How to use indesign templates

Updated April 17, 2017

Whenever you work in Adobe InDesign CS5 to lay out a publication that you produce regularly, such as a newsletter or magazine, you're creating a project that's an ideal candidate for an InDesign template. Like many page layout applications, Adobe InDesign can save and open template files, which are special documents with their own file extension (.indt in the case of InDesign). Every time you open a template, InDesign creates a new, untitled copy of the file and leaves your original template untouched. Templates enable you to avoid starting from scratch every time you create a project with recurring elements.

Create an Adobe InDesign document that contains all parts and aspects of your publication, from character and paragraph styles to master pages, colours, strategically placed guide rules and other elements as needed. You can use placeholder text or the headlines and body copy from an actual issue of your periodical.

Link your layout file to all necessary graphics files, such as logos or corporate symbols. Make sure you keep a copy of each of those graphics in the same folder as the document you're getting ready to turn into a template.

Save your file as an InDesign template. Go to the "File" menu and choose "Save As." In the dialogue box that comes up on your screen, navigate to the folder in which you'll store your template. Name your file so you'll recognise it as your template for this publication. Change the file type to "InDesign CS5 Template" and click the "Save" button.

Open your template to begin using it the next time you produce your publication. InDesign creates a new, untitled copy of your file for you to edit and customise, leaving your original file untouched.

Edit your template if your needs change or you redesign your publication. Open it and make your changes, then either save it under a new name or overwrite your original template. You should consider keeping your original version intact and creating a new file, especially if you make sweeping changes to your original layout. Make sure you save your file as a template, not as a regular InDesign document.


Many individuals and companies produce templates for Adobe InDesign. Some are available at no charge through the community content on the Adobe Systems website. Some providers sell templates through their own websites or on sites that offer various types of graphics resources. Evaluate templates closely for quality of workmanship and applicability to your needs before you invest money or hard drive space in them.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.