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InDesign Review

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Adobe InDesign is the first choice for many professional designers, publishers and artists. The page layout software makes it simple to combine text and graphics and lay them out on pages of any size. Some versions of this application offer a preflight checklist, so you can keep tabs on everything you have done and need to do before you hit print. The application is vast, with features that cater to both advanced and beginner users alike. Yet, with so many features and tools, the learning curve for this software is quite high, especially if you have never used page layout applications before. But the power and features you'll find inside InDesign are incredible, enabling you to create intricate layouts and designs for brochures, books and magazines alike.

If you are familiar with other Adobe products, like Illustrator and Photoshop, you will feel comfortable using InDesign. However, if you are new to Adobe, then this layout design tool will have a steep learning curve. The interface layout is simple enough, with numerous tools and a ribbon with other actions and settings conveniently located. The great thing about this page layout design software is that you can customize the interface in ways that fit your needs. All you need to do is select the Window option and select a pre-existing workspace or create your own.

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Something we specifically love about InDesign is the liquid layout feature. This tool is great for digital publishing because of the presets programmed into the application. For example, if you are publishing something on an eReader or tablet, you can select several page layout presents that are sized for tablets. The Page tool even allows you to switch between portrait and landscape mode, so if someone wants to rotate his or her tablet, your text turns with it.

The program also has traditional page layout tools, such as grids and guides. The smart guide feature appears only when you're moving an object to make it easy to align your text or graphics. One thing that sets InDesign apart from many other page layout design software applications is its ability to let you create master page templates. Whatever change you apply to these master pages can be applied globally to other pages in the layout. This helps ensure consistency throughout your publication.

While InDesign doesn't offer the powerful graphics tools you find with some of Adobe's other products, these applications still offer some ways to improve your images. You can add effects like drop shadows, outer glow and feather to any of your images. Additional graphic effects like gradients can be added to your designs, which add highlights and reflections and create a sense of depth.

With graphic creation, you are limited to tools such as vector shapes or objects already included with some of the software. If you are adding photos to your project, the application offers basic photo filters, such as retro and sepia, and you can adjust levels, contrast and colors. Since this isn't photo-editing software, you are limited in the amount of adjustments you can make to your photos, but InDesign still has many editing options. If you find that some quality of a photo was lost during transfer, this is easily rectified by selecting Display Performance in the dropdown menu restores the quality of the original image.

One feature that really stands out is the placeholder text. If you are well into creating a magazine or web layout, clicking this option inserts the "lorem ipsum" filler text that shows you what the layout will look like with text, even if you haven't written anything. Formatting is simple. Simply pick between character and paragraph style tools depending on the scope of the changes you desire. The former allows you to adjust just a few letters at a time, while the latter gives you control over entire sections of text.

Another thing you can do with text is align or wrap the text around photos, graphics or anything else on the page. By using the Bezier pen, you can draw a line or shape and then place bits of text on or inside the shapes for a curved effect. This text-on-path feature is great for giving your copy a creative feel, and it is useful for creating magazine layouts and book covers.

At the end of the day, InDesign is one of the best page layout applications available. It plays well with the other Adobe applications, so it's easy to transfer photos and graphics you have created with other applications into InDesign. The software is complex, but as you learn its many nuances, you’ll find it increases your capabilities to create a truly unique and well-designed document for publication.

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