Working with Objects

Last updated: January 25, 2019

There are 3 basic kinds of objects you will work with in InDesign: Text, Graphics and Shapes. 

In this tutorial, Text includes all instances of type that make their way onto an InDesign document.

Graphics of all kinds can be grouped into either vector and raster  formats. Generally, most vector objects originate in Illustrator while raster, or pixel based images, start on a camera and are edited with Photoshop.  Click here for more information on the difference between vector and raster graphics.

Frame Basics

All three of these objects include two basic parts: The frame and the content. Unlike working in other graphics program, it is important to understand that both of these aspects can be manipulated independently of each other. To manipulate the frame and the content simultaneously, you must hold  Command (Mac) or Ctrl (PC) while dragging a corner or side point. Alternatively, you can hold Shift to constrain the proportions of the images. Combining these leads to the powerful and handy command of scaling a frame and its content proportionally. In the following video, Adobe evangelist Chad Chelis graphics to better understand the relationship between frames and the content within them. 

Color, Fill and Stroke

Color options are all manipulated through the color picker which is located 

There are two places where you can chose specific color. The color palette, located in the palette dock, is a great way to experiment with a variety of colors for once-time applications. The Swatches palette, also located in the palette dock, is the best place to define and save colors to use in multiple instances in a document. Because these can be specifically defined by CMYK color codes and are saved in the InDesign interface, these colors are saved from document to document and project to project.

When working with color there are two fundamental attributes that you can change. 

The fill of an object is the area within the frame. While this primarily applies to shape objects, a frame with content that has a fill applied to it will only show the color when the frame is different proportions than the content. 

Unlike fill, the stroke  of an object follows the frame directly and can be manipulated in color, size and orientation in relation to the frame. 

The following is a walk-thru of all three of these concepts:

Basic Effects

The effects panel in InDesign is a treasure trove of visual effects that you can add to any  object. Ranging from opacity to drop shadow, there are options to change either the content or the whole of an object.

The following video for gives an overview of the basic functions of the effects panel:

For more tricks and tips from Jeff Witchel, check out this video from Layers Magazine.