In this tutorial, we'll walk through the basics of creating a calendar template in Adobe InDesign. We'll experiment with tables, cells, and ways that we can easily manipulate them to make adding in dates for each month easy! Add in your favorite images for a themed calendar! Or adapt this tutorial to suit any shape or size calendar that you can dream up.
Let's get started!
What You'll Need
You'll need the following resources in order to complete this project:
- Orange Kitten Photo
- Uninterested Poodle Puppy Photo
- Baby Rabbit in Grass Photo
- Vector Hand-Drawn Flourish Dividers
- Dillova Font (no longer available on Envato Elements, but can be found on Dafont)
1. How to Start Your InDesign Document
Let's begin by Creating a New Document. To do so, go to File > New > Document.
That will bring up the following New Document window, where we'll set up our document.
Keep in mind, if you make any mistakes here, or just plain old change your mind, you can edit these settings any time by going File > Document Setup.
We'll be making a traditional, folded calendar—the kind you open up and hang on your wall. So we're going to want a long document. Keep in mind, however, that you could apply the techniques in this tutorial to any dimensions you prefer.
I'm going to make my calendar 20 inches tall by 10 inches wide. This will make it 10" x 10" when it's closed, and 20" x 10" when it's "open" and displaying the current month.
Make sure to Toggle Off Facing Pages—we don't need a two-page spread here.
I chose to give my work a 0.5" Margin on all sides. I'm going to use this as a guideline for a general "safe area" for my content—I'll keep text and things like that within this space, so nothing gets lost when my work is trimmed.
I also added a 0.125" Bleed on all sides. If you're unfamiliar with this, it might sound strangely ominous—but it's not, honest. The top of our calendar is going to feature large, full-bleed imagery—meaning the images will extend all the way to the edge of the page, with no visible border or "white space". Extra space for this (our "bleed") ensures that your imagery will look "full bleed", just as you wanted, when the printed work is trimmed.
Make sure to ask your printer about bleed, if you're unsure. They should be able to offer help and recommendations.
Once you're happy with your document's setting, click Create.
Now, here we are, in our new document. It looks like a big, long page.
Before we dig in and start placing content, let's take a look at our Master Pages. We'll be creating an InDesign template that we can use (and reuse) for multiple months—and Master Pages make that nice and simple for us.
To view your Master Pages, open up the Pages panel. You can do so by going Window > Pages.
Our Master Pages are located at the top of our Pages panel. The default one is called A-Master—that's where we're going to begin.
Double Click on A-Master to go "inside" of this Master Page. If you're ever unsure of where you "are", within InDesign, you can look at the bottom of the software. Notice that I'm working on A-Master, right now.
2. How to Create an InDesign Calendar With Tables
We're going to begin creating our calendar, here in our Master Page called A-Master.
Before we start placing anything, let's Create a Guideline.
First, make sure your Rulers are visible. To turn them on, go to View > Rulers.
Rulers are generally visible at the top and left-hand side of your workspace. Here's an example of what they look like, below.
Now, Click and Drag from the top ruler to create a Guide. Place it at the 10" mark—halfway down our document.
We're going to use this as a visual guide for where our calendar folds in half.
Let's begin by creating the calendar itself. In this tutorial, we'll explore doing so with a table. Keep in mind, however, that there are other ways you could achieve this—this is just one possible method!
Go to Table > Create Table at the top of the software window. It will open up the following dialog box, below.
We want 5 Body Rows and 7 Columns. We also need 1 Header Row.
This will give us five rows for the weeks of each month (because they don't always neatly fit into four tidy weeks), one header row to list the days of the week, and seven columns for the days themselves, Sunday through Saturday.
Once you've input the values you'd like (either mine or your own, if you'd like something different), click OK.
You'll see your cursor change—Click and Drag to place the table. It should look similar to this.
Now that we've placed our Table, we can resize it. Mouse Over any of the dividing lines and your cursor will change to resize handles. Click and Drag to resize, if desired.
