Adobe InDesign 2 Visual QuickStart Guide
Book Review

Adobe InDesign 2 for Macintosh & Windows, Visual QuickStart Guide
Sandee Cohen

Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-79478-0
US $21.99 CA $34.99UK £16.99
379 pages not including index

For all you people who couldn’t wait to try out Adobe’s oft-referred-to Quark Killer… For all you desktop publishers gradually being weaned by Adobe from the aging PageMaker… Here is the salve to help heal the bruises you’ve no doubt acquired on the rocky road back to desktop publishing nirvana.

With much trepidation, I migrated my existing desktop publishing setup from QuarkXPress 4.1 to Adobe InDesign. Even though Adobe has gone to great lengths to make this anticipated (and much sought after) migration as painless as possible, creating many similar keyboard shortcuts in the process, the application itself is still very much different than QuarkXPress, both from an underlying mechanical viewpoint as well as from the workflow standpoint. Since most users of InDesign have been “migrators” from other applications, be it Adobe’s PageMaker, QuarkXPress, or other lesser-knowns, I think that many of them will, like me, feel the urgency to be up and running quickly. If you waited until version 2.0 to make the switch, more power to ‘ya! But this isn’t a review of InDesign 2. It’s a review of an extremely must-have reference book written by the talented Sandee Cohen.

Sandee makes learning to use InDesign 2 fun and enjoyable. I may be more dense than most publishers, but I had used QXP since it was version 2, which as you know, makes me officially ‘old’ in computing-years, and with a lot of existing QXP documents needing to be converted and revised (and even more archived and needing assurances I could access them in the future to convert to PDF) I was not looking forward to a worst-case-scenario occurring. Sandee put my mind to rest almost immediately, and the first couple of chapters made me familiar with InDesign’s environment such that I was soon feeling “at home.”

This book has more illustrations than most other Visual QuickStart Guides I’m familiar with, and rightfully so. Desktop publishing is essentially a visual expression. It’s also all about customizing layout at sub-pixel levels and adjusting font details both subjectively and objectively. This is partly why the applications such as InDesign can be so daunting for the new user to master, making the Rubik’s Cube seem like child’s play by comparison. The other reason is that most software manuals, even when as well written as Adobe’s usually are, tend to take the Menu approach to explaining the software. Most publishers think in terms of tasks: how do I accomplish a particular task, menus be ^#&^*@$!

InDesign 2 for Macintosh & Windows, Visual QuickStart Guide, takes a practical approach to explaining the various features and tools available in InDesign 2. From simple document setup to advanced typography and book design, Sandee covers every major InDesign feature and most minor ones. Each of the many illustrations is clear and easy to read, and readily associated with its numbered text counterpart. Color management, style setup and automation, transparency usage, PDF output, HTML output and customized settings are discussed and explained in easy to follow steps. There is a 10 page appendix of keyboard shortcuts divided between Mac and Windows platform equivalents, along with how to print your own chart of customized shortcuts (see pages 352Ð354.)

You can view a complete listing of the Table of Contents at Peachpit Press’ web site.

Since this book series is targeted at beginning to intermediate users, it does not cover some of the advanced topics and capabilities of InDesign, such as it’s XML output or writing custom plug-ins. But for anyone new to InDesign, this book will be a great help in getting you up and running quickly. It’s all-sufficient index will lead you to the steps you need to accomplish nearly any task for which InDesign is suited. I give this book the highest rating.

MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5

Jeffrey McPheeters

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