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If you work with long documents, you probably have at least some recurring design elements that don't always fall into predictable locations on the page. Maybe you need to share elements with someone else in the workflow or maybe you need to use a set of the same design elements across multiple publications. If any of these apply to you, you should be using libraries or snippets. First, let's talk about creating snippets and library items. There are three ways I can create snippets. I can select a page item and I can drag and drop it to my Desktop, and for that, since I'm using the application frame, I'll have to drag InDesign out of the way so I can see my Desktop. And I'll drag it over.
And when it appears on the Desktop it's now a snippet. Now, it's named with this sort of garbage file name, but I can quickly just change that. I'll call this featurebox. Now, the other ways I can create a snippet, I can drag and drop it right into Mini Bridge, or I can select it and choose File > Export > Format > InDesign Snippet.
I'll cancel out of there. To create library items you first need a library. So to create a library, go to File > New > Library, and I'll call this CheeseLibrary. And now I can place items into this. So with this box selected, I'll click on the New Library Item button and it's added to the library. To rename it, I'll double- click and I'll call it featurebox.
I can also select an Object Type that I can use to search and filter library items later. You can update library items easily, so if the design of a page element changes, like say if the fill of this box changed, so I go to my Swatches panel, select the Fill and change the Tint from 20% to, say, 50%, then I can select the library item and from the Library panel menu, I'll just choose Update Library Item. And you can see the fill changed inside the library.
I can also add guides as library items as snippets. You can't drag guides into libraries or onto your Desktop like normal page items, but you can add them to libraries by selecting a guide and then clicking on the New Library Item button. So I'll select this guide and just click on the New button and now this is added. I'll double-click and rename it guide. To export a guide as a snippet, press Command+E or Ctrl+E, Format > InDesign Snippet, and give it a name.
Just remember that you can't save guides and page objects into the same snippet or library item, because it's impossible to select both things at the same time. Now, for placing snippets and library items you have some options. You can drag and drop them into the layout. So I can drag this library item into the layout. And actually, I'll delete the original. Or I can place it, by right- clicking on in and choosing Place Item. And when I place it, it goes to the position of the original item.
To place a snippet I'll press Command+D or Ctrl+D for Place. I'll navigate to where I put the snippet and click Open. Now you have the option to place snippets at the same page location as the original or at your cursor, and the default for this preference is set in your File Handling Preferences. Right now, my preferences are set to go to the cursor location, so if I click, this box will go exactly where my cursor is. But I can undo, and I'll delete this frame, and I'll hold Option or Alt, and now the box will go to the position of the original.
Snippets and library items will retain their layer associations if you've selected Paste Remembers Layers in the Layers panel. So let's go over to the Layers panel and just check that. Paste Remembers layers is on, so my snippets and library items for these feature boxes have all gone on the Features layer. If Paste Remembers Layers was turned off, an imported snippet or library item would go to whatever layer was targeted. Another cool use for snippets and library items is as repositories of document resources you might want to reuse in the future.
So what do I mean by document resources? Well, things like styles, all kinds of styles-- paragraph styles, character styles, table styles, cell styles, object styles-- also swatches, strokes, layers, hyperlinks, even XML tags, all those kind of things can be saved in snippets and library items. And when you place snippets and library items into a document, all those resources come with it. So let's see how that works. I'll create a brand-new document with nothing in it. So it has no paragraph styles, a few default swatches, and so forth.
And I'll place the snippet by pressing Command+D or Ctrl+D, and I'll navigate to where I kept the snippet. This is my BaseStyles snippet, and I'll click Open. And you can see I have it at my cursor, but if I look in my Paragraph Styles panel, I can see a whole bunch of paragraph styles have already been loaded. And likewise, there is a character style, and up in my Layers panel there is two new layers that were added to the document: a Text layer and an Art layer. I don't even have to actually place the snippet into the layout because I don't really want all those page items; I just wanted the resources. So I'll just press the Escape key to get rid of the page items and keep all the resources.
So both snippets and libraries are hugely useful in long-document workflows. At some point you're going to need to reuse page objects in a way where you need something more than just a style and something less than a master page. For anything in between, there is snippets and libraries.
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