How to Make a Zine in Adobe InDesign

zine design indesign template

Zines, self-published mini magazines, are a fresh and exciting way to present photos, illustrations or ideas. Here we’ll look at how you can put together your own zine layout in InDesign, complete with page numbers, print-friendly color, and a stylish design. You’ll also learn how to export your zine artwork correctly for printing.

By the end of the tutorial you’ll have a zine template you can customise to make a more unique design.

Suitable for relative beginners to InDesign, this is a great all-round introduction to basic print design techniques.

zine design indesign template


What You’ll Need to Create Your Zine


As well as access to Adobe InDesign, you’ll need a selection of images and fonts to use in your zine.

To recreate the design pictured here, you can download the following photos and fonts:

Install the font onto your computer and you’re ready to start designing.


How to Set Up the Zine Document in InDesign


Step 1


Open InDesign and go to File > New > Document.

Set up the document for Print, with an A5 page size (148 x 210 mm). Set the number of pages to 10 and make sure Facing Pages is checked.

Add a Top and Bottom Margin of 19 mm, set the Inside Margin to 21 mm and the Bottom Margin to 25 mm.

Finally, add a 5 mm Bleed to all edges except the Inside edge, and click Create.

zine design indesign template new documentzine design indesign template


Step 2


Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers).

Double-click on Layer 1 and rename this Color.

Create two more new layers—Photos, and Type.

zine design indesign template new layer


Step 3


Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches).

Choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s drop-down menu (at top-right).

With the Type set to Process and Mode to CMYK, set the levels below to C=96 M=82 Y=3 K=0. Click Add and Done.

Create a second new swatch, C=0 M=86 Y=89 K=0.

zine design indesign template swatches


Step 4


Choose New Gradient Swatch from the Swatches panel’s menu.

zine design indesign template gradient swatch

Name the swatch Gradient Swatch. Click on the left-hand stop on the Gradient Ramp, and choose your blue swatch, C=96 M=82 Y=3 K=0, from the Stop Color menu.

For the right-hand stop choose your red swatch, C=0 M=86 Y=89 K=0.

Click Add and Done.

zine design indesign template gradient swatch


2. How to Edit Your Zine’s Master Pages


Step 1


Double-click on the A-Master icon at the top of the Pages panel (Window > Pages) to bring up the master on your screen.

zine design indesign template master

Use the Type Tool (T) to create a text frame across the bottom of the left-hand page.

zine design indesign template master

Here you can place page numbers. With your type cursor in the frame, go to Type > Insert Special Character > Markers > Current Page Number.

zine design indesign template insert page number

You can format the page number using the Swatches panel and Character and Paragraph panels (Window > Type & Tables > Character / Paragraph).

zine design indesign template page number


Step 2


Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste the page number text frame, moving this over to the right-hand page.

zine design indesign template page numbers


Step 3


Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a tall, narrow shape across the left edge of the spread, taking it up to the bleed, and allowing a small area to extend onto the page.

Set the Fill Color of this to Gradient Swatch.

zine design indesign template colored trim

Copy and Paste the rectangle, and on the copy, Right-Click > Transform > Flip Horizontal.

zine design indesign template flip horizontal

Move this over into a mirrored position on the right-hand page.

zine design indesign template page trim


Step 4


In the Pages panel Right-Click on the A-Master icon, and choose Duplicate Master Spread “A-Master”.

zine design indesign template duplicate master

On the new B-Master, select and delete the page number text frames.

zine design indesign template colored trim

zine design indesign template colored trim


Step 5


In the Pages panel, select the top [None] master page, and choose Apply Master to Pages from the panel’s drop-down menu.

We want to have no master applied to the front and back cover of our zine, which is on pages 1 and 10 of our document. So type in 1, 10 and click OK.

zine design indesign template apply master to pages

Select the B-Master icon in the Pages panel, and, as before, choose Apply Master to Pages. You want to apply the B-Master to any pages which you don’t want to have page numbers. In this case, I type in 2, 6, before clicking OK.

zine design indesign template master apply


3. How to Section Your Zine


Step 1


In this zine, I want to split the document into two sections, with page 1 beginning on what is currently page 3 of the document.

To begin a new section, Right-Click on the page you want to start as page 1 (in this case page 3), and choose Numbering & Section Options.

zine design indesign template start section


Step 2


In the New Section window that opens, check Start Page Numbering at, and set this to 1.

zine design indesign template new section

Then click OK. You’ll get a warning message, but don’t worry about that. Just click OK.


Step 3


On the first page of the document, Right-Click > Numbering & Section Options.

zine design indesign template new section

As before make sure Start Page Numbering at is selected and set to 1. But this time choose a different Style for the Page Numbering, such as lowercase roman numerals. Then click OK.

zine design indesign template new section

zine design indesign template new section


4. How to Create a Front Cover for Your Zine


Step 1


Working on the first page (i) of your document, and on the Color layer, use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape across the whole page, extending the edge up to the bleed on the top, right and bottom sides.

Set the Fill Color to Gradient Swatch.

zine design indesign template gradient

You can adjust the strength of the gradient from the Gradient panel (Window > Color > Gradient). Here I want to make the gradient blend more abruptly in the center of the page.

zine design indesign template gradient


Step 2


Copy and Edit > Paste in Place the rectangle shape, adjusting the Fill to your blue swatch, C=96 M=82 Y=3 K=0.

zine design indesign template noise gradient

With the blue shape selected go to Object > Effects > Transparency, and bring the Opacity down to 30%.

zine design indesign template grainy gradient

Click on Inner Glow in the panel’s left-hand menu. With the Mode set to Normal, click on the colored square to adjust the Effect Color to your red swatch, C=0 M=86 Y=89 K=0.

Increase the Opacity to 100%.

Set the Source to Centre, Size to around 55 mm, Choke to 50% and Noise to about 45%. Then click OK.

zine design indesign template noise gradient


Step 3


Working on the Type layer, use the Type Tool (T) to add text to your cover, setting the Font to Cormorant and Font Color to [Paper].

zine design indesign template front cover


5. How to Build Up Content on the Inside Pages of Your Zine


Step 1


Select both rectangle shapes sat on the Color layer on the front cover, and Copy them.

Scroll down to the first inside spread of your zine, and Paste the shapes, moving them over onto the left-hand page.

zine design indesign template gradient


Step 2


Edit > Paste a second time, and with this copy selected, go to Object > Convert Shape > Ellipse.

zine design indesign template paste shapes

From the top Controls panel adjust the Width and Height of the circles to 108 mm.

zine design indesign template circle gradient

Then move these over the top of the left page, positioning them centrally. Shift the top circle slightly up and to the right to create a slightly blurry effect.

zine design indesign template circle gradient


Step 3


You can add text to your zine using the Type Tool (T), and working on the Type layer.

Here, I’ve added text set in Cormorant and a blue, C=96 M=82 Y=3 K=0, Font Color, to the right-hand page of the spread.

zine design indesign template text frame


Step 4


Use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create image frames on some of the pages of your zine.

Go to File > Place to drop images into the frames.

zine design indesign template place imageszine design indesign template place images


Step 5


Use the swatches you’ve already created to format text, adding a touch of color to your typography.

Here, I’ve also set the text to Align towards spine (which you can find in the top Controls panel with the Type Tool selected).

zine design indesign template typography


Step 6


Use elements you’ve already created, such as the colored rectangles and circles on the first spread, to create a quick and simple design for your back cover, on the final page of the document.

Make sure to add your website to the back cover too.

zine design indesign template back cover


6. How to Export Your Zine for Print


Step 1


File > Save your artwork, then go to File > Export.

Choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format menu, name your file, and then click Save.

zine design indesign template export pdf


Step 2


In the Export Adobe PDF window, choose Press Quality for the Adobe PDF Preset, at the top.

Make sure the pages are set to Export As: Pages (not spreads).

zine design indesign template export pdf bleed

Click on Marks and Bleeds in the left-hand menu. Check All Printer’s Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings, before clicking Export.

zine design indesign template export pdf

You can send off this PDF document straight to the printers, great job!

zine design indesign template