7 essential tools for InDesign beginners (incl. PDF download)

Maybe you’ve heard of me before InDesign hear raving. As a graphic designer, I create almost everything with the program. From simple worksheets to extensive magazines.

In my opinion, the program is the best choice when it comes to the professional design of your marketing documents. And that’s what you want, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.

But do you sometimes have the feeling that InDesign is too complicated and think to yourself: How can I find my way around quickly? What tools do I really need? What’s the best way to start?

Therefore, in this article I will introduce you to the seven most important tools you need to get started with InDesign. At the end of the article you can easily download and print out the list as a PDF. So you always have the basic tools and shortcuts at hand.

1. Selection tool

You will use this tool most of the time while working with InDesign. It’s the black arrow at the top of the toolbar. You use it whenever you select and manipulate text or graphic frames, lines, or multiple objects.

You can use the selection tool to move and resize frames by dragging them. As you slowly hover your mouse over the tool, InDesign will show you the tool name and the corresponding keyboard shortcut. For the selection tool, it’s “V, Esc”. That means you press the V or Esc key and the tool becomes active.

Tip: Hold down Shift while using the tool. Then the proportions of the element are maintained.

Key combination:
V or Esc key: Tool is active
Shift key: Enlarge/reduce frame proportionally
Shift and Command keys: Enlarge/reduce frame and content proportionally

YouTube

By loading the video, you accept YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

load video

2. Text tool

Select the Text tool and draw a box where you want the text to appear in your document. If you have already created a text frame, simply click into the frame with the mouse.

If the text tool is active, InDesign shows you all settings for character formatting in the upper working area. You can adjust the font, font size, line spacing, and other settings for your text there.

The special feature of the text tool is the small triangle at the bottom right of the toolbar. This shows you that there are other tools included here. To display all tools, click on the tool with the mouse and hold the mouse button down a little longer. Another control panel opens with all the tools.

Key combination:
T button: Tool is active

YouTube

By loading the video, you accept YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

load video

3. Line Drawing Tool

Use the line drawing tool to draw straight lines. You can use them to visually separate areas in your document from others, for example. If you also press the Shift key, you draw exactly horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines.

You can then use the upper working area to determine the exact position of the line. Or if you don’t like the length, thickness and color of the line yet, you can adjust it right there as well.

Tip: If you don’t like the ends of your lines, press function key F10 and the Contours panel will open. There you can set exactly how your line should look like.

Key combination:
< key: Tool is active
Shift key: Draw lines horizontally, vertically, diagonally
F10: Contours panel

YouTube

By loading the video, you accept YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

load video

4. Rectangle Tool

Next, let’s look at the Rectangle tool. There are two more hidden behind this tool: the ellipse and the polygon tool.

With the rectangle tool you can create any rectangular or square frame. To do this, click on the tool and, while holding down the mouse button, draw a frame at the point where the rectangle is to appear later. But don’t worry, if it’s not in the correct position yet, you can change it later. Then do the same with the Ellipse and Polygon tools.

Tip: If you right-click on your frame, another menu will open. There you go to “Content” and see that the current frame is “unassigned”. Above it is “Graphic” and “Text”. You can decide for yourself whether the frame should contain graphics or text.

Key combination:
M button: Tool is active

YouTube

By loading the video, you accept YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

load video

5. Free Transform Tool

In addition to free transformation, this tool also includes rotating, scaling and tilting. You can grab any point on the frame with the mouse to make a change to the object.

Once you’ve selected an object, you can freely transform it by dragging the dots. You can also enter the appropriate values ​​in the Transform panel. There you type in the exact width, height and even the angle. So if you have and need exact values, then definitely use the control panel.

Key combination:
E button: Tool is active
Shift key: Enlarge/reduce frame and content proportionally

YouTube

By loading the video, you accept YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

load video

6. Hand tool

Finally, I’ll show you two important tools you can use to quickly view, zoom in, zoom out, and scroll through your document.

If you have activated the hand tool, you can quickly move through your document without using the scroll bars by holding down the spacebar. If you want to quickly zoom into an area or scroll through the pages you have created, activate the hand tool, click and hold the mouse button.

A red frame will appear around your workspace. If you now press the arrow keys on your keyboard, you increase and decrease this frame. If you let go, it will zoom directly into this area. The smaller the red frame, the more precisely the selected area is zoomed in on.

Tip: If you double-click the hand tool in the tool list, your document will be centered in the workspace.

Key combination:
H button: Tool is active
Spacebar: Tool active as long as you hold down the spacebar

YouTube

By loading the video, you accept YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

load video

7. Zoom tool

Similar to the hand tool, you can use the zoom tool to zoom in and out on your document.

To do this, select the zoom tool and click on the area you want to enlarge. With each click you enlarge the view. You can see exactly what percentage by at the top of the control panel. There you can also switch back and forth between the magnification levels manually.

If you now want to reduce the document size again, press the Options or Alt key. A minus appears in the magnifying glass where there was a plus before. This tells you immediately whether you are now going to enlarge or reduce the document.

Key combination:
Z button: Tool is active
Options or Alt key: Reduce document size again

YouTube

By loading the video, you accept YouTube’s privacy policy.
Learn more

load video

Download the shortcut key guide now!

Conclusion

With these seven tool tips you are very well equipped to get started. Because you can layout your texts and insert graphics. If you want to take a close look at everything in between, you know how to reduce, enlarge and zoom in on certain areas of the workspace.

What tools do you use frequently in InDesign? How do you find using the tools? Do keyboard shortcuts make your work easier? Or do you not use them at all? Write me in the comments!

And now?

Are you looking for graphic support for your project? Then let’s talk about your project without obligation. If you just have a question, get in touch anytime. I am happy if I can help you.

Manuela Aksu Manuela is the founder of Kreativcode and a passionate graphic designer from Munich. On her blog she shares her knowledge about graphic design and gives you useful and easy-to-implement tips that you can use immediately for your business.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *