Build a Calendar in InDesign
I’m always amazed at how many people need to make calendars: big calendars, small calendars, one-month calendars, full-year calendars. Fortunately, InDesign offers a “make me a calendar” feature… no, sorry, not really. But it’s so easy to make a calendar in InDesign that it’s as though the program did have such a feature. The trick is to download a template or script that does a lot of the work for you.
Use a TemplateOne of the best and easiest ways to make a calendar is to use a template designed by someone else. Search for the word “calendar” in the InDesign section at the Adobe exchange and you’ll find a number of free templates.
Use a ScriptIf you need more flexibility than a template offers, consider using a script to build your calendar for you. One of the most popular and easiest scripts available is called Calendar Wizard, written by Scott Selberg (based on ideas and code written by Jan Suhr, Robert Cornelius, and Steve Nichols). Here’s how it works.
1 – Download, install, and runCalendar Wizard is available here.
2 – Choose the Date RangeThe first two items in the Calendar Wizard dialog box (Figure 2) are straightforward: They let you choose the starting and ending months and year(s) for your calendar. You can pick any year from 2004 to 2017. If you were hoping for 2018, you’ll have to wait until next year; the script looks only 10 years ahead.
3 – Pick the Calendar OptionsYou can choose English, German, French, or Spanish from the Language pop-up menu to change the way the text appears (Figure 3). Next, pick whether you want the left column to be a Sunday or a Monday.
Adding Holidays to Your CalendarWhile version .9 of Calendar Wizard is on the Adobe Exchange, the script’s author, Scott Selberg, has provided us with the newest version of Calendar Wizard at http://downloads.indesignmag.com/ supportfiles/. Version 2.0 has several new features, including creating and applying table styles and the ability to insert the names of holidays into the proper date locations automatically.
1-1:New Year’s Day
4 – Choose Layer OptionsOne of the coolest things about CalendarWizard is that it can make good use of the Layers panel. If you turn off all the checkboxes in the Layer Options section, the whole calendar is placed on Layer 1. However, I prefer to turn on all three checkboxes to produce the following:
- The calendar grid (along with numbers and text) on a layer called “calendar”
- An empty duplicate of the grid on a layer called “calText,” which lets you easily add text at the top of each calendar cell.
- An empty duplicate of the grid on a layer called “calHolidays,” which lets you easily add the names of holidays at the bottom of each cell. If you add holidays automatically (see the sidebar “Adding Holidays to Your Calendar”), this layer is always created for you.
5 – Pick a Page SetupThe last settings in the dialog box control how calendars are laid out on the page. You can pick how many months should fit on each page, whether the page layout should be portrait or landscape, and whether to create a new document or fit the calendar into the current document (Figure 4).
6 – Create the CalendarWhen you click OK, the script jumps into action and builds the calendar (Figure 5). This can take up to a minute or more (especially with minicalendars), so be patient.
7 – Add Custom TextThis script creates calendars as tables inside text frames. The numbers and text are in the cells of one table, and—if you added a calHoliday layer or a calText layer—you’ll find one or more duplicate tables on other layers. If you want to insert additional holidays into the calendar, open the Layers panel and Option/Alt-click on the lock column next to calHolidays layer (Figure 6). This locks all the other layers, and leaves this layer unlocked. Now you can click with the Type tool inside a table cell and type the holiday. Similarly, to add to the Text layer, Option/Alt-click next to the calText layer to lock all the other layers.
8 – Format the CalendarThe calendars that CalendarWizard creates aren’t exactly beautiful right out of the box. Fortunately, the script builds a number of paragraph styles, table styles (CS3 only), and color swatches. Edit the styles and your calendars update to look far better. If you’re going to print your calendar, check the color space of the three color swatches it creates: DayCellBackground, DayTextColor, and Holiday. In the publicly available version .9, they’re all specced as RGB colors. If you use the script attached to this PDF, they’re likely in CMYK mode. But if they’re RGB, then right-click (or Control-click with a one-button mouse on a Mac) on each of these colors in the Swatches panel, choose Swatch Options, and set the Color Mode to CMYK. The two DayCell swatches control the color of the text and the cells behind the day names (“Monday,” “Tuesday,” and so on). The Holiday swatch controls the color of any holidays you type on the calHoliday layer.
Laying out a Document VerticallyInDesign is so flexible, you’d think it would be easy to lay out a spread vertically instead of horizontally—so that the spine is at the top and bottom, which many wall calendars require. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy. However, Anne-Marie Concepción came up with a great workaround you can read in full at InDesignSecrets.com. Here’s the gist:
- Lay out the entire spread on a single page. For a 12-month calendar, you’d create 12 tall pages, each containing the image and calendar (Figure A).
- Save the InDesign document.
- Create a new InDesign document at the finished page size (half the height of the calendar).
- Place the original InDesign document into the new one. (If you’re using CS2 or earlier, you’ll need to export a PDF of the tall document first and import that instead.) The first page of the new document should contain the top half of the tall document; the second page contains the lower half; and so on. If you used bleed guides in the original, full-height document, you’ll need to adjust for that in the Import Options dialog box when you import it.
9 – Resize or Realign the CalendarsWhen you’ve created holiday and text layers, it can be frustrating if one of the grids gets out of alignment (Figure 8). Let’s say you change the height of the month name to be too large for its row. You can use the Type tool to adjust the row height, but now the holiday and text tables are out of alignment. Simply turn to a second script called realignCalendarTables.js, which comes with CalendarWizard.
Cool CalendarsBuilding calendars will never be a snap, but with these tools you can change it from a painful, time consuming chore to one you can accomplish quickly. Whether you use a template or a script, you’ll no longer curse under your breath when a client needs a new calendar.
David Blatner is the Editorial Director of InDesign Magazine, the co-author of Real World InDesign CS3, and the co-host of indesignsecrets.com.