How to Set Up a Children's Book in InDesign

Updated April 17, 2017

In the past, publishing a children's book demanded a Rolodex full of connections, some luck and a willing publisher. Today all you have to do is log into a self-publishing site and upload a file. If you want your book to look like a professional published it, set the book up in Adobe InDesign, the desktop-publishing software that provides you with professional tools that word-processing programs don't offer.

Determine the size you'd like the book to be, and make sure your publishing company can publish the book at your preferred size. While you're on the self-publishing site, download the publisher's specifications. You will need to read these before you can set up your book.

Create a new document. Select "File" > "New" > "Document" from the menu. Tick the "Facing Pages" box and enter the page size and margins. Make sure the margins are half an inch larger on the sides closest to the centre to allow for binding. If you want a coloured background or for images to extend to the edge of the page, create a bleed by making sure the art extends 1/8 of an inch past the margin.

Identify repeating elements and create master pages. If your children's book is a picture book, the only repeating element may be the page number. Use master pages to set up page headers and footers. A typical book has two masters: A and B. The A pages are right facing and the B pages are left facing. Book content always starts on the right page.

Add page numbers to your masters. To do so, draw a text box by inserting the cursor in the area where you want the page numbers to appear and then select "Type" > "Insert Special Character" > "Auto Page Number." Once your masters are complete, click on the page locator at the bottom of the InDesign window and navigate from the masters to the first page of the book.

Place your first picture on the page by selecting "File" > "Place" from the drop-down menu. Continue to alternate between adding pages and placing pictures until all of your pictures are in the document.

Create a text box and use the same technique as above to bring your text into the document . If you have lots of text, you may want to thread your text boxes. Do this by using the selection tool to click on the corner of a text box. When the loaded text icon appears, click a second text box to thread the text. If your book is picture-heavy and placement of the text is visually important, do not link the text. You will have more control if you set up each text box individually. Format the text by selecting an appropriate font and font size.

Continue this process until you have the pictures and text correctly laid out on all of the pages.

Export the file as either a .pdf or package the fonts, images and InDesign files together by selecting "File" > "Package" from the drop-down menu. Zip the files and send them to your printer.


If you don't have a good visual understanding of how left-facing and right-facing pages work together, pick up a published book and examine the differences between the left and right pages. Some publishers require you to save chapter books in chapters. If your children's book has more than one section, make sure to create individual chapter files and save them as a book. Obtain your ISBN from the official ISBN agency; doing so will ensure that your title and publisher are listed correctly.


Deviating from your publisher's specifications can cause problems with layout and picture quality. It is your responsibility to deliver your files correctly. Double check everything.

Things You'll Need

  • Written story
  • Digital image files
  • Adobe InDesign
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