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5 Top Tips for Getting Started with InDesign
Geoff Blake on Fri, April 8th | 1 comments
Adobe's flagship page layout application, InDesign, is an awesome application -- perfect for laying out anything from business cards and flyers to product catalogs, magazines, and lengthy technical ma

Adobe's flagship page layout application, InDesign, is an awesome application -- perfect for laying out anything from business cards and flyers to product catalogs, magazines, and lengthy technical manuals.

In this tutorial, let's have a look at a handful of useful tips for those of you just getting used to working with InDesign.

Tip 1: Master Basic Keyboard Shortcuts to Increase Productivity

InDesign has many of the same basic keyboard shortcuts as Photoshop and Illustrator have, and knowing and using them massively increases your productivity. Here's a rundown of a few good ones. First, hold down the Spacebar and this will toggle the Hand tool, which makes getting around inside your layouts super-fast. Next, use Cmd+Spacebar (Mac) or Ctrl+Spacebar (PC) to toggle the Zoom tool. This will help you zoom in and out on your work much faster. Finally, each tool in the Toolbox has a single keystroke shortcut, allowing you to quickly select and switch between tools. It's not necessary to know them all, but knowing a handful will definitely speed things up for you.

Tip 2: Previewing Your Work

You'll notice pretty early on in your InDesign learning curve that's there's no Print Preview command. So how are you supposed to get an idea of what your layout looks like? Rather than repeatedly creating PDF's or printing out proofs, try this: Hit Cmd+; (Mac) or Ctrl+; (PC) to hide any guides you may have created. You can also choose View > Extras > Hide Frame Edges. Or even better, hit the "W" key. This is my favorite InDesign trick; hitting "W" shuts everything off -- guides, frame edges, the pasteboard, everything. Tap "W" again and everything comes back to life.

Tip 3: Build Your Own Workspace

Just as you can do with your other Adobe products, you can create and save your own workspace -- that is, your own custom arrangement of panels, the Toolbox, the Control bar, and other interface elements. It's easy to do, too. Just arrange everything onscreen as you'd like, and then choose Window > Workspace > New Workspace. It's that easy!

Tip 4: Layers

One of the regularly used features in Photoshop are layers, but not too many people take advantage of them here in InDesign. I love them, especially when I have multiple versions of a layout, perhaps to show a client, or maybe different geographic regions will receive a slightly different flyer or brochure with different pricing, contact info, etc. Why create additional InDesign files when you can build it all into one using layers? Get using them by heading to the Layers panel. You can create new layers, hide 'em, and re-arrange them. They'll save you a heck of a lot of time!

Tip 5: Masterpages

As a final tip, I must mention Masterpages. These fellas are a must-use if you ever have reoccurring page content, like headers, footers, page numbering, or watermarking. Rather than inserting this sort of content over and over again on each individual page of your document, insert them once on the Masterpage. The content on the Masterpages will then appear on every single page within your file, cutting work time down, and increasing efficiency. To make use of Masterpages, head to the Pages panel and double-click on the page icons adjacent to A-Master towards the top.

So there you are, five top tips to get you rolling in InDesign. Of course, there are many more ways to increase your workflow and productivity when laying out pages, but I'm sure these tips will help you get going. And in no time, you'll find yourself flying through layouts!

Check out the InDesign video tutorial here!

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  • Thanks for these. Great displays.
    • 7 years ago
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