The Ultimate Guide to InDesign for Authors (Part 2)

We’re back with the second part of our InDesign series! If you missed part 1, you can find it here. I strongly suggest reading the first part before diving into part 2.

Alright, you all caught up? Great! Today we’re going to get into the fine-tuning for your manuscript and the export to PDF so we can take this beautiful file over to Lulu and turn it into a published book!

Before we really start tinkering with the content, let’s add our Front Matter and Back Matter. If you aren’t familiar with this content, check out a past blog we did covering the two. I’ll add a quick list of what each contains (generally):

Front Matter

  1. Half title
  2. Blank
  3. Full title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication (Optional)
  6. Also by {{Author Name}}
  7. Acknowledgments (Optional)
  8. Blank
  9. Table of Contents

Back Matter

  1. Acknowledgments (Optional)
  2. About the Author
  3. Advertising for backlist or upcoming titles
  4. Sample from a forthcoming title
  5. Connections to your social media, author website, and Newsletter

Your book doesn’t have to include all of this content. It probably should, especially the Front Matter, but this is self-publishing and you are the boss. If your book benefits from a lack of these elements, then, by all means, take the necessary liberties.

Except for the Copyright Notice. It doesn’t have to be at the front, but you really (really) should include this notification.

Front Matter

For my Sherlock Holmes reprint, I created seven total pages of Front Matter.

  1. Half-Title
  2. Blank
  3. Full Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Stock Image
  6. Blank
  7. Table of Contents

This is a pretty standard set up and follows the suggested ordering I listed above. I didn’t really need to acknowledge or dedicate this book, so I left those two out. If you’re creating a book with a separate introduction, you might consider this part of the Front Matter too.

To add this content, I made a ‘Front Matter’ Master Page including just the header and footer space and excluding page numbering. The Front Matter is pretty diverse, so no need to make a strict design. I’ll want the freedom to prepare the content uniquely for each page. I went into the Pages toolbox, right-clicked, and selected ‘Insert Pages’. Then I set my options to include seven pages, before page 1, with the Master reference being my Front Matter Master Page.

InDesign Insert Front Matter

Back Matter

I went through basically the same process for the Back Matter, scrolling to my final page and adding additional pages, this time using my Back Matter Master Page. One thing to pay attention to when adding Back Matter is the page count. My document (before adding the Back Matter) contained 335 pages. I want to have a quantity divisible by four (bookmaking best practices and necessary if I want to put my book into a retail distribution service). So, I will add five pages of back matter to even the page count at 340.

I decided to be really simple with this content, adding one page with a little about Project Gutenberg, and one page with a little about Lulu. I don’t have any of the content we’d usually see at the end of a book like the ‘About the Author,’ other books or social contact info, or anything of that sort. My Back Matter is much more simplified than yours will likely be.

Placing Images

Okay, before we get into the finalizing steps to make your text beautiful, I want to touch very briefly on images and image placement. I don’t want to go into the details and tricks for graphic layout because I’m really not much for graphic design. Laying out some pages of text, sure I can handle. But artfully placing images and graphics on the page is not something I have a knack for.

Here are two good resources for deeper learning about image placement with InDesign:

  1. Adobe Instructions
  2. Video Tutorial

The Adobe instructions are very detailed and go through a number of options for placing your images into the page. The video tutorial, while slightly outdated, covers some good means of manipulating an image once placed.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s add a stock image to the front matter!

I’m on the fifth page of the front matter, a blank page facing the copyright notice. I have this image of a thumbprint (very detective-y right?):

Fingerprint Image

I’m going to place this on the page just to fill some space. From the File Menu, I select Place and find the file on my desktop.

InDesign Place command from File Menu

Now I will see a preview of the image attached to my cursor. Drop that image on the page and you’ll see the full-size image inside a frame (#1). Note the circle (#2) in the center of the image. This will allow you to grab the image within the frame and move it without moving the actual frame.

InDesign Image Placement at original size

This gives you a lot of control over the final position of the image and the frame it lives inside. You can also resize both the frame and the image, though be careful not to distort the image or cut some of the image off within the frame.

InDesign Image frame adjustment

The video tutorial I linked above does a good job describing the options you have for controlling this, but let me show you the menu to Fit the image. Just right click on the image once you have the frame sized as you’d like it and select Fitting > Fit Content Proportionally.

Using InDesign's command to Fit Content Proportionally within a pre-sized frame

This command will fit the image to the frame you’ve sized while maintaining the proportions of the original image. The Fitting menu offers a variety of sizing options, so I suggest playing with these if you intend to use graphics in your book layout.

Here’s my final placement and sizing for this image:

Final sizing and placement of image in InDesign

Finally Finalizing!

We’re almost there. I’ve placed all of my text and front/back matter in the book. We’ve got a file with pages and margins sized to book standards. The final step is to review the file and make sure we are happy with the placement and layout of the text.

First, we need to open the Paragraph toolbox. You’ll find this under Type > Paragraph (#1). This opens a toolbox (#2) and you’ll see in the image below that I’ve dragged it out of the sidebar (just click and drag the toolbox) so I can expand it fully.

The InDesign Paragraph toolbox allows you greater control over individual paragraph layout

This toolbox is going to let us control the layout and design of the paragraphs individually. We could go into our Master Pages and apply some formatting rules too, but I want the control to make changes to individual paragraphs.

In depth view of the tools available in the InDesign Paragraph toolbox

  1. Justification – This is the same basic control you’re familiar with from Word. The last two in the list are unique ones, allowing you to align away from or toward your spine. This is handy for more complex layouts and your header/footer content. Remember, we used this for the page numbering to keep them consistent.
  2. Indent – I like to indent my text just a little more inside my margins. Extra safety I guess? These controls allow you to set that value to your liking.
  3. First Line Indent – I’ve set my first line to indent 0.25”, creating the ‘tab’ look in the finished book for all new paragraphs and dialogue.
  4. Space Before/After – I like to add some space before and after the paragraphs to create a small gap. This isn’t necessarily a publishing best practice, but it very common with text online. You’ll notice my spacing is very small in the above example.
  5. Drop Cap – The Drop cap controls define how many lines and how many characters are used for this. Generally, it will be the first letter or the first word of a paragraph. I have mine set to two lines, first letter. Because I’m adjusting each paragraph individually, I’ll need to select the first paragraph of each story and adjust the Drop Cap accordingly.
  6. Hyphenate – Automatic hyphenation creates hyphens between longer words to maintain the text justification. Look at this side-by-side of the first paragraph of the first story:

    Automatic Hyphenation creates slightly tighter text blocks but results in multiple words broken across lines. In the above example, three words are split. You can also edit the text style and control the hyphenation to even greater degrees.

    Editing Paragraph Style to normalize hyphenation

    This control gives you a lot of options for the way hyphens behave, so be careful to review your document thoroughly when making a change to an entire text preset. I like to turn off hyphenation across the border and go back through the file to add it to paragraphs as needed.
    What is important to do is to set the hyphenation values you want on this menu prior to turning off automatic hyphenation. This will allow you to turn on the automatic hyphenation for specific paragraphs with the Paragraph Toolbox and get the values you want. Here are the values I set:

    Hyphenation settings I used for my document in InDesign

Now that the paragraph controls are set the way I like them, I’ll go through and review each page and format the individual paragraphs. We’ll use the Character Toolbox, one of the tabs in the same frame as the Paragraph Toolbox.

InDesign Character Toolbox options

  1. Font & Style – Choose your font and the style for the selected text. I used Minion Pro / Regular for my basic text, but if I had a quote or other text that I wanted to make stand out, I could adjust the character formatting here.
  2. Character Size & Leading – The character size is pretty self-explanatory. The leading defines the distance between the baseline of the text. So, at 12 point font and 14.4 points leading, there is 2.4 points difference, creating a slight gap between lines of text.
    Leading is very useful for controlling lines per page. Look at this example of the first two pages of text, one using 14.4 points leading and the other using 15 point:

    Pages of text in InDesign with 14.4 point leading
    Text pages with 14.4 point Leading
    Pages of text in InDesign with 15 point leading
    Text pages with 15 point Leading

    With the Leading set to the standard 14.4 point size, I end up with the first line of the third paragraph on the bottom of the first page of text. But if I adjust to 15 point leading, we see that line of text shift to the top of the next page. In fact, I could go with 14.8 points leading for those three paragraphs to move the first line of paragraph three to the second page, but doing so tightens the first two paragraphs and leaves white space at the bottom of the page.

  1. Kerning & Tracking – Kerning defines the space between characters, while Tracking applies to the spacing between groups of characters. I avoid adjusting these as the automatic hyphenation defines these for you line by line. But you can adjust the values to adjust the look of your text.
    For example, I like to increase the Kerning between my Drop Cap and the second letter to make the Drop Cap letter stand out a little more.
  2. Vertical & Horizontal Scale – These controls adjust the scale of the text without directly altering the Kerning, Tracking, or Leading. If you reduce the Vertical Scale, the text shrinks but the point spacing stays the same. The Scaling is a control more suited to a magazine layout and probably not something you’ll need for your book layout.
  3. Baseline Shift & Skew – Baseline shift moves the text baseline up or down. This too is a control you likely will not need for your book interior layout, though a textbook or manual might use this to control text position. The Skew is a “fake” italics effect, tilting the text to a specified degree.

We’ve touched on the most important basic elements and controls for manipulating your text. Believe me, there is a lot more we could cover. But this is an introductory look at InDesign, so we’re going to keep it pretty basic. With what we’ve covered above, you can create a text-based book and design it to look completely professional.

All that’s left is to generate a PDF!

Finalizing the File

Now that we’re done editing the file in InDesign, we can export a PDF ready to upload on Lulu. The first step is to get Lulu Job Options added to your InDesign software. Job Options is a file created by Lulu’s Print Team with all the file presets our printers use. Basically, you can pre-prepare the file for printing before you ever bring it to Lulu, helping to ensure it is quickly accepted by our print-ready file check.

Here are our Job Options zip folder with both the Full Bleed and non-Full Bleed Job Options files.

Now go to File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define… and click the Load button.

Using the InDesign File menu to define PDF export Presets

Select the Full Bleed Job Options from the unzipped file folder.

Applying Lulu's Full Bleed job options to InDesign's PDF export presets

With Job Options Applied, go back to File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define… and select Full Bleed Lulu from the list of options.

Export a PDF from InDesign using Lulu Job Options presets

Now you’ll name your file and click Save to bring up the PDF export options. Under the General section, be sure to deselect the option to Embed Page Thumbnails and Optimize for Fast Web Viewing. We’re making a file for printing here!

InDesign PDF export screen's general settings

Next, check under Compression and make sure that all images are assigned to export at 300 dpi.

InDesign PDF export Compression settings

Finally, under Marks and Bleeds deselect the option to display any printer marks. You also want to make sure the option to Use Document Bleed Settings is selected, so the file will properly export at the Full Bleed size.

Adobe InDesign PDF export Bleed and Marks settings

With all of these options checked and reviewed, click Export to save your interior file as a PDF.

And that’s it! You’ve got a file ready for upload to Lulu.

If you’re interested, here is the completed The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes I created.

Thanks for reading and be sure to post any questions I might be able to help with! InDesign is an incredibly versatile piece of software, but it is also loaded with features that can easily overwhelm new users. Believe me, I know from hours of poking around in the software and still having only a cursory understanding of the graphic design aspects and alternate means of achieving layouts.

1 thought on “The Ultimate Guide to InDesign for Authors (Part 2)”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: