• Price When Reviewed: 609 . 139 . 895 . 1409

  • Pros: Expanded Styles system and multiple image-placement make page layout much faster.

  • Cons: Few new design tools

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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Perhaps surprisingly for a graphic-design application, it’s the new workflow systems and tools that really impress in InDesign CS3 ­– while the new creative tools are going to have less of an effect on your day-to-day work

Most of the creative features added in this upgrade are focused on adding depth to your designs and blending page elements together. InDesign CS2 added the Drop Shadow and Feather Effects – and CS3 adds a further seven effects: Gradient Feather, Directional Feather, Bevel and Emboss, Satin, Inner Shadow, Inner Glow and Outer Glow.

The Feather controls add more control over the direction and effect of feathering, so it’s quicker to make images fade off in single direction without having to use multiple versions of an image on a page.

The other controls provide many more options for faux-3D effects than CS2’s like-it-or-lump it Drop Shadow Effect.
Control over the Effects is through a panel and a dialog box with tabbed panes for each effect – so that you can quickly adjust the parameters of multiple effects.

InDesign’s transparency system has also been improved, so it can be applied independently to an object’s fill, stroke and colour. These tools are worthy additions and provide some creative opportunities, but they’re hardly groundbreaking. Instead Adobe’s InDesign team has been concentrating on making the application’s workflow faster to use.

The Styles system has been expanded so that it now encompasses tables, bullet point sets and nested loops of different styled text.

Table Styles and Cell Styles are similar to their Paragraph and Character equivalents – offering panels and dialog controls, and a one-style-based-on-another approach. The controls range from basic controls over the grid, headers, footers, and labels to alternating styles of line and shading. Though we would have liked controls for adding images, the new Styles system for tables succeeds in allowing you to bring in an Excel spreadsheet, press a button, and have most of your work done for you.

Another big timesaver if you work from regular templates is the ability to bring in more than one image at once, and then drop them one-at-a-time into the correct picture box. You can also have fit method, alignment and cropping settings for each box set in the template, so you don’t have to manually set them yourself for each image. It also works with text files and even InDesign documents – which can be used like pictures in InDesign CS3.

You can also link text elements together, so that if you change the name of a product in a catalogue, for example, all of the other instances change.

InDesign CS3 may not be bursting with new creative tools, but the time you’ll save using it makes it a must-have upgrade – and it’s still head-&-shoulders above QuarkXPress 7.