How to Make a Postcard in Adobe InDesign

By Karen S. Garvin

Create and print postcards at home using Adobe's InDesign software and ready-to-print postcard paper stock available for your inkjet or laser printer. Design the front of the postcard any way you want, but the back must meet the U.S. Postal Service’s mailing requirements to qualify for postcard mailing rates.

Things You'll Need

  • Blank postcard stock

Creating the Document

Step 1

Determine the size of your postcard. Ready-to-print postcard stock comes in several sizes, but 6 inches by 4 inches is a common size. Measure the card stock size before you set up your document.

Step 2

Open a new file in InDesign by selecting “File,” “New” and “Document.” In the “New Document” window, set the page width to 6 inches and the page height to 4 inches or to the width and height of your card stock if it is a different size.

Step 3

Change Number of Pages to "2." Set all the margins to 1/4 inch and click “OK.”

Designing the Postcard

Step 1

Add an image to the front of the card by choosing “File” and “Place.” Browse to find the photo you want for the front of the postcard. Select an image and click “Open.” Click anywhere on the front of the card to place the image.

Step 2

Size the image so that it fits within the 1/4-inch margins by selecting the image and choosing “Object,” “Transform” and “Scale.” Enter a percentage in the “Scale X” and “Scale Y” boxes. Make additional adjustments using the handles on the image box.

Step 3

Select “Window” from the menu and confirm that Layers has a check mark next to it. If it doesn't, click on “Layers” to open the Layers panel. Click the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a layer.

Step 4

Select the new layer as the working layer by clicking on it in the Layers panel. Add text on this layer by selecting the "Text" tool. Click and drag in the document to create a text box and then enter a message to superimpose on the photo. Select a font and size it in the Character panel.

Step 5

Go to page 2 of your document, which is the back of the postcard. Draw a box to indicate the position for the stamp by selecting the rectangle tool and drawing a 1-inch square at the top right corner of the card inside the quarter-inch margins. Set the fill to none. In the “Stroke” panel, set the stroke to 0.5 points and set the color to 7-percent black.

Step 6

Draw a rectangle at the bottom of the card that extends up 0.625 inches from the bottom of the card and runs the width of the postcard. Set the fill to 7-percent black and the stroke to none. This area is reserved for the bar code applied by the U.S. Postal Service, and you should not write in this area.

Step 7

Draw a vertical line 3.25 inches from the left edge of the card, extending from the top margin to the tinted bar code area at the bottom of the card. Set the stroke to 0.5 point and the color to black. This divides the card into the portion where you write located on the left side of the line and the portion for the mailing address, which is on the right side of the line.

Step 8

Select the "Type" tool and type your return address in the upper left corner of the card, just inside the quarter-inch margin so your printer doesn't cut off the text when you print the card. Leave the remainder of the left side blank for your handwritten message.

Printing the Postcard

Step 1

Load the postcard paper into your printer. One side may be glossy and the other matte. The glossy side is for the photo and the matte side is for your handwritten information.

Step 2

Print the front of the postcards only on the glossy side of the card stock. This is page 1 of the document. If you are using an inkjet printer, set the postcards aside and wait for the ink to dry.

Step 3

Reload the paper into the printer so that the matte side will be printed. Consult your printer's handbook if you are unsure how to do this. Print the back side of the postcard -- page 2 in the document -- on the matte side of the card stock. Confirm the top of page 2 is backing up to the to the top of page 1 before printing all the cards.

Step 4

Separate the postcards along the perforations in the card stock.

Tips & Warnings

  • These instructions are valid for Adobe InDesign CC, 2014 version.
  • Proofread the text on your postcard carefully before printing it.
  • Some postcard stock is designed so the front image can run off the sides of the postcard for a full bleed. Check your stock's packaging for specifics, but usually this requires you to extend the photo slightly beyond the document edges, usually by 1/8 inch on all sides.
  • Do not write in the bar code area at the bottom of the postcard.
  • Don't load postcard paper into your printer while the ink is still wet.
  • The tinted area at the bottom of the card cannot be darker than 7-percent black to meet postal regulations.