InDesign for beginners

Today in IT session, we got to learn InDesign. I was pretty excited because I’ve always wanted to use the program, I just haven’t been smart enough to learn by myself through video tutorials (like my dad did).

In 1984, Adobe PostScript capabilities were built into the Mac. In 1985 in the same day came the Aldus Pagemaker and the LaserWriter.

Before all these Desktop Publishing (DTP) programs arrived, it was very difficult for designers to actually design something and know for sure how it was going to look like after printing. They had to either cut and paste manually with scissors and everything, or they had to take their chances and witness their work turning into something horrifying after printing.

So the invention of these DTP programs was a big break-through.

InDesign files are, like Illustrator files, small, and should remain small.

All image and text files are linked via the place command. Meaning they can be placed in the InDesign page, straight from Word or RTF if it’s a text file for example. Meaning if you work with a photographer who is retouching the images, and a writer who is still working on the copy, you can ‘place’ the initial files in InDesign and as those professionals work on their part and click ‘save’, the image or text you had earlier ‘placed’ on your page in InDesign will be updated accordingly.

This makes it much easier for you to work with other professionals, as you don’t have to keep getting the files from them on thumb drive or via email every time they update their work.

This means all the files you use in your InDesign document must be kept together in one folder, or else the program will inform you that a link is missing.

Apart from being updated in real time, the links can also be re-used multiple times (like having the same logo reappearing on every single page of your 100-page magazine) and the linked files can be amended by other users which aids collaborative workflow.

When you open a new document, a window will pop up where you can adjust the following elements about your document:

  • Measure out your document – setting page size as appropriate
  • Margins: top, bottom, inside margin, outside margin (Inside margin is usually larger than outside due to binding.)
  • Bleed: to the margin and beyond. Bleeding means printing over the margin, more than you need, for when you cut you avoid getting white spaces around the edge.
  • Columns and gutter (space between columns)
  • Master Text Frame

The type of image file you should use the most is TIFF with CMYK color instead of RGB. (RGB is for viewing on screen and CMYK is for printing.) TIFF files are saved with paths/alpha if relevant and effective PPI at 300+. PSD files can be unflattened, with effective PPI at 300+. Other types of files that can be used include PDF, EPS, and AI.

Note – resolution:

  • DPI stands for dots per inch, and PPI stands for pixel per inch.
  • 300dpi = 118.11dpcm
  • 300dpcm = 762dpi
  • 300dpi is the gold standard
  • 150dpi might be acceptable

High pixels does not equate to quality, but low pixels does equate to low quality.

Before any print job, preflighting is highly recommended as it will show problems and allow you to check effective PPI (which has to be at 300+).

When setting up a document, click on More Options to adjust Bleed and Slug.

You should always pay attention to Layers just like when using Illustrator.

You should draw frames before importing images or text. One you have your frame drawn, go to File and Place to ‘place’ the files in your document. If the image is too big, right click on the image, choose Fitting and then choose Fit Frame Proportionally.

To insert text, draw a frame just like when inserting images, then choose Place and select the text file. If the text is too long to fit into one frame (a red box with a red cross will appear), draw another frame. Then with the black arrow, click on the red box, after that your cursor will change, and then you can click on the new frame you’ve drawn and the text will continue there.

If you want your text to wrap around a certain image, select that image, then you to Window, and select Text Wrap.

If a file you have already placed in the document is updated in another program and you want to update the file you have in your document accordingly, go to Window, select Links, the Palette will pop up, and then you can click Update Link.

Before printing, as I have mentioned before, Preflight is recommended. Go to File, then Preflight. At Color and Links, make sure the effective PPI is above 300.

On Adobe TV – InDesign, there are a number of useful tutorials you can check out. Click here to visit the site.


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