This section of Creating Research Posters will cover creating a poster in Adobe InDesign, including creating a new file, adding images and text, and exporting the final version in a print-ready format.
NOTE: This section of the course assumes that you're familiar with recent versions of Adobe InDesign. If you haven't worked with InDesign before, it's recommended that you view the video Adobe Creative Cloud: Interface Basics before starting your poster, as it provides an overview of InDesign's interface and where to find the various tools and panels used. You may also want to review the content in the course InDesign: The Basics before building your poster.
Things to note about creating a poster in InDesign
InDesign is a powerful page layout program, but it can be overwhelming for new users. As InDesign is primarily geared towards making print layouts, it offers robust options for laying out text and images, as well as styling text used in a document. If you have some experience creating layouts in InDesign, creating a poster involves using the same tools you may have used for making smaller documents, such as flyers or newsletters. Following are some things you should be aware of when creating a poster in InDesign:
Working with images can be a little tricky, as it involves working with the image and its frame, so you'll need to be careful with how you select images when moving them around on the page.
InDesign can import text files of all types, including Microsoft Word documents - however, if you format the appearance of text in your Word document, InDesign may import that formatting as well.
InDesign allows for designating how many columns of text you want in your poster during the new document creation process, which eliminates the need to make individual text frames for each column.
InDesign also has the ability to set a specific page margin during the new document creation process, providing the needed space between the content and the poster's edge and ensuring none of the poster's content accidentally gets cut off. (A margin of 1/2 inch is recommended.)
Setting up the poster file
The first step in the poster creation process is to create the poster file, and ensure that the page is the correct size for your poster.
Step 1. Open InDesign.
Step 2. To create a new file, in the Menu bar,
Click File, Point to New, Click Document
Step 3. To indicate you want to create a print document, at the top of the New Document dialog box,
Step 4. To change the unit of measurement used in the new document, in the Units dropdown next to the Width field,
Click , Click Inches
Step 5. To set the width and height of your poster, in the Width and Height fields,
type in the desired width and height for your poster
Step 6. To change the amount of columns on the page, in the Columns field,
enter the desired number of columns
At this point, you can adjust the margins for your poster if needed. InDesign's default margin setting is 1/2 inch, but this can be changed if need be.
Step 7. To change the margin spacing for the poster, under the Columns section
Click Margins, adjust the margin size as need be
Step 8. To finish creating the new file,
The last two steps involve setting up the workspace to make it easier to align items on the page — this involves turning on the document grid and rulers.
Step 9. To turn on the grid, in the menu bar,
Click View, Point to Grids and Guides, Click Show Document Grid
Step 10. If necessary, to display the rulers,
Click View, Click Show Rulers
Adding content to the poster
Adding the content for the poster will be split into two sections: adding text and adding images.
As mentioned previously, InDesign can import Word documents, as well as plain text documents, and place the text into your poster. Importing text to a poster makes use of the Place command in InDesign.
The following video demonstrates how to add text to a poster in InDesign, and the process demonstrated in the video is outlined in steps following the video.
Description of the video:
In this video, we’ll be walking through the process of adding text to a research poster in Adobe InDesign. I’ll be starting with an InDesign file that’s already set to the correct size for printing, and with three columns to hold text. I’ll also be working with some demonstration text I’ve put together in a Word document.
Text can be added to a poster in InDesign using the Place command. We can place a number of different text file types with InDesign, including plain text and Word documents.
To start, we’ll go up to the Menu bar, then click File, and then Place.
In the Place dialog box, we’ll navigate to the text file we’re going to import into my poster. I have a Word document I’ll be using for this.
Before we open the file, we might want to have some more control over how InDesign imports my Word document. For example, if I don’t want to import any styling I’ve made to my text, because I want to style it in InDesign, I can indicate this in the Import Options dialog box. To turn that option on, and have InDesign show the Import Options after we select the file, check the Show Import Options checkbox at the bottom of the Place dialog box.
Once we find the file, double-click on it to import it.
The Import Options dialog box will appear now – I’ll make sure that InDesign is importing my text without any styles, and then click the OK button.
The cursor will have a thumbnail next to it, indicating that it’s ready to place text. At this point, we have two options for placing text – we can use AutoFlow to have InDesign flow the text through each column, or we can use manual text flow to manually add text to each column. I’ll demonstrate both of these options.
