November 7, 2002 / InDesign / Winter 2002

There’s something about InDesign

Written by Rhonda O'Dea, CJE

There is something to be said for staying on the “cutting edge” …just ask those Walsworth customers who have made the switch from PageMaker or QuarkXPress to InDesign, Adobe’s “next generation software.” When upgrading their hardware, schools such as Harding Academy in Memphis, Tenn., are making the decision to upgrade their software as well. They chose InDesign 1.5.

What is InDesign 1.5?
Simply put, InDesign is a professional page design program that Adobe created to compete with QuarkXPress in the professional design marketplace. Adobe’s designers took their cues from PageMaker and Quark users, combining the most functional and efficient tools from these programs as well as creating new tools that enhance control and ease of use. InDesign 1.5 also happens to be a program that lends itself well to yearbook design and production. In an industry that relies heavily on use of templates and master pages, consistency of elements, type effects and digital photography, InDesign really fits the bill.

What is in it for Users?
What would motivate someone to change the familiar program they have used to create their yearbook for years? It would have to be something better. Features such as text on a path, more precise text wrapping, automatic columns in text frames, freehand draw tools, radial and linear gradient creation and application, and others are the features that attract yearbook staffs and advisers to this program.

Along with fun and useful tools are a few additional perks. A comfortable user interface makes transition and training easy, and InDesign’s seamless compatibility with other yearbook-friendly Adobe programs, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, makes production more efficient.

Anyone who has used the software mentioned above or PageMaker will feel right at home using InDesign, as it combines features from all of them.

For schools that are leaning toward digital – using scanners and digital cameras – InDesign offers the ability to preflight your pages to check for and update links to graphics and images. Taken a step further, schools submitting 100 percent digital files can save their pages as PDFs, and all fonts and graphics used are automatically packaged and linked with the file. With so much to offer, the question is, why not switch to InDesign?

As with any change, there are drawbacks. InDesign requires considerable hardware. Adobe recommends a minimum 96MB Ram and a 300MHz G3 Mac or Pentium III processor.

When including operating system requirements, Mac OS 8.5 (and above) or Windows 98/NT4 (and above), there will be a lot of schools left behind. However, as schools begin to upgrade their systems, they may look to upgrade their software as well.

What Does the Release of PageMaker 7.0 Mean to InDesign Fans?
Adobe did well in finally releasing a new version of PageMaker, but critics have been vocal in saying that the upgrades are minimal. Schools who are using an older version of PageMaker, 6.0 or lower, may be looking to make a change. The dilemma is in making the jump to 7.0 (upgrades to 6.5 are hard to come by now that 7.0 has been released) or to InDesign.

This is where a yearbook staff needs to look at its hardware situation, its budget and the future of its publication.

It would be worthwhile to preview the choices before investing any money. Adobe’s web site,, often provides free trials and summaries of software capabilities. Do your homework! Get online and search for articles reviewing both new programs. PCWorld, MacWorld, How Magazine and others frequently have real users review and report on the upgrades being released. Walsworth can and will support either program, but talk to your sales representative about what is best for your situation.

What Does An InDesign School Say?
Many schools who have made the switch are enjoying more design flexibility and creativity than ever before.

Schools are often criticized for not preparing students for the “real world.” With support and training, students who see a future in design will be better prepared after working with InDesign. Patti Sanders, an adviser from Harding Academy, enjoys the flexibility she has with InDesign.

“You have to love the “T on a ski” (flexible text) and the automatic column feature for story text,” she said.

Sanders gives the following advice to anyone considering making the switch.

“Be very prepared in terms of having your book planned out so that your energy can be devoted to dealing with the inevitable frustrations of new software. Consider having some summer pre-training so that some of the staff will be familiar with the program,” she explained.

Sanders also noted a few drawbacks to the switch.

“Things have been great with InDesign with two exceptions,” she said. “The lack of an index feature is irritating, and the library function seems to cause constant crashes.”

As users communicate with Adobe, problems, such as those with creating libraries, will hopefully be worked out.

As for the index, Walsworth recommends a plug-in called Sonar Bookends, produced by Virginia Systems, Inc. for schools’ indexing needs. Instructions for obtaining the program and for its use are available through Walsworth’s Desktop Technology Department.

As schools begin their page production in InDesign, they are finding that Walsworth has already created Enhancements to ease this process.

Walsworth also provides yearbook plug-ins to help adjust the InDesign software to your yearbook’s specific needs.

In addition, Walsworth offers training and materials to help staffs learn how to create a yearbook using InDesign.

To see an educational demonstration of InDesign and what it can do for your yearbook, contact your local Walsworth representative.

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Rhonda O'Dea, CJE

Rhonda O'Dea, CJE, is a former teacher and yearbook adviser from Salem High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The books she advised were recognized on the local, state and national levels for excellence in journalism and design. Rhonda now enjoys a successful career in sales with Walsworth Yearbooks, first as a sales representative and now as a regional sales manager.