InDesign tutorial: Working with and Formatting Text in InDesign

What you’ll learn in this InDesign Tutorial:

  • Creating a text frame
  • Changing character attributes

This tutorial provides you with a foundation for working with Adobe InDesign text formatting. It is the third lesson in the Adobe InDesign CC Digital Classroom book. For more Adobe InDesign training options, visit AGI’s InDesign Classes.

Adobe InDesign Tutorial: Working with and Formatting Text in InDesign

This lesson covers the essential capabilities for importing, formatting, and flowing text using InDesign CC.

Starting up

Before starting, make sure that your tools and panels are consistent by resetting your preferences. See “Resetting the InDesign workspace and preferences” in the Starting up section of this book.

You will work with several files from the id03lessons folder in this lesson. Make sure that you have copied the idlessons folder onto your hard drive from the included DVD. See “Loading lesson files” in the Starting up section of this book for details. This lesson may be easier to follow if the id03lessons folder is on your desktop.

The project

In this lesson you will add text into your layout and import type created using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word. You will also use InDesign’s text controls to control text formatting as you create a layout for a fictitious magazine, Tech.

To view the finished project before starting, choose File > Open, navigate to the id03lessons folder, select id0301_done.indd, and then click Open. Choose View > Fit Page in Window or press Ctrl+0 (Windows) or Command+0 (Mac OS). After reviewing the layout, you can keep the lesson open for reference, or close it by choosing File > Close. You’ll use InDesign’s Typography workspace for this lesson. From the Workplace Switcher menu, choose Typography.

Adding text to your document

Text in an InDesign layout is always contained within a text frame. You can create text frames using the Type tool or use any of the other frame or shape tools to create an object that can easily be converted to a text frame. You can also add text into your layout that was created using other programs, such as Microsoft Word.

Creating a frame is usually the starting point for adding text to a layout. You’ll start by using the most efficient way to define a new text frame: clicking and dragging with the Type tool.

Creating a text frame

You will start by creating a new text frame and then enter text into the frame.

1 Choose File > Open. In the Open dialog box, navigate to the id03lessons folder, select the file id0301.indd, and then click Open. You’ll start by working on the first page of this document. If necessary, double-click the page 1 icon in the Pages panel to navigate to this page.

The lower-left section of page 1 has a listing of the stories featured in this issue. You will create a text frame above this box and add text to it.


If necessary, use the Pages panel to navigate to the first page.

2 Choose the Type tool () from the Tools panel. Position the cursor on the left edge of the page so it is at the margin guide, approximately one-half inch above the list of stories. Use your mouse to click and drag diagonally down and to the right to create a new text frame. Release the mouse when it is positioned just above the existing text frame that contains the list of stories. The new frame should be placed above the existing frame and the left and right edges should be similarly positioned to the corresponding edges of the existing frame

Click and drag with the Type tool
to create a new frame.

3 Type Inside this issue: into the text frame.


If you need to reposition the text frame, choose the Selection tool () from the Tools panel, then click and drag the frame to move it. You can also use the frame handles to adjust the size of the frame. When using the Selection tool, you can switch to the Type tool () by double-clicking a text frame.

4 Choose File > Save As. In the Save As dialog box, navigate to the id03lessons folder and type id0301_work.indd in the File name (Windows) or Save as (Mac OS) text field. Click Save to save the file.

Creating multiple frames

When drawing a text frame, pressing the right-arrow key one time will divide the text frame being created into two linked text frames. Pressing the arrow key a second time will create a third linked frame. You can continue to do this until you have the desired number of frames. Similarly, pressing the up-arrow key divides the text frames vertically into separate frames. You can divide a frame both vertically and horizontally to create a grid of text frames. This can also be used when creating image frames or other shapes.


Changing character attributes

You can use the Control panel located at the top of the workspace to adjust text formatting. The Character Formatting Controls button (), and, below that, the Paragraph Formatting Controls button () are located at the left side of the Control panel, and you can use them to switch between controls that affect either paragraphs or characters.


Additional character and paragraph formatting options are available through dedicated panels for formatting type. You can access these other options by choosing Type > Character, or Type > Paragraph.

Changing font and type styles using the new font search feature

You can make adjustments to text formatting using the Control panel which you’ll explore in this exercise.

1 Make sure you have the Type tool () selected, then click and drag the text Inside this issue: to highlight it so that it is selected.

The Character Formatting Controls.


In the Control panel at the top of the workspace, make sure the Character Formatting Controls icon ( ) is selected.

