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How to Make Selections with Photoshop [2/2]

In the previous post we look at how to make basic selections with manual selection tools like the Rectangular Marquee, and “smart” selection tools like the Magic Wand.

But if you’ve done any work with selections you’ll have discovered that however smart the tools are, they don’t always work as expected. When I first used Photoshop I was sorely disappointed that the Magic Wand often didn’t make the selection I wanted. Why didn’t it understand what I wanted and just make the selection?

The game changer for me was learning that you can combine selections. The first selection, it turns out, is just the start. You can add selections together, subtract them from each other – and you can do it with any combination of Photoshop's selection tools. 

You’ll learn this great technique in the video below.

How to Make Selections with Photoshop [1/2]

At its most basic, making a selection in Photoshop is simply about choosing the best tool. So if what you’re trying to select is square or rectangular, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool. If it’s non-rectangular but has still got straight edges, use the Polygonal Lasoo Tool instead.

Watch the video below to see how simple it is to make a dramatic change to a photo, simply using these selection tools.

Some of Photoshop’s selection tools require you to do all of the work, and some of them try and assist you. The two main tools in this category are the Magic Wand and the Quick Selection Tool. Both of these work well when there is obvious contrast between what you want to select and what you don’t. They both work in similar ways – in the video below you’ll see the strengths of each tool and the sort of images they can help with. 

Next week we'll look at how to create more difficult selections by combining them...

InDesign text: Pro vs Amateur [3/3]


In this mini-series we’re looking at working professionally with text in InDesign. If you’ve read the previous posts and watched the videos you’ll know how to create Paragraph Styles to give you creative control over your text. 

In the final part of this mini-series you’ll learn:

  • How to quickly adjust multiple paragraphs at once
  • How to tell if any of your text is inconsistent
  • How to fix problematic text with just one click

Editing Paragraph Styles

Following on from the previous post where you learned how to create and apply paragraph styles, now you’ll be ready to edit them. To edit a paragraph style simply right click on the style’s name in the Paragraph Styles panel. A context-sensitive menu appears that includes “Edit [name of style]”. Choose that option. As you’ll see in the video, that opens up a large dialogue box. The long list of options in the left column covers pretty much everything you could wish to do to your text. So long as the “Preview” box is checked at the bottom left of the dialogue box, you can change any setting you wish – and see it immediately applied to any paragraph that uses that style. This is the secret to working with text in very long documents. If you’ve ever worked on a long text document without paragraph styles you’ll know how crucial this InDesign feature is.

How to tell is your text is consistent

Getting text that’s consistent, particularly on a long document, is at best challenging if you’re not using paragraph styles. If you are using them there three ways (at the time of writing) to tell if your text matches the paragraph style it’s supposed to be using. The first way is to look for a “+” symbol next to the name of the paragraph style (in the paragraph styles panel). If there is one there, it indicates that there is an “override”. If you hover your cursor over the “+” it’ll tell you what the override is. The second way is to look at the “Clear Overrides in Selection.” If the button is greyed out (not clickable) then you know there isn’t a problem. The newest approach is to activate the Style highlighter, which you can do by clicking on the “[+]” icon towards the top right of the paragraph styles panel. 

How to make your text consistent

Here are two ways to remove overrides on your selected text:

  • Hold down the alt key and click on the name of your style in the paragraph styles panel. 
  • Press the “Clear Overrides in Selection” button.

For full details, watch this three minute video:


These videos are from “Intuitive InDesign 3: Concise, Creative Text” which is the newest course available as part of a Designtuitive Annual Subscription.

Watch the preview below:

InDesign Text: Pro vs Amateur [2/3]


In this mini-series we’re looking at working professionally with text in InDesign. If you read the previous post you’ll know that Paragraph Styles are what separates a professional approach to text from an amateur one. 

In the second of this 3 part mini-series you’ll learn:

  • The difference between Character and Paragraph formatting
  • The four steps you need to create Paragraph Styles
  • How to apply Paragraph Styles to your text

Two strange little buttons

When you’re working with text you might have noticed two strange little symbols at the top left of the screen. These are actually buttons. They give you access either to InDesign’s Character or Paragraph Format Controls.


