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Making Charts and Graphs in InDesign

CreativePro Magazine issue 26 coverThis article appeared in Issue 26 of CreativePro Magazine.

It’s hard to believe that Adobe hasn’t built a modern, full-featured, designer-­friendly graphing solution that integrates seamlessly into an InDesign page layout workflow. Adobe’s solution is the nine anemic graph tools built into Illustrator—tools that contain only very basic features, haven’t been significantly improved since they made their debut in Illustrator during the early 1990s.

Different workflows require different tools. Do you just need to create an occasional highly designed chart, or do you need to include hundreds of repetitive data-driven graphics in a lengthy report? Will the charts be used for both print and digital output? Can you get by with standard pie, bar, and line charts, or do you need more esoteric chart styles?

In this article, I’ll show you how to create charts that integrate into InDesign layouts and the strengths and weaknesses of each method. I’ll cover plug-ins and scripts, some special data visualization fonts, some miscellaneous solutions that you might already own, and how to find out more about these tools.

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Keith Gilbert is a design consultant, developer, educator, speaker, and author. His work has taken him throughout North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. During his 35+ year career his clients have included Adobe, Apple, Target, Oracle, and the United Nations. He is the author of several popular titles for LinkedIn Learning, Adobe Press, and CreativePro. Find him at and on Twitter @gilbertconsult
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