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A to Z of Affinity Publisher: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

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Read Time: 17 mins

Love Affinity Publisher? Let's take a look at some tips, tricks, and hacks, from A to Z, that you can use to take your Publisher skills further. There's something for newcomers and experienced users alike. 

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Affinity Publisher brochure template and stock imagery from Envato Elements.

What You Will Learn

Looking for Affinity Publisher tutorials or an Affinity Publisher course? Then this collection of A to Z tips and tricks might be right up your alley. It's a collection for both beginner and advanced users, as we'll look at some basics and some tricks you might not have known. We'll look at things like:

  • placing content in Affinity Publisher
  • customizing your workspace and toolbar
  • layer effects and shapes
  • Affinity Publisher text tools and alignment
  • and much more!

You can also watch as we go through this collection of A to Z tips in the tutorial video over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

Download Affinity Publisher Content on Envato Elements

Looking for content to use in Affinity Publisher? Or maybe you're curious about how to open InDesign files in Affinity Publisher? It's super simple (we'll walk through the details in this tutorial). However, keep an eye out for IDML files: they're Affinity Publisher friendly. This means, if you're looking for Affinity Publisher templates, there are a lot of potential options out there for you.

Interested? Well, if you'd like access to thousands of Affinity Publisher templates, give Envato Elements a look. One low price gets you unlimited access to the entire library. It's an awesome deal.

envato elementsenvato elementsenvato elements
Download thousands of Affinity Publisher templates for one price on Envato Elements.

Now, let's dig into our collection of A to Z tips and tricks you can use in Affinity Publisher.

A is for Arrow

Affinity Publisher has a variety of easy-to-use shape tools. Click and hold on the Shape Tool to take a look at all the shape tools Publisher has to offer. There are basics like Rectangle, Ellipse, and Triangle, but you also get some more unusual choices like Stars, Cogs, Arrows, and more.

With your chosen tool selected, simply click and drag to draw your custom shape. Change it up in the Options, at the top of the software. For example, in this example arrow, it begins with a hard edge on the left and an arrow on the right. You can choose a variety of options for either side.

arrow shape tool affinity publisherarrow shape tool affinity publisherarrow shape tool affinity publisher

B is for Bookmarks

Bookmarks in Affinity Publisher are an awesome way to add easy browsing to your PDF documents. They're super easy to add too. Just start with the Anchors panel. You can open it up by going to View > Studio > Anchors.

Adding a new anchor is as simple as highlighting some key text on your page and then clicking on the page icon, in the Anchors panel. Publisher gives you the option to add your anchor as a PDF bookmark.

publisher bookmarks anchor panelpublisher bookmarks anchor panelpublisher bookmarks anchor panel
Download this stylish multipage Affinity Publisher template on Envato Elements.

C is for Character Panel

Easily change up the text in your document using the Character panel. It's the perfect panel for changing up your font, weight, size, and more. To open up the Character panel, go to View > Studio > Character.

To begin, select your text. You can either use the Move Tool to select the entire text frame or use the Text Tool to select specific text. Then, choose your desired values in the Character panel. 

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Download this Affinity Publisher template and this calligraphy font on Envato Elements

D is for Documents

Ever wanted to know how to open InDesign files in Affinity Publisher? Thankfully, it's super simple. Affinity Publisher can import InDesign IDML files, which are InDesign Markup Language documents. IDML files are often used for backwards compatibility within InDesign, but they also work in Affinity Publisher.

It's as simple as going to File > Open and choosing your IDML file. This is awesome because it means a wide variety of InDesign templates work as Affinity Publisher templates too.

publisher IDML filespublisher IDML filespublisher IDML files
This Affinity Publisher brochure is available for download on Envato Elements.

E is for Embedding

Embedding, linking... what's the difference? When you link a file in Publisher, you're linking to a file on your computer. So, for example, a linked image is imported into your Publisher layout, but it's still dependent on that location on your computer. You'll need to keep your paths consistent to avoid broken links. 

When you embed a file in Publisher, the file's location on your computer doesn't matter anymore. That's because a copy of the file is embedded within your Publisher document. This might sound pretty handy, but keep in mind that this will affect your document size. 

You can choose which you prefer for your document by going to your Document Setup. You can find it by going to File > Document Setup. Then, click on the Image Placement Policy dropdown to choose either option. 

embed vs link publisherembed vs link publisherembed vs link publisher

F is for Frames

Frames are an essential part of laying out content in Affinity Publisher. Think of them like containers that can hold content, like images. 

We can use the Picture Frame Rectangle Tool to create a simple frame. Click and drag to draw a rectangular shape, as shown below. Consider it a placeholder. For example, we could now import an image into this rectangle. 

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G is for Glow

Did you know that Affinity Publisher has a collection of Layer Effects? No need to turn to other software; we can do it all right here, within Publisher.

Let's try out an Outer Glow layer effect on a shape, drawn here in Publisher. We can either click the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers panel or go to Layer > Layer Effects. Both will open up your Layer Effects for you.

Choose the effect you'd like to try, on the left-hand side of the panel. Let's try Outer Glow.

  • The Blend Mode changes how the effect blends with elements in your design.
  • Opacity will increase or decrease the opacity of the applied effect.
  • Intensity will change how intense the effect looks.
  • Color is the color of the effect. Try many different colors!

The best way to learn is to try it out. Try this and the other Layer Effects listed here too. You can always toggle them on or off by clicking the check box next to each effect.

affinity publisher layer effectsaffinity publisher layer effectsaffinity publisher layer effects

H is for History Panel

The History panel is an awesome way to take a step back—think about it like undo, but a lot more powerful. To open up your History panel, go to View > Studio > History

Take a look at the example, below. In my History panel, I see a list of all the steps I've taken so far in my design document. I can then click on any of the previous steps here to jump back to where I was at that point in my design. Handy, right? 

affinity publisher historyaffinity publisher historyaffinity publisher history
Bayland script font and Fresh Start sans serif font from Envato Elements.

I is for Image Place

Placing images into your Affinity Publisher design is simple and easy. Let's walk through how to do it with this Affinity Publisher template

With the Move Tool active, select your image placeholder. Then, go to File > Place

Select the image that you'd like to place on your computer, and then click OK. Publisher will then place the image into your placeholder for you. We can easily resize this image within the frame using the slider or arrows, with the frame selected. 

Affinity Publisher magazine templateAffinity Publisher magazine templateAffinity Publisher magazine template
Affinity Publisher magazine template and stock imagery from Envato Elements.

J is for Justify

You can do a lot of things with the Paragraph panel in Affinity Publisher: drop caps, alignment, bullets, and much more. It's all conveniently located for us here in this space. Let's test this out with some simple text alignment, like justifying a paragraph.

Begin by selecting your text. You can select the entire text frame with the Move Tool. Then, turn to your Paragraph panel. At the top of the panel, there are various icons, each for different alignments. Try them out! We can justify left, center, right, and more. 

You can also use the Paragraph panel for things like Affinity Publisher drop caps, hyphenation, and more. Just pan down to view the other options here. Click on the arrow to the left of each section to expand and experiment with them.

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Magazine design template for Affinity Publisher from Envato Elements.

K is for Kerning

Kerning is a typographic term, and it refers to the spacing between letters. So, for example, if there's a little too much space between letters, you'll need to adjust the kerning. This is different from Tracking, which would be the letter spacing overall.

We can turn to our Character panel again to adjust the tracking (you can find it via View > Studio > Character). Expand the Positioning and Transform section within the Character panel. The first option on the left can be used to adjust the Kerning.

First, select the Text Tool. Then, click to place your cursor between the letters you would like to kern. Then, adjust the Kerning value in the Character panel. 

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This Affinity Publisher text based cover is part of a multipage template from Envato Elements.

L is for Layers

Layers are an easy and convenient way to organize your content. Open up your Layers panel in Affinity Publisher by going to View > Studio > Layers.

Create a new layer by clicking on the paper icon. Delete a layer by clicking on the trash can.

In the example below, notice how the text is all on its own layer group. You can expand these groups by clicking on the arrow beside each layer group. You can also toggle layer visibility on and off by clicking on the check mark on the right-hand side of each layer.

affinity brochureaffinity brochureaffinity brochure
The content on this Affinity Publisher brochure (no longer available) is separated on different layers. Download it now on Envato Elements.

M is for Master Pages

Master Pages are an awesome way to easily employ repeating elements in your layout designs. This Affinity Publisher template is a great example; it's a magazine design, and we'd likely want to see repeating headers or footers on some of our spreads. Master Pages make it easy to add and edit that content on multiple pages, without necessarily recreating it every time.

To check out your Master Pages, turn to the Pages panel. You can open it by going to View > Studio > Pages.

The Master Pages are located at the top of the Pages panel. Click on the triangle to expand and contract the Master Pages section, to either hide or make them visible. Double-click on any Master Page to begin to edit it.

Then, all you need to do is click and drag any Master Page to an active spread to apply it.

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This Affinity Publisher magazine template uses master pages in its layouts. Download it now on Envato Elements.

N is for Navigator

The Navigator is an easy and convenient way to view and preview your content. To open it up, go to View > Studio > Navigator

Here's a preview of what the Navigator panel looks like. It's like a zoomed-out, thumbnail-like preview of our work. You can resize this panel by clicking and dragging at the perimeter, when your cursor looks like a set of arrows. 

To change your view, click and drag on the image preview. It will change what part of your active page is visible in your workspace. You can also easily change the zoom using the slider in the Navigation panel. 

affinity publisher navigatoraffinity publisher navigatoraffinity publisher navigator
Affinity Publisher resume template (no longer available) from Envato Elements.

O is for OpenType

OpenType is a font format, and Publisher supports many OpenType features, like stylistic alternates. Let's take a look at how to use this feature in Affinity Publisher.

First, we'll need to open up the Typography panel. Go to Text > Show Typography to open it up. 

In the below example, I've used the Smoothline Script font, which has a number of alternates we can use. All I need to do is highlight one of the letters using the Text Tool. Then, I can turn to the Typography panel and choose an alternate from the list. 

affinity publisher opentype featuresaffinity publisher opentype featuresaffinity publisher opentype features
Smoothline Script font from Envato Elements.

P is for Pages

Pages are an essential part of working in Affinity Publisher, especially if you're working with multipage or even double-sided documents. One of the best ways to view, manage, and create pages is with the Pages panel. You can open it up by going to View > Studio > Pages.

Check out what the pages look like in this Affinity Publisher template. Using the Pages panel, we can scroll through all of our pages. Double-click to jump to a page. You can also click and drag pages to easily rearrange them. 

Click on the single page icon at the top of the Pages panel to add a new page. 

Affinity designer pagesAffinity designer pagesAffinity designer pages
Affinity Publisher templates like this magazine design template are available on Envato Elements.

Q is for Quick

It's super easy and quick to set up your spreads, even if you've already created your document. With your Move Tool selected, take a look at the upper part of the software. You'll notice Document Setup, Spread Setup, and Preferences. These are three easy access icons with tons of features. Use them to quickly customize your work and your workspace.

Let's look at Spread Setup. Check out how easy it is to jump right in and adjust your margins, for example. Click on the Margins tab, and then we can change up the margins themselves, toggle them on or off, and customize the color too. 

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R is for Rulers

Rulers are a useful way to align your content. Make your rulers visible in your workspace by going to View > Show Rulers. An example of visible rulers is shown below.

You can add Guides to your composition by clicking, holding, and dragging from your Rulers. Release to place a Guide on your layout. This can be handy for creating custom columns, noting folds, and a host of other visual cues.

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S is for Stay Calm

I think we've all been in a situation before where we're working on a project and then... uh oh, there was a technical problem. However, there's no need to panic. Affinity Publisher autosaves your work for you, thankfully, so you'll have a safety net there. 

We can customize the frequency or File Recovery Interval, or how often Affinity Publishers saves our work, in our Preferences. With your Move Tool active, click on Preferences in the upper portion of the software, as shown below. Then, in the Preferences panel, click on the menu icon, and then select Performance

Here we get a whole host of Preference options, including quality and usage limits. Adjust those to best suit your needs. We can also find the File Recovery Interval here, and this is how often Publisher will autosave a backup of your work. 

affinity publisher autosaveaffinity publisher autosaveaffinity publisher autosave

T is for Toolbar

Did you know that you can customize the Toolbar in Affinity Publisher? Just go to View > Customize Tools to start customizing your Toolbar.

Simply click and drag to rearrange tools in your Toolbar. You can also add tools that are hidden or nested under other tools, so they're more easily visible or accessible. Just click and drag the tool to the Toolbar.

You can hide tools by clicking and dragging them away from the Toolbar. Easy, right? You can even change the number of columns in your Toolbar too. Mix, match, and customize this space to complement your workflow.

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U is for UI

Affinity Publisher has so many options when it comes to customizing the UI. Return to your Preferences. Remember, you can easily access them with the Move Tool selected, and then click on the Preferences button in the upper portion of the software. Select the menu icon, and then choose User Interface.

A great option here is the ability to change the UI from Dark mode to Light mode. You can also change the gray level of your workspace's background. It's also really handy to be able to scale up the Font UI size. Give these options a try and customize your UI to best suit your preferences.

affinity publisher customize UIaffinity publisher customize UIaffinity publisher customize UI

V is for Vibrance

You can adjust your images right inside Affinity Publisher—no need to jump to different software to make these adjustments. For example, let's take a look at an image imported into this Affinity Publisher template

Go to Layer > New Adjustment > Vibrance to adjust the image's vibrance levels. We can drag the sliders here to adjust the vibrance and saturation. If you look at your Layers panel, you'll see the Vibrance Adjustment listed there now too. Double-click on this adjustment layer to open these options back up any time. Try this out with other adjustments too!

affinity publisher layer effectsaffinity publisher layer effectsaffinity publisher layer effects
Affinity Publisher template and stock imagery from Envato Elements.

W is for Workspace

You can really make your workspace your own in Affinity Publisher. We've taken a look at a number of ways to customize the Toolbar and the UI, but you can also completely rearrange the workspace (or Studio) itself. 

If you want to go back to the default workspace, go to View > Studio > Reset Studio. This places all of the default panels back, as shown below. Note, you can also hide all of these panels by going to View > Studio > Hide Studio

affinity designer reset workspaceaffinity designer reset workspaceaffinity designer reset workspace
Business card design template for Affinity Publisher from Envato Elements.

But you can also change up and remix the way your workspace is arranged. Most panels, like your Pages, Colors, and more, can be dragged, docked, and undocked. Position them wherever you prefer by clicking and dragging.

Close panels by clicking on the X at the top left of each panel. A majority of panels are located within View > Studio, so experiment with which ones you prefer to have visible.

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X is for Export

Exporting is easy when you're working in Affinity Publisher. Make sure to save your work by going to File > Save, or File > Save As (if you'd prefer to save a copy, rather than overwrite your work).

Exporting is different, in that you're exporting as a file type other than an AFPUB document (an Affinity Publisher Document). To export your work, go to File > Export. Then, we're presented with a variety of export options, perfect for both web and print. Use these options to export an Affinity Publisher PDF, or export to PNG, JPG, PSD, and more.  

poster design affinity publisherposter design affinity publisherposter design affinity publisher
Use this poster design template to export an Affinity Publisher PDF. Download this design now on Envato Elements.

Y is for Yellow

Different projects may call for a different color space. In this case, return to your Document Setup. With your Move Tool selected, we can click on Document Setup towards the top of the software.

Then, click on the Color tab, in the Document Setup panel. The Color Format dropdown will allow you to switch between modes such as CMYK and RBG. You can also change up your Color Profile, if your project has specific requirements. Need a transparent background? You can toggle Transparent Background on or off in this space too.

affinity publisher color modeaffinity publisher color modeaffinity publisher color mode
Download Affinity Publisher templates like this one on Envato Elements.

Z is for Zoom

You can zoom in and pan on your work by using the Zoom and View tools. The Zoom tool looks like a magnifying glass, while the View tool looks like a hand. Notice that these tools have been moved to the top of the Toolbar, in the example below. Remember, you can fully customize and rearrange your tools!

You can also adjust your Zoom and Pan using the slider at the top of the software, with the Zoom or Pan tool selected, as shown below. These are all easy and convenient ways to zoom in and isolate parts of your composition.

affinity publisher pdf flyeraffinity publisher pdf flyeraffinity publisher pdf flyer
Download this Affinity Publisher PDF flyer on Envato Elements

Learn More About How to Use Affinity Publisher

Looking for an Affinity Publisher course or Affinity Publisher tutorials? Learn how to use Affinity Publisher right here on Envato Tuts+. Check out these free Affinity Publisher tutorials today. What will you create? Happy designing!

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