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How to Make a Cookbook Template in InDesign

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Read Time: 12 min
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, we'll walk through the creation of a cookbook layout in InDesign, as well as using Parent Pages and saving our work as an InDesign Template file. So grab your favorite food pictures, and let's get designing! 

What You Will Need

You will need the following assets to complete this project:

1. How to Start Your Document

Step 1

First, let's start with a New Document. In this tutorial, I went with 7.5" wide by 9.25" tall. You are welcome to go with whatever size best suits your project and needs—when in doubt, ask your printer!

Let's make our document Start with Page 2, since we're largely going to focus on a two-page spread here (we can always change this later).

New Document ExampleNew Document ExampleNew Document Example

Step 2

Before we finalize our New Document, let's take a look at some other important attributes here in our document setup. Scroll down to see more options. 

Since we're building a book and designing two page spreads, let's toggle Facing Pages On

I also set a 0.5" Margin on the Top, Bottom, and Outside. 

On the Inside, I set a 0.75" Margin—a little bit bigger. Why? This space is often referred to as the gutter. Open up a book and take a look at the middle of the pages. Some space often gets "lost" there, between the pages, so I've allotted a little extra space.

Make sure to ask your printer about how much gutter space might be best for your project, if you're unfamiliar. 

In addition, on an extra note, be wary of creep, especially if you're creating a larger book—as an example, try folding up multiple pieces of paper. Notice that the outer edges don't necessarily line up perfectly. This often needs to be trimmed, to make your book's pages align neatly. You can add values to accommodate creep under File > Print Booklet. However, I'd recommend talking with your printer about what values they suggest and/or require for your project.

New Document ExampleNew Document ExampleNew Document Example

Step 3

Finally, let's make sure to add some Bleed here; I added a 0.125" Bleed around all sides. 

Bleed might sound kind of ominous, but it's not, honestly! It refers to the part of your work that will be trimmed off when printed. If you'd like an image to be "full bleed", it generally means that it goes right up to the edge of the page, without any border or "white space". So make sure to extend your imagery to the bleed area, to ensure your final product is as intended. 

Note that you can adjust these settings, after you've created your document, via File > Document Set Up—so don't worry if you make a mistake or need to make some changes!

Once you're happy with your settings, click OK.

New Document ExampleNew Document ExampleNew Document Example

2. How to Add Images in InDesign

Step 1

Now that we're in our document, let's take a look at our Parent Pages

Parent Pages largely serve as template-like pages that you can use on active pages within your document, whenever you like. 

To view your Parent Pages, to go Window > Pages to open the Pages panel. The Parent Pages are located at the top, while your Active Pages are at the bottom.

Pages PanelPages PanelPages Panel

Step 2

Let's start by creating a sample layout in A-Parent, the first set of Parent Pages in our document. 

I decided that I wanted the left-hand side to feature a full-page image. To insert an image, go to File > Place. I used this Pancake Image in this example layout.

Adjust the size of both the Image and the Frame containing the image. Crop it any way you like, but make sure the frame extends to the Bleed we defined earlier.

Place ImageryPlace ImageryPlace Imagery

Step 3

I decided that I'd like this image to be reoccurring, on my other page. Follow the same process to Place an Image—alternatively, you could use a different image here. Don't worry if you change your mind. Again, this is a template, and it's designed to be altered.

Placing Additional ImageryPlacing Additional ImageryPlacing Additional Imagery

3. How to Add Type in InDesign

Step 1

Now, let's place our type and do so in a way with well-established hierarchy. For those who might not be familiar, hierarchy refers to a visual system of importance. For example, having a large title makes it stand out more than smaller body copy. 

That said, I started out by placing the title with the Text Tool. In this case, I just called it "Menu Item", for the sake of example—I'll be altering this when I use these template pages anyway.

Adding TextAdding TextAdding Text

Step 2

Next, I added a decorative line, under my title, using the Line Tool. You can alter the width and the appearance of your line in the Stroke panel. You can find it under Window > Stroke

I made mine a dotted line, in a green color. 

Adding a LineAdding a LineAdding a Line

Step 3

I placed the estimated cooking/prep time underneath this dotted line, using the Text Tool. Notice how I made it smaller in size and lighter in weight than the title of the recipe. This helps establish that it is a supplemental element in the composition.

