For starters, InDesign is a little different from Photoshop and Illustrator in that it is primarily used for doing layouts. This doesn’t mean that you will be forced into using static, blocky layouts for everything… just remember its specialty is layout and use this to your advantage.
One of the big differences is you can layout multiple pages, set up books and create interactive documents. In Illustrator you could work with multiple artboards but the functions of those don’t have much in common with the multiple pages found in InDesign.
Get familiar with your tools. You’ll notice the arrows at the top of your toolbar are the same as they are in Illustrator (Selection and Direct Selection Tools). In fact, several of the tools that you have already learned are present in slightly modified forms.
I would encourage you to look back on your notes for Illustrator and Photoshop, then compare how the tools in InDesign differ.
Many of the Palettes you will be using are similar to what you already know as well. One that bears special mention is the Pages Palette. This not only lets you change pages quickly, it also allows you to swap positioning of pages and set Master pages (which I’ll talk a little about later).
I mentioned in an earlier post about Photoshop and how to change your workspace layout. The same applies to InDesign. If you look by the search bar in the top right corner of your workspace, above the menu bar, you will see a word in all caps. I think the default is ESSENTIALS. There is a dropdown there that will allow you to change your workspace layout to whatever suits the task you are working on or your personal preference.
When you create a new document, chances are most of the info you see will already be familiar to you. Some of the things that you might not be familiar with I’ll go over with you.
Intent: This, just as the name states, deals with your intended final product, either print or web.
Facing Pages Checkbox: By default this is checked. What it is used for is when you are creating documents with more than one page, it allows you to visually identify the orientation of each page. The first page will be a cover page. The following pages are lined up side by side in groups of two just as they are when you are flipping through a book. The last page will also stand by itself, being the back cover.
If it is unchecked, all of the pages will be singles.
Columns: Two dropdown menus fit in this category. The first is Number, which regulates the number of columns per page. The other is Gutter, which is the space between the columns. This works well as a visual guide when you need a certain number of columns.
Margins: Sets the amount of space between your intended print area and the outside of the page. if the little link button is selected then all margins will be the same.
Bleed and Slug: Bleed area is used when printing to the edge of a page. Printers require an overflow of artwork, background, etc. for error. This is very important when you are printing all the way to the edge of a page and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Slug area is an area set up that contains information about the document. This area sits outside of the printed area so no one but yourself and the printer will see this. If I have special instructions for a printer, this is where I generally put them.
If you think you will be using this layout on a regular basis then you can Save Preset, which will save the information in your current New Document window and you will be able to choose it in the Document Preset dropdown at the top of the window.
In the next post we will cover some of what you can find in the menu and how it’s used.