The one that resembles a letter “A” is normally selected by default (it’s appears slightly darker if it is). This gives you access to so-called Character Formatting Controls. But what is a character format? It’s anything you could apply to a single character (or letter). Here are some examples:

  • Font
  • Colour
  • Size

It might not look any good, but you could select an individual character and change its size or colour. So that’s what the commands under that button do. 

In contrast, the commands you can access under the button that looks like a reversed letter “P” will affect the whole paragraph in some way. Here are some examples:

  • Alignment of the paragraph
  • An indent at the start of the paragraph
  • Hyphenation not applied to the paragraph

Good news and bad news

InDesign breaks what you can do to text into these categories. The bad news is that it can be quite complicated applying all the text features you might want to, especially as many are scattered across several parts of InDesign. But the good news is that virtually everything you might want to do with your text is combined in one place: the Paragraph Style. 

Why Paragraph Styles are the way to go

Paragraph Styles are by far the best way to control your text, for these reasons:

  • All the controls are in one place
  • You can tell if there is any inconsistency
  • Everything is quickly and easily editable

How to create Paragraph Styles

Follow these four steps to create a paragraph style

  • Select a paragraph (four clicks does it quickly)
  • Apply character formatting (for example font, size etc)
  • Apply paragraph formatting (for example indents, hyphenation)
  • Capture what you’ve done as a Paragraph Style (Paragraph Style panel menu>New Paragraph Style).

Watch this five minute video for full instructions:

In the final part of this series you'll learn how to edit your Paragraph Styles and fix any text which isn't consistent.

InDesign Text: Pro vs Amateur [1/3]


In this 3 part mini-series we’re going to be looking in depth at how to get more professional results with text when using InDesign. 

In the first of this 3 part mini-series you’ll learn:

  • How professional designers work with text in InDesign
  • How to be 100% certain your text is consistent
  • How to get more creative with text in InDesign

If you want more professional results when working with text InDesign, I’d suggest that essentially means three things: 

  • More confidence
  • More creativity 
  • More consistency. 

It means that you can be confident that you’ve applied all the creative features that you want, that you can change them, and that those changes will be applied consistently throughout your document. And if, for some reason, they become inconsistent, you’ll know about it.

There is one InDesign feature that gives you all of that: Paragraph Styles. Watch this 3 minute video to learn more:


In the next part of the series you’ll learn how to create Paragraph Styles.

A quick way to sort landscape photos from portrait ones


If you've ever searched through a folder containing hundreds of photographs to find the right one to use in your project then you'll appreciate anything you can use to speed the process up.

If you're certain that you want your image to be, say, landscape, you can ask Adobe's Bridge to only show you landscape images. Once you're looking at the contents of your folder in Bridge, choose the Filter Panel and under Orientation, select Landscape.

It's as simple as that.

How to easily resize images for the web or social media


What's the easiest way to resize an image for a website or for social media? To use Photoshop's Crop Tool. Why? Because you can crop and resize the image at the same time. Here's how to use it. 

Having chosen the Crop Tool enter the width and height (in pixels) and the resolution (in pixels per inch - use 72 unless advised otherwise) that you want your image to be in Photoshop's Control Panel, eg 500px by200px.

Then drag the Crop Tool over the part of the image you want to keep. As you drag you'll notice that you are constrained to the shape that's in the ratio of the numbers you typed in. Whilst this might seem awkward, it's actually helpful, as it forces you to crop the image to the shape that you're looking to fill. When you press your Return Key your image will be resized as well as cropped, ready to be saved as a .jpg or .png file.

In the days when I edited a daily website, this Photoshop feature helped me more than any other. 

7 Things every creative entrepreneur should know about design in 2018


If you’re a creative entrepreneur or solopreneur here are some things you should know about design in 2018. 

