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Archive for the 'Page Design' Category

Creating a Research Poster: A Learning Path

Learning paths road sign.I need to assemble a research poster – how do I get started, and what programs can I use to make a poster?  And how do I make graphs to display my data?

With programs like InDesign, Illustrator, and Microsoft Publisher, with a little help from Microsoft Excel, you can create an eye-catching poster to showcase your research project.  Illustrator and Excel can be used to create attractive graphs to display any data you wish to share, and you can pull everything together in InDesign or Publisher and lay out the contents of your poster.  Before you start building your poster, there are a few steps you can take to help get things rolling.

Photograph of a pad of paper, with a rough design for a poster sketched out on it.Having a general idea of how your poster will look will help you get started – think about how things will be laid out on the page, what colors you’ll be using, and what fonts you’ll be using for your poster.  A rough sketch of what you want your poster to look like when it’s finished may be helpful, and you can use that as a road map of where things should end up on your poster.  Make notes about the colors you might want to use, and fonts you might want to use for headings and body text – when you start building your poster, you’ll have everything you need planned out already and can focus on laying things out.  You’ll also want to make sure to collect any images you want to include, the data you want to present, and the text of your poster in one location before you start working.  Once you have those items together, the following learning paths will help you create your poster.

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What font is that?

Have you ever seen a great looking font on a website or piece of printed material that you’d love to use in your next project? You’d love to use it, but you don’t know what it is. Don’t worry. There are free tools on the  Internet to help you find that font.


1. My Fonts – WhatTheFont

On WhatTheFont, you can upload an image or type in the url of an online image. Make sure the image is simple. Images that are too complex cannot be interpreted by WhatTheFont.

2. Identifont –

Identifont asks questions to help you identify the font you’re interested in. If you have an idea of the font’s name, but don’t quite know how to spell it, you  can type what you think it is and let Identifont  figure out what you mean. You can find a font that is similar to one who’s name you know, or find one  that contains a specific symbol or picture. If you know the name of a font designer, you can find that person’s fonts.

 3. Linotype Font Finder –

Enter a few letters and then answer a series of questions to help you recognize the font. This is a good one for people who are interested in the characteristics that make up a font.

 4. Fount –

Fount provides a browser button so you can identify fonts on any website.

There are more of these tools out there. Just do a search using the terms “font identifier” to find one (or more) that works for you.

Learn more about using fonts in your design projects in our InDesign workshops, and in Page Design & Layout Basics.


Use InDesign’s Eyedropper Tool to Apply Text Attributes

eyedropperDid you know that with the Eyedropper tool in InDesign  you can pick up text specifications including font face, size, tracking, color, and paragraph settings – and apply them to multiple text areas? It works much like the Format Painter  in Microsoft Word.

When applying the Eyedropper tool to text, you can either: a) highlight the text that has the appearance you want to copy and then apply the characteristics elsewhere, or b) select the text to which you want to apply new formatting, and then point to a piece of text that has the desired appearance. Each is done a little differently. Here’s how you do it:

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InDesign Quick Tip: How many clicks does it take?

You might have noticed while idly clicking around that in some applications, clicks and double-clicks have different functionality.  In almost every application that involves text, clicking once will place a cursor, and clicking twice will select the work that you clicked on.  This can help to quickly select some text without having to press and drag.  But have you ever tried clicking more than twice?  Thrice?  Four times?  The fabled quintuple-click?

Let’s see how InDesign handles this.

Open up an InDesign document with some text.  If you don’t have a document handy, then simply create one and place a text-heavy Word document, or even a web page. (From the menu bar File->Place, and then locate a file to place.  Double-click the file, and then click on the page to place).

Now, select the Type tool from the toolbox, and test out the following.

  • One click places a cursor in the text
  • Two clicks in quick succession(double-click) will select a single word
  • Three clicks in quick succession(triple-click) will select a single sentence
  • Four clicks in quick succession(quadruple-click) will select an entire paragraph
  • Five clicks in quick succession(quintuple-click) will select all the text in the frame (the same effect as going to the menu and selecting Edit->Select All)

InDesign is far ahead in the multiple-click arms race.  Most applications will support up to three clicks, (Word, Dreamweaver, most web browsers), and three clicks in these applications will commonly select an entire paragraph.