Adding TextAdding TextAdding Text

Step 4

Now, let's start with the ingredients. Use the Text Tool to create text boxes, as needed.

I decided to put the subtitle "ingredients" in its own text box, so I could more easily style it in a way that stands out from the ingredients themselves.

The ingredients list is in its own text box. I indented it slightly, using the Move Tool. I decided to keep this area narrow, as I'd like to have two columns here. 

Adding the IngredientsAdding the IngredientsAdding the Ingredients

Step 5

Let's follow a similar process for the directions. Again, I opted to put the subtitle in its own Text Box (using the Text Tool).

I'm using Lorem Ipsum here as placeholder text, as, again, this is going to act as a template for my pages—I'll be editing this later!

Adding the DirectionsAdding the DirectionsAdding the Directions

Step 6

I thought it might be nice to have some suggestions at the bottom of the page, as well. I followed that same process, again—subtitle in its own Text Box, then the body copy in a separate box at a smaller size. Again, use the Text Tool.

However, for this set of content, I opted to go full width, rather than following the two columns I established above.

You are welcome to follow my example, or try out your own take on this!

Adding SuggestionsAdding SuggestionsAdding Suggestions

Step 7

To finish off the page, let's add some footer elements. 

I decided to add a dotted line, again, like the one at the top. You can follow that same process—or Copy and then Paste! Move it down using the Move Tool

Adding a LineAdding a LineAdding a Line

Step 8

I used the Text Tool to create a text box on the left-hand side—I felt this was a good place to include some supplementary content, like the name of the book and the recipe.

Adding Footer ContentAdding Footer ContentAdding Footer Content

Step 9

Finally, let's add a Page Number on the right-hand side.

Create a text box using the Text Tool. Then, with the text box still selected, go to Type > Insert Special Character > Markers > Current Page Number

You'll notice that it displays as "A", rather than a number—this is OK! Remember, we are on Parent Page A, so it is displaying correctly on that.

Adding Page NumbersAdding Page NumbersAdding Page Numbers

Step 10

Let's add one more finishing touch. I thought it might be nice to add a small, decorative element to the large image on the left-hand side of our spread. 

Using the Rectangle Tool with No Fill, White Stroke, create a rectangular shape. I made mine align with my page guides, although I raised it a little on the bottom, to align with my dotted footer line. 

Adding a BorderAdding a BorderAdding a Border

4. How to Use Your Parent Pages

Step 1

Now that we've created a template, let's put it to use!

First, go back out to your Active Pages. You can do this from the Pages panel—click on page 2, here, to go back "out".

Then, we can create New Pages, by clicking on the Create New Page button in the Pages panel. 

Let's create four pages—so we have pages 2, 3, 4, and 5. Notice that they have an "A" icon on them. This means they are derived from our A-Parent pages.

Creating PagesCreating PagesCreating Pages

Step 2

Now, how do we edit our active pages? 

If you simply click on an item in your layout, while in an active page, nothing's going to happen. You have to hold down Shift-Command (on a Mac) or Shift-Control (On PC) to select the item.

When making this selection, take note of the color of the selection.

If the selected frame looks Blue, you have selected the frame itself.

Blue SelectionBlue SelectionBlue Selection

If the selected frame looks Red, you have selected the content inside the frame (in the example below, notice how the image is bigger than the frame; we see the red frame outside of this boundary to indicate its current size). 

Double-click to toggle between the two. 

This is important to distinguish, especially if you want to erase what is inside the frame, and not the frame itself! Please note that these are the default visual cues, and they may look different (e.g. different colors) if your system has different preferences or settings.

Red FrameRed FrameRed Frame

Step 3

So let's try this out! Go to pages 4 and 5—we're going to try making this spread a different recipe.

Start by selecting and removing the imagery on the left-hand side. Remember, hold down Shift-Command (on Mac) or Shift-Control (on PC) to select it. Double-click this selection to make sure it is highlighted by a red frame. That mean's we've selected the contents—not the frame itself. We want to delete the contents, not the frame. 

Removing ContentRemoving ContentRemoving Content

Step 4

Now, go ahead and Place a New Image into this frame. Go File > Place and select your image. 

When placing the image, make sure to select the frame, and not randomly place it within your document. 

Replacing ContentReplacing ContentReplacing Content

Step 5

Repeat the same process for the smaller image, on the right-hand page. Voila! We've swapped out our images.

Replacing ContentReplacing ContentReplacing Content

Step 6

Swapping out the text is a similar process—in fact, it's even easier! 

Hold down Shift-Command (on Mac) or Shift-Control (on PC) to select the content and edit it locally. Then, make the desired edits.

Editing TextEditing TextEditing Text

5. How to Add Finishing Touches

Step 1

But what about the first page of our book, or if we want the first page to start with a singular/unique page? 

We can go to File > Document Set Up and change our starting page to 1. Note, this is an optional step, and will depend on what you aim to do with your project.

Warning: this might mess up the order of your pages. No worries, however—we can easily drag and drop our pages back into the right order. 

Changing the pagesChanging the pagesChanging the pages

Step 2

I decided to Create a New Parent Page for this single, starter page. I thought it might be a nice place to put something like a dedication, a brief intro, or maybe a chapter starter/break. Notice that this is called B-Parent

To apply B-Parent, Click and Drag the Parent Page you want to apply to the Active Page. 

I used the Text Tool and Placed an Image to create my sample B-Parent, below. 

Sample Parent PageSample Parent PageSample Parent Page

Step 3

We have to choose, however, whether we want our Parent Pages to be a two-page spread or a single page. In this case, I just want one page. 

Select one page of the Parent Spread and hit the Trash Can/Delete Button in the Pages panel. Now your Parent contains only one page.

Single Parent PageSingle Parent PageSingle Parent Page

Step 4

Note that, when you save your work, you can specifically save it as an InDesign Document (or indd file) or as an InDesign Template (an indt file).

Why bother using InDesign Templates as a file type? Well, let's say you go into your original and make a mistake—or maybe you'd like to work on two different cookbooks, using the same layout.

When you open an InDesign Template, you can start up a New Document using the template file as its basis. You can choose to either "Open Normal", which gives you a new, untitled document based on this file, or "Open Original", which allows you to edit the template itself. Handy, right?

Saving your DocumentSaving your DocumentSaving your Document

Bon Appetit!

Thanks so much for joining me on this walkthrough! You could also use these techniques to create a book cover template for your book cover design—it is essentially a two-page spread. You could use Parent Pages for your design considerations for your book back cover and front! Just remember to take the spine into consideration (as that's some extra space!). When in doubt, ask your printer!

Example LayoutsExample LayoutsExample Layouts

Looking for some extra help, or something to inspire you? Whether you're looking to add some InDesign book templates to your collection or looking for a jump start, here are some lovely ones worth checking out!

Cookbook Template InDesign

Simple, clean, and easy to use—this template is ready to edit and print, with Parent Pages already ready to go for you! Change the colors, edit to your liking, and there you go—perfect for your favorite recipes. 

Cookbook Template InDesignCookbook Template InDesignCookbook Template InDesign

Kitchen Stories InDesign Cookbook Recipe Template

I love the type in this design, don't you? Bold, yet well composed, there's a lot of emphasis on food photos. Not only could it work great for your cookbook-themed projects, it could prove to be a versatile starting point for a variety of projects!

Recipe Template InDesignRecipe Template InDesignRecipe Template InDesign

Square Cookbook InDesign Template

I love square layouts—they just look so clean and inviting to me! This one is no exception—stylish and inviting, it could be a great fit for your favorite recipes and food photos. 

Cookbook Template InDesignCookbook Template InDesignCookbook Template InDesign

Desserts Recipe Book InDesign Template

Designed for desserts but with plenty of room and potential for other projects, this template has 60 pages. It's plenty simple to go in and change things like colors and images—there's a live preview too! Check it out!

Desserts InDesign TemplateDesserts InDesign TemplateDesserts InDesign Template

Cook Book Template InDesign

Check out this clean and versatile design template! It could be a great fit for your food photos, especially given its generous white space and clean, modern design. 

Cookbook Template InDesignCookbook Template InDesignCookbook Template InDesign

If you enjoyed this tutorial, here are some others to check out!

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