Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
InDesign: Lists & Dropcaps


To learn InDesign layout and production techniques by recreating this page:


Drop caps and lists can be made easily in InDesign with just a click. But customizing these functions will require the use of character styles. In this exercise, we'll learn some tricks on how to make production of repetitive tasks more efficient.

A note on colored type: text type should only print in black or a solid ink color. If there are any tints (less than 100% of an ink color), the halftone dots will affect readability should there be any registration problems. In this exercise, we are making an exception by using two solid inks for the text type.


prepping for the exercise

  1. download starter files
  2. open "list.indd" in InDesign
  3. practice Adobe navigation keyboard shortcuts: space+cmd=zoom in; space+cmd+opt=zoom out; cmd+zero=fit in window
  4. practice InDesign preview shortcuts: opt+space=hand; cmd+opt+I (show/hide hidden characters); W (normal/preview mode)

making paragraph styles

  1. window > paragraph styles: edit basic paragraph: 12/16 ITC Century Book, hyphenation=no, justification=adobe single line composer, character color=green (note formula)
  2. style head: 36/32, fill=purple, make new paragraph style "h1"
  3. style intro: 14/18 italic, make new paragraph style "intro"
  4. style subheads: bold, fill=red, space before=2p, space after=09p, make new paragraph style "h2"
  5. apply style to other subheads, delete extra ¶

making a drop cap

  1. select initial cap character ("T"): remove italic, make new character style "book"
  2. window > paragraph styles: edit "intro": drop cap: lines=2, character=1, character style=book
  3. adjust kerning

making lists

  1. insert sample ballot box character: window > glyphs: font= ITC Zapf Dingbats, choose solid square
  2. select bullet character: fill=none, stroke=.5 (green); make new character style "ballot box"
  3. delete sample ballot box
  4. window > paragraph: bullets & numbering (flyout menu), preview=on:
    list type=bullet, ADD square (Zapf Dingbat), character style=ballot box, left indent=1p3, first line indent=–1p3
  5. window > paragraph: keep options (flyout menu), preview=on:
    keep lines together=yes, all lines=yes
  6. make new paragraph style "ballot list"
  7. apply style to other list items
  8. clean up text (add forced line breaks as needed)
  9. add your name and exercise number to both pages and print


  1. submit b&w proof with your name and exercise number on it for grading
  2. file your graded proof in your Process Book for individual review

Last updated: 3/2/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young