InDesign Tips

(This is a HOWTO page.)

Tips I have learned when setting up a book: (A WIP: Work in progress. This article will grow.)

0. Pre-existing sources. Let me begin by saying I do not have any pre-existing text to import from that abomination called WORD. I have text from scans, PDFs, and web sources. Can’t help you if you are a victim of microsoft. “Use the force , Luke”, get off of microsoft.

1. Document type. This is your target media. For a book choose PRINT as a document type because it uses the CYMK color space which is narrower than RGB for digital media.

2. Pages. I myself use letter size pages. That is 8-1/2 inch by 11 inches in size. I also use facing pages for a book. One reason is I want graphics on the left page which are discussed in the text on the right page. So when you open the book flat on the table it looks like one big super-page. It has lots of re-estate for complex information to be prresented.

And for print I personally use multiples of 12 pages. That has to do with producing a hardcopy version in print. You could do 4 pages minimum but someone may ask for 6 pages or 12 pages.

For digital PDF nobody cares how many pages you use.

3. Front Matter. I am going to skip that for now. There is a bunch of it, but I want to get to the essential core issues first.

4. Columns. I use a single column on a text page because I am including source document images for genealogy which are inline. I may try to use a 2/3rds left text and 1/3 right column layout for graphics or perhaps have text wrap around images. That is intermediate level and is experimental to me. For now single column per page works beast for me. You can change this on a page by page basis.

5. Margins. I like left/right margins to be 0.5 inch. You may like less.

6. Bleed. Puts images all the way to the edge of the paper. You have to print beyond the edge of a page and trim back to the size of the page. The outer guide line around the page (in RED) shows the bleed line. Bleed, BTW, is set in “File->Document Setup”, or Ctl-Alt-P. After watching the videos I didnt remember and it took me 10 minutes to find this. Googling does not help because websites do not give good command line style presentation representing “how-to” procedures. They always assume you know how to navigate and do not need actual step by step instructions. When done here I hope I have including sufficient instructions on how to actually accomplish a task.

7. Preset. Save your document setup as a preset. Give it a name.

8. Panels and Layout. Configuring where you like your panels is covered in this lecture. This was a huge mystery to me. Not knowing where everything is (ie, all the panels) was a huge impediment to me at first.

9. Master Pages. Plan on having a None Master. That can be used to easily reset formatting from a doc page.

After that cascading master pages are useful. Start with Top-Master. Derived from that I have a Left-Start-Master and a Right-Start-Master. These are for facing pages that have a header at the beginning of a chapter. Also derived from Top-Master is LeftDoc-Master and RightDoc-Master. These are the master pages for the document pages in the body of the chapter, i.e., that do not contain chapter start layouts.

More on this later.

10. Guides. This is HUGE. I didnt know about it at first. Don’t even start until you set this up (except to play around for familiarity).


You can set horizontal guidelines to leave space at the top for a header frame and at the bottom for tunning footers. Then you drop text frames and graphics frames between these and later the header and footer will not overlap them. you want these guidelines on the master pages so you cannot accidentally select them and move them while editing text.

Layout grids can help too. Examples of layout grid results:

The grid lines appear on master pages and never appear on the document pages. They are used for laying out frames on top of them in order make them align correctly. Text and images are then placed in them.

As an example you need left and right document master pages for each of the 4 layout types shown above. this requires forethought about what you want the results to look like.

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