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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
David: In a complex layout, one of the most frustrating roadblocks is not being able to select something on your page. For example, I want to select this text frame, so I click on it but I don't select the frame at all. I select the graphic frame that's sitting on top of that text frame. This graphic frame is the one that has the map of California in it. So how do I select through that frame to get the text frame underneath? Simple. Just Command+Click on the Mac or Ctrl+Click on Windows. When I do that, I select through the object to the object underneath.
InDesign is full of selection tricks like that and it really behooves you to learn a few of these if you're going to be working in InDesign very much. Here's another one. I want to select inside this group. I click on it once and I can see that it's a group because of the dashed line around it. Let me zoom in to 200% by pressing Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. See that dashed line? That's definitely a group that contains multiple text frames. How do I select one frame inside of that group? Well, in InDesign CS5 I can simply double-click. The double-click goes into the group and selects the next object down in that group.
In this case, we can see that there's another group that was part of the bigger group. This group has two frames in it. So I will double-click again and you can see that now I have selected one frame, the one that says California, inside that group. If I double-click a third time, InDesign switches to the Type tool and places the cursor inside that word, because it's a text frame. Now I can actually select this text very easily and edit it all I want to. But what if I want to move up the group, like select the object itself? That's where the Escape key comes in.
Press Escape once and you select the frame that holds that text. Press Escape again and you move up to the group that holds that text frame. If I press Escape key a third time, it selects the top group, the one that holds all of those objects. If you're using an older version of InDesign, then forget those double-clicks and Escapes and instead focus up here in the Control panel. The Control panel actually gives you buttons for selecting inside of a group. For example, this button here means select the content. that means go down into the group.
That selects the first frame inside the group. Now I can move among the various objects in the group by the Selecting Next and Select Previous buttons. There is the next one, there's the next one. Well, I can see there are only two objects in here. There's that group. So I will go down into that group and then select that one. You get the point. When you click, you move into or around your group. Select the Container to move up the group. Let's zoom out to fit the whole page in the window again with the Command+0 or Ctrl+0 on Windows, and I want to show you one other very important feature in InDesign CS5 that lets you select objects, and that is the Layers panel.
Most people don't think about the Layers panel as being a place that you select objects, but it turns out to be extremely helpful. I am going to open the Layers panel by clicking on this little tile there and then I'm going to focus on this little twist-down triangle next to the layer name. When I click on that in InDesign CS5 I can see all of the objects and groups on that layer. Not only that, but it also shows me what is selected. See that little blue box? That indicates that items are selected on that layer. If I want to select a different object on that layer, just find the object and click on that little box next to it.
For example, if I want to go back and find this text frame again where it says Our vacation was fantastic, I'll come over to Layers panel, scan down it until I see something that looks right, and then click on the little box next to it. There we go! I have selected it. By the way, here is a secret tip about the Layers panel. If you have an object that you're going to be selecting a lot, you probably want to name it something special and you can do that by clicking on it, pausing, and then clicking again. Click, pause, click. That's the trick. That highlights the name and now we can change it to something else like I will put it in all caps, SELECT ME. There we go! Hit Enter or Return and now you can see that it really is highlighted there, and I can always get back to it quickly.
Obviously, that didn't change the text on the page at all. That just gave it a name so it's more obvious in the Layers panel. Now the last selection tip I want to point out about the Layers panel is it's really a good idea to set things on separate layer so that you can hide them and lock them and so on. Let me show you what I mean. There are three images down here at the bottom of my layer and I am going to put those on a different layer. I can do that by creating a new layer. I'll click on the New Layer button. Drag that down below Layer 1. I just drag that down until I saw that little black bar, that moved it below Layer 1 and then I can select these three objects.
In this case note that I am not selecting them on the page, I'm simply selecting them inside the Layers panel and I am moving those down under Layer 2. I will open that twisty triangle there and you can see that now those images are on Layer 2 instead of Layer 1. I never actually had to select the images on the page at all to do that. But the great thing about having these images on their own layer is that I can hide that layer or lock it. For example, I can click on that little eyeball icon there and they just disappear. I will turn it back on again and they reappear. Or I will click in the lockbox and you can see that they're all now locked.
If I try clicking on one of those images, it simply will not be selected. That's a great way to control what can and cannot be selected in your document. I can even lock a single object. I will select this map of California, go back to the Layers panel, and click on that lockbox. Now if I try and select that text frame, it's easy. I simply click and because the map of California is locked, it's not selectable and I click right through it. Selecting an object on your page should be really simple, but when layouts get complicated, knowing all these tricks really comes in handy.
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