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Using the Adobe InDesign Tool Palette

written by: cscribe2180•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 2/24/2009

The Adobe InDesign Tool Palette may contain some odd-looking tools, but they all can play a welcome role in helping you create beautiful print documents. In this article, we'll discuss the purpose and creative functions of each tool.

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    Adobe InDesign Tools

    Open or create a new Adobe InDesign document and you will find a long slender box to the left of the screen containing pairs of buttons that represent the many tools used for creating print documents. If the tools palette does not appear upon opening an Adobe InDesign document, simply click Window>Tools. We will begin our descriptions at the top of the tools palette, starting with the left button.

    Selection Tool

    Represented by the toggle with the black arrow, the selection tool allows you to move and rearrange elements within your document, such as text boxes and photographs. Select this tool then click and drag to highlight multiple elements, or hold down the Control key and click multiple elements to move the group.

    Direct Selection Tool

    The direct selection tool, or the hollow white arrow, allows you to work with the contents within a particular frame, such as an individual graphic or picture.

    Pen Tool

    The pen tool allows you to create straight or curved lines and shapes. Click and hold on the pen tool in the tool palette to reveal the "add anchor point," "delete anchor point" and "convert direction point" tools to manipulate the curves and lines of different shapes.

    Type Tool

    This tool allows the creation of text boxes as well as typing within them. Click and hold the Type Tool to reveal the "type on a path" tool, which allows you to type text on various lines and shapes.

    Pencil Tool

    The pencil tool allows you to draw free-form lines and shapes by clicking and holding once the tool is selected. Click and hold the pencil tool in the tool palette to reveal the "smooth" and "erase" tools, which allow you to smooth pencil tool lines and erase them, respectively.

    Line Tool

    The line tool enables quick and easy drawing of vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines.

    Rectangle Frame Tool

    Select this tool and then click and drag within your document to create frames of any size for pictures and graphics. Click and hold the tool within the palette to reveal frame tools for ellipses and polygons.

    Rectangle Tool

    This tool allows you to create rectangular shapes, as well as ellipse and polygon shapes.

    Rotate Tool

    Select this tool in the palette and click on any box within your document to rotate its contents.

    Scale, Shear and Free Transform Tools

    These tools can be used to change the size and angle of a shape, graphic or picture.

    Eyedropper and Gradient Tools

    Use the eyedropper tool to "drop" a color from a graphic into another area, such as a text box or shape. The gradient tool allows you to create fade effects with colors.

    Button Tool

    This tool is used to create links and navigational points that marry your document with sources on the Internet.

    Scissors Tool

    This tool is used to split lines, paths, shapes and pictures to create new document elements.

    Hand Tool

    The hand tool allows you to easily peruse through your document quickly by clicking and dragging.

    Zoom Tool

    This tool does just as the name suggests: magnifies objects or parts of the document so you can work on a detailed scale. With the zoom tool selected, hold down the "Alt" key and click to zoom out.

    What's below the tools?

    Below the initial tool palette you will find the squares that represent the "fill" and "stroke" of each object in the document. These squares allow you to adjust the color of contents within a frame as well as create borders. The buttons below allow you to format the fill and stroke for either containers or text. The three buttons below these allow you to apply colors and gradients to containers as well as view and preview your document.

Adobe InDesign Tutorials

Adobe InDesign is one of the best desktop publishing programs on the market today. In this series of articles, we'll take a look at this desktop publishing software and offer tips and tricks to help you make quality print products like the pros.
  1. An Introduction to the Adobe InDesign Tutorial Series
  2. Setting Up Your Adobe InDesign Document
  3. Using the Adobe InDesign Tool Palette
  4. Creating Paragraph Styles in Adobe InDesign
  5. A Guide to Working with Images in Adobe InDesign