1. Design & Illustration
  2. Layout

How to Make an A5 Print Ready Leaflet InDesign CS5

Scroll to top
Read Time: 12 min

In this tutorial you will learn how to design a A5 four page leaflet, which can also be saved as a template for future designs. Using some of the new type setting features in InDesign CS5, you will make an appealing design that's perfect for print.


Note: The Premium Download for this file is in InDesign CS5 format only, as the focus of this tut is on features that are only available in the latest version of the program.

Before you start designing it is worth mentioning that I live and work in England, UK. In my region the print / design community mainly uses millimeters when dealing with Ruler Units. After reading other tutorials on the Tuts network I have noticed that other designers work with points. It is wise to contact the printer(s) you intend to use and ask what their requirements are for setting up artwork as printer requirements can differ greatly.

For the purposes of this tutorial I am using a fictional company called 'Altitude', who are architectural consultants. I am using images from MorgueFile and the text is the default place holder text within InDesign. By all means use my design and switch my content for your content — but I urge you to develop your own designs using this tut as a guide. Below is the layout of the document I will be designing.

Step 1

Once a brief has been received from a client open the text and view the images supplied. Just studying the length of text and shape of the images will give you a loose idea of what size document you need to set up (in this case an A5 4 page booklet is perfect). However, before you even open InDesign start by sketching out some rough mock-ups of how you want the leaflet to be laid out. This is an opportunity to get the balance right between the content (images, logos, text etc) quickly. Remember there is no better creative way to work your ideas out than using a pencil and pad.

Step 2

OK, back to designing the leaflet. Once the sketches start to work open InDesign and create a fresh document. File > New > Document. Within the new document settings, set these attributes. This tut is for a four page A5 (210 x 148mm) leaflet. Enter the following values: Intent: Print. Number of pages: 4. Page size A5 / Orientation portrait. Columns: 2. Margins top: 20mm, the rest 10mm (if InDesign changes all four of the margins when you change the top value, click on the chain to release the linked feature), gutter 5mm (I prefer the gutter to be half the size of my side margins), bleed 3mm for all sides and finally make sure facing pages is ticked. As a result of my sketching I was able to make decisions on these values. I knew I needed a two column set up, portrait orientation and bleed (3mm).

Step 3

Now you will start to block out the pages by roughly inserting the text boxes, images and any other elements. To draw text boxes use the type tool (T), and use the Rectangle tool (M) to create the color filled boxes.

Step 4

The cover image is from morgueFile, under 'Office Block'. As this is a print job the image has been set to CMYK and at 300dpi using Photoshop. To import an image go to File > Place (Command + D). The cursor will change to an dotted right angle. Wherever you click in the document the image will be placed there by its top left hand corner. However don’t release the mouse button straight away as the image will be placed at 100% and this will lead to unnecessary re-scaling and cropping (unless you have previously resized). Instead hold down the Shift key + click and drag to the desired size. The image will be placed in the center of the box. From here you can tidy the image frame and place into the correct position.

Step 5

If any of your images seem blurry or poor quality, right click on the image and go to > Display Performance > High Quality Display to check the quality is print quality. If you can't determine the quality by viewing it on the screen play it safe and print the image out at the size you intend to use. Once you are happy with the image switch back to Typical Display as this takes up less memory and won't slow your document down. There is also an option for fast display which will completely grey out the image. This option is handy if you have an image heavy document and you are focusing on type and formatting.

Step 6

The curved lines on the bottom of the page are drawn with the ellipse tool which is found in the Tools palette (L). Two out of the three have no fill color but all have a 0.5pt stroke line, and the third is also filled with white for the logo to sit on (make sure the ellipses are drawn up to the 3mm bleed). Now place your logo using the techniques described in step 4.

Step 7

As our document is set as facing pages, page two and three sit side by side. This is useful for designing across two pages. On this design I have drawn a box across the top of the page using the rectangle tool (M), the color tint used is 10% of Cyan.

Step 8

Now place the text for the title and introduction making sure to stay within the margins. In this case my text source is the standard place holder text. To add the placeholder text draw a text box (s) in the desired place using the text tool (T). Go to Type > Fill with Place Holder text. The text will fill the entire box.

Step 9

Place the image using the techniques described in step 4. The sample image I have used contains a transparent background and is sourced from under Consultant and Business. The clipping path for the transparency was created in Photoshop and saved as an PSD. The PSD contains one layer with the cut-out of the photograph only.

Step 10

Within my design the columns of text are split into two text frames on the left hand and right hand page. First draw a text box on the left hand page across your columns using the Type Tool. Now draw the second box on the right hand page. Select both text boxes with the selection tool and right click to select the text frame options. Make the columns two and the gutter 5mm to match your document setup. I prefer to activate the preview to check the set up is working before I come out of the options box.

Step 11

Now that you have two boxes you will need to link them for the text to flow from box to box. Do this by selecting both text boxes using the selection tool and clicking on the white square to the bottom right hand corner of the left hand text box. A little paragraph will appear as your cursor.

