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InDesign Basics: Working with Images

tutorials , , InDesign Basics: Working with Images

In this Bitesize tutorial, you will learn how to manage images in your InDesign documents. We’ll look at how images must be placed and linked, rather than embedded, and how you can adjust your images with ease.

  • Learn how to Place images into your InDesign document

  • Learn how to Link images, and rectify Missing Links using the Links and Preflight panels

Step 1: Understanding How Images Work in InDesign

The first key rule to remember is that images are Placed and Linked in InDesign. They are not embedded, as you might do with a Word Document or in Photoshop.

When you Place an image, InDesign remembers the Link to that image’s location in the relevant folder on your computer. This means you can work quickly and efficiently without dealing with a large quantity of heavy images slowing down your workflow. If you move an image to another location on your computer, i.e. another folder or drive, InDesign will be unable to locate the image and will flag up a warning in the Preflight panel (Window > Output > Preflight).

indesign basics tutorial place and link images

You can also spot an error relating to an image, which is missing or has been edited since you placed it, from the Links panel (Window > Links).

You can insert an image into an InDesign document by going to File > Place.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images

Step 2: Working with Frames

The second rule of images in InDesign is to remember that InDesign places images within a Frame. Whether you prepare a frame before placing the image, or you place the image straight into the document (File > Place) InDesign will contain the image within a four-sided frame by default.

You can choose from three Frame Shapes in the Tools panel (Window > Tools), Rectangle (F), Ellipse and Polygon. These are marked out as different to the Shape Tools by a x shape running through the centre of them.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images frames

Select a Frame Tool, and click and drag to create a frame (hold Shift to create a perfect shape).

With the frame selected, go to File > Place and select an image. Click Open.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images frame

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You can arrange the image in the frame by double-clicking to select the image itself within the frame (it will be marked by a brown line around the edges) and holding Shift while readjusting.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images frame

Or you can choose from the options available to you in the control panel which appears at the top of the screen. Fill Frame Proportionally is usually a good option to pick; InDesign will resize the image to the size of the frame, and center the content.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images fitting

You can resize the frame of an image with ease at any time, simply by moving the edges of the frame using the Selection Tool (V, Escape).

However, you will notice that this won’t have any effect on the size or location of the image itself. To select the image directly, double-click on the frame. A brown line will appear around the image, and a small hand icon will also appear, indicating that the image itself is selected.

You can adjust the size of the image, its position in the frame and you can also Rotate it manually or by performing the action Right-Click (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac OS) > Transform.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images frame rotate rotation

Step 3: Help! I’ve got an Error in my Preflight panel!

After inserting images, you can go to Window > Links to view the Links Panel and deal with any images that might be missing or images that have been edited since you placed the original file.

These will be flagged up with a ? (which indicates a missing file) or ! (which indicates a changed file) symbol.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images links panel missing link

Click on the name in the panel to select the missing image and select the chain-link icon at the bottom of the panel to locate the missing image on your computer.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images chain link

You will notice that the same ‘chain link’ icon appears at the top left corner of an image frame when the image is successfully linked. Likewise, a ? or ! symbol will appear next to the image frame if the link is broken.

indesign basics tutorial place and link images frame ellipse elipse


To find out about wrapping text around images, try reading this article. You can develop more basic skills from our beginner InDesign tutorials page.