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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Adobe InDesign

A LibGuide to pair with the upcoming Adobe InDesign Savvy Researcher workshop; it goes over the basics of how to use the program and has other resources for it as well.


This page has instructions and the elements for completing the sample flyer on your own so you can gain experience with InDesign's various features and menus. This is what the completed flyer should look like, but you're welcome to make your own creative choices: 

Text for flyer

Title: Graphic Design Workshop
Location: Main Library
Event Details: February 20, 2023 | 1-3 PM
LIB 314, on the third floor
Description: Learn about different graphic design platforms and what you can create with them!
Photo credit: Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash. 


Right click and select "Save Image As..." to save this to your computer. Alternatively, you can download the original for free from Unsplash. 


Step by Step Instructions

Open a new document by clicking on "File" in the top left corner, click "New", and then "Document." 

This brings you to the document creation screen. InDesign defaults to measuring in picas, which is a common measurement for typography; if you change to inches, it shows that the document is already in the 8.5" by 11" size.. For the flyer, we'll keep it how it is; click on "Create." 

 Change the background color. 

1. The easiest way to do this is to draw a shape, fill it with a color, and lock it in place. Before drawing a rectangle, you need to determine the fill color and the stroke on the outside of it. On the top menu bar in the middle, there should be two boxes, one white with a red line and one black. We’re going to change the bottom black one to “none” by clicking the arrow beside it; “none” should be the first option listed. This is so there is no outside line on the rectangle that we draw. Next, we will change the fill of the shape we’re going to draw to grey.
2. If you click on the arrow for that one, you’ll notice there is no grey option listed – we have to make a new color to choose from. So in that color menu, right click and then click on “New Color Swatch.” It should start you out with the color black, so all we have to do is drag the bottom slider for Black over. The sample flyer is set to 47 for a lighter grey.  
3. It's now time to draw the rectangle. On the lefthand side, there is a tool that looks like a rectangle – NOT the one with the “X” inside it. Click on that, and drag a shape over the entirety of the flyer. You can move and stretch it however you need, just so it fills the entire workspace. InDesign does snap to its existing guides, like the outside edge and those guiding lines.
4. The last thing we need to do here is lock our background into place. Right click on the rectangle, and “Lock” is a few options down. When it’s locked, it will have a padlock icon to remind you. You can click on the padlock to unlock it. 

Add in a text box and change the font, size and hyphenation.

1. On that same lefthand menu where the rectangle is, there is a tool with the letter “T”. Click on that, and in the same manner as placing the rectangle, drag a text box onto the flyer and type “Graphic Design Workshop.” The default text is quite small, so select that text and change the font and the size to whatever you like. The sample flyer uses the font Century Gothic in size 48. 
2. If you don’t like the placement of the text, you can click on the very first tool listed in that left menu – the white pointer. That allows you to select the text box and move it wherever. Try to place it in the top third or so of your flyer, and snap it to the left guiding line. 
3. Depending on the font and size of your text, you might notice that the text is hyphenated because the box isn’t big enough, which definitely doesn’t look great. To change this, we’re going to look at the righthand menu now. Click on paragraph styles, then right click on the Basic Paragraph that comes up in the menu, then edit “Basic Paragraph.” 
Note: If you have ever used “Styles” in Microsoft Word, this feature functions very similarly in InDesign. It’s especially useful for longer documents so you can edit all the text at once by changing the paragraph style. 
4. This brings up a window with a LOT of options; don’t feel overwhelmed by this! Find the one that says “Hyphenation” on the side there. All we’re going to do when we get to that menu is uncheck the “hyphenate” box, then click “OK” at the bottom of the window. Now your text won’t automatically hyphenate.

Add in a rectangle frame, change the shape of the frame, then add in a photo to it.

1. Go to the left menu again and find the icon that looks like a rectangle with a “X” in it. When you hover over the button, it should say ‘Rectangle Frame Tool.’ Draw a rectangle just under our title. 
2. Next, we’re going to go up to the “File” menu at the top and select the “place” option to drop in a photo for our flyer. Go ahead and find where you saved that one to your computer, click it, and then the “open” button on the pop-up box. 
3. When the picture gets dropped in, it might be extremely zoomed in because it’s a fairly big file. Find the buttons near the top of the screen, and click on the one that says "fill frame proportionally" so your photo doesn't get distorted. 
4. The final step here is add in a credit for our photo to demonstrate the Caption tool in InDesign. If you right click on the photo, there is a caption menu; click on that, where there are boxes for you to place a caption before or after the picture. Type in “Photo by Immo Wegmann” in either and click OK. You’ll notice that it doesn’t automatically place a caption; we’ll have to right click again and then click “Generate Static Caption”. It will appear under the photo, and you can edit the text how you see fit. 

Add in a shape instead of a frame. 

1. Find the menu icon that is a white, filled in rectangle instead of the one with the “X” inside. We’re going to change it from a rectangle to another shape by right clicking on that icon – it should give you options to do an ellipse or a polygon. Polygons ask you to specify how many sides you want it to have as an extra option. The sample flyer uses ellipses. 
2. Drag it on there with your mouse like you did with the text box. You’ll notice it’s still set to the grey, edge-less color we have for the background. 
Note: If you want a perfect square or a perfect circle, hold down the “Shift” button while you are drawing the shape (or changing the shape after it’s been drawn). 

Add in the rest of the event info with the Text tool. You now have your own flyer! 

Flyer Element Checklist

  • Background shape added 
    • Color of background shape edited
  • Title of “Graphic Design Workshop” added
    • Font changed
    • Size changed
    • Able to drag the text box where needed
    • Changed the hyphenation settings in Paragraph Styles
  • Rectangle frame added
    • Photo placed in the frame
    • Photo fills the frame proportionally
  • Other shape (ellipse or polygon) has been added 
  • Able to make a perfect shape by holding down “Shift” when drawing the shape
  • Event information boxes added
  • Text box with carry over text added