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InDesign basics, part 1


This is day three of a four-week unit plan that helps students learn the basic terminology, functions and foundations of design. Topics covered include typography, color, grids, formatting, spacing, measurements and modular design.



  • Students will identify the four basic categories of type.
  • Students will learn and recite definitions of design terms.
  • Students will know how to read and apply measurements.
  • Students will know how to format type using common design language.
  • Students will know the basic concepts of color application, purpose and use.
  • Students will learn and practice how to work within a grid using appropriate spacing and modular design strategies in Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will create layouts using different column grids using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to place, size, crop, edit and apply a stroke to photos using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to place, size and format headlines and body copy using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to use the various tools and functions of Adobe InDesign that are critical to layout presentation.


Common Core State Standards




Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context.


Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas.


Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.


Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.



This is day three of a four-week unit if class meets daily (55 minutes/class). Adjustments can be made accordingly.






Handout: InDesign

Video tutorials: InDesign Workshop Video Tutorials (Password: InDesignWorkshop247)


Lesson step-by-step

1. Journal: Bell assignment —5 minutes

Using the LCD projector, display a different newspaper, magazine or yearbook spread that you find interesting/appealing on the screen. Ask students to locate and identify the various type classifications used in the spread for the following elements: 1) Headline/display type, 2) body copy, 3) captions or cutlines, and 4) graphics or alternative story structures.


2. Main instruction—50 minutes

Distribute “InDesign Handout.” If the teacher is already familiar with Adobe InDesign, review handout to familiarize students with program set-up and InDesign tools and quick keys — allowing students to take notes as necessary. If the teacher isn’t comfortable with Adobe InDesign, proceed with showing the videos listed below.

Still sitting in the main classroom (without computers in front of the students), show the following videos using an LCD projector and screen — encouraging students to take notes as they watch. Previewing these videos before sitting down at a computer will be a good primer so the students won’t be completely overwhelmed when they start working in the program later.

Video tutorials: InDesign Workshop Video Tutorials (Password: InDesignWorkshop247)

First, show “Intro. 1.Type and Selection Tools” video (6 min 53 sec)

Second, show “Intro. 2. Rectangle and Direct Selection Tools” video (6 min 15 sec)

Third, show “Intro. 3.Saving and Undo” video (5 min. 41 sec)

Fourth, show “Intro. 4.Fill, Stroke, Color Swatches and Tint” video (8 min 35 sec)

Fifth, show “Intro. 5.Line, Hand and Zoom” video (8 min 27 sec)