As part of our beginner's guide to Adobe InDesign, we show how to enhance your InDesign project with photos and illustrations.
One of the first things to do when creating a document in Adobe InDesign is to add images - InDesign's great strength is combining words and images to create professional-looking page designs. So today's beginner's tip explains how to insert an image into an InDesign document.
(This process is essentially the same in all versions of InDesign. We'll be using InDesign CS5 and InDesign CC, but earlier versions will use almost exactly the same menu items and options.)
Create an InDesign document
If you haven't created one already, you'll need an InDesign document. Start InDesign and go to File > New > Document. (Or use the shortcut Apple-N on a Mac, or Ctrl-N on a PC.) Then pick the details and dimensions of your document (we'll stick with the defaults) and click OK.
Create a frame
Your exact interface will depend on how you've set up the workspace* but again, since we're talking through beginner processes we'll assume you're using the defaults. In any case, we'll only be using the basic Tools palette, so if you can't see it any point, go to Window, then scroll down and tick Tools.
The Tools palette is the small bar with 18 little tool icons on it, starting with the black and white arrowheads at the top/left. Found it? Good.
We'll start by creating a frame for the image to appear in. Click the Frame Tool - it will be a rectangle, oval or hexagon with an X in the middle. If you click and hold on the icon, the three kinds of frame will become visible. We just want a plain rectangle for the time being.
The cursor will now change into a cross. Click and drag across the document to place the rectangle at the size you want. You can change the dimensions afterwards by clicking on the black arrowhead tool and clicking and dragging one of the corner squares; or just drag around the whole box.
Place the image
Now select the white arrowhead tool, and click the image frame. Now go to File > Place… (The default shortcut is Apple-D on Mac or Ctrl-D on PC.) InDesign now asks you to select the image you want to place. Locate it on your desktop or in the folder where it's stored and click Open. The image will appear in the frame.
Position, resize and crop the image
The image will appear at 100 percent so it might be far too big for the frame. (It also might be too small, in which case you should probably find a new image - blowing it up significantly above 100 percent is likely to compromise the visual quality, so avoid this if the document will be printed or shown off in other ways.)
The easiest way to fit the image to the document is by using the Fitting options. Select the black arrowhead tool and click the image in its frame. Now select Object > Fitting and then either Fill Frame Proportionally (which fills the frame with image, but will leave some of the image invisible outside the frame if they're not the same shape) or Fit Content Proportionally (which will fit the entire image inside the frame, but will leave some frame unfilled if they're not the same shape).
Once again, you'll quickly get the hang of using keyboard shortcuts instead. For Fit Content Proportionally, the option we use most often, it's Shift-Alt-Apple-E on Mac or Shift-Alt-Ctrl-E on PC. The same buttons with C instead of E will invoke Fill Frame Proportionally.
For finer control, select the contents of the frame with the black arrowhead (the white arrowhead will select the frame itself) and then move the image around inside the frame with the mouse or the arrow keys for very fine (but slow) control. You can change the scale (effectively the magnification) in the top bar, where you'll see two '100%' numbers on top of each other. One is the vertical scale and the other is horizontal, but by default they're linked, so if you change the top figure to 99% the overall scale will drop to 99 percent and the image will appear smaller on the page.
Package up the InDesign document
When you're finished and happy with how the image looks on the page, it's worth packaging up the document - this is the process where you collect the InDesign document itself along with all the images into a single folder. (Remember that the image you've placed on the page isn't actually part of the document - it's linking to an image stored elsewhere.)
Go to File > Package… and then (assuming InDesign doesn't find any problems) click Package - or Shift-Alt-Apple-P - and decide where you want to save the folder.
The most common problem for InDesign to discover is when the link to an image has been lost, because you've placed an image and then moved or deleted the image so InDesign can't find it any more. If that's happened, go back to the problem image and place it again - it should retain the same scale and positioning.
*Another strong feature of InDesign is how easily you can customise the layout of the tools and functions, so that items you rarely use can be hidden and favourites put in prominent positions, and then save sets of interface preferences as named 'workspaces' - but that's a story for another day.