Illustrator is a vector-based program designed to create resizable vector assets. The best benefit of using Illustrator is that everything you create here is scalable. Meaning, you can resize the asset without losing the resolution of the image. The software is great for creating logos, graphics, and more.

InDesign is also a vector-based program, created in 1999, designed as a page layout program. You can create magazines, interactive media, eBooks, and more in the program. The software is perfect for creating uniform layouts across large, multipage documents.

Both Illustrator and InDesign are great programs targeted towards creating different final products. Read on to see what fits your needs.

Comparison At a Glance

  1. Features

Adobe InDesign is specifically aimed at creating publications. Meanwhile, Illustrator is much more of a sandbox app, allowing you to create a much wider range of assets. InDesign, in terms of publications, is much better than Illustrator for workflow and organization, but overall offers less.

InDesign and Illustrator were designed to do different things. Illustrator is much less rigid than InDesign, allowing you to create everything from logos to flyers, illustrations, magazines, and so much more.

InDesign, while more limited to publication, is much more powerful than Illustrator when creating large documents. Both programs have useful features, depending on your needs.

Both Adobe Illustrator and InDesign are vector-based software, meaning that the design is based on mathematical equations (lines, curves, and points).

Vector is very useful for graphic designers making logos or other assets that need to be resized. Vector-based programs allow you to make an object smaller or bigger without losing quality.

  1. Pricing

The pricing between the software is exactly the same. You can either buy InDesign or Illustrator individually or both with the full Creative Cloud Bundle. You cannot buy either as a one-time purchase. They are only available via subscription.

  1. Collaboration

Adobe InDesign contains the Share to Review tool, allowing the user to collaborate with other team members without ever leaving the application. Other users can comment and critique, allowing the project a seamless revision process. Illustrator does not have this feature.

  1. Publication Design

This program is designed for creating a uniform page layout. While you can make a similar product in Illustrator, it would be much more time consuming and inefficient. The layout tools, master pages, and adaptive text layout all make InDesign a powerhouse.

There are many great reasons why InDesign is better publication software. For starters, the Properties tab allows you to resize the document without leaving the main window. You can adjust the height, width, and orientation on the main page.

In InDesign, you can also add pages and reorganize them very easily. In the Page layout, you can drag pages around to switch the positioning. You can easily add and delete pages within the Properties tab.

Meanwhile, adding pages and reorganizing them is a very time-consuming effort in Illustrator, forcing you to make the edits manually.

InDesign, unlike Illustrator, also uses a tool called Master Pages. This tool is essential for publication design because it creates consistency throughout the document. You can set headers, footers, columns, margin guides, and more for the master.

  1. Compatibility

Both Illustrator and InDesign work seamlessly with Adobe Creative Cloud apps, working the best as a trio with Adobe Photoshop. Illustrator and InDesign were meant to be compatible, collaborative apps, bringing together different types of assets into the same program. Together, they create great finished work.

  1. Workflow

Illustrator and InDesign have their separate workflows. While InDesign is very straightforward and focused on layout, both programs are very customizable to fit your creative needs.

Both Adobe Illustrator and InDesign have customizable workspaces. Every creator can fine-tune the software’s layout to suit their needs best.

  1. Users

Illustrator has a wider user base than InDesign. They have a bigger audience because it can create a wider variety of media assets. While both are more geared towards creative professionals rather than a casual user, Adobe Illustrator is used by more people.

More users are going to require Adobe Illustrator over InDesign. InDesign is specially tailored for publication professionals creating print media like magazines and books.

Meanwhile, Illustrator is perfect for creating vector art, flyers, business cards, logos, etc. Therefore, Illustrator is tailored to a wider audience.


InDesign is used by graphic designers as well as communications and marketing professionals to create print media. It is the lead software in the publishing industry, leaving old rivals such as Quark in the dust.

Illustrator is used by graphic artists, illustrators, and anyone who needs to create vector graphics. Almost every industry needs Illustrator so they can create resizable vector graphics. Being able to resize an asset without pixelation is invaluable.

  1. Learning Curve

This program is very straightforward in terms of its learning curve. Unlike Photoshop or Illustrator, the program’s tools solely focus on publication layout, therefore not bogging down the user with hundreds of tools

Illustrator vs. InDesign: Summary

Both Adobe Illustrator and InDesign are powerful pieces of software. Taking the time to learn the programs depends on what you are using them for. If you need to create text-heavy or multipage documents, use InDesign. If you are a graphic designer specializing in creating graphics and one-page designs, use Illustrator.

However, if you want the most creative control and best use out of InDesign, you should also learn Illustrator to create great graphics for your work.

Final Thoughts

Both Adobe Illustrator and InDesign are great programs for different purposes.

If you are not doing print media work and only specialize in creating illustrations, media assets, and simple one-page publications like flyers, use Adobe Illustrator. The program has everything you need to make these assets.

If you are doing text-heavy work and making the graphics, I say get the whole Adobe Creative Cloud bundle.

Why? InDesign works well in conjunction with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. It is not really meant to be a stand-alone application because it doesn’t edit photos or graphics, essential pieces of print work. Using the applications together, you can create stunning layouts with great graphics.