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A newsletter is a common business tool to inform customers and employees of company accomplishments and upcoming events. Adobe InDesign is the perfect software to do this.
In this tutorial, you'll learn how to properly set up the document with bleed, create columns and set guides, set paragraph styles, and utilize text column breaks and text threading options. We'll start by creating graphical elements in Adobe Illustrator and then bringing them over to InDesign to create our newsletter.
Finally, you'll save the file as a print ready PDF for your local printer or Online printing service.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.
- Woman Image
- Young Woman Image
- Young Man Image
- Canter (font)
- Novecento Wide Medium (font)
- Arvo (font)
1. Create a Border in Adobe Illustrator
We'll start by creating the top and bottom borders of our newsletter in Adobe Illustrator. Open Illustrator and go to File > New and set a document size of 9 x 1in. This way, we know our border will span across the entire width of our 8.5 x 11in newsletter.
Now, grab your Star Tool, listed in the fly-out menu of the rectangle tool in your toolbox. Holding Shift-Click-Drag out your star. Before releasing, hit your Down Arrow key on your keyboard two times so the star becomes a triangle.
You'll notice you have extra points on your triangle that are unneeded. To remove them, select your Delete Anchor Point Tool (-), and click on each anchor point.
Now we need to color our triangle. Go to your Color panel, (Window > Color), remove the stroke and type in the following color build for the teal we'll be using: C=55, M=6, Y=30, K=0. We want to make a repeat of four of our triangles in a row, where the barely touch on each side. To do this, click on your triangle, hold Shift-Click-Drag. Release when your new triangle barely touches your previous one. Do this until you have four triangles in a row, like below.
We need to merge all of our triangles together so they're one shape. We'll do this by using our Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). With all four of your triangles selected, in the Pathfinder panel under Shape Modes, click on the first icon in the first row (when you hover over it, it will say unite). All of your triangles should be united now. Next, we'll need to rotate them so they can face the right way when our border is on the top. Right click your newly merged triangles and go to Transform > Rotate and in the box that appears, type in 180 degrees.
Now we need to replicate this set of four, several times to fill our 9 x 1in artboard. You can do this using the same method we used in Step 4 by clicking the group, holding Shift-Click-Drag. Feel free to squish your triangles horizontally or vertically to accomplish the amount of 'tooth' you'd like your zig zag to have. Once you're happy with how your triangles look, merge all of your groups together by using the Pathfinder Unite.
We need to give our border a little bit of bulk. We'll do this by grabbing our Rectangle Tool (M) located in the toolbox and dragging a rectangle the entire length of our artboard until it just hits the flat portion of our triangles.
Next, we'll select both our triangles and our newly drawn rectangle and merge them using the same Unite button in our Pathfinder panel that we've been using. Once you've merged the rectangle with your triangles, go to File > Save As and save your border as either an .AI file or .EPS file. Your border is done!
2. Create a Pie Graph in Illustrator
Let's start by creating a New document. Go to File > New and input 2 x 2in artboard size.
Next, select the Pie Graph Tool in the column graph tool fly out menu in the toolbox. Click once on your artboard, and when you get the graph message prompt, input 2 x 2in.
Now we have to specify our quantities for our pie graph. Since this is fictitious, let's set the following values: 20, 25, 15, 40. After you're done inputing the quantities, hit the check mark in the upper right corner to see a preview of your graph.
Using your Selection Tool (V), select your pie graph and move it to the middle of your artboard.
Next, Ungroup it by going Object > Ungroup. You'll get a message prompt saying your graph will no longer be editable quantity-wise once it's ungrouped, which is OK because we're happy with our quantities. Click Yes. Next, remove the black stroke by going to your Color panel, clicking on the black stroke, then clicking on the white box with the red line through it.
Now we need to color our pie graph! Grab your Direct Selection Tool (A) and click on one of your pie pieces. Next, go to your Color panel (Window > Color) and input the following color build for the brown we'll be using: C=0, M=28, Y=33, K=83
It's time to color the rest of the pieces! Once finished, Save your pie graph as an .AI or .EPS file. Feel free to make another similar pie graph for your newsletter (since we're using two), or use this same one twice.
3. Create a Column Graph in Illustrator
Creating a bar graph is very similar to creating the pie graph we just made. Let's make a New document by going to File > New and inputing the same sizes we did before, 2 x 2in.
Let's go to the same fly out menu we did before, but this time choose the Column Graph Tool (J). Click anywhere on your artboard, and input 2 x 2in.
Since this is fictitious, I've entered the following quantities that our column graph will be based off of: 8, 12, 15, 22. Hit the check mark in the upper right corner to preview your graph once you finish inputting, then close the panel.
