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Using the InDesign Magazine Template

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If you're a new InDesign user, laying out your magazine article may seem complicated. This webpage includes an InDesign template made specifically by the Design Lab for your magazine article. Additionally, this page includes an overview of the design template and instructions on how to place images, insert text, and customize the template for your project.

 Download this InDesign file. It has the basic content of your article already laid out. Simply fill in the content boxes with your images and text!

Overview of Template

The template follows the basic design of Scientific American. The two-page opening spread contains a cover image, title, and introductory text to capture your reader's attention. The Design Lab's tips from Designing a Magazine Cover Spread will help you make decisions on how to place and format your title spread text. The image below will acclimate you to some InDesign features you'll work with when designing your magazine article.

You'll notice the blue, pink, purple, and teal lines running across your document. These are various guide lines to help you organize and align content. Pink lines indicate the top and bottom margin of your main content and purple lines indicate the edges of your text columns. On your title spread, you'll want to keep your text within these pink and purple lines. Teal lines are ruler guides to help evenly space your document. Blue lines are content boxes and hold text or images. Any blue box with an "X" through it is an image frame and acts as a placeholder for an image that you will choose to place. 

Remember: Guidelines will not show when you print your document or save as a PDF. They are just there to help guide you in design! You can turn them off at anytime by pressing "W".

The next pages include a small profile image frame and author bio; an opening text box with larger font and a big drop cap for your article's first paragraph; a small “In Brief” section; an image frame and caption box; and the main text spread, which continues onto the next page.


‚ÄčThe final pages contain additional image frames, captions, text boxes, and a section titled “More to Explore” where you can put your resources or citations. Keep in mind that this template is fully customizable. You can adjust elements like text box location, image location, and font size and style so that the format of your article match your content. Skip to the end of this guide for tips on customizing the template.


Inserting Images

Adding images is a little different than pasting or dragging in your files. To import an image, go to "File" > "Place" (or use Command+D/Ctrl+D) to select an image from your computer. When you double-click the image, you'll see a thumbnail of it attached to your cursor.

When the image thumbnail appears, click and drag out the image to determine its size on the page. When you do this, InDesign automatically makes sure that the image remains proportionate. If you want the image to cover the whole page, click and drag from the top left to the bottom right of the document. When expanded, the image will probably not fit your template precisely; the next step is to adjust size. 


To adjust the size of the image once it's been placed, you'll have to be careful to adjust both the frame and the content of the image. When you place an image, InDesign builds both layers. The frame is the window through which you see you image, and is designated by a blue outline around your image. To select the image frame, click on your image with the black arrow. You may now move the entire image, or resize the visible portion of the image


A different tool is needed to resize the content inside the frame. To resize your image, click on the grey circle, or donut, that appears when you hover the mouse over the image. When this is clicked, a brown outline of your image appears. Adjust the size of this outline to alter your image size. Remember: holding the "shift" key while you resize will preserve the image proportions. 


Another way to add images is by inserting them into frames that are already in the template, like the circle frame for your bio picture. To make sure that the image is within the pre-made frame, select the frame with your black arrow, then go to File > Place. Your image will drop directly into the frame. However, your image will likely be too large for the small circle frame. You can manually resize the image by click the donut, or you can click the donut, right-click the image, and select Fitting > Fill Frame Proportionally. Then, InDesign will do the resizing for you.


Importing Text

On the opening spread, you'll want to include your article title, and maybe a subtitle or introductory sentences. You'll add these with text boxes. To add a text box, use the "T" type tool on the left menu to click and drag out a text box. You'll type your text directly into the box. With the "T" tool still selected, you can adjust your font in the top menu. Here, you can select different font styles, sizes, and colors.

You may want to make multiple text boxes for your subtitle or introductory sentences. Use the same process to click and drag out boxes with the "T" type tool. If you want to delete any of these text boxes - or any object in InDesign - select the object with the black arrow tool and hit backspace on your keyboard. 

When you're importing text - like a long essay from a Word document - into the template, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the introductory paragraph is its own section, so you'll either type of paste this section separately from your main text. Here, you can simply cope and paste the plain text from your Word document. When you do this, the first letter automatically has the drop cap because these formatting choices have been made using the paragraph and character styles tabs. If your content is long for the template, simply resize your text or the text boxes to accommodate your content.

Unlike your stand-alone introductory text, your main article content are threaded together. This means that the overflow text from the first column runs into the second, the second flows into the third, and so on. The template has been formatted so that your content automatically does this when input. To input your text, you can copy and paste from the Word document. First, get rid of the filler text by selecting the "T" type tool and clicking inside the first box. Select all the text with Command+A/Ctrl+A, then hit backspace on your keyboard.

Now you can go to your text document, copy the rest of your article text, and paste it into the first column. It will thread from one column to the next for you. It is likely that your text won't fit perfectly into our template, but you can customize the layout to achieve a professional finish.


Customizing the Layout

It is important to remember that this template was made to help you get started; its design is not set in stone. You'll likely need to move images and columns, or add and remove images, to accommodate your text. 

For example, if I want to adjust the image frame for a smaller image, I can use the black arrow tool to resize the frame and the column. Notice how the text will adapt on its own, since the columns are already threaded together in the template.

Instead of working with the image frames, you might choose to delete the frames entirely and place images elsewhere. To delete any object in InDesign, select the object with your black arrow selection too and hit "delete" on your keyboard. You can then use File > Place to import your own images.

Another useful tool for adjusting the layout is the "Arrange" option. This pushes objects behind or in front of other objects. For example, say I want to change my background image in my cover spread. If I delete my background image then File > Place a new image in its place, InDesign automatically places my new image on top of the other objects in my document, covering up the text that I've already formatted. To push the image under my text, right-click on the object, highlight "Arrange", then select "Send to Back".

Saving and Exporting

There are two ways to save files in InDesign:

1) An editable InDesign file allows you to return to your project and edit it whenever you'd like. To save your InDesign file, go to "File">"Save" and save as a .idml file.

2) A PDF version of your document allows others to easily view your final (or draft) file, even if they don't have InDesign installed on their computer. To save a PDF, go to "File">"Export" and choose "Adobe PDF(Print)" in the options at the bottom of the box.

One final note: It's a good idea to keep track of the images used in your InDesign file. Keep them in one folder, along with your InDesign project, so you'll always know where they are an can re-link them if necessary.

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  • Last Updated: Sep 30, 2020 11:29 AM
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