Learn the basics of using text in your Adobe InDesign documents, including adding text, creating columns of text, importing text, and flowing text from one frame to another.
Explore the different types of frames you can use in InDesign.
Frames in InDesign are the building blocks for your layouts. They can contain images, text, and design elements like a shape with a fill color like you see here. In this video, you'll explore the different types of frames available in InDesign and the tools used to create them. You can open this practice file for this tutorial if you want to follow along. And so that you can see the entire page, choose View, Fit Page in Window. If you want to add text to your design or you like to import an image, you'll either need to create a frame to hold that content or let InDesign create the frame for you as you import or place text or images. To start, you'll explore creating a few different types of frames and you'll create them in the gray area off the left side of the page. If you can't see the gray area to the left of the page, choose View, Zoom Out as many times as necessary till you do. To add text, you can create text frames by selecting the Type tool in the Tools panel on the left. Then press and drag to create an area where the text will go. After drawing a text frame, a cursor will appear in the frame, so you can add text. Now the frame tools found here in the Tools panel are used to create placeholder frames, usually for graphics like a picture or a logo. If you press and hold down on the Rectangle Frame tool, you'll see three frame shape tools you can draw with. Frames drawn with any of these tools will have an X in the middle, usually to indicate that a graphic will go there. The shape tools below the frame tools in the Tools panel are used to create shapes that can be used as graphic elements, like a shape filled with a color. They're called unassigned frames, since they don't contain text or graphics, but you can add text or a graphic to them later. You can draw empty placeholder shapes using these drawing tools and later insert content into these frames. Also know that you can always change your mind when it comes to the content of frames, like adding an image to a text frame instead of text, for instance. To ensure that you can see the whole page, choose View, Fit Page in Window. Select the Selection tool in the Tools panel on the left and then click to select this color box. All frames have eight handles around the edge of the frame. These are used to control the size, rotate it and more. Move the pointer over the bottom middle handle of this frame and then drag it up to make it a little bit shorter. All frames you select also have these color boxes. This one is used to anchor the frame to other frames, and this one is used to change the corner radius. In other words, round the corners. Click to select this paragraph of text over here to select its frame. You can tell a frame is meant to hold text because besides the eight handles, there are additional small boxes in the upper left and lower right corners. The box in the upper left corner is called the Inport, and the box in the lower right corner is called the Outport. They're used to connect frames together so that you can float text from one frame to another. Click the image in the background to select it. Graphics are placed in frames and can be cropped or masked by the frame, resized and a whole lot more. To deselect the image, choose Edit, Deselect All. Understanding what frames are and how to work with them is a big first step towards adding content to your InDesign documents. As you make your way through these tutorials, you'll add content like text and graphics and be more comfortable with both creating and editing frames.
What you learned: Working with frames
- The tools used to create frames — Type tool, Frame tools, and shape tools — are located in the toolbox.
- Frames can be created and used as placeholders (a frame without content).
- Text and images in InDesign reside within a frame. When you place images or text in InDesign, a frame is created automatically for that content.
- For text, the frame indicates the area where text is to be shown. Text frames have small boxes in the upper-left and lower-right corners which can be used to connect frames together so text can flow from one frame to another.
- For images, the frame can be used to crop or mask parts of the image.
Learn how to add text to your InDesign projects.
In this video, you'll use the Type tool to add and work with text in this postcard or a file you have and apply some simple text formatting. You'll start by drawing a text frame and typing in some text. So first, select the Type tool in the Tools panel on the left. Come out to the document and press and drag to create an area for text called a text frame. After you draw a text frame, a cursor will appear in the text frame. In capital letters, type DESIGN TALKS or if you have text created in another program, you can bring that text into your InDesign document several different ways, including copying and pasting or choosing File, Place… to place a Word doc, RTF or other file format. If you don't yet know what text will go here, you can also fill a text frame with placeholder text by choosing Type, Fill with Placeholder Text. With the text created, you'll move this text into position by dragging the text frame. So, select the Selection tool in the Tools panel on the left and move the pointer over the text. Drag the text so it lines up at the left edge of this orange line. The pointer should turn white and a green line might appear on the left edge of the frame, telling you it's aligned with that line. That green line is a Smart Guide, which are useful for aligning content. Smart Guides are turned on by default and they can be turned off and on by choosing View, Grids & Guides, Smart Guides. This checkmark means they're already on. You can press ESC to hide this menu if it's open. Click and drag the lower right corner of the text frame and if you make it narrow enough when you release the mouse button, the text will wrap within. If you drag and make a text frame too small to fit the text, a red plus will show in the lower right corner, telling you the text no longer fits. This is called Overset Text. Drag that same corner point to make the frame larger so you can see all of the text and so that the right edge snaps with the right edge of the line below it, like this. Next, you'll change some simple text formatting, but first, you will select the text in the frame. Move the pointer right over the text and double-click to switch to the Type tool. The cursor should now be in the text. Now you drag across the text to select it, but you need to be careful. Watch the pointer. If the pointer is over the text and it shows an eye beam like this, then you can drag across the text to select it, but if you move the pointer away from the text outside of the frame, the pointer will change in appearance. If you drag when you see this pointer, you'll create a new text frame. With the pointer in the text frame, drag across the text to select it. In the Properties panel to the right of the document, you should see a series of text formatting options now. Come to the Font Size option and select the value in the field. Type 29, then press Return or Enter to make the change. Now if the text doesn't fit in the text frame, in other words, if you see a red plus in the lower right corner of the text frame, try typing in a smaller font size in the Properties panel. To change the color of the text to make it more readable, in the Properties panel to the right of the document, click the Fill color and make sure that the Swatches option up here is selected. This option shows a series of default colors saved with a document called Swatches. Select [Paper] which can be used as a white color. You can press ESC to hide this panel. So that the text is no longer selected, you can choose Edit, Deselect All. Now that you know how, you can add text to all kinds of projects, like descriptive text for a brochure or copy in a catalog, and then apply some simple formatting changes like font size and color.
What you learned: Add text with the Type tool
- Select the Type tool in the toolbox.
- With the Type tool selected, drag in the Document window to add a text frame to the document, or click in an existing text frame to add text.
- Choose Type > Fill With Placeholder Text to fill the frame with placeholder text.
- With the text cursor in the text frame, type your text. Text will wrap once it reaches the right edge of the text frame. Dragging a corner of the text frame scales the text object and wraps the text within it. If the text frame is too small, a red plus appears in the lower-right corner of the frame, indicating overset text (the text doesn’t fit). Reposition the text object with the Selection tool in the toolbox.
- Format text with the options in the Properties panel.
Explore dividing text frames into multiple columns.
When you want text to appear in columns, one way to do that is with editing text frame options for the frame. In this file from the downloadable practice files for this tutorial or a file you have, you will create some text and then divide it into two columns. To start, you'll add several lines of text using the Type tool. So, select the Type tool in the Tools panel. Out in the document starting below the left edge of this line, press and drag to the right, making a text frame as wide as the line and about this tall. Green Smart Guides will show when the text frame is aligned with the line and matches its width. With the cursor in the new text frame, type Every Tuesday, then press Enter or Return to make a new paragraph. Type 6-8 pm. Press Enter or Return, type Art Cafe. Press Enter or Return again and finally type San Francisco. Now the text may be a bit hard to read so you'll change its color to make it more readable shortly. For now, select the Selection tool in the Tools panel and the text frame should be selected. The text frame you see may be taller than the text like you see here. Sometimes you'll have a lot of objects on the page and to make it easier to select content, you'll make frames like this one as small as you can. To fit a text frame to the text within, you can double-click the points on the frame. Double-click the middle bottom point on the text frame. If the text frame were too small to fit the text, double-clicking that bottom middle point would show all of the text. If it's taller than the text like it was in this case, the frame will fit to the height of the text. Now you'll divide this text frame into multiple columns, so it fits within this area around this icon. With the text frame still selected, choose Object, Text Frame Options… There are a lot of Text Frame Options you can set in