I resized the top rows, where I plan to put the days of the week—I didn't feel this needed to be as big as the dates themselves.
We can edit and style our table in a few ways: the Table panel, Table Styles, and/or Cell Styles. You can find these panels under Window > Type & Tables or Window > Styles > Table Styles/Cell Styles.
As an example, I'm going to create a new Cell Style.
I'd like the days of the week to be in the top row of my calendar. Using the Text Tool, I added the days of the week to each cell. I also centered the type—if you're unsure of how to do this, take a look at either your Paragraph panel (Window > Type & Tables > Paragraph) or the Options at the top of your software, with the Text Tool selected.
I used the Dillova font for the days of the week!
Next, let's create a new Cell Style in the Cell Styles panel.
Click on the Create New Style button, as shown below.
Now, we have a whole host of options we could change to style our cells, in our Cell Style Options. Remember to give your style a name, so you remember what it is!
I'm going to add a couple of things here:
Under Text, I changed the Vertical Justification to Align: Center.
Still in the Cell Style Options, I'm going to add a Fill—I chose Black with a 10% Tint, so it's a light gray color.
There are a whole bunch of options here you could experiment with—don't be afraid to have fun with it! A great way to learn is to just get in there and try things out.
When you're happy with your selections, click OK.
To apply our cell style, double-click on your table, and then click and drag to select the cells where you'd like the style applied. Then, choose the style you created in the Cell Style Options.
Now, in my example, the text is vertically aligned to the center (note, my work is highlighted/selected—that's why my colors look inverted).
Changing up the Table Style is very similar—this time, we go to the Table Style panel. Create a new style, just as we did in the Cell Style panel.
As a simple example, let's add to the Table Border—change the Weight of the Table Border to 2 px.
There are a whole host of options to experiment with here! Feel free to give them a try!
3. How to Add Dates to an InDesign Calendar
When it comes to the dates, we could manually go in and add them all by hand—but this would take an awfully long time. Instead, let's try adding the dates with a Numbered List.
Double click the first cell in your calendar, where your dates should begin. This should select both the cell and the Text Tool.
Then, go to Type > Bulleted & Numbered Lists > Apply Numbers to insert a numbered list.
You won't see anything here until you type something, so go ahead and Type a Space. Now you should see a "1" with a period after it.
However, we don't want our numbers to look like this, with a period after them. So let's go ahead and customize how this number looks.
Go to Window > Properties to open up the Properties panel.
From there, we can find the Bullets and Numbering Options—it's a little hidden, isn't it?
In the Bullets and Numbering Options, you'll see Numbering Style.
We want to change this from ^#.^t to ^# so we no longer have a period after the number.
Can you see what that "jibberish" is communicating? We've deleted everything after the place where InDesign inserts a new number, in the ordered list.
Now, let's style the number. I increased its size to 24 points, and I added some margin space here in a new Cell Style. Remember, we defined and altered Cell Styles in the Cell Style panel.
Finally, let's Copy this cell and Paste it into the other cells in our calendar. This is as simple as highlighting the first cell and then copying it (Edit > Copy). Then, Click and Drag to select all of your calendar cells. Paste (Edit > Paste).
You should see your calendar filled in with numbers—in order too! Yes, it will be more than the normal 28 to 31 days we see in a calendar month, but that's okay! You can easily delete excess days. We'll get to that in a moment!
4. How to Finish Your InDesign Calendar Template
So, the "heart" of our calendar is coming together—but we're still missing some important content. Let's go ahead and add the month to the composition. I chose January, but you could put any placeholder text here that you like.
Use the Text Tool to add a sample month to your calendar, for template purposes.
The entire top portion of our composition is going to be dedicated to lovely, eye-catching imagery—this could be whatever you like, of course! Most calendars tend to have some kind of theme, so it might be a good idea to keep that in mind.
Use the Rectangle Tool to define the area where you'd like your image. I chose the entire top portion, but you could section this off any way you like—you could even have a collage of multiple images!