1) You need to show up consistently and be visually consistent too

You don’t need me to tell you that you need to show up consistently in your audience’s social media feeds to stay on their radar. But you need to be visually consistent too.

If you look at a Pinterest graphic, from, say, Melyssa Griffin, you’ll know straight away that it’s from her because of how it looks. It looks similar, of course, to the previous 6 Pinterest graphics that she produced.

If you want that sort of brand recognition, you need to produce graphics in a regular, consistent way. How do you do that? See below.

2) You need to stick to your brand guidelines (if you don’t have any, write some).

Melyssa’s posts look the same because she follows her brand’s guidelines. If you’ve never seen any, they are like a blueprint for which colours, fonts and layout choices you’ll use.

Once the guidelines are created you can simply follow them, instead of having to re-invent the wheel every time you want to create an image. It gives you the consistency your audience is looking for, and it takes a fraction of the time to create something.

If a designer has created your branding for you, they’ve hopefully created some brand guidelines for you too. If you’ve designed your own branding, think about how you can use it in a consistent way, and create yourself some rules to stick to. For example, always use the white version of your logo over a photo, or always use your specific light blue colour to overlay on images).

This can take some time to produce, but it’ll pay off the next time you have to create some images in a hurry. If you use software like Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign it’s possible to create a template, which can speed things up even further. 

3) You’re competing with professional designers, whether you want to or not.

There is not a level playing field. Not only do more established brands have larger email lists than you, more followers and many other advantages over you (insert your #1 gripe here) but their websites and social media presence look way better too.

Why? One reason is that they’ve got the budget to pay professional designers to create their websites, graphics and social media images for them. And it’s money well spent. Because it keeps them one key aspect of their competitive advantage. What can you do about that? One option is to take the tip below.

4) You might need to pay to play.

One way of competing with more established brands is to hire a professional designer for yourself. It might well be worth the money. But before you part with any money, consider doing what a lot of firms are now doing: ask them to create a template for you.

This means that they’ll do the initial design work, but leave it in a format (usually Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop format) that you can continue to use. This is highly recommended for social media graphics, because I imagine you don’t want to be paying a designer every time you want a new image to go along with every Twitter post. 

5) Professionals use professional tools.

The formats I mentioned above (Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop) are professional tools. They aren’t free (they cost from $49 a month). But these are the long established tools of choice for professional designers. To take an example, if you think of any famous logo, from Starbucks to Apple to Twitter, they are all created with Illustrator.

If having a more professional online presence is important to you, you should at least consider using these tools (possibly in combination with a professionally designed template). If you’d like to use these tools on your own, we can help you learn. 

6) A little terminology goes a long way.

I’m not going to get too technical with you, but there are two bits of terminology you should know: the terms bitmap and vector. These are the two different kinds of graphics that you can create, whichever software you use. 

You may know that when you take a photo with your mobile phone it captures what it sees by breaking it down into thousands of little squares of colour, known as pixels. An image that’s made of pixels is technically known as a bitmap. File types such as jpg, gif and png are examples of bitmap graphics. Photoshop is the professional tool used to edit bitmaps. 

If you think of the Twitter logo, the Apple logo or a simple infographic they look much simpler than an image taken with a camera. You can normally count the number of colours used in them on the fingers of one hand. These simple, crisp images are known as vector graphics. They are not made of pixels. Instead, a bit like a dot-to-dot drawing, areas of colour are mathematically mapped out.

A key difference with a vector graphic is that if it’s enlarged you won’t see any loss of quality, whereas that can happen with a bitmap image (as the pixels get larger when you make the image bigger). Illustrator is the professional tool used to create and edit vectors. 

7) Everything is changing, but some things stay the same.

Online marketing is changing all the time. New trends, new technology, new tools, new expectations. That won’t slow down any time soon. But good design doesn’t change much, even if things go in and out of style.

One of the best skills you can invest in, in my opinion, is to develop your visual awareness. Simply notice what you like and don’t like, and think why. Try and work out why some things look better than others. Use your discoveries to try and make your own images, graphics and designs look better. And notice when the prevailing fashions do change (as they surely will) and try and adapt your work to fit in (if you want to). We’re here to help you develop these skills (as well as to teach you to use tools like Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop). 

7 Things every marketer should know about design in 2018


If you work in marketing, comms or social media, here are some things you should know about design in 2018. 

1) Design and marketing have fused

Design and marketing used to be completely different things. They lived in completely different worlds. That was before the economic crash of 2008. With less money in the system and smaller budgets, everyone was looking for ways to save money. One big way to do this was for expensive design work, done by external agencies or freelancers to be brought in house, often to the door of the marketing department.

To give you a sense of how much this has changed things, compare how things look today in a typical classroom where I teach (design related skills) compared to ten years ago. Back then, 90% of the people I taught were designers. Nowadays, 90% of the people I teach are marketers. 

2) Social media changed everything (that hadn’t already changed)

Of course, you know that social media has changed lots of things. But its impact on both marketing and design can’t be underestimated. As much as the lack of budgets have turned marketers into designers, so has social media. With all the design budget in the world, nobody would commission an external designer to create an image for a one-off tweet. Things move too fast. And anyway, who knows the brand better, an internal marketer or an external designer? 

3) Design has become an essential skill for marketers

All this adds up to the fact that now marketing and design are more inseparable than ever, and if you work in marketing, developing your design skills is essential. What I’ve observed over the past 5 years or so is that a strand of people, mostly creative women in their early twenties, have grasped this opportunity with both hands. They’ve been the ones to put their hand up when their boss has asked if anyone wants to take on the design of the company newsletter, or go on a Photoshop or InDesign course.

I imagine that in a few years time they will be the ones with the more senior, more interesting jobs when marketing and design have woven even closer. Because they are the marketers who can design, as well as do all the things traditionally expected of marketers. 

4) Professional designers work differently these days

Where does this leave professional designers? Some have thrived, grasping the new opportunities in designing for the new digital world as opposed to designing just for print. Others have found it impossible to make a living as more and more of their clients have taken their work in house. But one way or another, all designers these days have had to shift to accommodate the new realities mentioned above.

One way it’ll affect you as a marketer is that you’re more likely to be working with a designer who does some of the work, then hands it over to you, or gives you a template to work from. Collaboration between designer and client, unthinkable before a handful of years ago, is becoming the norm.

5) You’re competing with pro designers, whether you want to or not

In some ways the relationship between designers and marketers is cosier than before, but nevertheless, you might find yourself having to compete with them. If you’ve taken on the design of your company newsletter and you compare it with one from another company, yours might not seem so good. That might be because it’s been designed by a professional designer with ten or twenty years experience. Or you might look at the infographic that one of your firm’s competitors has created for their Pinterest board. It may be well beyond what you can do. Again, it may have been designed by someone with considerable experience and expertise in that field. 

6) Design is a skill

Things your boss might say: “You’re young, you’re creative, you can use a computer. Why can’t you create that [gorgeous infographic etc]? Can’t you just figure it out by watching YouTube?” You may have youth and brains and talent on your side, but that doesn’t mean you can design.

Why should it? It’s a skill. It takes time to learn to do properly, like caligraphy or architecture or upholstery. So don’t let anybody tell you that you should just be able to do it.

If it’s important for your company that you can design, ask them to send you on a course. If that’s not part of their plan, why not take matters into your own hands? Plan your own career development path, find a course and sign up for it. 

7) Design should be fun

With all this talk of developing your career, don’t forget that design should be fun. If you’re lucky it might just turn out to be the best part of your job. But in my experience, that’s only really the case if you’re comfortable that you know enough to relax and enjoy it.

So try and learn all you can from colleagues, friends, YouTube, any way you can. If you’d like to join other marketers learning this stuff together in a supportive online environment, twice a year we open the doors to a unique course, Design Beginners Bootcamp. More details here. 



If you’re a creative entrepreneur who wants to dramatically improve your online presence, you should be using Adobe Illustrator. Here’s why.

1. Illustrator is the tool of choice for professionals

The logo of every big name brand you can think of was created in Illustrator. The packaging of most things you’ve ever bought was created in Illustrator. So without me saying any more, you know that it’s the tool of choice to create things that get noticed, and sell. 

2. You’re competing with other professionally designed brands. 

It’s hard to make your brand or product stand out online. So use the best tool you can to help make yours stand out. If you notice that other brands in your niche have better graphics or social media images, it might be because they are using better tools. So even things up by using Illustrator.

3. Vector graphics will make your website stand out

Illustrator creates vector graphics. Unlike photos, these can communicate a brand, a product, or a concept really quickly and directly. 

4. Vector graphics will make your social media posts stand out

Vector graphics work especially well on small screens, so they are perfect for getting your social media posts noticed.

5. You can create stunning lead magnets in Illustrator

You can create beautiful pdf cheat sheets or mini guides for download directly in Illustrator. As it’s the same tool you’ll have used to create your branding, you can keep everything consistent. 

6. In Illustrator you are free to create without limits

In Illustrator you can create your own logo, pattern, Illustration. You can use any font, define any colour. You can incorporate stunning gradients, blends. You can take inspiration from the best designers as you create your own creations. 

…and 3 reasons why maybe you shouldn’t use it

1. You can do everything you need with free software

2. You haven’t got the budget for paid software

3. You don’t want to take the time to learn a new skill


Sum up. 

Illustrator isn’t free, but if you want to take your online presence to the next level, it’s a tool you should seriously consider using. You’ll have access to the tool used by professionals to create all the famous logos you know and most of the packaging you see on the products you buy. It’s equally perfect for creating graphics for social media posts, icons for your website and lead magnets. And of course if you have the skill you can create your own branding. If you want to try it out, get a 7 day fully working version here, and check out the first dozen videos of our Illustrator for Creative Entrepreneurs course. 

6 Steps to Produce Consistent, Quality Social Media Images (in half the time)


Do you want to produce consistent, quality social media images in half the time? Here's how to do it. 

1. Create some guidelines

You’ll never manage to produce consistent, quality images for social media if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re aiming for. So make yourself some guidelines. Create a visual reference of what you want your images to look like.

Already have brand guidelines?

It might be that you already have some brand guidelines. If so, that’s the perfect place to start. If they already give you clear direction on how you’d create images for social media for your brand, then you can probably stop reading this now and jump to the next section.

Don’t have brand guidelines?

If you’re a solopreneur and haven’t developed visual guidelines for your brand, now is the perfect time to start. Take the time to look at your own website, at your competitors, look at their social media feeds and generally on Pinterest, Twitter. Try to get a sense of how you want your social media images to look. Then start writing some rules to try and follow. It might be “always use font x in colour y” or “always use colour x on top of a photo”. This is easier to do if you’ve already got brand guidelines because you’ll know what fonts and colours to use. If not, make those decisions now.

2. Create an image library

With those decisions made, now go and find some images that you can work with. If you work for an organisation that’s got an existing image library, that’s the perfect place to start. If you’re working on your own, starting from scratch, then start looking online for suitable images to use. A great resource is, where you have access to thousands upon thousands of great looking images that you can use for free. If you have the talent to take your own photos to use or the budget to have some taken for you, so much the better. When choosing photos, remember that what you choose will somehow convey the essence of your brand, so choose with care.

3. Create a text grab file

Are there frequent straplines or slogans that you use time and time again? Put them in a single text file that you can easily find.

4. Get everything organised

Now you have your brand guidelines, your images and text all ready to use, do yourself a favour and put them all in a folder so you can easily get what you need when you need it.

5. Create templates to work from

Now’s the time to bring everything you’ve decided together into a template. Create a template that’s the perfect size for whatever platform(s) you’ll use, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or something else. You can find an up to date guide to the sizes you need here.

Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop (as well as other programs) could all be used to create your template – use whichever program you’re most comfortable in. I’d recommend Adobe Illustrator as the perfect tool for creative entrepreneurs, as you can create so many of the things you need (logos, icons, adverts, infographics, lead magnets…) all in one place. You can read more about Illustrator here and check out our Illustrator for Creative Entrepreneurs course here. There’s also a downloadable, editable social media sized template in Illustrator format that you can access by subscribing to our Resource Library. Fill in the form below and check your email:

Batch your work

Once you’ve got your template set up, get thinking about the posts you’re going to create. When you’ve got a list, you can create them all at once using your template. That’s the benefit of having worked through all of the steps of this guide. With the extra time you’ve saved, put your feet up and have a cup of tea.

Which design program should I use? A rough infographic guide

If you've got to create something and you're thinking "which design program should I use?" then consult our infographic. It'll quickly guide you to either InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, which are the programs most often used by professional designers. It's not 100% foolproof but should guide you in the right direction!



Your free 2018 social media image sizes cheat sheet

If you want to quickly make an image for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest, our handy cheat sheet will tell you the size.

Even better, with a copy of Adobe Illustrator you can edit the downloadable pdf which has artboards set up for every size you might want. This handy resource will save you lots of time and frustration. Enter your name and email address below to access it from our resource library (and check your emails for access):

The sizes are correct on the day of posting in May 2018. They came courtesy of Sprout Social.


How to prepare InDesign documents for commercial printing: a comprehensive guide

This post is about preparing InDesign documents to be printed. It’s a long and detailed post, and designed to be worked through (but not necessarily in one go). If you want to work though it as you read, you can download the actual files I’ve used, along with a 60 page pdf book of an extended version of this article to read and work through at your leisure.

.indd? .psd? .ai? .eps? .jpg? Which file types are used for which purpose?


If you're new to design, or simply have been given some files to work with, which ones are used for which purpose? Here follows a very brief post attempting to simplify a very large subject.

Files with an .indd suffix are created in InDesign, which is the program most widely used to create documents that will be printed, such as magazines, newspapers, brochures and newsletters. It's this file that you'd open in InDesign if you wanted to change any aspect of the file that you've been sent.

Images that are placed within the InDesign file usually come from two different sources. Some are most likely photographs, usually created in Photoshop, and will very often be .jpg files. Other file types created from Photoshop include the .tiff file and the .psd.

What all of these file types have in common is that they are images made out of pixels (also called bitmap or raster images, because they've been rasterised: converted into pixels). What separates them are their different attributes. Jpgs are very effective at compressing images in the same way that mp3 files compress audio files to make them smaller. Tiffs compress in a less effective way, but do so without throwing away any information from the image, so are often regarded as being of higher quality (which is not necessarily true). PSD files are Photoshop's native file format and enable you to use some of Photoshop's very flexible features (like Layer Masks, Smart Objects, Smart Filters). Other bitmap file formats that are primarily used for web graphics (as well as jpgs) are the .gif and the .png file format. Mostly you wouldn't need to open bitmap images, but would do so in Photoshop if you wanted to change the images (for example to make it black and white, or adjust its colours).

The other source for images that are placed within Indesign is Illustrator, which creates images not make out of pixels, but mathematically determined points called vectors. These files are much simpler than bitmap images and are perfect for things like logos, diagrams and maps. The files created from Illustrator are usually .ai files and .eps files. Again, you normally shouldn't need to open these, but you would do so in Illustrator if you wanted to adjust the colours in a logo or change the text on a diagram.

The other file type you'll have come across is the pdf, which can be created by a variety of programs for a variety of reasons. The most likely reason you'd encounter one in a design context is that it is either sent as a proof (so you can see how the job will print out) or that it's created as the final document for a printer to print from. 

Hi Res images and Bleeds. Two things printers talk about that you should understand too.


Hi-Res Images... er, what does that mean?