Time to clean up our graph! First we need to remove the stroke around our graph. With your graph selected, go to your Color panel, select the stroke, then click the white box with the red line through it. Next, we need to Ungroup our graph. For this graph, since it's more for illustrative purposes, we'll remove the numbers, tick marks, and axis lines. We do this by using our Direct Selection Tool (A) and pressing out Delete key.
Time to color our graph. Using our Direct Selection Tool once again, select one of your columns, then go to your Color panel (Window > Color) and input the following dark yellow color build: C=0, M=30, Y=68, K=15.
Color the remaining columns in the same way. Save your column graph as an .AI or .EPS file.
4. Set Up the Layout in InDesign
Time for us to begin working and putting everything together in InDesign! Once in InDesign, go to File > New > Document and input the following (seen below). Note that our page size is 8.5 x 11in, we're using 3 Columns that have a Gutter of 0.1667in, our Margins are 0.5in on all sides, and we have a Bleed of 0.125in on all sides. If you don't see where to put in bleed, click the More Options button (where the screenshot currently says "fewer options"). Click OK.
Now we need to drag some guide lines for the content we'll be putting in. First, make sure your Rulers (Command-R) are turned on in InDesign.
Next, click on the top ruler and drag your mouse downward (you'll see a guide line follow your mouse as you drag). Stop when you hit 2in on your left, y-axis ruler. If your rulers are displaying an increment other than inches, Right-Click on your ruler and choose inches from the drop down menu that'll appear.
In the same way, drag guidelines that line up with the following measurements on your y-axis: 2 3/8in, 4 3/8n, 4 3/4in, 5 7/8in, 6 1/4in, 6 1/2in, 8 1/2in, and 8 3/4in.
If you need to move one of your guides after you've placed it, go to View > Grids and Guides > Unlock Guides and you'll be able to move it. Once you have all of your guides set, be sure to lock them so you won't mistakenly move them as you design. Do this by going to View > Grids and Guides > Lock Guides.
5. Design the Newsletter
Time for us to start putting the files we created in Illustrator into our layout. Go to File > Place and select the border file you created earlier and hit Enter. Next, click on your layout and your border will be placed. Using your Selection Tool (V), drag your border and place it so the teeth rest on your top, pink margin line. You'll notice a pink vertical guide line appear when it's dragged perfectly in the center.
Now we need to place our bottom border. Go to File > Place and select the border file you created earlier and hit Enter. Next, click your layout and your border will be placed. Right-Click on your border and choose Transform > Rotate 180. Once you have your rotated border, drag it to the bottom of your layout and have your border's teeth hit right above the bottom pink margin line (see screenshot below).
Now it's time to title our newsletter. I'm going to call this "Trendy Company". Grab your Text Tool (T) and drag a text box. In your Character panel (Window > Type and Tables > Character), select the font "Canter" in Light. Input a text size of 83pt. Next, go to your Color panel (Window > Color). If your color defaults to black, click on the panel's upper right corner icon, and choose CMYK on the fly out menu. Input the brown color build we've been using: C=0, M=28, Y=33, K=83
In your text box, type "TRENDY COMPANY" in all caps. Next, go to your Paragraph panel (Window > Type and Tables > Paragraph), and click Center Alignment (see below). After center aligning your type, using your Selection Tool, drag your text box until you once again see the pink vertical guide line appear that lets you know you're perfectly centered.
Now we'll put some horizontal rules in to separate the company name from the newsletter's month. We'll do this using our Line Tool. Grab your Line Tool (\) from your tool box. Click where the red bleed line of your document meets the guide line that appears right below the text box we just used for the company name. When you Click-Shift-Drag horizontally to the opposite side of your newsletter. Release when you hit the red bleed line on the opposite side. Holding Shift ensures the line we draw is perfectly straight.
Next, let's choose the color and size of the line we've just drawn. Do this by going to your Color panel (Window > Color), make sure your fill box is set at none, and your stroke has the teal color build we've been using: C=55, M=6, Y=30, K=0. Next, go to your Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Make sure your stroke is set to a solid line, and under weight, input 2.25pt.
Now we need to duplicate the line we just made. Do this by clicking on our line with your Selection Tool, hold Alt (to make a copy of it) and Shift (to drag perfectly straight) on your keyboard and drag downward until it rests on the guide line we pulled right below it.
Time for us to label the month of this newsletter's issue. This text will sit right between the two teal lines we just created. Grab your Text Tool and create a text box Next, go to your Character panel and choose "Novecento Wide" Medium. Input a text size of 13.75pt. Next, go to your Paragraph panel and make sure the Center Alignment icon is clicked.
Finally, go to your Color panel and use the same brown color build we've been using as the text fill: C=0, M=28, Y=33, K=83. In your text box, type "OCTOBER NEWSLETTER" in all caps.
Position your text box between the two teal lines and drag until the pink vertical guide line appears letting you know it's perfectly centered.
Next, we'll create a colored background for our graphs to be placed on. Grab your Rectangle Tool (M), and then go to your Color panel and input a color fill of extra light yellow: C=0, M=0, Y=12, K=1. Click and draw your rectangle from the last teal line to the next guide line below. Once drawn, right click on your rectangle and go to Arrange > Send to Back.
Now we need to put the graphs we made in Illustrator into our layout. Go to File > Place and select your first pie graph. Click anywhere on your layout to place your graph.
Move the first graph on top of of the extra light yellow rectangle we just made, inside the first column. Repeat the same process for your other two graphs, placing each one inside a column, like below.
These graphs are feeling a little large, so let's shrink them down a little. Select your all three graphs with your Selection Tool. Then hold Alt-Command-Shift, click any corner and scale the images down. This keyboard shortcut scales the image frames and images at the same time. Reposition the rescaled graphs once you find a size you're happy with.
Now we need to create another colored rectangle that we'll place a headline in. We'll do the same thing we did before with the extra light yellow rectangle, only this time we'll make it brown, and it'll be positioned right below the extra light yellow rectangle, in between the next two guidelines.
Grab your Rectangle Tool from your toolbox, use the color build C=0, M=28, Y=33, K=83 in your Color panel, and draw your rectangle.
Let's create the headline that will go inside of that brown rectangle. Draw a text box using your Text Tool. Once your text box is drawn, go to your Character panel (Window > Type and Tables > Character) and choose the font "Novecento Wide" Medium with a point size of 13pt.
Next, go to your Paragraph panel (Window > Type and Tables > Paragraph) and click on the Center Alignment icon.
Last, go to your Color panel and choose white for your character text fill. Now, type "CONTINUED GROWTH MONTH TO MONTH!" in your text box in all caps. Drag the text box within the brown headline until you see the pink guideline appear when you're perfectly centered.
Now let's make our second headline rectangle. We'll make this one orange with the same color build we've been using. Grab your Rectangle Tool, and in your Color panel, input: C=0, M=58, Y=66, K=1. Draw this rectangle between the guidelines we pulled that hit increments 5 7/8in and 6 1/4in on the y-axis.
We're going to use the same settings we used on the last "CONTINUED GROWTH MONTH TO MONTH!" headline, so let's make a copy of it. Using your Selection Tool, click on the headline we just made, hold Alt-Shift and drag downward until it's inside of the orange rectangle. Grab your Text Tool, and replace the text with "EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION" in all caps.
Next, let's put our employee photos in. After you save your first stock image on your computer, in InDesign, go to File > Place and select the photo. Click anywhere on your document and the full size photo will appear.
Let's scale it down using the same keyboard shortcut we used earlier to scale our graphs down: Command-Alt-Shift, click on the corner of the image and scale down. Place the image in the first column below our "EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION" headline, between the guidelines that hit 6 1/2in and 8 1/2in on the y-axis.
After you've scaled your image down, it's likely it won't fit perfectly in that space. To adjust, simply click on the image using your Selection Tool, grab any side of the image frame and either pull it out or push it in until your image fits perfectly in place. Tip: don't click on the circle that will appear in the middle of your image when you hover over it using your selection tool, that will rescale the image, instead of changing the image frame dimensions.
Place and resize the two remaining images the same way.
Now let's add our company's information at the bottom of the newsletter. Let's copy our "EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION" text box on top of our bottom border. Do this by clicking on the text box, holding Alt-Shift-Drag until it sits on top of our bottom border. Next, go into your Character panel and change the font size to 8.25pt. In the text box, using your Text Tool, type "123 SYCAMORE ST, ANYWHERE, US 12345 | WEAREATRENDYCOMPANY.COM" in all caps.
6. Lay Out the Text
Our newsletter is almost finished! Many times when you're designing, you'll be given text to incorporate into your design. To replicate this kind of situation, I've pasted some text into a text box which will be our main text in our newsletter.
Before we create our paragraph styles, let's add a couple of colors to our Swatch panel (Window > Color > Swatches). Click on the icon in the upper right corner of the panel and select New Color Swatch. In the window that appears, type in our color build for the orange we've been using: C=0, M=58, Y=66, K=1 and click OK. Repeat the same process, this time adding the teal we've been using: C=55, M=6, Y=30, K=0 and the brown we've been using: C=0, M=28, Y=33, K=83.
The first thing we need to do with all of this text is to define some paragraph styles. The first paragraph in the text box will be the text placed under the "CONTINUED GROWTH MONTH TO MONTH!" headline. The paragraphs that follow it are small descriptions about each employee. This means we need two paragraph styles: one for body text, and one for employee names.
Let's create the one for employee names first. Go to your Paragraph Styles panel (Window > Styles > Paragraph Styles) and click on the icon in the upper right corner and select New Paragraph Style. In the window that appears, name your style "Employee Names". Next, click on Basic Character Formats in the menu on the left of the panel. Under Font Family, choose "Novecento Wide" and under Font Style, choose Medium. Input a size of 11pt. Next, go to the Character Color menu option on the left of the window. Scroll all the way down until you find the orange we just added to our swatches. Click OK to close out of those options.
Now, let's highlight each employee name one at a time in our text box, clicking on the "Employee Names" paragraph style in the Paragraph Styles panel after each name.
Now let's define our body text paragraph style. In your Paragraph Styles panel, once again click the icon in the upper right corner and select New Paragraph Style. In the Style Name box, type Body Text. Next, click on the Basic Character Formats menu option on the left side of the window. Under Font Family, select "Arvo", and under Font Style, select Regular. Input a size of 8pt and under Leading, insert 10pt. Next, go to the Hyphenation menu option on the left side of the window. Uncheck the Hyphenate box. Now, click on the Character Color menu option. Scroll all the way down and click on the brown swatch you defined earlier. Then hit OK.
Now it's time to apply our paragraph style to our body copy. Like we did with the employee names, highlight your body copy and click on the Body Text paragraph style in the Paragraph Styles panel to apply the style.
Now, let's move our entire text box between both of our margin lines underneath the "EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION" headline, like below.
Now, we need to move the first paragraph in that text box into its own text box under the "CONTINUED GROWTH MONTH TO MONTH!" headline. We'll do this by first grabbing our Text Tool and drawing a text box underneath the "CONTINUED GROWTH MONTH TO MONTH!" headline. Grab your Selection Tool from your toolbox after your text box is drawn, to reveal the two large squares on the the text box, like below.
Next, using your Selection Tool, click on the large square of your new text box on the right side. When you do this you'll have a small white arrow as your selection tool with what looks like really small text attached to it. Hover over your text box with all of your body text in it and click on top of it. You'll notice the first paragraph is now threaded up to the new text box we created.
Now we need to make sure none of the text from the "Employee Recognition" section ever mistakenly gets threaded to our "Continued Growth" section. We'll make sure this never happens by inserting a Frame Break. First, position your cursor using your Text Tool after the period of the last word in the paragraph. Then go to Type > Insert Break Character > Frame Break.
You'll notice that we still need to put each employee's information below their pictures. Right now, our text box only has one column, so we'll need to change that to three. We do this by selecting our text box with our Selection Tool, then going to Object > Text Frame Options. Under the General tab, in the Columns section, change number to 3, and make sure your gutter width is the same as our document's gutter width, which it is at 0.1667in. When you input 3 columns, you'll notice the text underneath our employees line up perfectly now. Click OK.
You'll notice if you shrink the text frame up from the bottom, all of the text will shift. To make sure this doesn't happen, we'll define the text in each column so our text stays put. We'll accomplish this using what's called a Column Break. Position your cursor after the period of the last word in Jenni Martin's column of text. Next, go to Type > Insert Break Character > Column Break. Repeat this process for Jacob's and Anna's columns of text.
Everything is looking good, but it feels like we need just a little more separation between the employee's names and their descriptions. Let's revisit the "Employee Names" Paragraph Style in the Paragraph Styles panel by double-clicking on the style. Go to the Paragraph Rules menu option on the left side of the panel. Select Rule Below and check the box Rule On, also check the Preview box, located in the bottom left corner of the panel. Next, change the weight of our rule to 2pt and select the teal color we defined in our swatches. Finally, in the width drop-down, select Text and under offset, input 0.0625in.
We have our rule positioned nicely below our names, but now it's hitting some of the body text. To add a little extra space, we need to adjust the spacing. To do this, go to the Indents and Spacing menu option on the left side of the window, and under Space After, input 0.0825 in. That's better! Hit OK because we're officially finished with our InDesign file! Be sure to save your InDesign file by going to File > Save As.
7. Save a Print Ready PDF
Many times printers and Online printing services will request a print ready PDF. For our print ready version, we'll save our PDF as high resolution and include crop marks on it, since we had a bleed on our document. Let's do this by going to File > Adobe PDF Presets > High Quality Print. Next, define what name you'd like it saved as and where you'd like it saved, then click Save.
We'll be using the default settings of all the menu options on the left except for Marks and Bleeds, so click on that option on the left side of your menu. Under marks, check the box for Crop Marks and under Bleed and Slug, check the box that says Use Document Bleed Settings, then click Export. Your PDF will be saved in the location you specified and is now ready to send to your printer!
Congratulations! You're Done!
I hope you've learned some new features InDesign offers when it comes to text and layout. Thanks for reading!