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When working with long documents, you'll often have to exercise precise control over chapter and page numbering, incorporating different numbering styles and you'll want to insert things like chapter numbers and section titles automatically in running headers. Let's see how that's done. So InDesign gives you the ability to divide a document into sections and we can see where a document has been divided in the Pages panel by the presence of these little black triangles over some of the pages. If I double-click on one of those triangles, I bring up the Numbering & Section Options dialog box, or I can see the purpose of sections is to control the numbering of pages, the numbering of chapters and also to give me the ability to insert prefixes on my page numbers and section markers.
The section prefix can be up to eight characters long and you can use this prefix to distinguish sections in the Pages panel. So, for example, in my appendix section I can see down here the page numbers start with A-. The section marker is what you use to give a name to a section, and it can be up to a hundred characters long. So in this case I have an appendix section it's called Appendix: The A-B-Z of Cheese, so I'll click OK to get out of the dialog box and let's insert a section marker. So I'll double-click on page A-2 to go to that page, and I'll press the W key on my keyboard to get back to normal view mode, and then I'll double-click in this text frame.
Then to insert the section marker I'll right-click and choose Insert Special Character > Markers > Section Marker, and there's my section marker, Appendix: The A-B-Z of Cheese. And while they're handy for creating running headers, section markers do have their flaws. First of all there's no built-in way to automate their construction. You have to type or paste in all that text into the Numbering & Section Options dialog box. Second, section markers are treated like a single character of text, and as such you can't get inside them to format anything differently.
They also can't wrap to more than one line. So if I take my Selection tool and grab the right side of this text frame and resize it. You can see that the section marker just gets compressed. It won't wrap even if I give it room to. I'll Undo. Also, you can't format the text of a section marker at the character level, so if I need to italicize a word or use any other character level formatting, I can't use a section marker, likewise, GREP styles, nested styles and things like that don't work inside section markers.
If you need that kind of mixed formatting in a running header, you might consider using a combination of several text variables strung together, since each could have its own formatting, or you might try a cross reference to a section name. If you're willing to invest in an even more powerful third-party solution, check out Power Headers at in-tools.com. Power Headers creates running headers composed of real-live text, so they can wrap and contain local formatting. Let's take a look at one. So I'll double-click on page 8 to go there, and I'll zoom in, and I'll compare a power header on top to InDesign's headers, and we can see that the power header was able to pick up the local formatting of this title here, whereas the InDesign header couldn't.
If I drag to select both frames, I can also see that the power header can wrap to multiple lines, where the InDesign header can't, and I'll Undo just to put those back. Another thing to be aware of what sections is section numbering versus absolute numbering. So right now in my Pages panel, I can see I have several numbering styles, so I have Roman Numerals for the front matter, I have my Appendix Numbering with the A- for the Appendix, and I have my regular Arabic Numbering for most of the chapter. But if I go to my InDesign preferences by choosing InDesign > Preferences > General, the very first preference is for section numbering or absolute numbering.
Now keep an eye on the Pages panel when I choose absolute numbering and click OK, see how all the page numbers changed? I no longer have my mixed numbering styles and I don't have my prefixes on my appendix. These are just the absolute position of all these pages in the document. Furthermore, InDesign is only going to recognize this kind of numbering if I try to output anything. So if I want to export a PDF of say the appendix, and I choose Command + E or Ctrl + E to Export > format PDF, and I'll just try to call it appendix, and it's going to ask me for a Page Range I just want Page A-1, so I'll type in A-1 and click OK, but InDesign won't do it.
It tells me the pages aren't valid. Well, I know they are valid, but I just have a different kind of numbering selected, so if you get this message, just cancel out and change the preference back; InDesign > Preferences > General and turn on Section Numbering again, and click OK. Now you can specify those kind of page numbers in your output. Now let's go back to Numbering & Section Options to note just one more thing. So I'll double-click on the first black triangle in the Pages panel, and this is where I want to note how you set the chapter number and style, let's look at the Document Chapter Numbering options.
First off, see how it's called Document Chapter Numbering. This is because each InDesign document can have only one chapter number. So if you have a document where several chapters are going to be in one long InDesign file, you need to number them with a different method, something like a numbered paragraph style would work. On the other hand, if you have really long chapters that are continued to cross more than one InDesign document, you can have those documents all use the same chapter number, by either setting them up manually that way or automatically with the book feature.
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