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InDesign in Easy Steps

By   |  August 22, 2006

InDesign CS2 in Easy Steps
Author: Robert Shufflebotham
Published: Computer Step
Available from Intersoft
Approximate price: R169

InDesign is a great package for laying out anything from newsletters to newspapers, but I suspect in many cases, it’s a bit like giving your grandmother a Ferrari to drive herself to bowls: it is capable of doing things you will probably never need it to do and, as a consequence, for new users it can be intimidating and difficult to use. InDesign In Easy Steps is a handy book to have around because it takes the edge off the fear that you’re completely out of control and it will save a lot of learning time.

For example, InDesign can do so much that sometimes takes ages of wading through menus just to find out how to do relatively simple things, like cropping and manipulating pictures that have been placed on pages. This is where Mr Shufflebotham’s book came into its own for me. After months of trying to get my head around the logic of the programme’s picture usage — its alphabetised help function was not helpful — I finally saw the light after reading his chapter Images and Graphic Frames and I was cropping and scaling with confidence in no time.

The book is well organised, starting with the basics, like how to create a new document and going on to explain each of the tool bars and palettes wherein lie a bewildering array of capabilities. The chapters group related subjects, so, for example, you’ll find instructions on how to import text onto a page, make it flow in columns and then edit it in the Text Basics chapter, and the Working with Colour chapter groups everything you need to know about using colours. This make it easy to find what you’re looking for, especially if you don’t know the terminology well enough to use the index pages. There was nothing I went looking for that I couldn’t find, so it would appear to be fairly comprehensive for most needs.

For more advanced users there’s information on how to use master pages, create books and tables, and manipulate text and graphics in ways that will make your friends jealous. There is also a useful chapter on Printing and Exporting which includes how to export your InDesign documents to PDF or XML

The instructions are illustrated (including screenshots from both Mac and Windows screens, not that they’re that different) and written concisely in point form, so they’re not difficult to follow, and the book is full of useful little “hot tips” and “bewares”. At 240 pages it’s not an unwieldy tome and, at R169.95, you won’t have to cash in an insurance policy to buy it.

The best thing about a book like this though, is that it brings to your attention all the cool stuff the programme can do, which will inspire you to play.

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