November 1, 2004 / InDesign / Winter 2004

Embracing InDesign

Written by Susan Smith

Adobe released its first version of InDesign in 1999. Since then, hundreds of Walsworth customers have jumped in and started using this relatively young software program to create their yearbooks. As InDesign matured, so has Walsworth’s support. And our numerous plug-ins, training materials and informational pieces have helped our customers make the switch as easy as possible.

With the release of InDesign CS as part of Adobe’s Creative Suite, more and more people are going to be looking at InDesign as a viable yearbook creation program. Even though Walsworth will only accept pages in InDesign 2.0.x for 2004 yearbooks, you may already be looking ahead to 2005. Once you decide you are ready, what next? Following are some things to consider when making the switch.

No, not the fond memories of all the years you have worked with PageMaker, but how much RAM is available on the computers. Along with all of the cool features InDesign offers, like drop shadows, transparency and text features, come more demanding memory requirements. And the fi les themselves are just larger; a PageMaker file that has been converted to InDesign can be up to three times larger than the original.

The minimum amount of RAM Adobe recommends for InDesign is 128 MB, and it would be wise to have more, especially when creating large or complicated yearbook pages. In addition, InDesign requires at least 312 MB of free hard-disk space (350 MB for Mac users) and a Pentium II or G3 processor.

If you are planning to upgrade your entire software suite with Adobe’s Creative Suite products, even more memory and space is required. The minimum RAM recommendation is 256 MB, and that is to run just one component. In short, invest as much as possible in hardware before upgrading your software.

Basic Training
Learning a new software program can be intimidating. InDesign’s robust feature list and palette-based interface may be just different enough to make you think twice about making the change.

The good news is this: It’s still an Adobe product. If you have used Photoshop, or even PageMaker, the Tool palette and many of the commands will be familiar.

So how do you go about getting the knowledge needed? First, talk to your Walsworth yearbook representative. Chances are good there will be a summer workshop in your area that you and your staff can attend. If not, your representative can probably recommend another nearby workshop, or even come to your school and provide one-on-one training.

Next, start working with the program. Nothing will help you understand the software more than hands-on experience. If your yearbook delivers in the spring, the time between making final proof corrections and receiving the book is a good time to start experimenting.

If you would like to play with the program before investing in the software, Adobe offers a free 30-day trial of InDesign for both Mac and Windows that can be downloaded from their website. Just visit and scroll to the InDesign section. This full version of InDesign will provide a good demonstration of how the software works and what it can do. This trial version can only be used to evaluate the program. You cannot use it to create yearbook pages for submission to Walsworth.

Finally, when your staff is ready to start putting the yearbook together, Walsworth’s Desktop Yearbook Guide for InDesign is a complete look at the entire yearbook process. Following the four-step process of planning, creating, submitting and proofing, the guide gives instructions on using InDesign itself, as well as all of our Enhancements. Plus, there are plenty of instructions on InDesign’s more creative features, like type and transparency effects, to help give your book a more exciting look.

New Software, New Questions
New versions of software programs often generate new questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about the Adobe Creative Suite, which began to be shipped in the fourth quarter of 2003, specifically Adobe InDesign CS, which is actually version CS.

I ordered my copy of the Creative Suite. Can I submit my InDesign CS pages to Walsworth?
Not this year. All 2004 pages must be submitted in InDesign 2.0.x.

I want to start using InDesign this year. Can I still get a copy of InDesign 2.0.x?
Supplies are limited. You may find a retailer that still has copies, but they can be few and far between. You will probably have to wait until next year to start creating yearbook pages in InDesign.

I’ve been using InDesign 2.0. Should I upgrade?
It depends. See the full article for information on the memory requirements for the Creative Suite. If your hardware can handle it, there is no reason not to make the switch. Again, however, realize that you will have to continue submitting 2.0 pages to Walsworth this year.

What’s the difference between 2.0 and the new version?
For those looking for huge feature upgrades like those that happened between InDesign 1.5 and 2.0, you will be disappointed. Most of the changes Adobe has made to InDesign are more functional than flashy. For PageMaker users, there are some new additions that will make you more comfortable, like a Control palette and a Story Editor. Visit for an in-depth look at the new features.

Will Walsworth offer equal support for CS and 2.0.x?
Yes. We are committed to remaining up-to-date with the development of our InDesign Enhancements. Expect to see Enhancements and training materials for CS in the near future, when we are ready to accept the pages.

Take Your Time
Finally, do not rush it. Give yourself some time to get comfortable with the program. Walsworth will happily accept a combination of PageMaker and InDesign pages until you are ready to move completely to InDesign.

While planning the ladder, take a look at the sections and the people in charge of them. The special effects InDesign offers may seem a natural for certain parts of the yearbook, like the opening section, cover and endsheets or divider pages. You might also want to give InDesign to the more tech-savvy or creative staff members, as they will probably be the ones to coax the most out of it from a design standpoint.

InDesign will open PageMaker documents, so it is possible to create some basic page design such as drawing image windows or placing copy using PageMaker, then take the document to InDesign for additional design. At that point you also can use Walsworth’s Enhancements to number image windows or place images. However, once a PageMaker document is opened in InDesign, it cannot be opened again in PageMaker. Still, this will give you a good starting point for learning the program, allowing you to advance as far as you want.

The best part about taking it slowly is that you are not over-extending yourself. Once in the program, you may find it to be easier than you thought, and you may decide to take it further than originally intended.

Many schools are making the jump from PageMaker to InDesign right now with great success. Before deciding to use it to create the yearbook, do your homework, and make sure it is the right thing for you.

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Susan Smith