Getting Started with InDesign

Last updated: July 7, 2022

The Interface

Being a Adobe design program, InDesign strictly follows the Adobe Creative Suite Interface constructs.

Opening and Creating New Documents

Creating new documents can be tricky at times. Because InDesign can develop content for web, print and Digital publishing, it is important to carefully select your intent when initially creating your document. Each of these intents allows for slightly different settings (ie. color profiles, units and transparency) when working with the document. The following video takes you step by step through the process of creating a new document:

Margins and Columns

Whenever a document is intended for print, there is some area where the printer will not print on the page. Simply put, this area on the document, the margin, is its edges. These can be changed and manipulated based on a printer’s specifications. Unlike Microsoft Word, however, these areas are not a restricted area. Text and graphics alike can hang into the margins, but an alert will pop up upon creating a PDF if there is content placed outside of the margins.

Columns are another guide that allow you to establish rhythm and line length effectively in a composition. In InDesign, every new text document that is dropped into the program from an outside source is initially one column wide. The space between columns is known as the gutter. the gutter is initially set to 1 pica or 12 points in width but can be changed as well.

While both of these settings can be set when creating a document, it is common practice to change and manipulate them as shown in the following video.

Richard Ellis, CBRE Training

Rulers, Manual Guides and Smart Guides

Just like in word processing applications, such as Microsoft Word, it is good to be able to find your location on the page in specific units. InDesign has Ruler Bars on both the top and left workspace frames to help navigate specific pages and analyze widths and heights. Manual guides have become relatively outdated with the addition of Smart guides but still hold validity in some cases.

Smart Guides are a recent addition to Adobe InDesign that speed up object alignment with the page and other objects.  For a detailed introduction to Smart guides, watch the following video by Creative Prose.