How to Make a Burst in InDesign


Designers use bursts to draw special attention to information they want to highlight or promote within their layouts. These elements may contain text, graphics or both within a circular shape with an outer edge surrounded by pointed spikes. They're time consuming and difficult to draw by hand because their geometry demands a level of precision that's difficult to accomplish, since most graphics software only provides horizontal and vertical ruler guides. Adobe InDesign's toolbox includes options that can build a burst for you automatically.

  • Double-click on the Polygon tool in the Adobe InDesign toolbox. The Polygon Settings dialog box comes up on your screen.

  • Set the number of sides to 20. Set the star inset value to 50 percent. Click on the "OK" button to confirm your settings.

  • Click on an unused portion of your document page. The Polygon dialog box comes up on your screen.

  • Enter "3in" in each data entry field to set the polygon width and height to 3 inches. You can use another unit of measurement if you prefer, including picas, points, centimeters or millimeters. Click on the "OK" button to confirm your settings and create the burst.

  • Double-click on the "Fill" color swatch in the Adobe InDesign toolbox to bring up the Color Picker or click on a swatch in your Swatches panel to set a fill color for your burst.

  • Click on the outline of your burst with the Selection tool, and then open the "File" menu and click "Place." Navigate to the location of and double-click the text or graphic file you want to add to your burst, if your design requires it. Click on the burst with the Type tool to paste or type text into it if desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • Click and drag to draw an asymmetrical burst or to scale your burst by eye instead of by dimensions. Hold down the "Shift" key to constrain your drawing operation to a symmetrical shape. Use the Polygon Frame tool instead of the Polygon tool if you're sure you want to add content to your burst. The two Polygon tools create stars if you reduce the number of points and conventional polygonal shapes if you set their star inset value to zero percent. You can set the star inset value to any whole or decimal value between zero percent and 100 percent.
  • Bursts can be difficult to use as type containers because of the irregular shapes of their interiors.

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