You Still Use Quark?!

By LaurenMarie

Well then, honey, we’ve got to get you into a better outfit.

InDesign CS, CS2 and CS3 Icons
Ah, InDesign.

New to you perhaps, but so familiar at the same time. Being a part of the Adobe Family definitely has its advantages.

So Many Features, Where to Start?

Well, at the beginning, naturally. To create a new document in InDesign, you can use your beloved Photoshop/Illustrator shortcut of Ctrl+N or, if you must create more work for yourself, go to File>New>Document.

New Document Dialog for InDesign

In the U.S., the default setup for a new document is letter size (8.5”x11”) in picas (so it actually reads 51×66). We really do need to talk about the measurement system of picas and points, but let’s save that for another post. The default number of columns is 1 with a 1 pica gutter (technically this is incorrectly labeled–they should call it an alley). The margins are 3 picas, or half an inch.

The Very Basics

InDesign Text BoxTo get started with InDesign, create a new document as mentioned above. Then with the text tool (Ctrl+T) click and drag to create a new text box.

To link text boxes (set up multiple text boxes with content that flows from one to another):

  1. Click the black arrow (Selection Tool) or hit V. This is just like the Move Tool in Photoshop.
  2. Click in the little blue square at the bottom of a text box. Your cursor will change to a little black arrow with some linesInDesign Link Text Boxes Cursor
  3. When you hover over another text box that you are able to link to the first one, the cursor will again change, this time to a black arrow with two chain links next to it.
  4. Click in the linkable text box.

Now, if you put content in the first text box and the box is too small to contain it all, the content will continue to flow onto the next page.

Next to text, placing images is the most important part of working in InDesign. It’s very simple to place text:

  1. Use the shortcut Ctrl+D to open up the Place dialog box. I never use the menu to get this function, because the shortcut is SO much faster.
  2. Navigate to the image that you want to place in the file, select it and click ok (actually, you can link text, Photoshop and Illustrator files too!).
  3. You now have another different cursor to indicate that the next spot you click is where the upper left hand corner of the image will go.
  4. Click to place the image. You can move it around after you’ve deposited it in to the document.

The Best InDesign Advice Ever

When you are setting up your InDesign project folder, collect all your files that will be linked in an Images or Links folder before you place them in InDesign. It’s also a good idea to have your original Photoshop or Illustrator layered files in a Builder Files folder within your main project folder, just in case. This setup also allows you to move your project folder around without worrying about losing linked files in the process.

From what I understand, placing images is the main difference between Quark and InDesign. InDesign treats these linked files like Dreamweaver handles internal site links—they are document relative, meaning InDesign remembers where the linked file is in relation to where you’ve saved your InDesign file (but you don’t have to save the file first in order to place linked files into it). If you move the linked file around on your hard drive, the link will be broken and you’ll have to find that file again from within InDesign (you can get to the Links palette by going to Window>Links or Ctrl+Shift+D). InDesign does not embed images.

Although InDesign has the most wonderful Preflight and Package functions, it’s still the wisest course to collect all your files in a project folder yourself. Use the Preflight mainly for making sure all your RBG images have been converted to CMYK (saved me more than once!), that you’re not using spot colors anywhere you’re not meaning to, and checking to make sure you are not missing any fonts or images. Use the Package feature only if you need to collect fonts for sending off complete native files.

In this series we’ll talk about Master Pages, Paragraph and Character Styles, InDesign Layers and common shortcuts–the keys to really start unlocking InDesign’s power. Why don’t you subscribe to the Creative Curio feed (it’s free after all!) so that you don’t miss more useful info like these posts?

Are you a Quark or InDesign user? If you’ve worked in both, which do you prefer? Why?

Do you need more help with InDesign? Feel free to leave a comment below, contact me or head over to and sign up for their InDesign Tutorials. It’s only $25/mo for unlimited access! This is a resource I use myself and I highly recommend it. You can get a free 7 day pass to, now too! Just follow that link.

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