The Making of Square in Adobe InDesign

By Katie Houghton on September 12, 2019

Learn how to best utilize the frame tool with InDesign in this short tutorial! 

Let's Start Setting Up Your Document!

To make boxes:

  1. Select the Frame tool (F).
  2. Click and drag like you are going to make one frame.
  3. While your mouse is still held down (let go only when you are done making your frames) Use the up arrow to add a row and the right arrow to add a column.

    This means if you use the down arrow or right arrow you will delete a row or column respectively.
    Use Command + up/down to make the space between the rows bigger/smaller. Use Command + left/right to make the space between the columns smaller/bigger.

    Basic controls: Use the space-bar to reposition the boxes. Use
    shift to constrain to a perfect square.
  4. When you create the amount of frames you want, let go of the mouse. You should have multiple frames now such as these below:

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Once you get the frames done you can use them as is or you can customize them by combining them, changing the shapes, or resizing them!

Let's Fill the Boxes with Content!

Now each frame is ready to fill with new content.

  1. Select all the frames and then choose Object>Fitting>Frame Fitting Options, then choose Fill Frame Proportionally. (If you choose this option prior to making the frames with nothing selected all future frames will have those options.)
    rectangle blog 2
  2. Fill each frame with the content you like.
    File> Place or Ctrl+D/Command+D.
    rectangle blog 3

Graphic & Text Frames - What is the Difference?

Now we can change some objects into graphic frames and others into text frames. 

To Change the Frame Properties:

  1. Select all the frames and then choose Object>Fitting>Frame Fitting Options, then choose Fill Frame Proportionally. (If you choose this options prior to making the frames with nothing selected all future frames will have those options.)
    rectangle blog 4
  2. Change some of the boxes over to text frames. Objects> Content>Text (Only an empty frame can be changed via the menu)
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  3. Change the Text Frame Options as needed. I centered the Vertical Justification and I added Inset Spacing.
    rectangle blog 6
  4. Fill one frame with content. For the graphic frames: File> Place or Ctrl+D/ Command+D.

How to Make One Compound Path

You will also have the option to create one compound path using separate objects.

  1. Select all the shapes then choose Object> Paths> Make Compound Paths or Ctrl+8/Command+8.
  2. Select all the frames and then choose Object>Fitting>Frame Fitting Options, then choose Fill Frame Proportionally. (If you choose this options prior to making the frames with nothing selected all future frames will have those options.)
  3. Fill one frame with content. File> Place or Ctrl+D/ Command+D.
    rectangle blog 8

How To Make Two Frames

In InDesign, you can also create compound paths and a simple paths - here is how to do so.

  1. Select all the shapes then deselect one of the selected frames. Choose Object> Paths> Make Compound Paths or Ctrl+8/Command+8. All but one frame will become a new compound path.
  2. Select all the frames and then choose Object>Fitting>Frame Fitting Options, then choose Fill Frame Proportionally. (If you choose this options prior to making the frames with nothing selected all future frames will have those options.)
  3. Fill both frames with content. File> Place or Ctrl+D/ Command+D.
    rectangle blog 10

How to Make Different Size Boxes

By expanding some boxes and deleting others, a new dynamic
design will be created, which can spice up your layout.

  1. Resize some of the boxes to create longer or taller shapes. Once you resized the frames, delete the smaller extra frames that were used for guides.
    rectangle blog 11
  2. Select all the frames and then choose Object>Fitting>Frame Fitting Options, then choose Fill Frame Proportionally. (If you choose this options prior to making the frames with nothing selected all future frames will have those options.)
  3. Fill the frames with content. File> Place or Ctrl+D/ Command+D.
    rectangle blog 13

Change Your Frame Shapes!

After you build the rectangle, the pathfinder can be used to
change the shape to another shape.

  1. Select all the shapes then choose a new shape from the Pathfinder part of the Pathfinder. (If you already turned the shapes into a compound path, the many objects will become one simple shape)
    rectangle blog 14
  2. Select all the frames and then choose Object>Fitting>Frame Fitting Options, then choose Fill Frame Proportionally. (If you choose this options prior to making the frames with nothing selected all future frames will have those options.)
  3. Before you fill the frames you can still select the frames and turn them into a compound path.
  4. Fill one frame with content. File> Place or Ctrl+D/ Command+D
    rectangle blog 16

Hope these tips can help you make engaging and dynamic layouts when using InDesign. If this tutorial helped you, feel free to share your design projects and tag @FMCTraining on our social media! 

Topics: InDesign, graphic design, shapes, print design, Adobe

Author: Katie Houghton

Katherine Houghton is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology with degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design. She has held multimedia, graphic design, and consulting positions at numerous companies including KPMG LLP, one of the big five Accounting Consulting Firms where she managed the Multimedia Department. During the ".com" boom of the 90s she was promoted to Vice President of Confidant Inc. where she managed the entire look of all visual materials including their marketing and Internet presence.
Currently, she teaches classes in Premiere Pro, Illustrator, Freehand, Director, Photoshop, InDesign, Quark, After Effects, Final Cut Pro & Acrobat.