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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.
Anne-Marie: These Swatches panel in InDesign is the source from whence all good things come. It's probably the panel that I use most often in InDesign and I want to show you some cool little tips and tricks that you can do with this panel to make it easier for you to work in your various InDesign files. I think the number one thing that especially new user should know is never use the registration color. We don't know why Adobe persists and leaving it in the Swatches panel. I don't think that I've ever used if the registration color once and the problem is that if you do use the registration color, it's almost impossible to distinguish from black.
If I selected this text and I color it registration, can you tell me what's black and was registration? But if we send this to print and they do a color separation, then this text comes out at 100% of the four process colors which would make for some very strange looking text. The registration color is only supposed to be used for things that should be at 100% on each individual plate, usually things like crop marks and registration marks, stuff that's outside of a live page area. So if you cannot delete registration, which is true, you see the pencil with the slash, you can at least move it to the bottom. Did you know that you can rearrange these swatches? Yes.
So get it out of the way, move it away from black at least, so that you don't accidentally select it. I am going to select all this and make sure that it's black again, there we go. By the way, any changes that I make to the Swatches panel while a document is open only apply to that document. If I jump to a different document, you'll see the registration color is right back up at the top. So if you want to make changes to the Swatches panel that will be in effect for every new document you create from now on, then make changes to the Swatches panel with no documents open at all.
So I am going to close these two documents. I am not going to save any changes and I'll close this big honking thing and now we have the default Swatches panel. Any changes that you make to the Swatches panel with no documents open, then become the new defaults for the swatches in the application itself. It still will not change for any existing documents, but for new documents that will be the new starting set of swatches and that's a good thing. So here are some, I think, common changes you should make to the Swatches panel with no documents open.
Number one, you already know. Move registration down to the bottom. get it out of the way. Number two, get rid of the colors that you would never use. Why are they even there taking up brain cells? How often do you need to fill something with 100% cyan? Maybe never. So I would select this color and delete it. I would do the same thing for 100% Magenta and Yellow. I actually do use these colors, red, green and blue, just to quickly fill things to see what they look like. So I am going to go ahead and leave it in.
In addition to these existing colors, a color that you might want to add would be, say, your corporate colors. So for example, if you use a particular color, say a Pantone color, in a lot of your corporate pieces and you're constantly doing two color work where you are filling things with a shade of your corporate color, for example, then go ahead and add that to your default Swatches panel. So I'm going to go to Color Type Spot and we are going to jump to Pantone and we will just type in say good old 286. And we will add that. You know while you're here you can add in any other colors that you like to play with. Maybe you are kind of tired of red, green and blue and you'd like to have some neutrals or you would like to have some nice pink and lavender and go ahead and add them. It's not going to cost you anything.
Now let me show you an even easier way to add colors. Let's say that in my work I constantly use the same colors in a variety of InDesign documents. Now those colors I have already painstakingly spec-ed in the Swatches panel for various documents. Why don't I just use colors from there? So you can actually save certain custom colors from your InDesign documents and then reuse them in other documents. So let me open one of these documents like this explore brochure.
So we have some nice looking colors here. Let's say that I often use these four colors. These are all custom CMYK colors. I would like to add these to my default swatches, so that they're there with every time that I create a new document. So you select the swatches that you want and if you wanted like one up here, you didn't want the ones in between, you would hold down the Ctrl key on a PC or the Command key on a Mac. I actually don't want that. So, I just want these. Then go to the Swatches panel menu and choose Save Swatches.
These get saved in a file format called Adobe Swatch Exchange, as you can see down here, and they are initially called by the name of the document that you extracted them from, but I could call it our favorite desert colors. So those are kind of deserty and then we will close this guy. Now in any new document or in any existing document for that matter, you can always go to the Swatches panel and then choose Load Swatches and select the ASE.
Now this is an actual standalone file that you could put on a server for everybody in the workgroup to load whenever they need it. You can email it to your freelancers, you can include it with packages. I mean you could even post it on craigslist or eBay and maybe make a few bucks from it, why not? I am going to choose Open and the colors are added automatically to my Swatches panel. Another way to get Swatches that already exist in other InDesign documents is by picking and choosing them from the Add New Color Swatch dialog box and in some ways it's even better, because when you say something is ASE, you have no clue what colors are coming in when you load them.
You might forget, what are my desert colors? Maybe there's a thousand colors in there and you just wanted a couple. If you want to actually pick and choose the colors from within this document or from within the Swatches panel itself, because we don't have the document open, go to the Swatches panel menu, choose New Color Swatch, and under Color Mode, go all the way to the bottom and choose Other Library. You can see I have already done this before, because it's remembering I choose California history book. But you choose Other Library and then you can choose any InDesign document that you'd like, and it gets added as though it was on its own standalone Pantone library.
So I could say well, I want this color and I like this gold and that's about it. Nice, huh? Now this is getting a little messy. I am going to rearrange this and in fact, there's one last tip I want to tell you about to help organize your Swatches panel. A lot of users say isn't there a way we can group these, put them into folders, so that I can have you know, these are the colors that we are using for the Fall catalog, these are the ones we are going to use for the Winter catalog or colors by different my two main clients, something like that? And unfortunately, not yet.
We keep hoping with every new version, but no. There is a kind of a workaround though that you could use that's kind of neat. Go to the Swatches panel menu, choose New Color Swatch, give it any color that you would like. I would like to use often just pure white. So I am just dragging everything over to the left and then turn off Name with Color Value and instead type in something that looks like a divisor. It's like a series of hyphens. And then click Add and you see what got added. Actually, it was a little too long so we have dot dot dot. so let me make one a little bit shorter, let's say like that, Add. That's better.
And then whenever you do that then it says the next color will be the same thing only with word copy, but I don't want the word copy. I want to make another divisor. It can't be the exact same number of hyphens so I can just remove one, click Add again or I can even do something like ---Fall Colors and then we are going to delete that. And you know what I am going to enter here right? Winter Colors and because we can rearrange by dragging and dropping these color swatches, we can make our own little organization.
So I might say here are the Winter colors. We will say it's blue and this blue and then the fall colors will go above there and the fall colors will be that one and that one and I think the yellow one as well. Maybe I am going to rename this color and we will call it Don't Use These. Guess which color I am going to put underneath there? And so on.
So I am going to delete that one, delete that one and we will keep our corporate color up here, and there. Now we have our favorite colors that we use all the time up here and then here is the Falls colors for those projects, the Winter colors for those projects, and Don't Use These, because we can't get rid of registration. Now every time that I create a new document, those colors are available to me. But if I open up an existing document, I don't need to worry about my changes affecting it, because colors are saved with a document that they are edited in.
So whether you need to edit the swatches in the current document or you want to create a swatch set that will work with all your existing document from now till the end of time, now you know.
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