How long does it take to learn InDesign?

Well, the total time that you need to learn Indesign is proportional to the level of depth you want to reach in Indesign. It will be little easy for you to learn Indesign if you are familiar with some other layouting software before starting. I am considering that you are a fresher and want to learn Indesign from stretch, then as per my coaching style in three month you are very much familier with all the tools and command in Indesign and then it totally depend on the amount of practice and the time you spend with Indesign to practice the tools. Indesign is huge software and you can do a lot of things with Indesign whether your requirement is related to print or web, it has all the tools and techniques to complete your requirement.

One of the main stumbling blocks to learning a professional software package is being overwhelmed by the interface. There are so many extra features that even an expert can struggle to use them all.

However, you do not need to know a lot of the tools to create a professional product. InDesign makes it easy to create interactive or print magazines with limited knowledge. If your aim is to create a magazine, brochure or eBook then you can start with a few tools and return to the program later to learn the remaining tools if needed.

I teach media students how to design and create magazines and have included the following steps as a guide.


The most important aspect in creating a document is understanding your target audience – who do you expect to read your magazine and how will the design, layout and content appeal to them? This is the first task I set my media students. One particular student wanted to create a magazine based on the popular Franke for an under 25 audience. Another student believed there was an opening for combining gaming and music, whilst another wanted to focus upon the stories of musicians living and working in an isolated community.

Pre-planning solves a lot of time-wasting and it is really important to view a range of magazines both online and in print to help define a style. I ask my students to answer questions including:

  • What color schemes, photography and typography captured their attention?
  • How were pictures displayed on a page? Did the image fill half a page, full page or a thumbnail size?
  • How did the typography add to the design of the magazine?
  • How did the images fit the story?
  • What use is made of white space?

I ask my students to keep a visual diary to record their thoughts about various magazines. They can then refer back to designs that they liked or inspired them as well as use them as a reference to imitate.

Story Angle

Once they have selected a style for their magazine they then think of the articles. What sort of angle are they going to take about a particular subject? How many interviews do they need to conduct? Who is to be featured in the article?

Once all of these tasks are completed the students only need to use a few InDesign tools to create a magazine. Their time is limited and there is no point learning all the software to complete their major folio piece.

The Tools

Here are my suggestions for the main tools that you need to create a professional looking magazine.

Fonts: most magazines use decorative fonts for headings but the bulk of the writing will be in something easily readable. Minion Pro is one of the best fonts as it is easy to read and contrasts smoothly with more extravagant headings and captions. Don’t over-font your magazine as it can look untidy and amateurish. Keep it simple.

Word Wrap: This tool is used to wrap words around images. This is a great tool to give your layout some visual interest.

Design Tips

  • Use Captions and Quotes
  • Use original quality images
  • Understand how to use text flow. This is the crux of InDesign and it is very simple but does confuse a beginner. Learn how to break text flows as well as there are times you don’t want the text to automatically flow over the page or another column.
  • Using the fitting command to make slight size changes to images (do most of the formatting and resizing in Photoshop or similar image manipulation program)
  • Use Master Pages so you can insert page numbers and the magazine title so that it appears in the same place on every page.

That’s all you need to get you started. I suggest becoming familiar with more of the software if you wish to continue creating a variety of documents.

Remember: don’t be deterred by the interface, become familiar with the tools you need and then learn the rest at another stage. The main thing is to start creating a professional product and be encouraged by the result.

There is no easy way. You will have to familiarize yourself with the foundation of how that respective kind of software works: layout software as well as vector software.

In the case of InDesign, which is a very complex piece of software, it’s crucial that you have a well structured process of learning it so that you are able to work with the kind of content that is mandatory these days. You don’t just put text and images onto a piece of paper, but you design content in a way that it works across multiple media and can be repurposed to work printed as well as in a PDF (accessible) as well as on a website or in an ePub or whatever.

So take your time with the basics and when watching tutorials on youtube, always look it up in the documentation to check if it is still valid.


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