13 Replies Latest reply on Jul 11, 2011 4:08 PM by [Jongware]

    InDesign for book layout


      Hey guys. I apologize if this type of thing has been covered already. I searched around a bit and couldn't find anything specifically addressing this.


      I'm working on laying out a children's book. I'm getting the art from the artist and scanning them in. I know programs like Pixelmator very well, and can do my layout very quickly in something like that. But I keep hearing that InDesign offers far superior options for print and export.


      I wanted to know if anyone could enlighten me on what these features might be. My original idea was to just get them together and PDF them in Pixelmator, either to shop around or submit to print on demand services like Lulu or Blurb. And from what I can see, my 20 or so page book doesn't need much more than that. Does InDesign truly offer higher quality export or compatibility options?



        • 1. Re: InDesign for book layout
          BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          Pretty much impossible to answer in a support forum.


          Best advice I can give you is download the demo and give it a test drive.


          You might consider buying Sandee Cohen's Visual Quick Start Guide: http://amzn.to/qJiXAM


          Lynda.com has a ton of great stuff. This link will get you a seven day trial: http://bit.ly/fcGpiI


          Hope that helps,



          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: InDesign for book layout
            skyzm1 Level 1

            Thanks Bob.


            I'm not really too concerned with learning it. I think I can with a bit of time and work.


            Does InDesign have any specific features though that set it apart for printing or file exporting?

            • 3. Re: InDesign for book layout
              Joel Cherney Level 5

              I'm not really too concerned with learning it. I think I can with a bit of time and work.


              Does InDesign have any specific features though that set it apart for printing or file exporting?


              The quick answer is:


              "Yes. Thousands."

              • 4. Re: InDesign for book layout
                Joel Cherney Level 5

                Here's just one. Your workflow sounds like this:


                Make a bunch of images; each page is one image


                Make PDF

                Assemble PDFs into a single file

                Send to a hands-off printer


                InDesign doesn't work that way at all. You'd prepare your images in another app (like, say, Pixelmator, or Photoshop, or what have you) and then bring them into ID to use ID's superior text-composition tools to set text over those images. Then, if your artist decided on a new version of one of the images, then replacing one image file with another would require just subbing out one image file with another - instead of needing to rebuild the page, which is what I'd assume you'd do with Pixelmator.


                We could describe scenarios like this for days and days and not run out of material.

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: InDesign for book layout
                  Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  InDesign is by far the premiere application for creating files for commercial printing, as well as exporting to all modern digital publishing formats.


                  For printing, here are some of its many fine features:


                  Separation Preview

                  Flattener Preview

                  High-quality Display (ability to view placed images/vector graphics at high resolution)

                  Overprint Preview (ability to see the intermixing of different color models, overprinting, transparency)

                  Ability to set bleed and slug areas around the page

                  Ability to preview normal mode, Preview mode (print preview), Bleed mode, Slug mode

                  The most full-featured Print dialog on the planet

                  Color Management that is unified through the Adobe Creative Suite (same color settings in InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Bridge)

                  (and many more features...)


                  For exporting, PDF exporting gives you access to Adobe PDF Presets, some built-in presets that work for most workflows

                  The ability to customize PDF presets

                  Many panels of settings to customize your PDF files

                  The ability to save tagging information for PDF reuse


                  The ability to export EPUB files which are not usually finished but are much improved in CS5.5

                  • 6. Re: InDesign for book layout
                    skyzm1 Level 1

                    Screwed up my replies. I think I got them straightened out now.

                    • 7. Re: InDesign for book layout
                      skyzm1 Level 1

                      Thanks a lot Joel. You were right on with the general workflow.


                      That specific example was great too. Looks like the demo is getting downloaded sooner rather than later.

                      • 8. Re: InDesign for book layout
                        skyzm1 Level 1

                        Thanks Steve!

                        • 9. Re: InDesign for book layout
                          [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                          Since everyone is listing their personal favourites, let me add my selection.


                          InDesign contains thousands of built-in functions. A quick tally of items you can set a shortcut key to (on CS4, CS5.5 has several more) lists no less than 1,279 distinct functions. That ranges from "0°" (in the Rotate Table Cell sub-submenu) via gems such as "Auto leading" and "Effects: Bevel and Emboss", via "Layout Adjustment" and "Nudge up x10 duplicate" to "Zoom Tool".


                          InDesign really shines in combination with a modern, well-designed Opentype font -- it can use all of the regular extended typographic functions, and most of the extended ones. That gives you easy access to typographic gems such as ligatures, real small caps, real superior and inferior numbers, and beautifully spaced "Title Caps". InDesign comes with a selection of Adobe's best Pro fonts for free (as well as with a number of duds, but hey, do you want them to do all the thinking for you? I mean, "Giddy Up Std" -- come on...).


                          With InDesign, you can export print-ready PDFs right out of the box. (Although it's wise to ask your printer for specifics before handing him over a suboptimal PDF file.) You can define Preflight profiles to check for all the necessities -- embeddable fonts, color usage, page size, line widths, etc.


                          InDesign is not meant as a One Tool To Rule Them All application. It works best in conjunction with its peers Illustrator (for heavy duty vector work) and Photoshop (for all Things Pixel Based). But of course you are not limited to Adobe products only. InDesign imports text from all the major Word processors ... that's Microsoft Word, as there seem to be no contender at the moment ... and vector, bitmap, or mixed mode images in a variety of file formats.

                          It even imports a handful of sound and movie formats (so I have been told. I wouldn't know -- I'm a paper guy, and it's kinda hard to print a movie.).

                          • 10. Re: InDesign for book layout
                            [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                            By the way, it should also be noted that InDesign is a professional layout/design program. It's not intended for the good-willed enthousiastic tentative first time designers; and it does not, emphatically not cater for simple functions such as can be found in dumbed-down stuff such as Word and Publisher. You are required to have some technical background in designing and the associated terminology.


                            (Much to the dismay of a lot of wannabee designers that probably also expect to be able to buy AutoCAD and successfully design a nuclear plant.)

                            • 11. Re: InDesign for book layout
                              Stix Hart Level 5

                              Interesting thread... let me add my 2c worth:


                              Do you have text on more than one page that you want to print?  You MUST USE INDESIGN!!!!


                              Seriously though, in many years of seeing many projects come through, even a dog's breakfast done in Indesign is way better than pretty much anything else, a well done Quark document is OK, but the rest is just totally unsuited to print.

                              • 12. Re: InDesign for book layout
                                skyzm1 Level 1

                                Awesome insight everyone. I'm checking out the trial now and can already see where everyone is coming from. All of the leading and kerning stuff is super simple too. Thanks to all.

                                • 13. Re: InDesign for book layout
                                  [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                                  I already had forgotten about it, but fortunately David Blatner was there to remind me:


                                  The Adobe CS5.5 Printing Guide is a very readable primer on the possibilities, problems, and pitfalls  of professional level printing.