Is Indesign the best for me (or Publisher)

TUFoto's picture

Hi,
I am working for a company and have to design a few procut data sheets, broshures and finally a whole product catalouge.
I really would like to take Indesign because it is very famous and "the standard" for these topics.
But it is really expensive. I have some experience with the program. But I have some questions to you. Thank you a lot for answering my questions:

1.) other members of my company would like to use Microsoft Publisher (they all usw Microsoft so that's no disadvantage)
Are there any advantages that M Publisher is not able to do?
I don't need any 3D or very special stuff. Just for my topics above.

2.) I want to create single sheets. These sheets should be able to combine in a whole document.
Is this possible with these "books"?
Is it possible to easy create a table of content? automatically? an index that is changing if number of pages or size of documents change?
Is it possible to link inside the pdf document that users can jump from table of content to a specific chapter by clicking?

3.) How should the structure have been done?
Do I need 2 versions for each file? One for printing and one for pdf viewing on computers?? Or is it possible just to create one?
Also with different languages. Is it recommend to use the laysers for this thing?
Or not (because of the idea of creating an easy catalouge.) I need 2 versions. So does it make sense to combine it in one single file?
The catalouge has to be switched otherwise in every single paper. isn't it?

Are there any other tips and comments?
Maybe I use a differnt approach or designing idea?
thanks a lot for helping me!

russellm's picture

First of all, this is a typography and type design forum. Your question is off topic. No biggy to me but you might et better replies elsewhere.

However, (re. question #1) if you are a graphic designer, then from your point of view there should be no question. In a contest between MS Publisher and Indesign, it would be Indesign all the way. Not necessarily because it is the more appropriate tool for the job - or not, but because as a designer it is a good fit for the skill set that goes with the job.

It sounds like you might be an in-house designer and some other "non-designer" folks you work with, who work with typical "office-job" tools are going to be involved in creating and maintaining the document. Then Publisher makes sense. Especially if you don't want to get stuck with the job. Speaking from some personal experience I'm glad to be clear of, many thanks to transitioning the doc in question to an MS product that others in my dept can work with. The end product is less elegant IMO, but it is a utilitarian thing for consultants and contractors and I may be to only person who cares.

JamesM's picture

I'm a graphic designer. If you want to do serious page layout, InDesign is the way to go. InDesign gives you enormous control over your layout. The downside is that it's expensive and has a considerable learning curve. I can't compare InDesign to Microsoft Publisher because MP is not a program that I use (and I doubt if any graphic designers use it).

Table of contents — Yes you can set it up do update automatically. For a short document it might not be worth the trouble, but for a big document it's a big timesaver. However a beginner might find it a little tricky.

Layers for different languages — Yes, that's often done, but keep in mind that different languages may run different lengths.

PDF Links — Yes, you can save your InDesign document as an interactive PDF containing links to specific places in the document and/or links to external sites.

2 versions ? — No, you don't have to create one version for PDF and one version for printing, and I generally don't. But if your document is going to make a huge (file size) PDF because it's really long (like a big catalog) or has a lot of graphics, that can be a problem if you want folks to view the PDF online via their browser — not downloaded, but viewed in their browser — because it may take so long to load that folks get annoyed or give up. In a case like that, a shorter or less graphic intensive version might work better for the PDF. Either that or make sure the web page warns them it's a big file and tell them to download it rather than view it in their browser. But obviously it's a lot less work if you can use the same version for both printing and PDF.

Some general advice — if you're not experienced in InDesign, a big catalog might be biting off more than you can chew. You might want to consider hiring someone who's more experienced to help you set up the files and lend a hand if you run into problems. Preferably someone local so they can demonstrate things for you.

TUFoto's picture

thanks a lot for your help.
Im don't have that much experience with indesing butI really want to deal with that program.
I think with forums a lot of video tutorial I will deal with that.

so you mean I just need one document? Why do I have to choose the format at the beginnign (print or web) just because of the art of choosing colors (RGB vs CMYK) and to decide whether the ruler is at the dimension of cm instead of pixel?

For the project I mentioned above. Is the concept of several documents combined in a book the way to go or wood you recommend another style?

thank you a lot!

JamesM's picture

> so you mean I just need one document?

Yes. InDesign can make a PDF from any print document. When I have a document that needs both a print and a PDF version, I almost always make just ONE document.

The only exceptions would be if there's some special reason why a PDF of the print version might not work well. Some examples might be if the print document uses special effects that won't be visible in a PDF (like embossing or die cuts), or if your boss wants users to view the PDF online (on their browsers) but the file size is so huge that it would take forever to load. In those special cases, a separate PDF version might be helpful as you can design it to avoid those problems.

But generally speaking, I'd make ONE document for printing and then just make a PDF from it. It'll save a lot of time and effort, especially if you're fairly new to InDesign.

> Why do I have to choose the format

The print/web choice when setting up a document just sets a few things like RGB vs CMYK, the ruler settings, etc. These are all things you can change later if you need to, but it saves time to set those things correctly right from the start. If the document is going to be printed, I'd use the "print" setting. When it comes time to make a PDF, it's no problem, InDesign can make a PDF from any print document.

> combined in a book

Regarding the "book" feature, I can't offer advice as that's a feature I don't use (I work mostly on shorter documents).

> I think with forums a lot of video tutorial

That's a good idea. If you don't mind spending a few bucks, the subscription site Lynda.com has several online video courses on InDesign (some designed specifically for beginners) that are excellent.

Theunis de Jong's picture

> combined in a book

For regular documents, there are no pressing reasons to use the Book feature.

First off, it means a lot of additional (uh..) book-keeping. InDesign can synchronise most important stuff along all of a Book's documents, but it doesn't help you fixing things automatically. If you decide to use another font in your styles in one document, then synchronise this one with the others, you still need to check all of your documents, all pages.

Second: if you have rather large sections of pages (say, individual chapters, or self-containing articles) and you want to be able to move them around at a whim, make a Book. If the order of text is predetermined, no need for this.

Third: in my work, I need a single PDF of a document, plus one separate PDF of each chapter. (And the inclusion and appearance of individual chapters are, at times, changed at a whim by its editors...) Rather than setting up some system to move pages around and somehow generate a PDF per so many pages, I make my books a Book.

"Single sheets", is that to mean "pages"? ("Sheet", along with a bed cover, might mean something else in book printing. "Page" is pretty unambiguous.) You can drag individual pages around at will inside a single document. The same can be done, naturally, with individual documents inside a book, but somehow it feels more natural to keep this inside a single document.

InDesign can generate both Indices and Tables of Contents, but not "unattended"; to set these up correctly you do need a pretty good understanding of the entire program. Besides, once generated, any page numbers will not magically update. After each change that may have affected pagination, you need to generate both a-new.

InDesign is not a user-friendly program. It's not targeted at beginners. It uses terms unfamiliar to laymen (pica, bleed, slug, point size, ligature, process color, overprint, resolution; just to name a random 10). It assumes lots of previous knowledge of design, and more than passing knowledge of the printing process.

Not tryin' to scare you off or anything. Jus' lettin' you know.

HVB's picture

Whatever route and products you choose, make sure that it includes or has access to a good spelling and grammar checker.

JamesM's picture

Yes, or even better would be a professional editor to write/edit the copy and then proof it.

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