You will change the font by typing the font name to access it more quickly.

Previewing fonts in the Control Panel

When you click the arrow to the right of the font name, the drop-down menu lists all the fonts that InDesign is able to access. InDesign has a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) font menu, which shows the word SAMPLE displayed in the different fonts. Pick any font you’d like, just to see the font change.

The WYSIWYG font menu.

2 In the Font drop-down menu in the Control panel, click and drag to select (highlight) the font name and type Garam. The options available in the font menu are filtered to display only fonts that contain garam in the font name. Use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate to the font Adobe Garamond Pro Regular, press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to select this font and the text is formatted appropriately.

You will now change the type style to bold.


To see how text in your document will appear when using a certain font, first select the text to be changed, then click to place the cursor in the Font drop-down menu in the Control panel. With the text in the document still selected, use the up- and down-arrows on your keyboard to apply different fonts to the text.

3 With the text still selected, locate the Font Style drop-down menu, under the menu where you changed the font in the previous step. Choose Bold from the Font Style drop-down menu. Your type now appears as bold Adobe Garamond Pro. Keep the text selected.

Use this drop-down menu to set the style of the font, such as bold, italic, or black. InDesign only makes available font styles that are installed on your computer. For example, if you have Arial, but you don’t have Arial Bold, you can choose Arial, but the Bold option will not be available. This avoids possible problems when printing, but is different from many other software programs which allow you to apply styles such as italic or bold to any font.

Changing the type style to bold.


InDesign CC utilizes a new way of searching for fonts in the font menu by typing its name. By default when you begin typing in the font menu, InDesign will display any font that contains that string of characters regardless of where that string appears in the name of the font. To change this behavior to the traditional method that InDesign used (which would only display fonts that begin with the string of characters), click the icon at the left of the font menu, and choose Search First Word Only.

Setting a font favorite

InDesign CC introduces a new feature, which is the ability to define a font as a favorite, which makes it easy to access a certain font quickly from the font menu.

1 With the Inside This Issue text still selected, click the font menu to display the list of available fonts on your system.

2 Adobe Garamond Pro should be listed at the top of the menu because it was a recently used font. Click the  icon to the left of the font name to change the icon to . This defines the font as a favorite and will always appear at the top of the font list.

Once you define a font as a favorite, you can quickly see a list of those favorite fonts by clicking the Show Favorite Fonts Only check box in the font menu.

Defining a font as a favorite, and filtering the font list to show only favorites.


Adjusting size

You can increase or decrease text size from the Control panel. Here you will increase the size of the selected text.

1 In the Control panel, use the mouse to click and select the font size () and replace it by typing 20 and then pressing Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS). The font size increases to 20 points. You can also choose from pre-defined sizes in the drop-down menu, but entering a specific value can be faster if you know the exact size you want. Similarly, if the size you want to use isn’t part of the predefined sizes, you’ll need to enter the value by typing it into the Control panel.

2 Choose File > Save to save your work.

Adjusting Leading

The space between lines of text is known as leading. Before computers were used to set type, original letter presses used bars of lead to separate the lines of type, and so the term leading remains, even though it now only requires the click of the mouse instead of inserting a piece of metal between the lines of type. Leading is measured from the bottom of one line (the “baseline”) to the bottom of the line above it.

Here you will continue to work on the cover, adjusting the leading for the list of stories located below the text you formatted in the previous exercise.

1 Using the Type tool (), click to insert the cursor in the text frame containing the list of stories in this issue. Select all the text in the frame by clicking five times, or choose Edit > Select All.

2 In the Control panel, set the Leading () to 16 by selecting the existing value and typing 16. Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to set the leading. This sets the space from the bottom of one line to the bottom of the next at 16 points. Keep the text selected as you will continue formatting it in the next part of this exercise.

As with the text size, if you want to use one of the pre-set choices, you can select them from the drop-down menu.

Changing the leading.

Leading controls in InDesign are applied to individual lines of text. To apply leading to an entire paragraph, select all the text in the paragraph before adjusting the leading, or incorporate the leading value in a paragraph style, which you will learn about in the next lesson, “Using Styles to Save Time.”


Although leading is applied to individual lines of text by default, you can change this behavior in the InDesign preferences so that leading applies to an entire paragraph of text. To do this, go to the Edit menu (Windows) or the InDesign menu (Mac OS) and choose Preferences > Type. In the resulting dialog box, check the option to Apply Leading to Entire Paragraphs.

Continue to the next InDesign Tutorial: Adjusting character spacing: kerning and tracking in InDesign >