• The Publishing Post

Upskilling with Adobe InDesign

When asking industry insiders what prospective job applicants should have on their CV, being able to use InDesign comes up again and again. So, what is it, and why is it so desirable?


InDesign is an essential programme used in the publishing industry (among others) to design documents for print and digital use. Like a more advanced version of Microsoft Publisher, InDesign is made for creating page layouts. This may sound quite basic, but the possibilities are endless. With the help of the great free and paid learning resources that we’ll suggest in this article, you’ll be able to create an array of visual material from posters and flyers to magazines, newsletters and even books!


As it is (relatively) intuitive to use and well-integrated with other Adobe Creative Cloud software, it makes sense that InDesign is currently the most widely used publishing software in the industry and is highly sought by employers for jobs in publishing (especially academic and eBook publishing) and marketing. Adobe does offer a one-week free trial to the entire Creative Cloud suite (which also includes Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator). InDesign has a lot of features and tools that can seem complex at first, so it can be a little overwhelming to a beginner. With this in mind, here are some great resources to get you started.


Learning Resources


The basics can be learnt on many platforms, including LinkedIn Learning, a paid resource, which offers a great InDesign Essential Training course by David Blatner. You can receive a certificate after completion that can be added directly to your LinkedIn profile with ease.

Particularly important skills covered include:

  • Setting bleed and slug guides, which are important for printing

  • Page numbering

  • Master pages

  • Threading text frames

  • Creating and applying paragraph styles

  • Creating colour swatches

  • Cropping and fitting graphics

  • Using spell check and find/change

These skills all ensure document consistency and easier formatting. Adobe.com has a separate section for InDesign tutorials that are free to access, including videos that you can filter, whether you are a Beginner or Advanced, to find skills suited for every level. They also have a “Beginner Projects” section where you can try to design an eBook cover, page and page layouts, or as part of their “Make It In a Minute” series of videos, you can find a step-by-step guide for creating a book cover. Alternatively, you could try making other materials, like a business card or a thank-you card. Adobe includes sample materials that you can use to help you with the project and videos, as well as steps to guide you.


Another way to help you create your own book cover could be to start with downloading InDesign book templates from sites such as Envato Elements. Templates will allow you to see how they have used page numbering, the bleed and slug guides they have used and the size and proportions of the layout as a whole to create a professional layout. Additionally, TCK publishing has a free seven-step InDesign Tutorial for Book Layouts with YouTube videos to learn a lot of the skills above and how to use these for creating a book design. You can find more information and templates for InDesign on InDesign Secrets.


Cons


InDesign is an extensive piece of software and cannot be grasped quickly. It will take a while for the new user to have proficient usability of its main functions, making it less time-efficient if you have a deadline to learn it by.


Moreover, it can become quite costly to use, especially if you are a student, as it has a separate monthly subscription if you do not purchase it alongside the Adobe Creative Suite. On the other hand, some universities have access to this, and it is worth confirming with them whether you can use it through them.


Alternatives


Numerous comparisons and reviews have shown that other platforms can be used, and they have an easier interface to navigate, are free to use with their own library of free courses and tutorials, while also being a cost-effective option for creating your own book cover if you want to self-publish your work. The following are a few alternatives to help you get started:

  • Canva has more variety and allows you to design your own templates and has its own design school to supplement your learning.

  • QuarkXPress is an older alternative to InDesign, which is still used in some publishing houses and has a free seven-day trial.


Conclusion


Publishing hopefuls who have recently graduated or are changing careers need to make a bold first impression, and that starts with you standing out amongst a sea of candidates with design skills already under your belt and impressing employers by taking your learning into your own hands. Stay tuned for Issue 4, in which we will be discussing tips and tricks for creating the perfect CV and cover letter. This next feature will guide you through choosing the best points to place on your CV, tackling the dreaded cover letter, and what to leave for the interview.