First, let’s see how to use AutoFlow. AutoFlow allows us to have our text automatically fill every column of text in a document, until we either run out of text or run out of space to put text. To place text using AutoFlow, point the cursor to the upper left corner of the first column, then press and hold the Shift key while clicking the top corner of that first column. The text should flow through all the columns in the document – however, if it doesn’t, don’t worry – we can fix it using the manual text flow process I’m going to demonstrate next. (on screen: InDesign will only fill as many columns as it needs to display all the text – sometimes that means it fills only one column.)
Manual text flow involves placing text in each individual column, one at a time – this gives you more control over how your text is placed. You might also have to use this method if your text only takes up one column before styling it, but overfills the column when it’s styled.
To start adding text to the first column, all we need to do is click at the top left side of the first column – InDesign will add the text to that column and then stop.
Once we have text in our document, we can style it. Styling text in InDesign involves using the Type tool and the Control Panel – once I’ve selected the type tool, the Control Panel will give us options for styling text. I can also style paragraphs from here, by clicking on the Paragraph icon on the far left side of the Control panel.
To start styling text, we’ll first need to activate the Type tool if it isn't already the active tool. Next, we'll select it, and then make changes using the Control panel. If we want to make changes to paragraph spacing and styling, select an entire paragraph (or multiple paragraphs), switch to the Paragraph options in the Control panel, and then style as needed. If we need to, we can also make changes to the content of the text using the Type tool.
Once we start styling the text, it's very likely that there will end up being too much text to display in the frame. When that happens, InDesign will show a red plus sign at the bottom right corner of the text frame – this red plus is showing up in the frame’s out port, and it indicates we’ve got overset text – or, in other words, there’s too much text to show in the frame. This can also happen once we style our text, and it ends up taking up multiple frames.
To place the text that won’t fit into the frame, we’ll first want to activate the Selection tool, and then select the text frame. Then, we'll click the out port - our cursor will load with text, similarly to how it looked when we first placed text into the document. Click the top left corner of the second column to place the text. We can repeat this process as many times as we need to in order to place all the text.
If you end up needing extra frames for text anywhere in your poster, you can activate the type tool, then press and drag to create a new text frame.
Now you know how to add text to a poster, and style it using the Control Panel.
Step 1. To add text to the poster, in the Menu bar,
Click File, Click Place
Step 2. To select the text to add to the poster, in the Place dialog box,
navigate to the file you want to place, then Double-click the file to open it
NOTE: If you are importing a Word document that contains text formatting, and want to control how the text is imported, click the Show Import Optionscheckbox at the bottom of the Place dialog box before opening your file. This will display the Import Options dialog box, which will allow you to choose how your text is imported into InDesign.
Your cursor will have a thumbnail next to it indicating that it is ready to place text. There are two ways we can add text to the poster: we can have it automatically flow through all columns in the poster, or we can manually place text into each column until we run out of text.
Step 1. To flow the text through all the columns in your poster,
Press and hold the Shift key,Click at the top of the first column
The text will automatically fill all the columns on the poster.
Step 1. To add text to the first column on the page,
Click at the top of the first column
Step 2. To add text to the next column, at the bottom of the first column of text,
Click , Click top of next column
Step 3. Repeat step 2 until all text has been placed.
To change the appearance of your text, you'll want to use a combination of the Type tool, located in the Tools panel on the left side of the screen, and the Control Panel, which is located across the top of the screen. When the Type tool is selected, the Control Panel will display options for formatting the display of text, such as fonts, font size, and spacing, as shown in the following image:
There may be different options visible, depending on your screen size. You can easily switch between changing the appearance of text and paragraphs by clicking on the two icons on the far left of the Control Panel. For more information on formatting the appearance of text, view the Adobe Help article on formatting text in InDesign.
NOTE: If the text you placed in your document only took up one column before the text is styled, you may need to manually flow the text to other columns. To manually flow the text after it has been placed, follow the instructions in Method two: Manually place text in each column.
Adding images to a poster in InDesign is also done using the Place command. Remember, when adding images to your poster, don't enlarge them after they've been placed into your poster — if they appear too small once added to your poster, you may want to check and make sure that they're an appropriate size and resolution for your poster. For more information, read Changing your Image's Resolution in the Gathering High Quality Images section of this course.
The following video demonstrates how to add images to a poster in InDesign, and the process demonstrated in the video is outlined in steps following the video.
Description of the video:
In this video, we’ll be walking through the process of adding images to a poster in InDesign. I’ll be using a poster that already has text added to it, and placing images that I’ve already prepared for use in a poster. Images can be added to a poster made in InDesign using the Place command.
As a heads-up, this demonstration was made using InDesign CC 2018, but the steps should be similar in older versions of InDesign.
Before we add an image, we should make sure nothing on our page is selected – if an object on the page is selected, InDesign will replace it with the image we’re about to add. To do this, up in the menu bar, we'll click on Edit, then click on Deselect All. If the option is not selectable, that means we don't have anything selected on our poster – and we can go ahead and add an image.
To add an image, we’ll go to the menu bar and click File, and then click Place.
The Place dialog box will open, and we’ll navigate to the image we want to add and double-click the file to open it.
At this point, InDesign will display a thumbnail of the image next to the cursor. We’ll click on the poster where we want to add the image, and InDesign will add it to the page.
If we need to make the image smaller, we can do this now that the image is placed – make sure the Selection tool is active, then point to one of the corners of the image until you see a double-ended diagonal arrow. Press and hold down both the shift and control keys on your keyboard, then with the mouse, press and drag one of the corners to make the image smaller. Holding down Shift makes it so our image scales down proportionately, and holding down Control allows us to resize both the image and the frame it resides in. (On screen: remember, working with images in InDesign involves both working with the image itself and the frame that holds it!)
One thing to keep in mind when working with images is to remember not to make the image larger than it is when it’s first placed in your poster, or it might look blurry or pixelated. If you place your images into a poster and they don’t look their best, you might want to check out the section Gathering High Quality Images for Print in the Creating Research Posters course to see how to get images that are poster-ready. (go.iu.edu url: http://go.iu.edu/24sm)
Before we finish, let’s learn how to wrap text around an image. This can be done using the Text Wrap panel in InDesign.
Let’s make sure we have the Selection tool active, and then click on the image we want to wrap text around.
Once we’ve got the image selected, we can open the Text Wrap panel by going to the Window menu, then clicking on Text Wrap. (Depending on how your version of InDesign is set up, it may also appear in the panel dock to the right as a button.)
The Text Wrap panel will open, and we can wrap text around the image now – to do this, we’ll click on the second icon in the row of text wrap icons at the top of the panel. The tooltip for this one says “wrap around bounding box” – this is perfect for what we need right now, but feel free to experiment with other options.
If I need to change the spacing between the text and the image, I can adjust that using the Offset Spacing section of the Text Wrap panel. Adjusting the offset spacing is as easy as clicking the up or down arrow buttons here.
Now we know how to add images to a poster in InDesign, and how to wrap text around them.
Step 1. To add an image to the poster, in the Menu bar,
Click File, Click Place
Step 2. To select the image to add to the poster, in the Place dialog box,
navigate to the file you want to place, Double-click the file to open it
NOTE: If you clicked the Show Import Options checkbox when importing text, the Show Import Options dialog box may appear at this step.
At this point, InDesign will display a thumbnail of the image next to your cursor.
Step 3. To place the image,
Click the location where you want to place the image
The image will appear on the page.
Wrapping text around an image
Once images are added to your poster, you'll want to wrap your poster's text around them. This can be done using the Text Wrap panel.
Step 1. To select the image you want to wrap text around, in the Tools panel,
Click, Click the image
Step 2. To open the Text Wrap panel, in the Menu bar,
Click Window, Click Text Wrap
Step 3. To add a text wrap to an image, in the Text Wrap panel,
Step 4. To adjust the space between the image and the text, underneath the text wrap option buttons,
Once you've completed your poster, you'll want to make sure that it's saved as a PDF. This ensures that your poster will look exactly the way you want it to when it's printed, and will package all of your images, fonts, and text into one file that can be printed on any computer.
Step 1. To start the process of exporting the poster as a PDF, in the Menu bar,
Click File, Click Export...
Step 2. In the File Name field, if necessary, type in the name for the file.
Step 3. To select PDF as the file export type, in the Export dialog box,
Click the file type dropdown, Click PDF (Print)
Step 4. To continue the export process, at the bottom right corner of the Export dialog box,
Step 5. To ensure the PDF is saved at the highest quality possible, in the Save Adobe PDF Options window,
Click the preset dropdown, Click High Quality Print
Step 6. To finish exporting the poster as a PDF,
Your poster will be saved as a PDF, and depending on your settings, may open automatically in the default PDF viewer for your computer.