Now click on the white square to the top left hand corner of the right hand text box. Too view the text thread(s) go to View > Extras > Show Text Threads. Flow your text into box one and it will link with box two. Now edit your text to the font, size and color you require. I am using Gill Sans, body 11pt, Main title 23pt, and sub header 14pt.

Step 12

Now you are going to use the "New Span Columns" feature that is included in InDesign CS5. Before this feature was introduced if you wanted to have a title span the width of two columns it was necessary to set up a separate text box. Now you don’t need to and the title can be included with the two column structure.

First you need to define your title or introduction by making a paragraph break. Highlight the title you want to span using the type tool and go to the paragraph palette and select the drop down menu from the triangle in the top right hand corner. Scroll down and select span columns.

Step 13

You will now be presented with a new options box titled 'Span Columns'. In the paragraph layout select span, and set span to All Columns. Also set the space before and after the title, set these attributes to fit your design. I have set the space after span to 2mm. If the preview box is not ticked, tick it and you will see the change and the span feature in action. Now edit your title/introduction size to fit your design.

Step 14

In the third column I have a paragraph that is dedicated to a quote. Now, it is common to see quotation marks that haven’t been hung on the outside of the text box. There are numerous ways to achieve this result, however once again InDesign provides quick way of achieving hung quote marks by using the story palette. Below is an example of unhung quotes, notice how the body of the quote is indented and the left edge doesn't match the paragraph below.

Step 15

Using your type tool click inside the text box once. Go to Window > Type and Tables > Story. A new palette will open. Now tick the optical Margin Alignment box and set the desired distance you want the quote mark to hang by, I generally set it between 12mm and 16mm. The left edge of the quote should be in line with the other paragraphs now.

Step 16

Finally it is time to set the back page. I have dedicated a box for contact details. The blue tinted horizontal box is the same as the box that sits behind the image within the center spread. Reuse the graphic from the center pages by selecting the image > right click > copy, return to the back page and right click > 'Paste in place'.

The colored box will now sit exactly in the same position and will continue the theme from the center pages. To finish add your contact details over the top and finally a logo in the bottom right hand corner (you can copy and paste the logo from the front cover)

Step 17

Now that you have your text, images and elements in place it is time to check over the spread and adjust any unbalanced text. A quick way of doing this is to select all or some of the text, go to the paragraph palette and back into the triangle drop down menu and select Balance Ragged Lines.

You will notice that InDesign attempts to balance the text line by line. As this is an automated feature it might not work for the overall design. So if you have the odd word that you are not happy with use your text tool and click once before the word and make a soft return (Shift + - enter)

Step 18

Generally designers receive pre-typed text to work with (word doc, text file etc), so it is good practice to check for double spacing and spelling/grammatical errors. A good way to check for double spaces is to open the Find/Change palette. Access it by Edit > Find/Change (Command + F). From the drop down Query menu at the top select > Multiple space to Single space. Make sure the search drop down menu is set to Document. Now click the Find button and if there are any multiple spaces they will show up, click change to correct them.

Step 19

The spell check feature can be found by selecting your text > Right Click > Spelling > Check Spelling (Command + I).

Step 20

Just before proofing it is wise to double check over the design. I can't stress the importance of zooming in as far as possible to check for misaligned images, slipped text boxes, random strokes, un-joined paths and incorrectly stacked elements. It is better to spot these mistakes before printing off a proof and wasting paper and ink. Below is an example of a slipped image which is not aligned correctly to the bottom edge of the colored box that it sits on.

Step 21

Now it is time to send the proof to the client. The majority of my proofing is done by a print out or PDF sent via email. The difficulty with both, is presenting a true reflection of colors used within your swatches. Most printers include one proof as part of the price, however some charge, so again check with your printer in advance to see what they offer. If you are printing proofs from a studio printer always provide a swatch that represent the colors used.

If a client is happy to receive a PDF proof I always make sure I do the following. First duplicate your Indesign document, the reason for this is to protect the original text, because once you convert the text can't be edited again. Now convert all your text to outlines. Do this by selecting all of the text boxes one by one with the selection tool and go to Type > Create outlines. This ensures that no font substitutions occur on the clients computer as the text is now effectively artwork.

I am aware that you can flatten the text when exporting a PDF, however on some occasions this has still presented a problem with viewing fonts correctly on some PCs. I find converting text to outlines for proofing to be reliable - just remember to convert on a duplicated file!

Step 22

As the PDF is going to be for viewing purposes only, I like to set my PDF settings to a lower resolution to keep the email size down. To export go to File > Adobe PDF Presets > Smallest file size. In the Compression menu, set the images to 72 pixels per inch, select automatic for the compression, select medium-image quality for both the color and grayscale options. If any photos have been used, select Automatic (JPEG 2000) compression. If your work contains mainly solid vectors, charts or graphs use ZIP compression instead. Finally within the Output menu, use the Ink Manager to convert any spot colors you have used to process colors.


Below is an image of the final product. I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and remember that the tips and process that you have learnt can be used for a variety of InDesign files for Print. Have a play with the different text and image settings and you'll be well on your way to designing your own unique documents.

Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Design & Illustration tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
Start your 7-day free trial*
Start free trial
*All Individual plans include a 7-day free trial for new customers; then chosen plan price applies. Cancel any time.