Creative

Teach Yourself Adobe InDesign for Free

Rob Nightingale 04-12-2015

Adobe describes InDesign as the “industry-leading page design and layout tool” for both print and digital. Despite its industry leading status, learning how to use InDesign needn’t be as hard as you think.

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Adobe Indesign is an industry-level tool for professional graphic designers to create single or multiple page documents. We’re talking brochures, eBooks (including designing book covers), interactive PDFs, magazines (including digital), flyers. It offers similar functions to software such as LucidPress (read our review), though includes many more features.

If you — a newcomer to print design — are wanting to create these documents to a professional level, InDesign is the option you’re looking for. Not Photoshop or Illustrator.

Magazine Design

Photoshop’s primary use is to edit raster art. That is, images constructed of pixels (i.e. photos). You can find out how to learn Photoshop here.

Adobe Illustrator (teach yourself) edits vector art. That is, images and elements constructed of points, lines, and shapes (i.e. logos). These elements can be scaled without loss of fidelity.

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InDesign, on the other hand, is where you bring all of these elements — raster art, vector graphics, typography — together to create a polished document that’s ready for print.

Reasons To Use Adobe InDesign

There are a number of reasons why you’d choose to use InDesign over alternatives, including Photoshop and Illustrator.

  • Plenty of fine-tuning options for printing on high-end print and plating systems.
  • Insert elements from other programs (i.e. Illustrator) without converting those elements into pixels. In other words, files retain their native format (raster or vector)
  • Amazing word-wrap functions
  • Designed with multi-page projects specifically in mind
  • Easily create elements that exist on all pages (page numbers, headers, etc.)
  • Easily export to .EPS
  • File sizes are smaller than if a similar design were saved in, for example, Photoshop

7 Free Learning Resources For InDesign

Adobe Tutorials

Adobe’s InDesign CC video tutorials cover all the basics you’ll need to get started. As you progress, these videos will help you get to a pretty advanced level.

Adobe Indesign Tutorials

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Within the Get Started section, you’ll quickly get to know where to find things in InDesign, and what the program can actually do. From there, advance to the Learn Essentials area which delves into each area in more detail.

Once those novice steps are mastered, the Key Techniques and some of the videos in the New Features sections will see you rapidly become an expert.

If you’re using InDesign CS5, Adobe has a separate, free course for that.

InDesign Tips For Starting Out

This detailed article from Lisa Valuyskaya in Smashing Magazine goes through 10 tips she wished she’d known before starting to use the program.

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Smashing Magazine

This covers understanding margins and bleeds, image formats, and working with color, among others.

InDesign Training For Beginners

These 13 videos on TrainingTutorials101 are taken from the full, 19-hour-long Lynda course (you have to sign up for a paid, monthly account to access the remaining lessons). The first video, below, shows you what’s in store for you:

Despite this not being a complete set of videos, the content offers a great primer for getting to grips with navigating InDesign. You’ll also learn a host of InDesign “secrets” to help you save time while designing.

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Tuts+

The huge selection of in-depth tutorials from Tuts+ makes this one of my favorite places to discover new ways to use InDesign.

TutsPlus

Whether you want to create a vintage, clothbound book cover, or create a cool typography poster, these step-by-step tutorials will show you exactly how.

Terry White’s InDesign Course

Although this isn’t a structured course, Terry White’s YouTube videos on InDesign have helped over 100,000 beginners start making the most of InDesign.

YouTube Indesign

The videos are tailored for CS5, CS6 and CC, with the vast majority of lessons being relevant for each version of the software.

Some lessons include How to Get Started With InDesign CC, Publishing from InDesign to iPad, and How To Create a Fixed Layout Ebook, along with around 50 other lessons.

InDesign Secrets

InDesign Secrets is a massively comprehensive online resource for all things InDesign. Once you’ve got the basics nailed, this site should become your new best friend. It’s the guys behind this site that put together the InDesign Training For Beginners Course, mentioned above.

Indesign Secrets

You’ll find thousands of articles, InDesign templates, podcasts, video casts, and an active forum to have your questions answered.

Layers Magazine

This site focuses on all things Adobe. Though new articles are published very sparingly, head over to the InDesign section of Layers, and you’ll find a treasure trove of wisdom. This library of articles covers topics from the very basics, to the very advanced.

Layers Magazine

Some of their more detailed articles and videos act as independent tutorials to teach you a whole new aspect of the program. For example:

A Few More Places To Check Out

Above are the top free courses and resources we’ve found. There are some fantastic paid-for courses, too.

  • Udemy: Intro to Adobe InDesign ($100) — 53 lectures over 6 hours covering everything you need to get started.
  • Lynda: InDesign Tutorials ($15pm)—by subscribing to Lynda, you’ll have access to over 6,500 InDesign tutorials covering pretty much everything you could imagine.
  • DigitalTutors: Designing an Interactive Ebook in InDesign ($29 pcm) — this is becoming an increasingly common use of Indesign, which could serve you well. Sign up for a DigitalTutors account to access this course, and many others.

Get Started With Adobe InDesign

I’m currently in the midst of teaching myself InDesign with no prior experience. These are the free resources, along with scouring Pinterest for InDesign tutorials, that have helped me most, and I hope they can help you, too.

If you’re considering giving up InDesign in favor of Canva to create printable documents faster and for free, learn the pros and cons of each option in our comparison of Adobe InDesign and Canva Adobe InDesign vs. Canva: Which Is Best? We decided to pit Adobe InDesign vs. Canva across a range of different categories to see which is the best graphic design program. Read More .

Image Credits:  Office Woman Gets Annoyed by racorn via Shutterstock, Magazine Spread by Alex Von Dorp (Flickr)

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  1. Charu Malik
    May 22, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Definitely going to 'make use of' it. Thank you

  2. JMoreno
    December 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    This is so helpful!! Thank you so much!

  3. Maria
    January 20, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Nice work! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Maria
    January 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Whow, this article is very useful! Thanks for sharing! M.