What is Adobe Indesign: Everything You Need To Know, With Some Alternatives

What is InDesign cover image

Adobe makes a lot of software, from the most widely known Photoshop to lesser-knowns like Dreamweaver or Adobe Media Encoder. Somewhere between this wide range sits Adobe InDesign. So what is Adobe InDesign and what purpose does it serve? Let’s see why was it created and what makes it different from Photoshop or Illustrator.

Adobe InDesign is a layout design software which focuses on creating page layouts for magazines, books, posters, card, etc. InDesign is used to design the layout of text and images on a page, not the text or images itself. What does this mean then?

This means that InDesign cannot create or edit images as photoshop can. It also cannot create new fonts or work with vector elements like Illustrator does. InDesign can create some basic vector shapes like lines, but it is very basic. What InDesign can do is create a layout with images and texts and offer powerful ways to do the same to create professional page layouts with images, slideshows, videos, and even animations. 

What InDesign creates

Look around your house or the street across and you’ll find things that InDesign can create. Let’s start with the newspaper. The layout of text and images can be created using InDesign. Books for cooking, photography, etc with images, flyers, magazines, e-books, cards, posters, banners, etc can be created using InDesign. This application focuses on the print and publishing sector, both digital and print. 

Can you create page layouts using Photoshop or Illustrator? Yes, you can, but it will a major inconvenience and the final product will not be as refined as the one created using InDesign. Photoshop will be a major issue for creating page layouts. Illustrator is a lot more flexible, but since it is not made specifically for that purpose, there will be a lack of structure and framework for creating layouts. 

So in simple terms, if page layouts is an off-road path, InDesign is the best off-roading vehicle from Adobe. Illustrator is a Prius and Photoshop is Ferrari. 

How to get InDesign

Here’s a dilemma that everyone planning to get Adobe software faces. Should you get the single InDesign or get it with the Creative Cloud, which is more expensive but comes with 20 other applications? No matter what, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription fee, paid monthly or yearly. How much you pay and get out of it is what we’ll talk about here. 

Getting just InDesign will cost you a monthly fee of $20.99. While it may sound cheaper than the Adobe CC plan of $52.99 per month, hear me out. There is not much that you can do with just InDesign. You can create basic layout designs using just InDesign, but if you intend to go professional, Adobe CC is the one to go with. 

You need both Photoshop and Illustrator if you want to use InDesign professionally. Photoshop for editing images taken from the camera or stock images (raster images) and Illustrator for making vector design elements to aid the text content. So, for the $52.99, the Adobe CC plan gives you all these apps:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Fresco
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Adobe XD
  • Adobe Premiere Rush 
  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Adobe After Effects 
  • Adobe Dimension 
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro
  • Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Adobe Animate 
  • Adobe Audition
  • Adobe Lightroom Classic
  • Adobe Character Animator
  • Adobe Spark
  • Adobe Bridge
  • Adobe InCopy
  • Adobe Media Encoder 
  • Adobe Substance
  • Adobe Fuse
  • Adobe Prelude

Calculating the number of applications you are getting for $52.99 per month, each software costs around $2.3 per month. But I know that if you want to work with graphics, why would you need the media encoder, etc for? So taking all the relevant, useful software in the CC, the cost of each application comes to be $3.5 per application per month.

So for professional use or let’s say serious use to get something out of these applications, paying for Adobe CC is not that bad, albeit a one-time fee would have been much better. While we are at it, is InDesign the only software to create page layouts? Let’s take a look at some alternatives.

Adobe InDesign alternatives

Adobe InDesign alternatives
Some of the InDesign alternatives

VivaDesigner: Pay a one-time fee of $139 for personal use and $399 for commercial use. One of the best alternatives for InDesign. 

QuarkXpress: One of the most powerful and widely used page layout graphics designer. QuarkXpress 2020 will cost you $395 at the time of writing this article (they are offering a 42% off sale).

Affinity Publisher is yet another competent substitute for Adobe InDesign with all the bells and whistles. The best part about this is it costs $49.99 and that’s a one-time payment. No pesky monthly subscriptions. 

Xara page and layout designer is a fairly powerful alternative to InDesign. Yes, granted that it may not be very sophisticated or complex but the greatest advantage it has is Xara has a completely free option. There are some limitations but the complete version costs only $22.95 per month. 

Scribus is an open-source page layout design that is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. With many templates and presets free and decently powerful software that even has vector drawing capabilities. It is completely free so that’s a plus point. But the only negative thing about Scribus is that its files are not supported on other similar designing software.

Some other alternates are:


Swift Publisher

Parting words

InDesign is a great tool, but unlike Photoshop and Illustrator which are more like swords and machetes, InDesign is more like a scalpel (sorry for getting gory). InDesign is designed to work on a very niche industry, creating layouts for books, magazines, graphic-heavy books, flyers, brochures, banners, etc. Wherever you see the use of fancy texts and images, InDesign can make that.

The software offers some great features such as optical text alignment, spell check, spacing, templates, etc to create beautiful layouts, mostly for professional works. Before buying anything, you must try it first. So go for the trial period, test it out for 7-days and then, if you think it is worth it, go for it. This concludes the article. You can read more related articles:

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