the dialog box that appears, including splitting text frames into columns, pushing text in from the edge called Inset Spacing, and a lot more. Change the Number of columns to 2. Then select Preview so you can see the changes happen out in the document. You may need to drag the dialog box out of the way by this title bar at the top to see it. To ensure that the text across the columns is visually balanced without having to change the height of the text frame if you add or remove text, select Balance Columns. Finally, to add spacing between the columns of text, you can adjust the Gutter or the distance between the two columns. Change the Gutter to around to 0.75 in by clicking the up arrow several times here. To apply these changes to the text frame, click OK. Now to switch to the Type tool, double-click directly on the text. To select all of the text in the frame, choose Edit, Select All. In the Properties panel to the right of the document, you'll change some of the text formatting. Now to change the font size, choose 8 pt from the Font Size menu or another size so the text like San Francisco doesn't wrap anymore. To change the text color, click the Fill color in the Properties panel. Make sure the Swatches option is selected so you can see a series of default colors you can use and select [Paper] which can be used as white, then press the ESC key to hide the colors. Now to move the text in the design, select the Selection tool in the Tools panel and drag the text so it's roughly centered on the icon if it isn't already. To see the final text without it being selected, choose Edit, Deselect All. Now you know how to fit text frames to text and divide text frames into columns using one method. As you make your way through these tutorials, you can make sure the text frames are as big as they need to be and also easily create columns of text where you need them.
What you learned: Create columns of text
- Select the Type tool in the toolbox.
- With the Type tool selected, drag in the Document window to add a text frame to the document.
- With the text cursor in the text frame, by default, type your text.
- With the Selection tool in the toolbox selected, double-click a bounding box point around the frame to fit the frame to the text.
- Choose Object > Text Frame Options. Set the number of columns to 2 and select Balance Columns to balance the paragraphs of text. Set other options as needed, and then click OK.
Bring text files into Adobe InDesign from Microsoft Word, and more.
Aside from creating text in InDesign, you can also paste text from outside the program or place a text file such as a Microsoft Word document, RTF file, plain text file, and more. In this resume document, you'll place a Microsoft Word document that contains the rest of the text. If you want to follow along, you can open this file from the downloadable practice files for this tutorial. When bringing in text from an outside source, you can use the place command to do so. You can place text in an existing text frame or have InDesign create a text frame as you place the text. To make sure that nothing is selected, choose Edit, Deselect All. When placing text, if a frame is selected in your InDesign document, by default, the content will be replaced by the text you place. So, to place the text, choose File, Place… In the downloadable practice files for this tutorial, select the Import_text Word document. Before clicking Open, on Mac, click the Options button and select Show Import Options. On Windows, just select Show Import Options if you see it already, then click Open. Another dialog box will appear where you can change options and how to import the text from keeping or removing a table of contents, to stripping away all of the text formatting like font and font size, for instance. By default, the text from certain documents like Word documents will keep their formatting. Different types of text documents will have different options you can change. Leave all the settings at their defaults and click OK. At this point, if a text frame had been selected, the text would be placed in that text frame. Because nothing was selected, you'll see the loaded text icon. You can either click and have InDesign create a text frame for you or you can draw a text frame Starting here, click and drag to create a text frame about this size. The text should be placed within the text frame you just drew. Now the heading Education needs to line up with the icon to the left here. To do this, you can use a few methods. In this case, you'll apply text formatting called space after to this paragraph. Select the Type tool in the Tools panel on the left and click in the paragraph above the Education heading. In the Properties panel to the right of the document, you can see the default formatting for your text, including text alignment here in the Paragraph section. To see more options, click More Options in the Paragraph section. Formatting in the Paragraph section of the Properties panel applies paragraph formatting to select the text, which means any of the formatting options you see in this panel, applies to an entire paragraph even if just the cursor is in the paragraph. Find the Space After value and click the up arrow to increase the space after the paragraph. Space After or Space Before are both great ways to change the spacing between paragraphs because you have complete control over how much spacing is applied. If you were to simply press Return or Enter with the cursor at the end of a paragraph to add a paragraph return, by default, you can't control how big that space is. Stop clicking the arrow when the Education heading mostly aligns with the icon to the left. Then to deselect the text, choose Edit, Deselect All. To see the design without all the frame edges and the guidelines out here, come to the bottom of the Tools panel on the left, press and hold down on the Screen Mode button and choose Preview. It’s a great way to take a step back so to speak and look at your work. Press and hold on the Screen Mode button again and this time choose Normal. You can also press the letter W when the cursor isn't in text to toggle between Normal mode and Preview mode. Now you know how to import text from a program like Microsoft Word. You can place all kinds of text documents you receive, that can be hugely helpful when you're collaborating with others.
What you learned: Import text
Text can be pasted, dragged, or placed into an InDesign document from an outside source, such as Microsoft Word. Text can be placed in an existing text frame or in a frame that InDesign created when placing the text.
- Choose File > Place to place a text file such as .DOC, .RTF, or .TXT. Depending on the file type, you may be able to set options, such as removing the formatting.
- Click to place the text in an existing text frame, or click (or click and drag) to have InDesign create a text frame.
- Click the Screen Mode button at the bottom of the toolbox to choose Preview and see the document without guides. Click the same button to choose Normal.
Discover how to flow text from one frame to another.
When working in InDesign, you may import lengthy text that's intended to flow from one page to the next, or you may have text that doesn't fit in one area and needs to continue somewhere else. To do this, you can flow text between frames using threading. In this file from the practice files for this tutorial, you'll take the overset text in this frame or the text that doesn't fit in the text frame and continue it to the right. To select the text frame, select the Selection tool in the Tools panel on the left, and then click on this text frame to select it. You should see a little red plus in the lower right corner which indicates that not all of the text fits in the frame. The text that doesn't fit in the frame is called overset text. This plus is in what's called the Outport of the text frame. You can connect or thread frames together using the Inport of a frame in the upper left corner, or the Outport in the lower right so that the text flows from one frame to another. Click the red plus and release the mouse button. When you move the pointer away, you should see a loaded text cursor that contains the remaining text you couldn't see, the overset text. With the loaded text cursor, you can click in an existing text frame to flow the text into it or create a new frame. Move the pointer up here. Press and drag to make a text frame that's about this size. Frames you thread or connect in this way can be on the same page or on different pages in the same document. With the new frame selected, notice the Inport, the little box up here. There's an arrow in it. That arrow indicates that text is coming into this text frame from somewhere else. To see where it's coming from, you can show the text threads by choosing View, Extras, Show Text Threads. When you select the text frame that's threaded, you'll see a line connecting them. You can see that the text is coming from this text frame threading from this frames Outport into the Inport of this other text frame. All of this threaded text is called a story in InDesign. Now click to select the text frame on the left and drag the bottom middle point down and then release. You can see that if you drag far enough, some of the text was pulled back into the text frame on the left since there's more room for it to show. Drag that same point back up so the text looks like this. If you were to select either of the threaded text frames and delete it, the text wouldn't be deleted. Rather it be pulled into the remaining text frame and appear as overset text if that frame couldn't fit it all. Notice how the headline Education doesn't line up with the icon on the left here. Now there are a lot of ways to fix this, including putting the Education headline and the remaining text in its own text frame so you can move it around. That's what you'll do. So, click this text to select its frame. Drag the bottom middle point up to hide the Education headline and the rest of the text after it. Click the Outport or the red plus. Release the mouse and move the pointer away. Come here and drag to create a text frame. You can now see that you have 3 frames threaded together that you can move independently. To deselect the text, choose Edit, Deselect All. Now you know the basics for threading text frames, so you can flow text between them. Threading is a great way to control text flow and can be very useful in longer documents with a lot of text.
What you learned: Connect text frames
You can connect text frames so that text flows between them. This is called threading text. Text frames have an in port and out port that are used to connect text frames and also visualize any connections. A red plus in the out port indicates that text doesn’t fit in the frame. This is called overset text.
To thread text:
- With the Selection tool, click to select a text frame and then click the out port (or in port) to load a text cursor.
- Position the loaded text cursor within an existing text frame and click to thread the text or drag to create a new text frame.
- Choose View > Extras > Show Text Threads to see the threads between the frames.