Adobe InDesign is a proprietary document format owned by Adobe and can’t be opened by other applications – even Adobe applications – so a problem for many designers is how to edit Adobe InDesign documents without encountering compatibility issues.
Adobe InDesign is the most popular page layout program available in the world today. It is the default application used in magazines, brochures, newspapers, and large format displays. Because many organizations use InDesign for their printed collateral, it’s easy to produce their digital collateral in the application too. It’s easy to export to PDF, PNG, JPEG, GIF, and other popular formats.
InDesign has images and illustrations placed within it, and these are usually stored in a ‘links’ folder within the folder in which the document is stored. The document needs to maintain the link with these images to produce high-quality prints and exports, so the links will be broken if they're moved. Each Adobe InDesign document requires the fonts used to create it to be editable and rendered for printing and export.
When you’re receiving an Adobe InDesign document, it’s best to ask for an Adobe InDesign package. Adobe InDesign makes this easy. Using the File> Package command on Macintosh or PC, Adobe will create a folder containing the InDesign document, all placed images in a ‘links’ folder, and all fonts used in the document in a ‘fonts’ folder. This folder can also contain a document, which can be created by the InDesign user with instructions. This can contain any notes from the creator and give a full inventory of the document's history, technical specifications and sizes, fonts, images used, and the print settings selected.
Adobe InDesign documents are easily recognizable by their magenta color with the Id logo and carry the suffix. indd. If an InDesign document has been created as a template, it will have the suffix .indt.
Adobe InDesign documents can be opened on Macintoshes or PCs. However, there can be some complications with font compatibility when moving a document from one platform to another, so it’s best to open the document in the platform it has been created in.
There can also be some compatibility issues regarding features that have been created in newer versions of InDesign when opening a document with an older version of the application. Adobe has done a good job of making InDesign backward compatible, but some of these new features may not work when opening the document in an older version of the application.
Plug-Ins are Adobe’s way of allowing third parties to extend InDesign's scope and create new features. Sometimes these plugins may be required to edit features that are not a core part of the InDesign application. If you’re having difficulties editing some document elements, it may give you a message about a missing plug-in. If you received an InDesign package with the Instructions.txt document, it would highlight if plug-ins were used. Some plug-ins are free, though many are now valuable software pieces, which carry a license fee. Adobe.com gives a full overview of the plugin landscape for InDesign.
Guides to Help You Create an Adobe InDesign Document
When you open an Adobe InDesign document, you’ll find several guides, which have been used in setting up the document. These will show margins and columns in the grid of the page. By toggling the W key, you can show or hide these guides. Using the command/Ctrl+J button is possible to navigate to other pages in the document. There is also a dialog box Window>Pages, which allows you to jump from page to page.
InDesign has a few main objects, which allows the design to be created.
Text boxes – these can be single or multi-column and can contain the text of multiple sizes and styles. To edit a text box, just double click with the black pointer and highlight the text. The pointer will turn to a text icon, and you can choose which part of the text you want to edit.
Image boxes – Images are usually ‘placed’ in the document with a link created to the source. By clicking on a box and typing Command/Ctrl+D, you can browse for images to edit.
Lines, vector drawing tools can be used to create shapes and rules.
All of these elements can be colored using the color palette. You can choose a separate color for the frame or inside (fill) of a box or other elements. InDesign has very sophisticated tools for frames and lines. When editing an InDesign document, it’s important to remember the scale at which the final output will be viewed, on paper or on a screen, to avoid using type, images, or colors which will not work at the viewing size.