Improve Graphic Design Layouts: 5 InDesign Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Align Elements for Clean Designs
  2. Use Margins and Bleeds Properly
  3. Create Dynamic Layouts with Grids
  4. Take Advantage of Layers
  5. Apply Colors Effectively

So you've been playing around with Adobe InDesign, testing your creativity, and now you want to elevate your game. You're itching to get better at graphic design layouts in InDesign. Well, you're in the right place. In this blog post, we'll walk you through five practical tips to improve your graphic design layouts. We will start with the basics, like aligning elements, and then move on to more advanced techniques. So, let's roll up our sleeves and get started.

Align Elements for Clean Designs

One of the most straightforward yet powerful ways to enhance your graphic design layouts in InDesign is by aligning your elements. Alignment brings a clean, professional look to your designs and helps guide the viewer's eye. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Use the Align Panel

First things first: get familiar with the Align Panel. It's your best friend when it comes to aligning elements. You can align objects to each other, to the page, or to a key object. Here's how:

  • Select the objects: Click on the elements you want to align.
  • Open the Align Panel: You can find it in the Window menu, under Object & Layout.
  • Choose your alignment: Click on the alignment you want. You'll see options like align to left, align to right, align to center, and others.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you use the Align Panel, the better you'll get at creating neat and clean designs.

Align Text to the Baseline Grid

Text alignment is another thing to consider. If your design includes multiple text boxes, aligning them to the baseline grid can make a world of difference. This keeps all your text lines consistent, giving your layout a smooth, professional look. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Activate the Baseline Grid: Go to the View menu, then Grids & Guides, and select Show Baseline Grid.
  2. Adjust the grid: If you want to change the grid spacing, go to the InDesign Preferences, and select Grids. There you can adjust the settings to your liking.
  3. Align the text: Select your text box, go to the Text Frame Options dialog box (Command+B or Ctrl+B), and under the Baseline Options, select Align to Grid.

There you have it. By aligning your elements and your text, you're already making great strides in getting better at graphic design layouts in InDesign. But don't stop here, we've got more tips lined up for you.

Use Margins and Bleeds Properly

Knowing how to properly use margins and bleeds is another valuable skill for getting better at graphic design layouts in InDesign. These elements aren't just there for decoration; they play essential roles in your design, especially if you're preparing for print. Let's see how you can make the most of them.

Setting Up Margins

First up, let's talk about margins. They provide a buffer space between your content and the edge of your page. This not only helps in focusing your design but also prevents any essential content from being cut off during printing. Here's how you can set up your margins:

  1. Create a new document: Go to File, then New, and select Document.
  2. Set your margins: In the New Document dialog box, you'll see a section for margins. You can set the top, bottom, inside, and outside margins according to your needs.

Remember, consistency is key here. Try to maintain the same margin widths across all your pages for a harmonious look.

Understanding Bleeds

Next, let's dive into bleeds. If your design extends to the edge of your page, you'll want to use bleeds. This ensures that there are no white edges after cutting the print. Here's how you can set up bleeds:

  • Create a new document: Just like before, go to File, then New, and select Document.
  • Set your bleeds: In the New Document dialog box, you'll find a section for bleeds. You can set the top, bottom, inside, and outside bleeds according to your needs.

Keep in mind, the standard bleed size is usually 0.125 inches, but it's always a good idea to check with your print provider.

By using margins and bleeds properly, you're making your designs not just visually appealing, but also print-ready. That's another step closer to mastering graphic design layouts in InDesign. Onwards to our next tip!

Create Dynamic Layouts with Grids

Creating dynamic layouts is a fundamental part of getting better at graphic design layouts in InDesign. One of the golden rules of graphic design is to use grids. Grids bring harmony and structure to your designs, making them more professional and polished. Let's explore how to create and use grids effectively in InDesign.

Creating a Grid

Creating a grid in InDesign is pretty straightforward. Here's a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Choose your document: Open the document where you want to create the grid.
  2. Go to Layout menu: In the top menu, select Layout, then Margins and Columns.
  3. Set your columns: In the dialog box, you can set the number of columns and the gutter (the space between columns). Click OK, and voila, you have a grid!

Remember, the grid is your friend, not a constraint. You can always adjust it based on your design needs.

Using the Grid

Now that you have your grid, how can you make the most out of it? Here are a few handy tips:

  • Align elements: Use the grid to align your design elements. This helps in creating a clean and balanced layout.
  • Break the grid: Yes, you read that right! Occasionally breaking the grid can add interest and focus to certain elements in your design.
  • Consistency is key: Try to maintain consistency in your use of the grid across different pages. This helps in creating a cohesive look and feel.

By using grids effectively, you're taking your InDesign layout skills to the next level. But we're not stopping here, there's more to learn!

Take Advantage of Layers

Just like in a good lasagna, layers in InDesign play a crucial role in shaping the final result. Understanding layers is an important step in getting better at graphic design layouts in InDesign. Let's dive into how these layers can make your design life easier.

Understanding Layers

Think of layers as transparent sheets stacked on top of each other. You can place different elements on different layers, and control their visibility and order. It's like having multiple canvases in one document, giving you more control and flexibility over your design.

Creating and Managing Layers

Creating and managing layers in InDesign is simple. Here's how you do it:

  1. Create a new layer: In the Layers panel, click on the New Layer button. It's as easy as that!
  2. Rename your layer: Double click on the layer name to rename it. Keeping your layers organized will save you a ton of time in the long run.
  3. Reorder layers: Simply drag and drop the layers in the Layers panel to change their order.

One pro tip: use layers to separate text and images or different sections of your design. This will make your design process smoother and more efficient.

Locking and Hiding Layers

Layers can also help you focus on specific parts of your design. You can lock layers to prevent accidental changes, or hide layers to reduce visual clutter. These features can be a real lifesaver when working on complex layouts!

As you can see, layers are a powerful tool in InDesign. By mastering layers, you're well on your way to getting better at graphic design layouts in InDesign. But don't stop here, there's more to explore!

Apply Colors Effectively

Colors are like the spices in a recipe — they add flavor and depth to your design. When used effectively, colors can enhance the message and mood of your design. Let's see how you can apply colors effectively to get better at graphic design layouts in InDesign.

Understand Color Theory

Before splashing colors on your design, it's important to understand color theory. Remember the color wheel from your art class? The primary colors (red, yellow, blue), secondary colors (green, orange, purple), and tertiary colors (mix of primary and secondary colors) all have their roles to play. Colors opposite each other on the wheel are complementary and create a vibrant look when used together. On the other hand, colors next to each other are analogous and create a harmonious feel.

Use the Color Panel

InDesign has a handy Color panel that lets you create, adjust, and apply colors to your design. Whether you need a solid color, gradient, or tint, the Color panel has got you covered. You can also save your favorite colors as swatches for easy access in future designs. It's like having a personal color palette at your fingertips!

Be Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to colors. Try to stick to a limited color palette that matches your brand or project theme. Too many colors can make your design look chaotic and confusing. Remember, sometimes less is more!

Applying colors effectively is a skill that takes practice to perfect. But once you get the hang of it, you'll see a big jump in your ability to create stunning graphic design layouts in InDesign. So go ahead, play with colors and see what you can create!

If you're interested in further improving your graphic design skills and want to learn how to work effectively with clients, check out the workshop 'How to Work with Clients: Illustrator Edition' by Grace Helmer. This workshop will provide you with essential tips and techniques for delivering top-notch design work while maintaining strong relationships with your clients. Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your design career!