What is InDesign used for - Guide for Beginners

by Stefano Bernardi 12 minutes to read

In a digital world that is always changing, improving and evolving, keeping up with trends, new tools and programs is not a choice, but rather, a necessity. 

However, learning new things doesn’t have to be a challenging task, especially in a world of countless digital opportunities and resources. 

Today I will talk more about Adobe InDesign for beginners. Stick with me if you are one!

In this post, I'll guide you to understand the most important and most practical things. Feel free to dive in whichever section you prefer, and meet me in the comments if you have any questions.

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What Is InDesign?

To put it in the simplest, most basic way possible, Adobe InDesign is the industry-leading layout and page design software. Or said in the more tech-savvy way - it's a desktop publishing software. Curious to find out more? This detailed DTP software content will give you all the answers.

Surely one key-question arises:

What is InDesign used for?

  • Single-page documents such as business cards, flyers, and posters; and
  • Multi-page documents such as catalogs, brochures, resumes, books and e-books, annual reports, magazines, zines, and all sorts of EPUBs.

InDesign is every graphic designer and marketing professional's essential tool.

Wondering why? 

  • Powerful yet user-friendly software
  • Adobe InDesign will allow you to easily create layouts
  • Superior control over images (overall, a great control over different elements), unlike in Microsoft Word (head here if you do want to know more about choosing InDesign over Microsoft Word)
  • Versatile tools such as selection tools, drawing and type tools, transformation tools and modification and navigation tools
  • Unified design elements from Photoshop and Illustrator
  • The utmost flexibility and control over typography
  • Unparalleled text wrapping options
  • Exceptional with text-rich, multi-page documents

Can you teach yourself InDesign?

The answer is yes! You can learn InDesign; just as you can do anything you set your mind to!

It will take time, patience, and a lot of “scribbles” in the InDesign workspace, but I assure you – you will get there.

There are two ways to start learning InDesign:

  • You can start from scratch and learn everything with the help of online resources (InDesign for beginners free tutorials); or
  • Take some offline, in-person classes (the more expensive option)

If you're watching InDesign tutorials for beginners, another practical thing is opening a premade InDesign template and playing with it. Explore the features and get to know them in a fun way!

Trust me when I say that both options are a great way to start your journey!

What's the best way to learn InDesign and how long does it take?

Learning InDesign for beginners with the help of Online Resources

Besides making it powerful, Adobe's InDesign team takes special pride in making their software user-friendly as well! And this is relevant, especially for beginners such as you are (don’t worry we've all been there).

Adobe InDesign can be learned with the help of various online resources. Feel free to choose whatever suits you best:

Now, I can’t say this way is the best way because every person is different, but learning from the comfort of your own home does sounds like a dream come true, especially if you are a tech-savvy person. 

Learning InDesign Offline

If you consider yourself more traditional, and you want that one-on-one interaction and in-person communication, offline courses could suit you best. However, keep in mind this option is usually the more expensive one.

Since it's impossible for me to suggest a teacher in your area, I will invite you to check out one of the InDesign courses I suggested in this blog. I personally took several of them and checked their content and quality to make sure they cover all features and explain them correctly. Anne-Marie Concepcion and Dave Blatner's ones are highly suggested.

How long does it take to learn Adobe Indesign?

As previously mentioned, one of the most comforting things for beginners is that InDesign is a user-friendly software that is relatively easy to master.

Once you start to get a hold of it, as time goes by you will learn more and more features. Layer after layer, tool after tool; as the months go by, this software will become your best friend. You can start by visiting my list of the best InDesign courses where you can read more, and find a practical 30-minute course. With it, you can quickly learn how to use InDesign (and most importantly learn how to use it correctly).

Learn InDesign correctly and avoid mistakes

I understand you might want to just open InDesign and start using the software right away. I also get it if you took a course and now believe you have all the tools to start using this amazing piece of software on your own.

But trust me when I say: InDesign's user-friendliness is both a blessing and a curse.

Because of my job at Redokun, each year I analyze hundreds of documents from every part of the world, and almost every single time I find some mistakes in the way InDesign was used. These mistakes are so common that in time I created a list of the 20 most common mistakes InDesign users make to help designers avoid and correct them.

So, don't rush, because you will need a bit of time and training to start using InDesign correctly. Spend a few more hours learning and save yourself from embarrassing mistakes. Ultimately you will save a lot of time and money.

