
Creating a Document

  1. Open InDesign.
  2. Select “Create New.”
  3. Now, select “document presets.”
  4. Choose the “Letter” preset.
  5. Select number of pages (you can always add or subtract accordingly).
  6. Make certain to check the “Facing Pages” option, essential to make a booklet.
  7. In the “Orientation” field select “Letter” and “Portrait” (both options are default).
  8. For now, keep the “Columns” field as “1.”  You’ll learn how to add them later.
  9. Click the “chain icon” in the Margins section to break the link.  This enables you to adjust the “Inside” from its default settings.  Set it to “4p6.” The inside margins need to be a little larger for optimal readability as a printed document.
  10. Once completed with the above steps, click “Create.”

Adding Images

  1. Select the “Rectangle Frame Tool” (left hand side menu) .
  2. Once selected, click and drag to make a text frame in the document.
  3. Go to the “File” tab and select “Place” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Select the images from their source (desktop, USB drive, etc.) and click “Open.”
  5. There are resizing options in the top menu.  For example, if the image is too small for the frame, click the “Fit Content to Frame” button.

Problems with “Fit Content to Frame” and Fix

  1. If the image distorts after using the “Fit Content to Frame” feature, undo the “Fit Content to Frame” edit.
  2. Using the “Selection Tool,” click on the center of the image, which will now be outlined in yellow/brown.
  3. Hold in the “Free Transform Tool” until the option for the “Scale Tool” appears.  Select it.
  4. With the “Scale Tool” selected, click the center of the image.
  5. Now, while holding “shift” on the keyboard, click and drag until the image fills the frame.  This will remedy any distortion.

Adding Text

  1. Go to left side menu and select “Type Tool.”
  2. Click and drag to create a type frame within the document.
  3. Use the cursor and begin typing.
  4. Font size, style, etc. can be changed or adjusted using the options in the left side of the top menu.
  5. A red box indicates that the text frame is too small for your font size.  You can fix this by making the font smaller or enlarging the the text frame.
  6. If you already have text from Word, rich text, etc, it’s the same process as importing an image.
  7. The suggested font size for body text is 10p or 12p.

Creating Columns for Text

  1. Select the “Type Tool.”
  2. Click and drag to create a text frame within the document.
  3. In the top menu, select “Paragraph Formatting Controls.”
  4. Click the “Columns” icon and adjust how many columns you want in the text frame.

Linking Text

  1. Using the “Direct Selection Tool,” click There are two boxes on the text frame, the one on the top left is the “Import” and the bottom right is the “Export.”
  2. Clicking the “Import” box and moving text into a previous frame will link the text to make it adapt to any edits, either to the text itself or added images.
  3. Clicking the “Export” box and moving text to a subsequent frame will do the same.
  4. If you know you are planning to make many changes and edits, use this feature to help manage your text.

Paragraph Style

  1. Select text, and edit and format it to your desired preferences.
  2. While your cursor is blinking somewhere in the text, go to the “Paragraph Style” located in the right-hand menu.
  3. Choose “New Paragraph Style” and name it accordingly.
  4. Make certain the “Apply Style to Selection” box is checked.
  5. Click “OK” to finalize.
  6. You can now apply your named paragraph style to any text you select.
  7. The number of styles is unlimited.

Saving Project

  1. For the purposes of this assignment, when saving your project, go the “File” tab and choose “Package.”  This is IMPORTANT for the next of the project.
  2. This will create a folder with your InDesign file, all edits, images, etc.


  1. Open InDesign.
  2. Under the tab menu choose“Create New” and select “Book.”
  3. Name the project.
  4. A window will appear with book title.
  5. Click the “+” button to add project/chapter files into the the book.  If they are in the correct order, you can hold down the “Shift” key to select all, or you can import them individually in the correct order.
  6. If you numbered the pages, the page numbers should be correct.  If not, you can change this by clicking the “Options Menu,” the bottom button on the top right-hand corner of the window.
  7. If your team as not agreed upon a uniform style, you can select a chapter/section to represent the entire book by checking the box next to that section and using the “double arrow” icon to synchronize the book.
  8. Once you have finished editing and adding some final touches, go to the “Options Menu”  and save the book. There are several ways to save the project. How the book is going to be printed or how the project is going to be used will determine what option you choose.

