Introduce Yourself to the Wonders of InDesign (with Deke’s Help)

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My fellow dekeQuarians, have you been thinking of adventuring into InDesign, especially now that it’s part of your CC subscription anyway? Deke’s latest course is designed to give you a thorough introduction to the tools you’ll need to create your first page layout project in Adobe InDesign. No experience required.

Introducing InDesign

As a proof of concept experiment, I decided to pretend that I knew nothing about how to use InDesign and create a whimsical menu for a fictional restaurant using the information within the course. (Having done most of my heavy InDesign-lifting back in the CS4 days, it wasn’t that hard to pretend I didn’t know how to do things.)

So here’s a tour of my adventures with Introducing InDesign, annotated with some enticing free samples from thrown in along the way. If the movies here whet your wonder for all things InDesign, and you’re not yet a member of, you can get a free 10-day trial to check it out at Meanwhile, here are some highlights for your immediate enjoyment.

After setting up a new document with the proper margins and guides (which you can discover how to do in the first two chapters of the course), I wanted to skip straight to placing my backdrop image to set the mood and composition of the project. Thus, I proved that you can skip straight to Chapter 6, if you want to. Here’s the first movie of that Photos and Graphics” chapter, aptly titled “Placing Artwork.”

While my image (a visual riff of this image by Ellerslie from is going to serve as a full-bleed backdrop, you may want to place an image that needs to fit into a certain area. In which case, you should check out the other movies in the chapter which cover the intricacies (and idocyncracies) of scaling, cropping, and generally fitting your image and its frame where you want it to go.

Because I needed to move some pixel-based components of the background in order to accommodate my text, I took advantage of the ability to quickly jump over (via the Links panel) to PS and move certain components of my hedge out of the way as my project progressed. (You can learn more about the Links panel in this movie.)

Placing a graphic in InDesign

If you’re feeling really adventurous, check out this movie about how to wrap your text around your graphic:

To add the title to my menu, I turned to Chapter 3, “Text and Formatting.” Once you know how to create the text frame, this movie on “Selecting and Formatting Type” can help you quickly choose and set the right font for your project:

In my case, swiftly arrowing through the font options let me arrive at this wonder-appropriate text:

Although it wasn’t appropriate to my project (try as I might), there’s another free movie in this chapter on how to create drop caps, columns, and vertical alignment.

Next, I wanted to add sets of curious foods and curiouser drinks, each with its own heading. This is where paragraph styles really come in handy, since you can change a style and change all the items to which that style is applied at the same time. Using styles to update the list formatting was ideal for quickly positioning and formatting my text, so that it matches its enigmatic background.

Setting paragraph styles in InDesign

Here’s Deke’s look at how to create paragraph styles:

You can learn more about automating formatting (including how to make bulleted and numbered lists and working hyperlinks) in Chapter 4.

The course ends with a review of how to export your file to a universally useful PDF. Bottom line, even if you’ve never used InDesign before, this course will not only help you create your first document, but actually liberate it from your computer wonderland and set into the real world.

Wonderland Cafe menu set in InDesign

If you’re not a member of, this 10-day trial ought to give you plenty of time to check out this short (by dekeStandards) course and still have days to explore more of Deke’s courses (or, if your InDesign curiosity is piqued, more of the great InDesign offerings from some of our most trusted colleagues. It’s a world of wonders!

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 388: Smooth Away Noise with the Mean Stack Mode

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 386: Selectively Adjusting Colors for Print


  • Man I really wish there was an Indesign One-on-One series.

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