Struggling to grow your email list? Are you using an opt-in that maybe…isn’t as eye-catching as you’d like?
Got you covered. Today, we’re going to make a stylish PDF checklist in InDesign that your visitors will LOVE.
In case you need a refresher, an opt-in is a free, valuable item that you give away in exchange for someone’s email address. A PDF is the best format for an opt-in because it can be opened by anyone, whether they have the program you used to make the file (like InDesign) or not.
Checklists are HUGELY popular, and why not? They pack in so much value!
A checklist is a great idea to offer as an email opt-in because it fits ANY niche.
- Photography • Must-have tools for the beginner
- Blogging • Everything you need to start a podcast
- Organizing • 7-day clutter-busting routine
- Parenting • Everyday chores that kids can do
- Fitness • 15-minute workouts to start today
- Parties • The ultimate birthday party checklist
Make a Checklist in InDesign
For PDFs and ebooks like this, InDesign is my favorite program. If you’re a blogger, chances are good you’ll be making more than a few opt-ins. I encourage you to learn the basics of InDesign. It’s painless – really! And it will more than pay off when you’re turning out stunning PDFs for your blog and email list.
You can get a 30-day free trial here. After that, it’s as low as $20 a month.
If you’re not up for InDesign yet, check out a similar tutorial to make a checklist in Word.
Set up a new document in InDesign
In InDesign, create a new document for print that is 8.5 by 11 inches.
1 – Make a title
Draw a text box and type out your title.
With the rectangle tool, draw a rectangle as wide as the page. To change the color, select the rectangle and choose a new swatch from the Swatches panel or double-click the fill color.
Click images to enlarge.
Place the rectangle behind your title (right-click on the rectangle and select Arrange > Send Backward).
Add a larger rectangle of a different color behind the first for some interest.
TIP: You may see boxes around your items in InDesign. Don’t worry – these won’t show up when you turn your file into a PDF. Use the “W” key on your keyboard to toggle them on or off.
When you’re choosing a font for your title, go ahead and use one with some personality! If you have a consistent set of fonts you use throughout your blog, use the same ones in your opt-ins to make everything tie together. Tell that brand story!
2 – Make a footer
You’re putting a lot of work into this checklist in InDesign. Make sure your readers know exactly where they got this fabulous PDF freebie! Let’s add your blog name to the bottom of your PDF.
Draw another rectangle as wide as the page, and place it at the bottom of the page.
Draw a text box and type your blog name and any other info, like a copyright.
To make your blog name an active link, highlight the text, right-click, and choose Hyperlinks > New Hyperlink.
Converting text to a hyperlink may automatically change the color and add an underline. You can change the color and remove the underline if you want to make it match your style, and the hyperlink will still work.
3 – Add each item in the checklist
Draw a text box and begin to type out each item in your checklist. You can use one big text box, or use a separate text box per section – your choice!
Click images to enlarge.
Create numbered or bulleted lists by choosing the option in the top bar (when you have the type tool active).
Use a simple font in black or dark gray for your checklist. The goal is to deliver high-value info that’s easy to use. That means making sure your type is easy on the eye! Don’t make your audience work to read your checklist.
You can use a font with more personality for your page & section titles, but it still needs to be legible.
4 – Style your checklist
Time to add some style!
One of the simple joys in life is checking an item off your list. If you’d like to pass on this pure bit of joy to your readers, you can add a checkbox to your items.
To create a checkbox, use the rectangle tool. Set the stroke to black and draw a small square.
TIP: Hold the shift key while drawing the rectangle to make a perfect square.
One square done! Here’s a trick to copy your square quickly: hold Opt/Alt and drag off a new square.
Want another trick? If you hold shift AND Opt/Alt, you’ll drag off a new square that lines up perfectly with your first square. Score.
It’s easy to make an entire row of checkboxes like this.
Add section titles
If your checklist fits naturally into sections, add some section titles to help organize your list.
Just make your section title a separate text box. Here are a few ideas to make your section title stand out:
- Use a different font
- Make the text larger
- Use bold text
- Change the color of the text
Use one of these ideas or all of them, but remember – keep it easy to read!
Remember, use the “W” key to switch between the element boxes or the print preview.
5 – Save as a PDF
The end is in sight! Let’s save your beautiful checklist as a PDF.
First, save it as an InDesign document. Just go to File > Save. You want to be able to make changes later!
To save your file as a PDF, go to File > Export. Under Save As Type, choose Adobe PDF (Print). Click Save.
Click images to enlarge.
Choose High Quality Print. Under Includes, be sure to check Hyperlinks to make sure the link in your footer will work. Export.
Beautiful! And better yet – once you’ve made a checklist in InDesign, you can use it as a template to make future opt-ins. You smart designer, you.
Have fun styling your checklist with some colors and bullet points, but remember – it doesn’t have to be complicated! It’s YOUR checklist that’s the star here, and the amazing value you give is the reason people will sign up for your list.
Want a checklist on how to make a checklist in InDesign?
I’d love to see your checklist in InDesign! #imaginedesignrepeat, or email me!
RELATED POST: 5 Steps to Make a PDF Checklist in Word
Design Assets I used: