14 Adobe InDesign Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Once you make the switch from designing documents in a normal word processor to using a file edition application, you will never go back. InDesign is part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud service and has an incredible number of tools and features.

Still, beginners should try these InDesign tips and tricks to get the most out of this feature-rich app and reduce the time it takes to create awesome designs.

1. Use the keyboard to preview the document quickly

  • Pressing the button W the key toggles between Normal view, which shows all margins, guides, and outlines of the document and file Document view, which hides these elements.
  • If you hold on Maj + W, you can switch to presentation mode.

2. Border the corners of your images

After placing an image in the document, follow these steps:

  • Switch to file Selection tool (black arrow tool or press V), and you will see a yellow square near one of the corners of the image.
  • Select the yellow square you want to enter Edit mode. A yellow diamond will appear in each corner of the image.
  • Drag a diamond to round the corners of the image.
  • Press and hold Maj while dragging if you want to adjust one corner at a time.

3. Add the page numbers correctly

First, open the file master page. Then create a text frame where you want the page number to appear on the page. Select Type > Insert a special character > Bookmarks > Current page number. Format as you see fit.

4. Disable splitting

InDesign enables default splitting. To prevent InDesign from splitting a word at the end of a line, activate the Paragraph panel by going to Window > Types and tables > Paragraph or press High + Ctrl + T (Command + Option + T on Macs) and uncheck Script Box.

This is particularly useful if you find that your document has many hyphens.

5. Underline the text

To underline text in InDesign, follow these steps:

Method 1

  • Select the text with the type tool (press T on the keyboard).
  • Press the underline button on the toolbar.

Method 2

  • Select the text you want to underline and go to the character palette.
  • Select the palette drop-down menu and choose Underline.

Method 3

  • Keyboard shortcut: Select the text and press Maj + Ctrl + U.
  • Mac users can click Maj + Command + U.

6. Balance of irregular lines

The Balance Ragged Lines tool will evenly distribute the number of words on each line of a paragraph so that the lines are approximately the same length and more uniform.

Follow these steps:

  • Select a text paragraph.
  • In the Paragraphs panel (For Windows > Types and tables > Paragraphs or High + Ctrl + T or for Mac Command + Option + T), select the drop-down menu and choose Balance Ragged Lines.

Then we used the Balance Ragged Lines tool in the right paragraph, but not in the original. Note that the line breaks are slightly different, giving the right-hand paragraph a little more symmetry.

7. Do not copy or paste images

One of the most useful features of InDesign (and other creative applications in Adobe) is linking images. Instead of copying and pasting an image, create an image frame and then Place the image of this frame.

  • The keyboard shortcut for placing an image in a graphic frame is Ctrl + D.
  • Mac users can click Command + D.

If you modify the linked image, InDesign will automatically use the updated version. Conversely, if you copy and paste the image, you should paste the new version each time you change the image. Perish the thought!

8. Resize images in InDesign

Most InDesign content goes inside a container called a frame. There are two types of frames: text frames and graphic frames. You can adjust your images to their frames, and you can adjust the graphic frames to fit your images.

  • To fit an image to its frame, select it and then choose Object > Adjustment > Adjust content proportionally. If the image has different proportions than the frame, you will end up with an empty space.
  • You can select Object > Adjustment > Fill the frame proportionally. The only difference is that if the image and frame have different proportions, some of the images may be cropped by the frame.
  • You can also choose Object > Adjustment > Content adjustment. This option will automatically adjust the image to the frame taking into account both the content of the image and the size of the frame.

Note: This option is not available on 32-bit Windows.

9. Duplicate a page in a document

You can easily duplicate a page in your InDesign document by following these steps:

  • Open the file Page board.
  • Press and hold High (Option for Mac users) and drag the page.
  • The page you dragged will be duplicated when you release the mouse button.
  • Alternatively, right click on the file page Page board.
  • Select Duplicate broadcast. You can also use these tricks with master pages.

10. See Spelling errors as you type

To highlight spelling errors, such as in Microsoft Word, turn on InDesign’s dynamic spelling feature.

  • Make sure all your documents are closed.
  • Go to Edit > Preferences > Spelling correction (o Spelling depending on your version of InDesign)> Dynamic spelling.

From now on, you will see errors in the document underlined in different colors. A red underline means you have a spelling mistake, or InDesign doesn’t recognize the word. A green underline indicates a possible grammatical error.

11. Change the background color of your document

Follow these steps:

  • Use the Rectangle frame tool (press M on the keyboard) to create a frame exactly the size of the page.
  • Use the Color or Samples to select the color you want.
  • A la Layers , make sure the rectangle frame is behind any other content frame.

12. Draw a perfect shape

To create a perfect circle or square, press and hold Maj while drawing the shape. Use the Ellipse tool (press L on the keyboard to select) for the circles and the Rectangle tool (M on the keyboard) for squares.

13. Choose your units and increments

Do you believe better in metrics or are you slaves to imperial measures?

Either way, InDesign has you covered. Go to Edit > Preferences > Units and increments. From here, you can choose the unit of measure you want to choose, such as inches, millimeters, or pixels.

14. Export your InDesign document to Microsoft Word

Exporting to Word requires Adobe Acrobat Pro (you can always use the free trial).

  • First, export your InDesign document to PDF by going to File > Adobe PDF Presets.
  • Choose one of the export options.
  • Open the PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro and export it to Word by selecting File > Export to > Microsoft Word > Word document. You can specify whether the Word document should retain the page layout or not.

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