How to Create InDesign Templates for Bid or Tender Proposals
Why use InDesign for bids or tender proposals?
- Bidding for work involves bringing together a mixture of content. This might include some marketing copy, some facts and figures, images of past and present projects, success stories, and Gant charts of teams and profile information of key personnel in the company or organisation.
- This content might come in the form of text in Word or emails, data from Excel, a variety of images like JPEGs PNGs PDF’s Logos, charts from Microsoft Visio, and then various other sources like Powerpoint or Publisher, or Adobe Photoshop, or Illustrator.
- InDesign is all about bringing together this mixture of media into a sensible, well structured layout, giving the tender document a cohesive look and feel, and easy for the reader to digest.
1. Choosing a clear Document Structure
- Success of tenders are often due to the content being as simple and well laid out as possible. InDesign has real strengths here, and one of the key elements to focus on is the Document Structure.
- Before starting your design or layouts, look at existing layouts that work well and research other layouts from similar companies that you might be competing with, or ones which you have received from other companies. This is likely something you will have done already even if not consciously!
- Highlight parts of the layout that you like – for example the document size and shape, Portrait or Landscape, elements like Running Heads (Header Design) or Folio Designs (page number, footers and logotypes at top/bottom of page), the number of columns per page, margin widths and amount of white space. For better understanding of terms of layouts this is a useful article
- Gather examples of these together and have them to hand as you start your layout, or, even better make rough sketches of layout on paper. These can be simple box diagrams at this stage. Then you start the design work of your tender bid template in InDesign.
- Most companies want the flexibility of layout control, but be sure to check out existing template designs for example by Adobe Stock Templates. Some of these are available free to download from Adobe Stock and some are not.
2. Layout the main Master Page
- Take your layout idea for the main document layout and start laying this out as a Master Page – call it A- Main or something similar. Use Layout > Margins and Columns for your page structure like columns and gutter width. Use Layout > Create Guides to add further page structure.
- Only put a few generic elements on the master page like a folio or logo, some colours that you want consistent or running headers. You want the basic look and feel designed here, but remember Master Page items need to be unlocked on the document page if want them to be changed so try to get the balance right. It can get frustrating if you are constantly unlocking too many elements once at the layout stage.
- Once the layout comes together use this Master as a master for subsequent layouts – ie base subsequent master pages on this Main Master.
- Layout your other ‘specific’ page types – Eg. Section Covers, Gant Charts, Personnel structure, Figures and Tables of Data etc
- Lay these out in one or more Master Pages and these don’t need necessarily to be based on Main Master as they will likely have very different looks to them. At this stage dont be concerned with bringing in any content, unless it will help – just get the basic layout with guides, frames, titles etc.
3. Choose your font and sizes for 3 levels of text:
Headlines, Introduction, Body Copy
- Getting these fixed down will enable the document to be laid out quickly and smoothly once you start getting to the actual production stage. You may have company font to use, if not select one that suits your company and sector (serif or sans-serif), and if you arent sure – search on Adobe Typekit for lots of free and accessible modern and contemporary font families to use in your Adobe applications. Remember we generally dont want to use more than 2 different typefaces on a page/document for design consistency.
- Once you have these set – create a Paragraph Style for each of them so that you can apply them to the text as you import text and data from various sources.
- You will likely have other types of text and size requirements – for picture captions etc, but these can be added later.
4. Create 3 layers
- Layers arent used as extensively as they would be in applications like Photoshop, but have 3 to separate out images from text and other large colour or background elements will speed up your workflow when you come to layout content or fine tune individual layouts.
I would suggest the following;
- Text layer
- BG (background) Elements
4. Create Template files (optional)
- If you want to set up your tender bid documents as actual templates this can be done so that other team members can open a template and start with it as a fresh one each time.
- To do this, save your document without any content in but with all the Layers, Master Pages, Colours, and Paragraph styles in, as an InDesign Template format: File > Save As > “filename.indt” (extension .indt)
- This means the document cant be overwritten and will open fresh as “untitled” each time it is used until it is saved a document with content in as normal.
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