(Note: I am not sure, but I believe that you have to choose “Package Selected Documents For Print” is to be selected to ensure image and imported text files will be included in the final project.)
Adding Polish
The following steps are recommended once all individual projects are compiled into a book.
Front and Back Covers
Depending on how the final project is bound, will determine the best way to design front and back covers.  The easiest way would to be add and design these covers once the contents of the book is complete by simply adding pages.
Table of Contents
(Note this section is taken directly from Adobe [https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/creating-table-contents.html].)
For best results, be sure to do the following before creating a table of contents for a book:

  • Before you create a table of contents, verify that the book list is complete, that all documents are listed in the correct order, and that all headings have been formatted with the appropriate paragraph styles.
  • Be sure to use paragraph styles consistently throughout the book. Avoid creating documents with styles that have identical names but different definitions. If multiple styles have the same name but different style definitions, InDesign uses the style definition in the current document (if a definition exists there), or the first occurrence of the style in the book.
  • If the necessary styles do not appear in the pop‑up menus in the Table of Contents dialog box, you may need to synchronize the book so that the styles are copied to the document containing the table of contents.
  • If you want number prefixes (such as 1-1, 1-3, and so on) to appear in your table of contents, use section numbering rather than chapter numbering. Section number prefixes can be included in a table of contents.

Generate a Table of Contents
Before you generate a table of contents, decide which paragraphs should be included (such as chapter titles and section headings), and then define paragraph styles for each. Make sure that these styles are applied to all appropriate paragraphs in the document or booked documents.
When you generate the table of contents, you can also use paragraph and character styles to format the table of contents.
Table of contents without paragraph styles (left) and with paragraph styles applied to entries (right)
If paragraphs that are to be included in the table of contents appear in different stories on the same page, their order in the TOC is determined by their position on the page.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • If you’re creating a table of contents for a single document, you may want to add a new page at the beginning of the document.
    • If you’re creating a table of contents for multiple documents in a book, create or open the document to be used for the table of contents, make sure that it’s included in the book, and then open the book file.
  2. Choose Layout > Table Of Contents.
  3. If you’ve defined a TOC style that has the appropriate settings for your TOC, you can choose it from the TOC Style menu.
  4. In the Title box, type a title for your TOC (such as Contents or List of Figures). This title will appear at the top of the table of contents. To format the title, choose a style from the Style menu.
  5. Select Include Book Documents to create a single table of contents for all documents in the book list, and to renumber the book’s pages. Deselect this option if you want to generate a table of contents for the current document only. (This option is dimmed if the current document is not part of a book file.)
  6. Determine which content you want to include in the table of contents by double-clicking paragraph styles in the Other Styles list to add them to the Include Paragraph Styles list.
  7. Select Replace Existing Table Of Contents to replace all existing table of contents stories in the document. Deselect this option if you want to generate a new table of contents, such as a list of figures.
  8. Specify options to determine how each paragraph style in the table of contents is formatted.
  9. Note:
  10. It’s a good idea to define a TOC style that contains the formatting and other options for your table of contents, especially if you want to include multiple TOCs in your document. To do so, click Save Style. You can also create TOC styles by choosing Layout > Table Of Contents Styles.
  11. Click OK.
  12. A loaded text cursor appears. Before you click or drag, you can move to a different page or create a new page without losing the loaded text.
  13. Click or drag the loaded text cursor on a page to place the new table of contents story.

(Note: Avoid threading the TOC frame to other text frames in the document. If you replace the existing TOC, the entire story will be replaced by the updated TOC.)
Page Numbers

  1. Go to the “Pages” option on the right side menu.
  2. Select and double click the “A-Master” setting, a default two-page spread will appear.
  3. Using the “Type Tool,” create a text box on the lower or upper left-hand side of the left page of the spread.
  4. In the page number text frame, add any text that will come before or after the page number (such as a title or running header).
  5. Rather than type in a number, you are now going to insert a special character.  To to do this, go to the “Type” tab at the very top of the screen.
  6. Go to the “Insert Special Character” from the drop-down menu.
  7. Select “Markers.”
  8. Next, choose “Current Page Number.”
  9. An “A’ will now appear in your text frame.  In the printed document, it will appear as the proper number.
  10. Next, in order for correct alignment, select the text box and hit “Control or Command and B.”  You are now in the “Text Frame Options” window.
  11. In the “Vertical Justification” field change alignment to “center.”
  12. In order for the numbers  to properly display throughout the document, you will now have to place a text box on the opposite page of the default spread.
  13. To do so, simply select the “Selection Tool” and click and drag the left text frame while holding down the “alt/option” key to the exact opposite spot in the right page.
  14. You’ll notice that the “A” is still left aligned.
  15. In order to change this, go to the “Paragraph” option in the right menu and select “align right.”
  16. To verify, go back to “Pages” and click the first page.  You should see the page numbers corresponding to the proper page.

(Note: In professional visual design and publishing, the first page is not numbered.  In order to change this, select the page number text frame on the first page and hold “Control or Command and Shift.”  This will allow you to override and delete the frame, while keeping the other pages properly ordered.)

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