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InDesign 101: A Beginner's Guide

Updated on July 7, 2010

What is InDesign?

InDesign is a layout program from Adobe that graphic designers use to combine text and images. It has powerful control over typography and although it may be a little intimidating to learn at first, you'll pick it up quickly and never go back to laying out your graphics and type in Illustrator or Photoshop!

Making Changes Easier with Master Pages

Picture it: you’re all done designing and laying out a beautiful 500 page book and the client comes back to you and says, “We really need to make those blue subtitles red and delete the book’s title at the bottom of all the right hand pages. Oh, and we need to send it to the printer today.”

Ok, so maybe that’s an extreme example, but can you just see it? Forget today! Changing all those elements on every page would take a century! If only you had set up your master pages and paragraph styles before you started…

Want to learn how? Check out Making Changes Easier with Master Pages! Video Tutorials

Learn Online at Your Own Pace

I've been recommending on Creative Curio for years. With prices starting at just $25/month for unlimited access to high quality online video tutorials, this service is a steal! And the $25/month plan is what most people buy, so it's not one of those plans that's cheap just to get you to sign up. I use myself and highly recommend their excellent collection of InDesign Tutorials. is offering a free 24 hour pass to, now too! Just follow that link.

Avoiding Disaster with Paragraph and Character Styles

The paragraph and character styles are lifesavers when it comes to making changes in InDesign. Don't be lazy when setting up your documents and skip this step! You will certainly regret it later when you have to manually change the font size on every page!

Paragraph styles are pretty easy to understand, but character styles can be a little more confusing. They are just as important, though!

Understanding InDesign Layers

Layers are treated differently in ever Adobe program. It can get confusing for sure, but it's still necessary to understand how they work and to actually use them. It will make your work flow faster and less complicated, with fewer needs to spend hours correcting problems.

Understanding InDesign Layers on Creative Curio was added to the Adobe LiveDocs documentation on November 8, 2007 by one of the Adobe writers, so you know it's a great resource!

InDesign Shortcuts

Shortcuts will make using any program more intuitive and you will be glad you can work as fast as you can think. No more hunting around for the Move Tool or the Pen Tool, just learn the key command!

Shortcut Shindig - InDesign is a one-stop shop for the essential InDesign shortcuts!

InDesign Help: Speeding Up Formatting and Changes

The Help files provided with your Adobe software should be the first place you turn when you are trying to figure out how to do something. I used the help files to learn how to use style shortcuts and also how to create inline graphics (Adobe calls them Anchored Objects) and I give you a quick step by step in this article. Check it out!

How to Set Up a Consistent Baseline in InDesign

I’ve talked about setting up a consistent baseline before, but I realized I’ve not explained exactly how to do it; I’ve only mentioned it briefly at best.

First, you should be familiar with the points and picas system, and also how to use them.

It will require a bit of planning, but your documents will turn out much more organized and consistent.

Learn how to set up a consistent baseline in InDesign.

Are You a Quark User?

If you're a Quark user looking to start learning InDesign, or an InDesign user needing to learn Quark, visit my Quark and InDesign Squidoo lens!

Wacom Tablets are Helpful for All Creative Suite Products!

Not sure if you'll like the Wacom tablet? Need more information about it? Visit my Wacom Tablet Review.

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i like in design to make magazines and face pages using master page

    • profile image

      azD40x 5 years ago

      I use in design daily in my work. Good source!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      thanks a lot ! your precise instructions were really useful!!!!

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 7 years ago from Nashville, TN

      thanks for the info...I like the Adobe InDesign Classroom in a book

    • PaulaMorgan profile image

      Paula Morgan 7 years ago from Sydney Australia

      great links here... I am a basic in design user with lots more to learn so I am sure I will be back to your page. Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Good resource, I'll hit this up again when I'm feeling more artistic.

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    • profile image

      leaderprjct 7 years ago

      Awesome and very informative lens. Really good lens.I just bookmark it.

      Thanks for sharing a great lens.

    • LaurenMarie LM profile image

      LaurenMarie LM 8 years ago

      Thanks, Alex. Glad you liked the lens!

    • freshalex lm profile image

      freshalex lm 8 years ago

      Before I knew what master pages were I ran into that problem of having to edit dozens of pages manually. Master pages are the best. Good lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Just got assigned to use indesign to create pages for a magazine I am working on. Have had a bit of past experience with indesign, but was not sure of many things. I am now!!! Awesome and very informative! THANK YOU!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      What book do you recommend for brand-new indesign users?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      JUST getting into using InDesign and this is a GREAT resource! Thank you for taking the time to do this. I just Bookmarked it :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Although I recently took a one-day course for beginners in InDesign and received a small training bookl,et this will certainly prove productive for me because of the search engine.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Very Helpful Thanks!