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InDesign: Drawing Shapes

Version: Adobe InDesign 2020. Be aware that different versions of InDesign will vary in appearance and functionality. Full Guide: View/Download

The rectangle tool, as well as the ellipse tool and polygon tool, can be used to create shapes. All shapes can have custom colors and borders.  

Expand each section below to see its content.

Basic shape drawing:
  • To create a shape, select one of the shape tools from the Toolbar, such as the rectangle tool, and click-and-drag to draw it. 

  • To create a proportionate shape, such as a circle or square, hold the Shift key while drawing. This will lock the aspect ratio and ensure all sides of the shape are the same length. 

To adjust the shape or size of a shape: 
  1. Use the Selection tool to select the shape. Small white handles will appear along the edges and corners of the shape. 
  2. Click-and-drag the handles to alter the size and shape. To adjust the size while keeping the same shape, hold the Shift key. 
To rotate a shape: 
  1. Use the Selection tool to select the shape. 
  2. Hover just outside one of the corner handles. The cursor should change to a curved, double-headed arrow. 

  3. Click-and-drag while this cursor is visible to rotate the shape in either direction. The degrees of rotation will be visible to the right of the cursor.
Text frames and other elements can be adjusted the same way as shapes, such as rotation. The Selection tool can be used to adjust the points of the shape, which can be used to re-shape it. See InDesign: Applying Color for details about how to change colors and borders.

In addition to standard shapes, custom shapes can be drawn with the Pen tool. The Pen tool can be used to draw shapes with straight lines, as well as with curves. The tool works by creating anchor points and connecting lines between them.

To draw a shape with the Pen tool:
  1. Select the Pen tool from the Toolbar to the left.
  2. Within the document, click once to create the first anchor point of the shape.
  3. Move the cursor and click to create the second point. A line will be drawn between the points.
  4. Repeat step 3 for as many points as desired.
  5. Click the first point again to close the shape.


To create a curve with the Pen tool, click-and-drag the cursor when creating an anchor point, instead of single-clicking. As the cursor is dragged, the curve will extend. 

To adjust the curvature, select the Selection tool from the Toolbar, which looks like a white pointer. Click the anchor point that has the curve, and then click-and-drag the handles that appear.

To convert a regular (non-curved) anchor point into a curve:
  1. Select the shape.
  2. Select the Convert Direction Point tool (looks like an arrow, may be nested under the Pen tool in the Toolbar).

  3. Click-and-drag an anchor point to convert the anchor point into a curve.

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KeywordsAdobe, editing, visual, design, graphic, flyers, brochures, newsletter, flier, book, publishing. cropping, rectangle, circle, square   Doc ID99461
OwnerJanelle B.GroupPacific Lutheran Univ
Created2020-03-25 10:59:32Updated2023-08-04 16:28:58
SitesPacific Lutheran University
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