The Opera web browser is somewhat of an oddball as it will support four clicks, in the same way that InDesign handles four clicks.

Experiment with some of your other favorite applications, and see how much time you can save with extra clicks versus pressing and dragging.

In InDesign, can I italicize a font that doesn’t offer italic as a choice?

Unlike MS Word, InDesign won’t let you “fake” a bold or italic style where the type itself doesn’t include a bold or italic font. It will allow you to slant characters, but designers consider that to be bad form. Discussion of terminology of typography may help you understand why.


When people speak of fonts, they are typically using the word inaccurately. Here’s the truth:


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Fun Free App Friday:

Way back in the day, when there were endless deep piles of snow, uphills both waysCreate a font from your own handwriting, and lunchpails filled only with scraps, people used writing instruments known as “pens” to inscribe letters and words onto dead trees, known as “paper”.  Once the person was finished inscribing, s/he would fold up the paper, tuck that paper inside other paper, and inscribe more words on the front as a means of addressing (kind of like an email address, but way more complicated, taking up three lines or more!)

This whole process was known as “writing and mailing a letter”. Nowadays, of course, this antiquated technology has been surpassed by IM, texting, Twitter, and status updates on Facebook. I think we can all agree that there is nothing that needs to be said if it can’t be said in 140 characters or less! But let’s say for a minute that you wanted to “write and mail a letter, ” but didn’t want to go all the way back to 1920 to do it. Read the rest of “Fun Free App Friday:” »

Using the Pen Tool in InDesign

The Pen tool is one of the most challenging and powerful tools in graphic design.  One of the major advantages of learning the Pen tool is that it is the same tool across many applications.  However, it is used differently between programs.  Pen projects in Illustrator would have different results from Pen projects in InDesign, for example.

In this video tutorial by Ashley Endemann, we are going to explore some of the uses of the Pen tool in InDesign. We will look at creating a clipping path for a graphic, custom frames for text, as well as modifying a font for decorative or design purposes.

If you don’t know how to use the Pen tool, don’t worry.  You can take our Pen tool class: Adobe CS4: Pen Tool Basics for Advanced Graphic Design, and get up to speed.

Using the Pen Tool in InDesign

Special Thanks to Ashley Endemann for the video.

Creating an Object Style in InDesign that doesn’t affect previous formatting

Object Styles in InDesign are used to package a set of options for an object.  Things like the stroke, the fill, the text wrap, and other things that we can apply to an individual frame.  Styles are great, because they allow us to apply the same style over and over again, which gives us consistency.

But there’s another way we can use them.  Rather than package all the styles we need at once, we can select individual traits that we want to apply, without removing the formatting we’ve already applied.

In this video tutorial, I will show you how to create a style like this.  In this case, we will create a style that rounds the corners of a text frame, without altering any of the other formatting.  That way, you can quickly and easily round the corners of any frame. This method can be applied to anything you can control with an Object Style.  Try it out for yourself!

Creating an Object Style in InDesign

Create footnotes in InDesign

The request to learn how to do InDesign book and manuscript tasks is on the increase in our workshops. The reason is, more and more scientific publications ask their authors to have copy-ready papers, and InDesign is so much more cooperative than Word when designing columns with graphics.

InDesign DOES have a footnote feature, and it’s easy to use. Here are the pros and cons:

The good: Footnotes and endnotes from your Microsoft Word documents can be imported into your InDesign documents.

The bad: InDesign completely disregards your own Footnote And Endnote numbering options. Instead, it reformats footnote and endnote reference numbering to regular text.

The ugly? Decide for yourself on this one: InDesign can’t convert your text to approved publication styles the way EndNote, a Word and WordPerfect plug-in does, so you’ll have to style them yourself.

As I said, it’s very easy to do. See this excellent tutorial by David Blatner of

Multiple Artboards in Illustrator CS4

The utility of multiple artboards might not be obvious to all Illustrator users.  However, the power of this feature is undeniable to experienced users.  See why this new feature will make so much difference in this video from Layers Magazine:

Multiple Artboards in Illustrator

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