How to Design a Catalog in InDesign

By Jaime Swanson

Updated September 15, 2017

Items you will need

  • Pencil

  • Scratch paper

Adobe InDesign has the tools that can help you make your catalog as simple or as involved as you could want. InDesign runs on a platform that is very similar to Photoshop, but it allows for easier manipulation of text, which helps as you input the necessary information to make your catalog interesting to read. Get your materials together and settle in for the day to lay out your company's newest sales catalog.

Gather all of the materials you need for your catalog. Ensure you have picture files and copy for each of the items you are displaying in your catalog. Keep these files in one or two folders for easy access throughout your design project.

Turn on your computer and open InDesign. Click "File" and then "New" to start a new project. You can create your catalog page by page or you can create a single document with multiple pages. Tell InDesign how many pages you wish to have in this new file, as well as the type of layout you would like: Letter-sized, tabloid or broadsheet pages. This determines the size of the pages. Typical catalogs are slightly larger than letter-sized paper; you might need to input your own page dimensions. Hit "Enter" on your keyboard to create the new project, which opens automatically.

Design the cover of your catalog first. This might not be the most intensive part of your design project, but it is the most important, since it's the first thing your customers will see upon receipt of the catalog. Import the photo or photos you are using by using the "Place" option in InDesign, which is "Ctrl" and "D." This opens a dialog box, from which you navigate to your project file and find the image you need. Click the image file and click "Open." Repeat the process to import the text you need for the cover: Teasers to what's inside, headlines, etc. Make sure the name of your company or the logo designate for such projects is prominent on the page without getting in the way of what's inside.

Format the text on the front page. Choose the fonts you will use for teasers, headlines and copy throughout the catalog. Mark the fonts down on a piece of scratch paper; this helps you keep consistency. Each font might need to be resized, depending on what you're using it for. As you resize it, ensure the leading and kerning change with it. Leading is the space between the lines of text and kerning is the space between each letter in a word. Loosen or tighten the leading or kerning if the words are hard to read.

Continue to design pages inside. Place text and photos on each page, and format the text according to the fonts you chose when designing the front page. Place objects for sale in rows either vertically or horizontally. Use the "Align" tool ("Shift" and "F7") to line up items evenly on the page. Once you have an inside page created, use this as your template for the rest of the catalog; this makes the process fly by.