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Working with linked stories

From: InDesign CS5.5 New Features

Video: Working with linked stories

If you've ever tried to keep certain stories synchronized with the same content, it has always been a lot of work. Sure, there's been some workarounds with InCopy and place InDesign documents, but it's always been a lot harder than it should have been. If you need to design for mobile devices where the content needs to fit both the vertical and horizontal orientations, linked stories can save you a lot of time. To start out, I want to explain exactly what linked stories are. Inside this layout, I'm just going to zoom in a little closer to this, and we can see, I just have this one story which is one frame of text. Now if I want to have the story be exactly the same on the opposite spread, sure, I could copy and paste it.

Working with linked stories

If you've ever tried to keep certain stories synchronized with the same content, it has always been a lot of work. Sure, there's been some workarounds with InCopy and place InDesign documents, but it's always been a lot harder than it should have been. If you need to design for mobile devices where the content needs to fit both the vertical and horizontal orientations, linked stories can save you a lot of time. To start out, I want to explain exactly what linked stories are. Inside this layout, I'm just going to zoom in a little closer to this, and we can see, I just have this one story which is one frame of text. Now if I want to have the story be exactly the same on the opposite spread, sure, I could copy and paste it.

But what happens if I make changes to this, it wouldn't show up in the other one. So what I can do is use this new feature called Link Stories. I'm going to start by having this frame selected, and go to Edit > Place and Link Story. As soon as I do that, I get a loaded cursor. I'm going to zoom back out, go over to this page, and just drag and drop to make that frame. So right now this frame is connected to this frame. Now how do you know that this frame is connected to that one? Well you can tell it by looking right here at this little icon, which tells me that this story is linked to another story inside the document.

I can also tell from the Links panel. So if I come over to my Links panel, it'll tell me oh, I've got this and it's linked back to that. So if I hit this little icon, right here I have this one selected. If I hit Edit Original, it brings me back to the original file. So this way, I can jump back and forth between the two linked stories. Now I'm going to go back to the Original, and if I decide to make a change, let's say let's put this on sale for 70% off. As soon as I've made this change, we can see that it has modified the original, which you can see.

So I can see, oh look, this link is modified. So if I go over to the other one, it still isn't updated. But if I go to this link and update it. Hey look, it came back, and it's updated. Now if I would come in here and make my own change and decide that oh in this instance, I want to be 90% off. Well, I don't get any change, because this one isn't linked to this one. It's that this frame is linked to this frame. But be careful, if I make another change to this and put this one at 80%, if I come back and update this link, the change is going to say hey, you've made edits to this frame.

Any edits you made, the contents is going to go away, and it's going to go back to whatever the other story is. So if I hit Yes, it's going to revert back to 80 and the previous change that I made will go away. This is also true of formatting changes. So if I would come in and decide that I want this paragraph to be a little smaller, we'll say maybe about 18 point, because I like it smaller like this. If this would ever change again back to its original 50%, when I Refresh this, it's going to yell at me again and say hey, it's going to have to go back.

So unfortunately, you can't make content or formatting changes to the contents of the frame. Now there are a couple of settings that we can change. If I look inside the Panel menu, there's an option called Linked Story Options. Inside here, a warning is annoying me. I can turn it off and I won't be warned, but my changes may update. Another option I can do is automatically update the links when I save my document. But a very useful feature is called Removed Forced Line Breaks. I'm going to leave this off for right now to show you how this works. If I come back in this file up here and I decide that I want to put in a soft Return to force the line break to bring this word down, when I come back in here and Refresh it, it's going to come back down like that.

But I may decide that I don't really want it to look like that. Well if I come back in here, and I'm just going to remove this again, and we'll update. If I go into my Linked Story Options and turn this on to say Remove those Forced Line Breaks. If I come in here and put that line break in, and then I come in here and update this, it's not going to get the line breaks. That way, it'll automatically remove them for you. Now another thing we can do to the frame that won't break anything, is change the number of frames it's connected to. I can change the dimensions of this.

If I want this to be maybe a little more narrow, I can grab the overset text and thread it over to another frame. So this way, I can set this up how ever I want it to be, and this is not changing anything at all because I'm only changing the flow of the copy; I'm not changing the contents. In addition to the flow, I'm just going to delete the second frame and I'm going to bring this back to how it was before and we'll open this up a little bit. I can also change the properties of the frame itself. So if I go to my Object Styles panel ; Window > Styles > Object Styles, I've got a style called call out.

When I click on this, and I'll open this up a little more so we can see everything, it hasn't changed anything about the contents; it's only changed the frame attributes. So it's got a stroke and an inset and rounded corners. So if there are any changes to the content, let's say 70% again, and I come here and refresh it, hey, it's updated and nothing has changed. If you don't like to see this little Story Status Indicator, you can also go to View > Extras and Hide Linked Story Status. But I recommend you keep it on, so you know exactly what is connected to what.

There is one more feature related to this and that deals with anchored objects. Because anchored objects are considered part of the text flow, they'll appear inside the Linked Stories. So if I grab this anchored object and drag and drop it to connect it to the story, we'll see that it's connected to that spot. If I go to my Text Threads; View > Extras > Show Text Threads, we can see the chain how it's connected there. Well, if I go back to this file and I update it, that will get the image too, Keep in mind if I move the anchored object, that's considered a change too.

So if I come back to this one and update it, the anchored object will move too. Now this is a simple example. Let me show you a couple of real world examples of how you might use this feature. I'm going to go to this first tab called ads, and looking at this layout, I've got this text headline up here where it's all ready to go. Now if I want this exact same copy on this alternate cover of this magazine, and maybe I want it in a smaller version of this magazine. Well, I could copy and paste it to put inside all of those. But unfortunately, if I start to make any changes in here, I'd have to go back and change every single iteration of it.

Instead, if I have them all linked back to the original, I can make the change in one spot and all of them will update. So if I have this frame selected, I'm going to go to Edit > Place and Link Story. With my loaded cursor, I'm going to come inside this frame and I'm going to click and drag and just draw it to get it in here, and that looks pretty good. Now that I've got that set, this frame is connected back to this frame. So if I make any changes, it will update. Now if I want to link this story on the last page, I really don't want to go to Edit > Place and Link Story, and let me show you why.

When I do this, I'm going to get another loaded cursor and I'm going to click and drag and put this in here. Right now, this frame is considered the grandchild of the original. If we look inside our Panel menu, we have two different linked stories. Let me show you what I mean. If I go back to the first page and I decide that I want the word SUNSHINE to have a color on it, we'll make SUNSHINE be orange, I've made a change. So if I come to this page, you'll see that the story status has been modified, but the other one hasn't.

Well, that's because this particular frame is a child of the original. So when I update it, it'll get that change. But now this file is a grandchild of the original. Because its parent, the child, has been updated, now I can finally update it. So I have to update my links multiple times. A better way to work will be to delete this frame, go back to the Original, and go to Edit > Place and Link Story, and go back to the last page.

Now I have both of these stories linked back to the original. So if I hit my edit original and I decide that I want SUNSHINE to be a different color, let's make the SUNSHINE blue, all of these are updated. So I can come and select the top one, update the link, and now all of them are updated throughout the layout. Another example is if you're doing an identity system for multiple page sizes. So if I go to this identity file, inside your identity system, you usually want to have a letterhead, envelope, and business card, and address is the same on all three.

So here I've got a letterhead and I'm just going to select this frame at the bottom, which contains our address. I'm going to go to Edit > Place and Link Story. On the business card page, I'm just going to click and drag and just draw this frame to put it in here on the business card. I'll go back to the original, I'll go Edit > Place and Link Story, and finally in the envelope, I can drag and drop and put this right here, and there we go. Now I have all of these addresses connected to the original letterhead. So if I decide to move and I want to change my address I can just hit Edit Original, and we'll just move across the street.

All of them are modified, so I can update them all at once, and now if I go to that page, you can see this one is updated, as is this one. It makes making changes a lot easier. Finally, one of the most real-world examples is if you're designing for multiple sizes; for example, the Adobe Digital Publishing system for the iPad and other tablet devices. Using the DPS system, you're going to have to design both a horizontal and a vertical version of each page. So here inside this layout, I've got the horizontal layout finished. But at the bottom, I've got the vertical version of the layout, but the content isn't there.

So what I'm going to do is just select this top frame, which has the threaded story, and I'll go to Edit > Place and Link Story. Now with my loaded cursor, I can come down to this page, I'm going to place this in here, and thread it to the next page. Now this story is a little shorter on this page, so I'm just going to change the layout briefly. I'm just going to open up this frame a little bit and we'll change our fitting options, and we'll change the position of this image right here. That looks a little better. So now I've got this layout connected from the horizontal version to the vertical version.

So if I have to make any copy changes, I can make in one, and it'll be updated on both. Linked stories are a great way to share content throughout a layout. But keep in mind that all of the versions must be saved within the same document. If you're going to be working with the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, you can begin by having your horizontal and vertical layouts in the same document. But before you build your folios, you'll need to separate them into separate documents. Hopefully, at some point in the future, you'll be able to keep all of these inside the same document.

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InDesign CS5.5 New Features

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