When a printer says "We can't print that, the images aren't high res", what does that mean? In short it means that whilst the images you've used might well look fine on your screen, they'd probably look terrible if they were printed out. Why? In short it comes down to the number of pixels in the image. You're probably familiar with the term pixels - if not, it means the tiny squares of colour that make up a digital image. That is essentially all a digital photograph is - many thousands of tiny squares, each one capable of having its own unique colour or shade. For an image to look good on a screen it needs to have roughly 72 pixels for every inch of the image. However for an image to look good on the printed page, it needs to have roughly 300 pixels for every inch of the image. This is number of pixels per inch is referred to in Indesign and Photoshop as PPI, although old-school printers and designers often call it DPI. It's also known as Resolution. So a High Resolution (or Hi Res) image will have around 300ppi, and that is what the printer is wanting.

My printer is asking me about a bleed. What does that mean?

If you are asking a printer to quote to print your flyers, posters or newsletters they might ask you if there any bleeds, or whether you have added bleeds. Whilst this is a perfectly obvious question for a printer it understandably can cause confusion or even mild alarm. This post will explain what a bleed is and what the printer is asking.

If you’re accustomed to printing documents on your in-house laser or inkjet printer you’re probably used to leaving a white border around the edge of your document, because in all likelihood such printers can’t print to the edge of the page. There is no such restriction in commercial printing, where documents are typically printed on larger sheets of paper and then trimmed down to size afterwards. For that reason you can fill the whole page with colour, or an image, or have any element go right to the edge of the page. The printer will want to know if you want that, partly because it might affect how it's printed (and the cost involved), and also whether this is something that you have set up properly.

If you want anything in your document to go all the way to the edge of the page, make sure you’ve added bleed guides (when using Adobe InDesign; usually a value of 3mm is used) to your document either when you first created it, or subsequently by choosing File>Document Setup. Where you want anything to go right to the edge of your document, make sure you extend the frame over the edge of the page until it meets the (red) bleed guide. Extending elements such as images or background colours over the edge of the page allows for any movement or inaccuracy of the blade of the guillotine that's used to trim your page after it's been printed, meaning that you won't be left with a white gap at the page edge where they should appear.

So when a printer asks "Is there bleed?" or "Does anything bleed off?" or "Are any images full bleed?" they want to know so they can make sure it's printed the right way, and to make sure you set the document up correctly before you send it to them.

For our complete guide to preparing InDesign documents for print, click here. 


Why can't I track my text back to the previous line? Why is InDesign messing with my text when I'm trying to sub it?

There's a really clever InDesign feature that, whilst clever, makes many people fume. People who have subbed text for years (edited the words to get them to fit) clearly know a thing of two when it comes to getting it to not only fit the space, but for it to read well and look good too. If they've come from a background of using QuarkXpress they will be used to looking at a paragraph line by line, sending the occasional word over to the next line using a soft return (Shift+Return: works in InDesign too).

But when they start using InDesign many of them find that the tricks they'd previously used don't work, and it drives them crazy. In a nutshell this is because a clever InDesign feature, called Adobe Paragraph Composer, is trying to do their job for them. Unlike QuarkXpress, InDesign's default behaviour is to look at a whole paragraph at a time when calculating where to break the lines. So the way it makes the lines flow in a paragraph is often what a sub might have done by use of soft returns. The problem lies when a sub wants to edit that text - it simply will not behave as expected. It's possible to change that behaviour for a particular paragraph by going to the dropdown menu at the top right of the screen (in the Control Panel, when the paragraph is selected) and by choosing Adobe Single-line Composer instead of Adobe Paragraph Composer.

InDesign will now examine the paragraph line by line, like QuarkXpress used to. In my experience of helping magazines and newspapers move from QuarkXpress to InDesign, setting up Paragraph Styles to use the Single-line Composer instead of the default Paragraph composer makes life a lot easier for the editorial staff.

Why can't I select my text? Why has the baseline grid ruined my text? How do I make the most of InDesign's many text options? If you've ever asked any of these types of questions, our mini pdf guide to InDesign text issues is written for you. Find the answers to these questions and half a dozen more. Submit your name and email below to access it free from our resource library (then check your email):