InDesign Basics: Creating Arrows

indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

Whether you’re creating a newsletter, infographic or chart in InDesign, arrows are an essential graphic for directing the reader’s gaze and embellishing data-based content.

Here you’ll learn how simple it is to create stylish arrows in a range of styles directly in InDesign.

1. Creating Arrows Using the Stroke Panel

The first step of creating an arrow is to create a stroke. Let’s take a look how…

Step 1

With the InDesign workspace open and a new document created go to the Tools panel and select the Line Tool (\).

To create a line at a perfect horizontal or vertical angle, hold down Shift, and drag your mouse onto the page from side to side or top to bottom. indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

Step 2

Go to Window > Stroke to open the Stroke panel (if you have your workspace set to the default Essentials setting, you will find the Stroke panel docked on the right side of the workspace).

In this panel you can adjust the Weight of the stroke, making it thicker or slimmer. indesign arrows stroke arrowheadStep 3

From the Stroke panel’s drop-down menu you can select Show Options, which will expand the panel.indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

In the bottom section of the panel you’ll find options for styling the Start and End of your stroke. Click on the Start drop-down menu and you’ll see a range of arrowhead options for applying to the start point of your stroke. Here I’ve opted for SimpleWide.
indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

Applying a different style to the End of your stroke can create a stylish look. Here I’ve opted for Circle to give the arrow a sort of retro, mid-century look.
indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

You can also adjust the Type of your stroke, which adjusts the style of the stroke’s line between the arrowheads. Here, I’ve chosen Left Slant Hash and also increased the Weight of the stroke to create a chunkier, more graphic arrow style.indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

2. Editing Your Arrows Further

Now you have a basic arrow shape you can start to develop the arrow using color and effects.

Step 1

You can adjust the color of your arrow from the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches). Click on the Stroke (X) hollow square symbol at the top-left of the panel to adjust the color of the arrow (you won’t need to apply any Fill Color).indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

You can also have flexibility over the position of your arrow by using the Selection Tool (V, Escape) to move the arrow, or hover over one end to Rotate it. indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

Right-Click (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac) to access other transform options, such as flipping the arrow vertical or horizontal, or rotating the arrow to precise degrees.indesign arrows stroke arrowheadEdit > Copy, Edit > Paste the arrow to build up designs, and team with typography set in text frames created using the Type Tool (T) to demonstrate data concepts.
indesign arrows stroke arrowheadindesign arrows stroke arrowhead

Step 2

You can add more interesting effects to your arrows using the Effects panel (select the arrow, then go to Object > Effects). From here you can add a Drop Shadowindesign arrows stroke arrowhead…more specialist texture effects, like Satin, Bevel or Embossindesign arrows stroke arrowhead…or create a graduated effect by applying a subtle Gradient Feather to the arrow.indesign arrows stroke arrowhead

Looking to refresh your InDesign skills? Our beginner tutorials page is a great resource for fun and easy-to-follow InDesign lessons.