05 Jun 2013

Adding Document Margins

No Comments Getting Started, Layout

This tutorial assumes that you already have a basic understanding of margins and what they are used for. It follows on from the article: What is a Margin and What Does it Look Like?

If you do not know what a margin is, please read this article first, otherwise go right ahead!

 

We start by opening InDesign and creating a new document.

Create a New Document from the InDesign Welcome Screen

Create a New Document from the InDesign Welcome Screen

You can create a new document by clicking “Document” in the welcome screen as shown above, or by selecting “New” then “Document” from the File Menu.

 

After selecting “Document” a menu will pop up (as shown below). In this menu we set the specifications for the new document.

InDesign New Document Menu - Margins Section

InDesign New Document Menu – Margins Section

In the New Document Menu there is a section called “Margins”, highlighted in purple. In this section type in the margin you would like to have on your document.

 

InDesign New Document Menu - Chain Link Icon

InDesign New Document Menu – Chain Link Icon

By default the top, bottom, left and right fields will be linked. This means that any value you select will apply to all sides. If you want to have different margins for different sides, selecting the chain link icon (highlighted above) will allow you to enter different values. The icon will change to a broken chain link. This can be clicked again to return to linked settings.

I’m creating a basic A4 document, so I’ve decided to use 15mm margins on all sides.

Once your settings are as you want them press “OK”.

 

The Result - InDesign Document with 15mm Margins

The Result – InDesign Document with 15mm Margins

This is the result. The magenta (pinky-purple) line represents the margin. We want all of the content to stay inside this area.

 

For this tutorial I used InDesign CS6 on Mac.

 

05 Jun 2013

What is a Margin and What Does it Look Like?

No Comments Getting Started, Layout

It’s been a couple of months but I’m back with another exciting lesson!

This is another one perfect for the beginner.

To skip ahead and learn how to add margins to your InDesign document read my article: Adding Document Margins.

 

The page margin is the gap between the edge of the page and the area that we have content (including text, graphics and images).

The image below is an example document that I have created. It has a margin of 15mm all the way around. There is no content from the edges of the page to 15mm inward.

Document with 15mm Margin

Document with 15mm Margin

 

This is how that same document looks in InDesign.

Document with 15mm Margin in InDesign

Document with 15mm Margin in InDesign

The Magenta (pinky-purple) coloured line represents the margin. We want to keep all of our content inside this line.

 

The below image shows the 15mm margin highlighted in purple.

Document with 15mm Margin - Margins are Highlighted in Purple

Document with 15mm Margin – Margins are Highlighted in Purple

 

When choosing the size of the margin it’s important to consider how what you’re creating will be used. For example, if I’m designing a magazine, people are going to be holding it in there hands to read it, so I wouldn’t want to put any content too close to the left and right sides of the spread, as this would be covered up by the readers thumbs. Also consider the size of the item and proportion of the design. Generally something large, like a pull up banner, will have a larger margin than a business card.

For a single A4 page I recommend 15mm – 20mm margin all the way around the page.

 

Now that you know what a margin is, learn how to add one to your InDesign document. Read my article: Adding Document Margins.

 

03 Apr 2013

Introducing the Character Palette

2 Comments Getting Started, Type, Tabs & Tables

This is an overview of some of the basic elements of InDesign’s character palette. We will cover selecting a typeface (font) and weight, size, leading, kerning and tracking. The character palette has more capabilities, but we will discuss these in another post.

InDesign Character Palette

Note: You may not see the bottom four options and the language option in your character palette. You can show/hide this section of the character palette in the drop down menu by clicking the arrow in the top right corner of the palette and selecting ‘Show Options’ or ‘Hide Options’. Either way won’t matter for this tutorial, as we are just working with the highlighted sections.

Typeface (Font)

Typeface

Typeface

This one is easy! Here you can select any typeface that you wish to use that is installed on your computer.

Weight

Weight

Weight

Another easy one. Here you can select the weight of your typeface eg. ‘Regular’, ‘Bold’, ‘Light’.

Size

Size

Size

Select the size of your text. Type sizes are expressed in points (pt) by default but if you want to get tricky you can type in another measurement such as 10mm and InDesign will give you text that is approximately 10mm high. Unfortunately this method isn’t accurate or  consistent across typefaces so if you need text that is 10mm high it is best to use your rulers and adjust the size to fit.

Leading

Leading

Leading

Leading is the space between the rows or lines of text. It is pronounced lead (like the lead in your pencil) -ing, not lead (like you lead your dog when you go for a walk) -ing. Web designers would know this as ‘line height’. The leading is also measured in points (pt).

InDesign automatically sets the leading to the minimum appropriate for comfortable reading of body copy. Text at 10pt has automatic leading of 12pt. The difference between the two increases and decreases with the size of the text, but as a rule your leading should be no less than 2pts larger than the text. For example 12pt text should have leading of 14pt or more. However, every rule can be broken where appropriate, and this rule mainly applies to body copy. If you are using caps, for example, you can have leading of 12pt on 12pt text and still be able to read it very comfortably.

Kerning

Kerning

Kerning

Have you ever noticed that the large gap between a capital W and a capital A looks wrong? What about the space between two 1s like in the number 11? This is why kerning is fantastic! It allows us to adjust the space between individual letters.

To kern between letters place your cursor between the two letters you wish to kern and adjust the values in the palette. To set the kerning to optical or metrics select all of the text and set the kerning to optical or metrics the palette.

In InDesign kerning is automatically set to ‘metric’. Changing it to ‘optical’ will give you the spacing that the typeface designer has set between each individual letter. Yes, that means the designer of that particular typeface sat down and worked out the space needed between a and a, a and b, a and c, a and d and so on. Then b and a, b and b, b and c and so on, all the way through the entire alphabet.

For display text I usually start by setting the kerning to ‘optical’ and adjusting it manually from there. For body copy this isn’t so important and I usually set it to ‘optical’ and leave it at that and I know many designers that just leave body copy set to ‘metric’.

Kerning is extremely important in display text, such as headings and logotype – it can mean the difference between a professional looking design and a “my neighbour’s friend’s son made this on the computer” one. Kerning is an art and it takes time and practice to really ‘see’ the spacing correctly. I was taught to imagine a balloon squished between the letters. The balloons between each pair of letters should all be the same size (holding the same about of air).

I can write a post just about kerning and provide some helpful graphics. If you would like to see this please request it!

Tracking

Tracking

Tracking

Tracking allows us to change the spacing between all letters. Web designers will know this as ‘letter spacing’. The difference between tracking and kerning can sometimes be confusing for new designers and design students. I remember it being so easy to mix the names up. Tracking = spacing between all letters. Kerning = spacing between individual letters.

I’ll be writing another post about the other features of the character palette at a later date, but this will be plenty to get you started.

For this tutorial I used InDesign CS6. This is the most current version of InDesign at the time of this post.

22 Jan 2013

Sharing Colours Between Documents

No Comments Swatches & Colour

Ever become frustrated looking up corporate colours of a business or organisation to add to your Swatches Palette before working on their job? Here is the very simple solution that surprisingly a lot of designers don’t know about or don’t use.

So you open up a new document ready to start a new job. You could look up the business’ corporate colours and add them into your InDesign document by clicking the drop down menu in your Swatches Palette and selecting “New Colour Swatch”. There’s nothing wrong with this, but their is an easier way that is both quicker and reduces the likelihood of you making mistakes.

Loading Colours From an Existing InDesign Document

Loading colours from an existing InDesign document will copy all of the swatches from the document that you select into your current document.

The first thing that you want to do is open your Swatches Palette. If your Swatches Palette isn’t in your sidebar you can bring it up by selecting Window (at the top of the screen in your InDesign toolbar) > Color  > Swatches or press F5 on your keyboard.

InDesign Swatches Palette

InDesign Swatches Palette

Once you have your Swatches Palette open select the drop down menu at the top right of the palette. From the menu select ‘Load Swatches…’.

Swatches Palette Drop Down Menu Arrow

Swatches Palette Drop Down Menu Arrow

Swatches Palette Drop Down Menu

Swatches Palette Drop Down Menu

This will bring up a pop up window where you can select the document that you would like to load swatches from. Select the InDesign document that you want to copy the swatches from and press open.

Open a File

Open a File

Done! The swatches from that document will now be in the Swatches Palette of your current document.

New Swatches in Your Palette

New Swatches in Your Palette

Notes

The added swatches behave as regular swatches and are not linked to the document that you loaded them from, so if you want to delete or alter them it won’t affect any other documents.

Loading swatches will NOT override your Swatches Palette and make it exactly like the document you loaded from. It will only add colours from the selected document, so any extra colours in your current document but not in the document you loaded from are safe.

For this tutorial I used InDesign CS6 on Mac.

 

05 Dec 2012

The Welcome Screen

No Comments Getting Started

 

InDesign CS6 Welcome Screen

InDesign CS6 Welcome Screen

Many beginners will already know about the welcome screen, but I think is important to start at the very beginning.

The welcome screen will pop up when you first open the program (unless you disable it – more on that later).

 Open a Recent Item

InDesign CS6 Welcome Screen Open a Recent Item

InDesign CS6 Welcome Screen – Open a Recent Item

In the left column we can see a list of recently opened documents under the heading ‘Open a Recent Item’. I have blurred out my recently opened documents to protect the privacy of my clients. You can click any of these to open a that document without having to go through folders to open it from where it is saved. It’s like a shortcut to that file. If this is the first time that you have opened InDesign you won’t have any documents listed. Underneath the list of recently opened documents there is a yellow folder icon that says ‘Open’. If you click this icon you will be able to open any saved InDesign document.

 Create New

InDesign CS6 Welcome Screen Create New

InDesign CS6 Welcome Screen – Create New

In the right column, under the heading ‘Create New’, we can see three options:

Document
The first option is ‘Document’. This allows us to create a new InDesign document. InDesign documents have the file extenuation ‘.indd’.  This is what we will select the vast majority of the time.

Book
The second option on the list is ‘Book’. The file extension for an InDesign book is ‘.indb’. Just to make things confusing we don’t have to select the ‘Book’ option if we are creating an actual book (the kind that you pick up and read). An actual book can be created in a regular InDesign document. A book file is a file in which we can place regular InDesign documents into. I have rarely used this, but it is important to know what it is. One of the times I have found this useful is when we were creating a large publication and three other designers and I were all working on different sections, each created as separate InDesign documents. We were then able to place the separate InDesign documents that we were working on into one InDesign book. This allowed us to work on our separate sections at the same time – something which we would not have been able to do if the publication was made in one InDesign document.

Library
The third option is ‘Library’. The extension for an InDesign library is ‘.indl’. I don’t use InDesign Libraries. I haven’t found that I need to. This is not to say that you won’t find them useful. For Quark users, from what I understand this is similar to the library feature in Quark. You can store images, graphics and text in InDesign libraries to reuse through different documents. You can use the images in a particular library by opening the library in your library panel. You can add items to a library from your InDesign document by dragging and dropping images, text or graphics (even grouped items) into your library panel as you work.

There are some links under community and in both sides of the footer. These are links to Adobe help, plugins, partners etc. I won’t cover these, but if you want to explore them go ahead.

Getting Rid of the Welcome Screen

InDesign CS6 Welcome Screen Don't Show Again

InDesign CS6 Welcome Screen – Don’t Show Again

If you don’t like the welcome screen (personally, I like it) and don’t want to see it again you can tick this box at the bottom left of the page and the next time you open InDesign the welcome screen won’t come up. You can then open files and create new documents under the File menu instead.

Getting the Welcome Screen Back

The Welcome Screen Getting it Back from the Help Menu

The Welcome Screen Getting it Back from the Help Menu

If you decide that you want the welcome screen back, you can click on help in the toolbar at the top of the page. In the drop down menu select ‘Welcome Screen’. (You don’t need to search anything. It should be third down in the list after the search field.) This will bring up the welcome screen. Once the welcome screen is up, un-tick the box next to ‘Don’t Show Again’.
For this tutorial I used InDesign CS6. This is the most current version of InDesign at the time of this post.