Why is it important to know InDesign?

InDesign is much more than a basic software. Rather, it is a full, immersive, and industry-standard software. Knowing InDesign when working in certain environments is a must. These environments include, but are not limited to, design and publishing businesses that handle multi-page, text-heavy documents.

Such industries are:

  • Marketing and Sales Companies (producing sales and promotional material)
  • Graphic Departments (requires knowing InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop)
    • Knowing when and where to use each and every single one of these programs doesn’t have to be a challenge. Read this InDesign VS Illustrator post or see this infographic in order to learn more

Imagine, for example, you're working in a company and your boss needs a brochure by the end of the week. Although it might sound like a nightmare, it doesn’t have to be. 

That brochure can be done by the end of the week thanks to the best InDesign courses found online and InDesign's user-friendly interface. Earn your boss's trust, and maybe even a bonus!

However, if you lack the time to read our complete guide on how to make a brochure, or even the time to take a course or watch video tutorials, you can always learn through working with a pre-made brochure template.

One of the major advantages of using InDesign for creating your documents is that, unlike other solutions, InDesign has access to a huge selection of already-made, high-quality resources.

For example, we've carefully gathered 100 best InDesign brochure templates and divided them into a few sections in order to make the entire selection process easier. So, if you had to create a brochure, you could actually download one of our templates, open it, and get the job done.

Of course, you can find almost any imaginable type of InDesign template such as newsletters, annual reports, business cards, resumes, and so much more and use them to create your documents professionally and quickly.

A tool for digital and printed, personal and commercial purposes; Adobe InDesign will spark your creativity and allow you to create amazing documents in all sorts of formats.

How to Download?

Adobe InDesign is easily downloadable through Adobe's Creative Cloud apps catalog where you'll be able to find 20+ apps related to design, photography, video and audio; web and UX.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Once you choose what you need, one or more apps, you will be redirected to add your mail and credit card details (create your Adobe ID and add a password) in order to complete your download. Don't worry this is a standard procedure that takes only a couple of minutes.

There isn't much to it. Truly! Your Adobe InDesign download and installation (with the help of the onscreen instructions) will be done in no time.

Here is what the last screen prior to downloading will look like. Nothing too complicated, right?

InDesign Get Started Popup

How long does it take to install InDesign?

Adobe InDesign will approximately take as much as 1, 1 GB of your hard disk space. Accordingly, your computer must meet at least the minimum technical specifications to flawlessly run InDesign (read them here).

The download of InDesign will depend on the speed of your network connection, but the installation itself doesn't take much time. In roughly 15-30 minutes, you'll be able to let your imagination run wild in InDesign.

Can you try or use it for free?

Plain and simple, the answer is YES! Adobe InDesign for beginners does have a 7-day trial period.

Super-practical, right? In this period you can try out this software with all its “bells and whistles” (or in translation – the trial InDesign is fully packed with all the functionalities and features).

What's more, together with all the features, you'll also get FREE ACCESS to a ton of versatile fonts. Yes, you've read correctly, you'll get Adobe Fonts (TypeKit) entirely free of charge.

Starting a free 7-day trial is as simple as downloading and installing InDesign or maybe even more.

Click here to start your 7-day free trial and experience the latest InDesign release. However, make sure you keep an eye on the calendar because the free subscription will turn into a *monthly* paid one after the free 7-day trial ends.

InDesign Free Trial Example

 

Where to Buy It?

As previously mentioned, in order for things to be much simpler, your 7 day trial period will turn into a paid membership after the seventh day.

How much does InDesign cost?

Here to follow is a super practical
which explains all the versatile packages and pricing:

Individuals Business Students & Teachers Schools & Universities
All Apps Annual plan, paid monthly - US$52.99/mo US$79.99/mo per license Annual Plan paid Monthly-US$19.99/mo Per Named-user License US$34.99/mo per user
Basic Designer Package Photoshop; Illustrator; and InDesign are each US$20.99/mo       /       /       /
(InDesign) Single App Plan Annual plan, paid monthly - US$20.99/mo Single App US$33.99/mo per license       / Single App US$14.99/mo per user

In addition to this table, I am also sharing Adobe's Creative Cloud how to download page, which might be helpful when downloading, installing, or running into an issue with any app.

Should you download a pirate version?

System crashes? Losing personal and work-related data? Or even waking up to find out your bank account has gotten emptied out? These rhetorical questions should be answer enough.

These scenarios are not impossible, nor rare, when downloading or purchasing non-genuine software. Pirate InDesign versions not only lack all the latest features and updates, but they are also dangerous. Here's a few reasons why:

  • They put your security and safety on the line (compromising personal data)
  • Losing Data (system crashes)
  • Downloading viruses, malware, and spyware (together with the pirate software)

In addition to everything I've mentioned, you should also know that when choosing a pirated version you are choosing to break Adobe's genuine software policy meaning you are doing something illegal and unethical.

Now I do realize there is a chance you purchase non-genuine software without even knowing about it. However, if an offer sounds like it's too good to be true - it probably is. Don't fall for the attractive, and thrifty software bundles and deals.

What features should you learn first?

In a sea of information, YouTube videos, InDesign tutorials for beginners PDF, courses, and video tutorials, you might feel lost and like you don't know where to start. Well, no need to panic, here is what to do.

Besides checking out our collection of the best Adobe InDesign tutorials for beginners which will allow you to have a solid understanding of InDesign), another super practical tip is – download a free template and play around with InDesign.

Nothing can go wrong, I assure you! You can only learn a thing or two and get used to the User Interface and the tools contained in InDesign.

The One Key-Feature to Learn First

Prior to going through all of the resources and videos I've mentioned, you have to learn how to use the Paragraph Styles.

I cannot stress this enough. This is a key feature.

If someone had mentioned this to me when I was starting to learn InDesign, it would have saved me a lot of time. 

The name of this feature is self-explanatory. Paragraph styles are nothing but a collection of rules that define the way your text looks and behaves.

Although using Paragraph styles is not mandatory, it will:

  • Save you time
  • Make your formatting consistent and professional
  • Simplify your work and improve it

Paragraph styles are also relevant because a lot of other features, such as the Table of Contents, are based on it.

Other Important Features and Tools in InDesign

Apart from learning how to create your “winning” paragraph styles, there are also a few other things you ought to know, such as:

Are there any alternatives to InDesign?

Answering this question is probably more of a challenge to me than writing the entire content, and I am not exaggerating. This is because, after years of using InDesign, I've come to believe that there are no equally good alternatives to InDesign when talking about professional environments.

Do you need InDesign?

If you have to create a single business card or a flyer for that backyard event that happens once a year, the answer is no, you don't need InDesign. Simply google “the best free design tools” and select one, or open your Microsoft Word and choose a free basic template - and you will be good to go.

However, when talking about creating and editing text-heavy, multi-pages documents such as books or catalogs, hear me when I say – there is no alternative.

In its 21 years of existence, InDesign has won the race with all of its competitors such as QuarkXPress and proved it's here to stay. On the edge of the new millennium, when InDesign appeared, the innovative and refreshing software quickly gained popularity.

InDesign allowed designers, art directors, and publishers spend less time doing dull, and repetitive tasks, to instead focus on developing their creativity and imagination.

Back then, Adobe InDesign's appearance on the market was memorable, impactful, and revolutionary. In the same way, its utilization is today!

It's like giving a toolbox to a handyman that worked only with his hands. 

Why is InDesign the best tool for Desktop Publishing?

The unparalleled versatile tools and features, together with the user-friendly interface suitable for creating print and digital publications, are the reasons why this software has become a favorite of millions of creative minds.

Publish, print, and publicize.” – as Adobe's team tends to say. This software will allow you to handle any publishing tasks.

The excellence of InDesign lies in its ability to do more with layouts than all of its competitors such as:

Conclusion

By now I am hoping I've gotten you a bit closer to the superior and industry-leading software which has revolutionized the layout and page design industry.

I won't lie to you, learning every aspect of it especially from scratch will be a challenging task. However, I also assure you - it will be all worth it. Wait no more to start your journey and become part of the InDesign cult!

 

Stefano Bernardi
Stefano Bernardi

Stefano has worked on numerous mid to large–sized InDesign projects for Alstom, DeLonghi, Philips, and many others before starting Redokun in 2015.
As Redokun’s Co-Founder, Stefano spends most of his time helping customers to optimize their InDesign work-flow. He also holds in-house InDesign courses for companies in the Venice, Italy area.

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