How to Write a Book Using InDesign

by Elizabeth Smith

Adobe InDesign is a publishing software package that can be a useful tool when writing a book. InDesign allows you to lay out your book, add and edit text and format the cover and interior pages. It is a powerful tool that enables management of long, complex documents without the risk of losing all of your information in case of file corruption.

Create your template file. Open InDesign and choose "Document" from the "New" option. Choose your page size from the pop-up window, and set paragraph styles by choosing "Paragraph Styles" from the "Type & Tables" option under the Window menu. Use the master pages to create headers and footers that will be used across your book, including page numbering; you can edit your master page by double-clicking the "A-Master" icon in the "Pages" tab (choose "Pages" from the Window menu) You may need to experiment until you find a layout and style that works for your book. Save the file as a template using the "Save As" command and choose an InDesign template from the "File Type" drop-down menu.

Add chapters. Using your InDesign template, create chapters. Name them by chapter, by subject, or both--whatever will make it easier for you to organize them at a later date. Create chapters separately so that they can be edited one at a time without risking the entire book file in case of a crash.

Insert your text. You can write your book directly in InDesign, or you can use a different program, such as Microsoft Word. If you choose to use another program, simply write, edit and format your text and save the file. Open the chapter file in InDesign, choose "Place" from the file menu, and navigate to your text file. The cursor will change to the "Place" icon. If you hold down Shift as you click in your text frame (which will carry over from the master), the text will automatically flow from one page to the next, creating additional pages when necessary.

Create your book. Once you have added all of your chapters and additional material, choose "Book" from the "New" option under "File." To add a chapter, click the plus sign at the bottom of the book control frame, and select all of your chapter files. InDesign will import them into your book file. At that time, you can edit styles, flow page numbers and modify other options.

Edit your text. To make small edits to your chapters, you can edit directly in InDesign instead of replacing the Word file. However, if you would like to keep the original files intact, simply edit and save them. When you next open your InDesign book file, it should prompt you to update your linked files. This will update your chapter files; check to be sure the edits have carried across.

Add pages as needed. InDesign allows you to add additional pages to your book without causing problems with organization. To add more pages, simply create another InDesign document with the additional pages--for a table of contents, for example, or an index. Add them to your book file as you would with the chapters.

About the Author

Elizabeth Smith has been a scientific and engineering writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers and corporate publications. A frequent traveler, she also has penned articles as a travel writer. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and writing from Michigan State University.