Adobe InDesign - The Basics

Table of Contents

What is Adobe InDesign?

Adobe InDesign is the leading desktop publishing software used by graphic designers, layout artists, publishers, and marketing professionals.  You can use InDesign to create virtually any kind of print or digital format – flyers, brochures, presentations, magazines, newspapers, posters, business cards, postcards, stickers, comics, newspapers, and books. Using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, you can also publish content specific to handheld devices and tablets.

Adobe today limits its licensing only to a recurring subscription: monthly or annually.

You have the option to purchase an individual license or subscribe to the Adobe CC (Creative Cloud), a suite of design applications for print, video and the web.

Design Creative Cloud is bundled with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop and you have the choice to use it as a standalone as well. While you freely work with InDesign for layouts and text, you can import graphics and fonts from other sources such as Adobe Stock and Adobe Fonts, for an extra cost. 

You can deploy the software on both Mac OS and Windows computers.

What is InDesign Server?

Adobe InDesign Server is far less common than its counterpart InDesign Desktop. Even though Adobe Desktop and Server have many functions in common, there is one huge difference: InDesign Desktop provides you with a user interface, while InDesign server, on the other hand, does not have an interface. Although both options offer an extensive array of features, InDesign Desktop is faced with limitations which InDesign Server can overcome.

InDesign Server creates documents through automation and is thus very popular for database publishing. Users are using a Web Service Interface from which they can automate the production of their documents. To find out more about Adobe InDesign Server and document automation click here.


How did InDesign evolve?

In 1994, the San Jose based Adobe Systems purchased the complete rights for Aldus products that included PageMaker, a pioneer in desktop publishing of that time. However, the product began losing its market share to QuarkXPress that offered more features and flexibility. A time came when PageMaker was no longer considered a premium offering.

On August 31, 1999, Adobe released an advanced offering that came to be known as Adobe InDesign. By 2000, InDesign had come to comprehensively replace PageMaker, compatible with both Mac OS and Windows.  Over the next few years, in conjunction with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, InDesign became the leading desktop publishing application.

How does InDesign help you?

InDesign helps you to design professional looking pages and visual layouts for print and digital media publishing. You will find InDesign especially valuable to design documents that have multiple pages and a combination of layouts with text and images, or major areas of text, like literary books.

What is added to your CC Suite?

You get around 20 plus applications that include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, XD and Dimension and of course, Creative Cloud services. You can choose between Creative Cloud for teams and Creative Cloud for Enterprise. With the Enterprise edition, you also get the features of Advanced User Identity Management, including Single Sign-On (SSO) and  Company control of assets stored in the cloud.

New features include a seamless collaboration between your colleagues or customers. You can now work with features that make it easier to collaborate, maintain versioning control and have everyone on the same page, well, literally. You can add or delete licenses, based on user preferences and ensure better administrative control and content security.

Your subscription also ensures that you get dedicated 24/7 technical support, one-to-one sessions with Adobe product specialists and numerous tutorials.

How much does InDesign cost?

You can subscribe to Adobe InDesign CC and the cost varies, corresponding to the plan.  To give you a ballpark figure, an individual subscription will be $19.99 per month when you subscribe for one whole year and $29.99 per month if it is only for a single month. More comprehensive plans can cost upwards of $50 to $75 for a month. 

But academicians and educational institutions can breathe easy. There are attractive offers for students and teachers when they subscribe to CC at $19.99 per month for an annual plan.

Which is the best way to procure an InDesign license?

We would recommend that you buy your license, online. For one, your buying information remains secure, with the help of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology, the advanced secure encryption technology for electronic transactions. You only pay by the page and there are no unpleasant surprises! Your purchase includes a 14-day money-back guarantee, in case you do not wish to go ahead with your InDesign purchase.

How quickly can I come to terms with InDesign?

There are many options to learn InDesign. These include live and online classroom sessions, books, and online tutorials.  All said and done, it will be up to you, to start practicing it and exploring the wonders that lie behind InDesign. Let your imagination run free and explore your product as you would, an African safari!

What scripts should I use in InDesign?

Today mostly javascript. But if you are a Mac user, you can go for AppleScript to automate repetitive tasks, while as a Windows diehard, you use VBScript.

What file formats does InDesign support?

InDesign supports a variety of file types that includes InDesign Document, InDesign Library, InDesign Template.

You can import TIFF, GIF, JPEG, BMP, EPS, Paintbrush, and PNG. PSD, PDF, RTF, and all Microsoft formats. 

You can print InDesign projects, save them as PDF files or export into a variety of other digital and script formats including HTML and XML.

What languages does InDesign support?

InDesign supports an amazing array of language options. Examples include:

  • Danish
  • German
  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Hebrew
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Dutch
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Finnish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Czech
  • Russian
  • Arabic
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Hindi

In fact, you can install any language file, as InDesign chooses languages according to the operating system language.

What are the special features of InDesign CC 2019?

InDesign has spent a lot of effort in internalization as well as localization and offers several enhancements. Consider, for example:

    • Setting text for special characters, page/paragraph styles and numbering in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew or Hindi fonts.


    • Using bi-directional text flow from left to right as in conventional languages to right to left, as required in other global languages. You can thus mix right-to-left and left-to-right words, paragraphs, and stories in a document. You can also insert special, neutral and mathematical characters, as found in your keyboard language.


    • Generating a comprehensive table of contents for supported languages that includes chapter numbers, cross-references, indexes, and glossaries. You can also create a decent indexing mechanism, using embedded indexing codes.  Like tables of contents, indices can be sorted according to the selected language.


    • Creating a reverse layout to work with documents that have left to right or right to left styles.


    • Auto sizing an imageUsing the Content-Aware Fit feature, you can drag and drop an image into an InDesign box and view it getting adjusted to the default dimensions and aspect ratio of the frame. You do not have to waste time trying to resize your image to fit a frame.


    • Adjusting layouts automatically. Instead of manually resizing or adjusting the text, images and other aspects in your page each time you decide a few changes, the Layout Adjustment feature automatically adjusts all your actions. The feature reforms a new page size, margin and the like. You thus save a lot of time and what is more, reduce the aspect of human errors.


    • Working with PDF Comments. When working with large areas of text, you will have various comments coming in through PDFs. This feature allows you to import marked up comments to InDesign and action them. When you select a comment, the context-sensitive feature automatically highlights the relevant section in your document. This helps you to rapidly edit or review any InDesign document.


    • Viewing settings and controls. Very often, you will want to know the settings and controls in relation to the task that you are performing, for example, image size. This feature makes sure that you have easy access to the controls of your current action, be it resizing an image, changing colors of your text, or increasing an indent.
    • Accessing numerous fonts. The visual font browsing feature runs you through thousands of fonts built into InDesign and helps you to deploy them instantly. You can filter the list of fonts you want to view, resize them to suit your requirement, or preview their impact on your page.


    • You can localize your content by introducing country/location-specific images.


  • Adding footnotes to your tables. Your tables can now look more impactful and complete as you can insert relevant footnotes. The feature automatically updates the correct number of such footnotes across a table or a series of tables. Furthermore, InDesign retains table footnotes from an imported Word document, as they are.

What are the Minimum System Requirements for InDesign?


Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor

Operating system
Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or Windows 10

4 GB of RAM (16 GB recommended)

Hard disk space
3.6 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices); SSD recommended

Monitor resolution
1024 x 768 display (1920 X 1080 recommended), HiDPI display support

To use the new InDesign Touch workspace, you must have a touch screen enabled tablet/monitor running Windows 10 or above (such as Microsoft Surface Pro 3) with the screen resolution set to 2160 x 1440 or more

Video card
32-bit video card

An Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.

* Not supported on Windows 10 versions 1507, 1511, and 1607.


Multicore Intel processor

Operating system
macOS version 10.13 (High Sierra) or macOS version 10.12 (Sierra)

4 GB of RAM (16 GB recommended)

Hard disk space
3.5 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)

Monitor resolution
1024 x 768 display (1920 x 1080 recommended), Retina display support

Video card
32-bit video card

To use GPU Performance, your Mac should have a minimum of 1024 MB of VRAM (2 GB recommended), and your computer must support OpenGL version 4.0 or greater.

  • Supported machines
        iMac 4K
        iMac 5K
        MacBook Pro Retina
        Mac Pro connected to a HiDPI monitor
        Mac mini connected to a HiDPI monitor
  • To check for VRAM value, choose Mac > About This Mac (Graphics information)

To find out if your computer supports the required OpenGL version (4.0 or later), see this Apple Support document.

An Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.

Adobe® Flash® Player 10 software required to export SWF files


Document Automation?

Creating catalogs and keeping up-to-date is a challenging task that can put pressure on even the best marketing teams.

You can use Pagination to automatically create beautiful documents in just a few seconds that are always ready for print or digital distribution.

View More

Create your automated document!

Use one of our free InDesign Templates or upload your own layout. Create documents anytime and from anywhere.