in Technology

InDesign by Design

Adobe InDesign

Image from Adobe

InDesignThe foundation for dynamic publishing — in both print and digital media.

Pondering over a topic for an article on Adobe, I found myself rejecting ideas one after another only to be left with none! Now it’s not that Adobe has no arrows left in its quiver for me to play with, truth be told I’m gonna write about one particular arrow that is quite under utilized and almost unknown in Indian print circles. Yes, I’m talking about InDesign; Adobe’s publishing software that claims to break the barriers between online and offline publishing.

The fact that Adobe has created a cross-over product of sorts offering everything from newspaper and book publishing for the presses to interactive flash magazines and e-books for the web. Now in India, everyone and their dog uses CorelDraw to create everything from business cards to hoardings and all other sizes in between. So what then warrants the use of a lone wolf like InDesign in a country of 1.2 billion. Okay, I know the exact number of computer users is way less but you get the drift. I’ll outline the salient features that will have you all reconsidering your choice of design software next time you are out there creating outstanding productions.

My discovery of this brilliant program began when I started chalking out my first book production project. As I was already familiar with CorelDraw, I didn’t think beyond but being an open-minded person, I gave InDesign a fair shot.  Not only did I enjoy the test-drive but I decided to drive her all the way to town. Considering the making of a book in InDesign, I start by creating a long document that allows me to create individual chapter files which can then be organized into a “book”.

So the book is merely a file that links to multiple InDesign documents. Which makes life so much easier than juggling a 400 page document. Now that we have a book, let’s populate it with chapters, shall we?

To do that I start by defining a template to ensure all the pages of my book look consistently the same. So essentially by creating a template, I ensure that the settings for my styles, layouts, images/graphics and content is uniformly defined and centrally located. To list it simply, I create a template by setting up styles for characters & paragraphs and headers & footers in your master page.

Now that I have a spanking new InDesign document, I will proceed to import the text I scribbled down in Microsoft Word. Using Word’s built-in default styles, I’ve set up similar sounding styles in InDesign so I can then import styles automatically. Magic isn’t it? When it comes to adding text, you would want it to flow i.e adding as many new pages as it takes to flow in all your text. InDesign allows you do just that. Now I proceed to load my chapters in the book document. I can now sort out the page numbering for individual sections like the Table of Contents apart from the chapters. The advantage of using the book project allows me to make certain changes to the styles of one chapter and then have it synced similarly to all other chapters in the book.

Now that I have all my chapters down pat, my book needs a ToC or Table of Contents to guide people through the encyclopedia I have just created. This is as simple as adding a page and using the built-in tool to add the paragraph styles that I choose to include such as Heading 1, 2, 3, etc. You then format it to your taste and voila! your new book has a roadmap to guide your readers.

InDesign also allows you to add topics directly in the Index palette . When you add an entry, InDesign by default creates a topic. Also if you are creating a series of similar books, topics can be imported from another file. Keyboard shortcuts can be used to add topics to the index while you are going through the book too. Support for both nested as well as run-in indexes is provided. InDesign also makes it easy to troubleshoot problem entries and regenerate the index. If you think that you are done, think again. Yes, the index is the last thing in a book, but I like saving the cover for the last.

So here it is. The face of your book. For this you can use a template provided by your publisher or create one to your own specifications. Either use an online spine generator to calculate spine width or again call your publisher for precise measurements.  Now you can wrap up your project because Adobe has turned the idea of a pre-flight on its head. Traditionally a process that is kicked in gear at the fag end of a design process, pre-flight now goes live with InDesign continuously alerting you to potential production problems in real time allow for trouble-shooting on the go directly during production. So that wraps up our project.

So especially for all Mac users who have been ignored by Corel for years now, InDesign is the way to go. All you die-hard Corel users, give it a test-drive. You may be surprised by the results.

Guest post by Ritesh Reddy. He is a dilettante who enjoys writing, ranting and ruminating about all and sundry. His natural habitat is in front of a screen that has him spell bound. He runs amok amongst various social networks and escapes from it all by scouring the beach for signs of life.