Then, Place your imagery into the rectangular frame we've created.
If you're not sure how, first, select your rectangular frame. Then go to File > Place and select your image. You'll see it inserted into your document, inside this frame.
Notice that the image is inside the frame—the red box here illustrates how big the actual image is inside the frame, but only the frame area is visible.
To resize your image, Double Click. Your selection will look one of two ways:
If you see a blue outline, you've selected the Rectangular Frame. You can resize and adjust the size of this frame when you see this outline
If you see a red outline, you've selected the contents of the Rectangular Frame—the image itself. Use the resize handles to adjust it in whichever way you choose.
Note that these colors might vary, if you are not using InDesign's default settings—but the premise should remain the same.
So those are the basics of our calendar. We have the calendar itself set up, and we have a placeholder for the featured calendar image.
As an example, I'm going to push the aesthetic further here. I thought some flourishes would be a fun addition (you can download them here!). Remember, you can add images via File > Place!
I also tweaked the colors in my calendar. Remember, you can do this via Cell Styles and Table Styles, as we did earlier. They are both under Window > Styles.
Have fun with it, and feel free to add your own flair to your calendar.
5. How to Use an InDesign Calendar Template
Now, let's start working with our active calendar pages.
Go to your Pages panel—where we first looked at our Master Pages. Notice how our active page has an "A" on it. That means its Master Page is A-Master. We could, for example, select [None] if we didn't want it to use any Master Page.
This is an easy case, because it's already been applied for us—but be aware of where your Master Pages and Active Pages are.
The first thing we're going to edit is the calendar itself. Notice that, by default, you can't select anything on the page. That's because it's on the Master Page—but we can select it by clicking while holding Shift and Command (on Mac) or Shift and Control (on PC).
So, for example, let's say the first day of the month starts on Wednesday. Here, we have it starting on Sunday.
All we need to do is select the days prior to the start of the month—and hit Backspace/Delete on your keyboard. Poof, gone. Notice how the days adjust themselves to the correct start date!
We can use the same technique for the end of the month, as well. Simply select and delete any excess numbers, and the rest will adjust.
We can edit other parts of our calendar in a similar way. Let's start by creating a new page for our calendar, for the next month.
Click Create New Page in the Pages panel. You'll notice that your new page looks exactly like our A-Master—our template layout for January.
Remember, you can't directly click on the parts of the layout from A-Master. You'll need to hold Shift and Command (on Mac) or Shift and Control (on PC) when clicking to select this content. Then it becomes local—and unique to this page—and you can edit it.
Do this with the name of your month and the imagery at the top of the calendar page.
For February's spread, I used this image of a cute puppy!
Now, we have to adjust the calendar itself. Remember to consult the previous month on this. Following the example calendar, the first day of the month should start on Friday.
So click and drag to select the days prior to Friday and then hit Backspace or Delete on your keyboard to remove them. The numbers should adjust automatically.
Repeat this process for any excess days at the end of the month.
Then, you can continue this process for your other months in your calendar! Create a New Page and then edit the parts of your composition that should be unique each month.
March, here, had a special circumstance—an extra day that went onto a "sixth week". So, in this case, I added a line using the Line Tool to split the last Sunday of the month. The text was added with the Text Tool.
But what if you want to save and adapt your calendar template? Maybe you'd like to make a calendar template "base" and use it over and over again.
You could save your work the "normal" way—as an InDesign INDD file.
Or you could save your work as an InDesign Template file—an INDT file.
When you open up your InDesign Template file, you can create a new, untitled document, based on your template, with one click—while still preserving your original.
To choose which file type to save as, when saving your work, click on the Format options in the Save window.
And There You Have It!
Thanks so much for joining me on this walkthrough of creating an InDesign calendar template! This is just the beginning, of course—there are so many ways you could design your calendar! I like the table method, myself, as it helps simplify the challenge of adding in those dates.
Good luck with your creative projects!
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If you enjoyed this tutorial, here are some others to check out!
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