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One of the most powerful features inside InDesign is Master pages. They allow you to create a page design once and use it across an unlimited number of document pages. But prior to CS6 there was always a pretty big flaw with Master pages and that was the Master text frame. In CS6 the Master text frame has been replaced with something called the primary text frame and it's a welcome improvement when you have to make big adjustments to a layout. For example, when you have to adapt the layout created for an iPad so it's look good on a Kindle Fire, or when you need to fit a different orientation, so when you're going from a vertical layout to a horizontal or vice versa.
So to show how the primary text frameworks I have a document here that's a college course catalog and there are several pages with course listings. So we'll look at a few of them and we'll go back. All these pages are based on a Master page called courses, so I'll double-click to view that, press the W key on my keyboard so I can view the frame edges and here I can see a text frame with three columns and this is my primary text frame. I know it's a primary text frame because of this new icon I have here on the left-hand side that tells me is the primary text frame.
If I click with my Type tool and draw out a new frame and select that, I can see I have a different icon here this one indicates that it's not a primary text frame. I click and drag to select both of them. I can see that if I click on my new frame I can make it the primary text frame, so it now has that icon and the other one does not. So the first to know about a primary text frame is that you can have only one of them on a Master page. The second thing to know about a primary text frame is that it can't contain any content on the Master page.
If I delete this frame and make my old frame or primary text frame again and I try to type to some content into it and select it, I can see that it's no longer a primary text frame. I have to delete the content out and reset it. Now I'm going to go back to the document pages that were based on this Master and I can see that they have three columns. If I wanted to change some of these pages to use a four column design, this is no problem thanks to the primary text frame.
So I'll go to the Master pages area I'll right-click in their and choose New Master and I'll call it Prefix D, Name 4 column and I'll base it on the C-Courses and click OK. And on the Master page I'll Option or Alt double-click to bring up my text frame options and I'll change the number of columns from three to four and click OK. Now I'll apply this to some of my document pages, so I'll select say page 6 and page 7 and I'll Option+Click or Alt+ Click on my new Master to apply them.
I'll go to those document pages by double-clicking and I can see a have four column design now. And if I zoom out, so I can see more then one page at a time and click on one of the text frames, I can see that they're all still linked, this is all still one story of text that flows from the four column layout into the three column layout. And if I want to go back again so all the pages use the three column layout, that's no problem either. Again I'll just select both the pages in the Pages panel and this time I'll Option+Click or Alt+Click on the Courses Master.
Select again and the story is still flowing seamlessly. So you can see that a primary text frame is a unique new type of Master page object in InDesign. It's literally unique in that you can have only one of these per Master It's also unique in that you don't have to override in order to work with it on a document page, and it's unique that you can't put any text on it on a Master page. But where a primary text frame really becomes valuable is when you need to apply a different Master to an existing page. The text will flow seamlessly and there will be no cleanup work.
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