Jump-start your design projects with foundational tips on designing for print.

Magazine cover and interior layouts displayed side by side

An introduction to print design 

Print design encompasses any design intended for printing. Much like digital design, it has its own terminology and best practices. Here are just a few of the print-design projects you can create in InDesign:

  • Flyers and brochures
  • Stationery, including business cards, letterhead, and postcards
  • Books, magazines, and catalogs
  • Annual reports and proposals

Before jumping into the nitty-gritty of picking out colors and fonts, here are a few questions to answer to help kick off your project:

  • What is the print medium (will it be printed on paper, a billboard, a recycled carton, etc.)?
  • How big will the final output be (what are the dimensions)?
  • Will it be printed as a book or magazine? As single pages?
  • What are the print specifications (number of colors you can print, resolution, etc.)?

Lay the foundations for your project

When creating a new InDesign document for print design, consider the following:

  • Will you start from scratch or with a professionally designed Adobe Stock template?
  • Set the desired page dimensions (width and height) in the New Document dialog when starting a new project. Select Facing Pages to create spreads for documents like magazines and books.
  • Set bleed and trim for projects when needed. If you have content that goes to the edge of the page and your printer can print it, extend your design into a bleed area so it’s slightly larger than your finished print size. That way, you ensure that the content prints to the edge even if paper is misaligned in the printer or it’s trimmed from a larger sheet.
Using the New Document dialog box to set up a new document

Set up your document for success 

With your document created, you can add the number of pages you need and frame where your content goes.

  • Add, remove, and reorder pages in your document in the Pages panel.
  • Adjust margins (the space between the page’s edge and your content), columns, and custom guides for aligning content.
  • Use master pages as templates for consistent page elements like page numbers.

Add your imagery

When you import images and graphics, like a product picture or a logo, keep this in mind:

  • Images are raster or made of pixels that usually don’t scale up well. Graphics like a logo are vector, meaning they can be scaled up or down and still look crisp. See the image below for a raster example on the left and vector example on the right.
  • Make sure that any raster images (JPG, PSD, TIF, and PNG) you place in InDesign are the correct resolution for printing. For graphics, 300 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) is the general rule.
A side-by-side comparison of a raster image and a vector graphic

Get creative with color

For print designs, InDesign supports CMYK process colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black — printing inks) and spot colors (licensed from Pantone or other libraries). With InDesign, you can save colors as swatches in the Swatches panel and gather design inspiration from the Adobe Color Themes panel.

Using the Adobe Color Themes panel to select colors

Add flair to your text

You can select your perfect font combined with InDesign’s powerful typographic features to format your text how you see fit. Also, choose from the large library of high-quality fonts from Adobe Fonts, included with your Adobe Creative Cloud membership.

Selecting a headline font using the Character panel

Print your design

Export your print designs in formats like PDF or print your project directly from InDesign.

With print design, understanding the creation process — including why we use specific formats along with adhering to other guidelines — will make your print design process a snap from start to finish.

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