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InDesign tutorial for Indie Authors

Hi there! Are you frustrated by having to hire someone to do the layout for your book? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place!

When you open up Adobe InDesign, you should go to File-> New Document. You’ll see this:

Here I’ve chosen 115 x 185 mm, which will give you a slightly smaller book than the average pocket. This saves on shipping costs.

Once you’ve decided upon the size of your book, try to guesstimate the number of pages in your book and specify it here. If you don’t know, simply use the number of pages in the Word document you’ll be working from.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m assuming you have a word document that not only contains your manuscript, but all the text in the book, formatted the way you’d like it to be in the final book. When you’ve specified the size and the number of pages, click OK, and you’ll see:

This is the first page in your book. Depending on the book length, this might be one or two pages.

Now you should create master pages for your book. Do this by clicking on Pages to the right, like so:

Click “Pages” to bring up the Pages panel.

When you’ve accessed the Pages panel, you can right click it to bring up a new menu where you can create a new master page.

Creating a new master page.

In the master page creation dialog, you should name your new master page Chapter or something similar. Once created, double click the new master page in the Pages panel. In the right hand corner of this new master page, you should create a small textbox using the textbox tool (looks like a T) in the very left hand toolbox. Place this textbox in the right corner of the page, within the pink border. Then, insert the current page number by clicking “Text” in the main menu, and then “Insert special character” “Markers,” “Current page number” :

Now create a textbox at the top of the page, within the pink border, to hold your chapter header, and then a textbox underneath it that doesn’t go further down than the page number. Now you’ve created your chapter master page!
Do the same thing for the regular master page(s) in the Pages panel (it should have been created along with your project). Create a textbox for your page number(s), and insert the page number(s). Go back to the Chapter master page, copy the big textbox, and paste it into the regular master page(s). Then place it so that it fits within the pink border, and doesn’t go below the page number.

Now go back to the first page in your project by double clicking on it in the Pages panel. Apply the regular master page to it by right clicking it and selecting “Apply master to pages”. On this page, you should use the textbox tool to create a textbox which will hold your text. Like this:

Create a new textbox by clicking the tool and then dragging the area for the box on the page.

Because you created a master and applied it to this page, you’ll get a light blue border within the pink border that will indicate where you should create your textbox. Now you can go to your Word document, select all the text using Ctrl+A on Windows and Cmd+A on Mac, copy it with Ctrl+C or Cmd+C and then paste it into your textbox by using Ctrl+P or Cmd+P:

Once you’ve pasted the text, you can start to format it using your selected font. Simply select all the text by using Ctrl+A or Cmd+A and then:

12 pts is usually a good size to pick for most of the text (excluding headers)

The fonts you should pick are:

  • Baskerville for literary fiction.
  • Sabon for romantic fiction.
  • Garamond for thrillers, mysteries and airport page-turners.
  • Caslon for non-fiction.

Once you’ve selected your font, you can start to center the text that should be centered (this usually includes headers and the pages at the front of your book such as the dedication).

Select the text for the first page of your book and center it.

At this point, scroll down to the next pages in your book, and create a text box on each of them. Make sure the text boxes fill out the pink printing margins for your book.

Create a textbox for each page.

Now, cut out the text for your next page by using Ctrl+X or Cmd+X and then paste it into the first textbox you created by using Ctrl+P. Then repeat the process for the next page.

When you’ve added all the preliminary pages, you can press backspace in the textbox on the first page to reveal the text for the first chapter. As you press backspace, more and more text will be revealed. Simply cut out the text, and paste it into the textbox you should have created on the page for the first chapter. If there’s not enough text to fill out the page, repeat the process. If there’s too much text on the page, you’ll find a small ‘+’ sign in the corner of the textbox. You can click it, and you’ll get the text that didn’t fit into the page. You can paste the text into the textbox on the opposite page by simply clicking on the textbox.

Press backspace to reveal more text in the textbox on the first page.

Now, simply create textboxes on the remaining pages in your book and fill them with text using the process described above. For chapters, you want the heading to be slightly better (I suggest 18 pts) and centered. If a chapter header is to the right of the ending of a chapter, you want the ending of the chapter to be underneath the chapter heading. This can be achieved by pressing enter in the offending textbox. If there is extraneous text, you can paste it into the opposite texbox by clicking the ‘+’ as described earlier.

An example of what the end of a chapter and chapter heading/beginning should look like.

You will inevitably end up with too few pages for the text in your book, in which case you simply scroll down to the last page, click on “Pages” and then “Create new page” as shown below. You can also use the “Pages” interface to delete a page by clicking on it and then clicking on the trashcan item, as seen below.

This is how you create a new page.
Published inWriting

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