Continuing our beginner's guide to Adobe InDesign, in this article we explain how to achieve an attractive effect: text that flows around the edges of a photo or illustration. Used in moderation this can be highly effective.

Wrap text around an image: Place the text and image

First of all let's place the text and image we want to work with. We're using a news article about the new Mac Pro and a picture of the product.

Draw a text frame using the Text Type Tool - read our article 'How to link text boxes in Adobe InDesign' for more details.

Wrap text around an image in InDesign
Remember that a big chunk of the text is going to be displaced by the image sitting in the middle of the frame.

We want the Mac Pro to sit in the middle of the text, so let's place the image in the centre of the page. We show how to place an image in our previous article 'How to insert an image into an InDesign document': create a picture frame and link to the appropriate image file.

The image sits on top of the text; the words are hidden by the photo, instead of flowing around it.

Wrap text around an image in InDesign
By the way, if you edit the text using the Type Tool, the paragraph you're working on will temporarily become visible even though it's hidden by the image.

Wrap text around an image: Set text wrap

Because the Mac Pro fits neatly into the frame, coming close to all the edges, we can simply make the text flow around the frame rather than worrying about the contours of the product itself.

Select the picture box using the black arrowhead tool, then bring up the Text Wrap menu. (It may already be sitting on the side of your screen, depending on how your workspace is set up, but if you can't find it go to Window > Text Wrap, or use the shortcut Alt + Apple + W.)

Wrap text around an image in InDesign
Once you've got the Text Wrap menu on the desktop, remember that you can drag it to wherever you want it.

Along the top of the Text Wrap menu are the five ways text can wrap around an object. By default it will be set to 'No text wrap', the left-most option, but we're going to use the second one along, 'Wrap around bounding box'.

Wrap text around an image in InDesign
The third option requires a path around the object, which we'll deal with in due course.
Wrap text around an image in InDesign
Provided you apply the Text Wrap setting appropriately, you can place additional images, or resize this one, and the text will adjust to flow around them.
How to wrap text around an image in InDesign
The top picture has also been set to 'Wrap around bounding box'.

And that's it. In the next instalment we'll try a more complex shape, creating a path for the text to follow.

Wrap text around an image: More complex shapes

We're back, and today we're going to move on to more complex shapes. Let's say for example that instead of the roughly rectangular images above, which correspond approximately to the default picture frames, we want text to flow around an irregularly shaped object.

Here's the image we'll use:

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign
Awkward, no?

Flowing around the default picture frame as above will leave us with a chunk of white space either side:

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign
Reducing the size of the picture frame won't help, either.

Assuming you're not happy with that effect, we need to find a way to make the text flow in a more complex way. The simplest approach is probably to use polygon picture frame instead of the default rectangle. So we'll delete that picture and start again.

Click on the picture frame tool again (the box with an X across) but this time click and hold, then select the Polygon Frame Tool from the menu that appears, and then double click on the page. The default is a hexagon, but after a little mental calculation, we reckon we're going to need a nine-sided shape, so that's what we select.

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign
Don't worry about Star Inset for now, but it's something worth experimenting with later. It's a bit cheesy but can be suitable for flashy calls to action on promotional artwork.

Now click and drag across the page to place your... nonagon (?). Select the nonagon with the white arrowhead (remember that generally speaking, the white arrowhead selects the contents of a frame whereas the black arrowhead selects the frame itself), hit Apple + D (or File, Place) and place the image as before.

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign
We've used the 'Fit Content Proportionally' tool, discussed in the previous tutorial, to make it the right size for the frame.

Now we need to adjust the corners of the polygon to fit the irregular shape of the image. This next bit can be fiddly, but here goes.

Click off the picture frame - just click anywhere on the page away from the box - to deselect it, then select the white arrowhead tool and click on a part of the picture frame that hasn't got any of the image in it. That doesn't simply mean white space, such as the bits to the left and right of the laptops; those are white areas of the image. We need an area that sits outside the image entirely: if you select the white arrowhead and hover the cursor over the image you'll see the shape of the image file in a brown outline.

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign
The brown box shows that quite a lot of the image is actually outside the nonagon - it's been proportionally fitted to the larger rectangle (not visible in this shot) rather than to the nine-sided interior frame.

In this case we have to click well underneath the image - but still inside the nonagon. This will select the nine-sided frame itself, rather than either the image or the larger rectangular frame that sits around the polygon. It should look like this:

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign
The nine corners are selected and show as small empty boxes.

It might sound complicated written out like that, but once you've done it a few times you'll find it's the simplest way to select the nine-sided frame. But if you can't do this (if your image fills the frame so that there isn't anywhere unfilled to click on, for instance), you can instead click on the image with the black arrowhead - which will make the outer rectangle show up - then switch to the white arrowhead and click on one of the outer rectangle's four corner boxes.

Phew! Now that we've got the nine corner boxes showing up as white/empty we can move them around individually. Simply drag them into position around the image.

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign

Now select the image using the black arrowhead and change the Text Wrap setting to the third option along, Wrap Around Object Shape, and put the text back into the place. The text will flow around the laptops rather than the rectangular frame.

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign
Okay, it might need work, but we're almost there.

Now we just need to tweak the layout. For one thing the text may flow too tightly around the image; we could have taken this into account when placing the nine corner boxes, or you can change the measurement in the box below the Text Wrap options. (Ordinarily there would be four measurements, for the distance you want to keep text from the top, bottom, left and right sides of the picture frame, but once you wrap to the shape it changes to a single uniform measurement.) This is set to 1mm in the example above, but if we increase this to 3mm the text won't encroach so heavily on the image - a little white space is usually a good thing.

How to wrap text around an image in InDesign

Sticking the picture right in the middle of the text probably isn't the greatest ever look, too - for complex wraps it's usually best to place the image on one side of the text. But we've now got the basic principles to blend image and text in InDesign.