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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 Concepcion: When you're working closely with text, as I am here zoomed way in, if you've turned on Hidden Characters which you do from under the Type menu-- right now it says Hide Hidden Characters because I am showing them-- you might be flummoxed a bit by some of the weird special characters or hidden characters that appear. I mean we all know what this little dot is, right. That's a single space. So if I typed another one we'd see two dots in a row. And if I added a tab, I'll just press the Tab key, we see the double chevrons. That's normal. But what about some of these other characters that like we can even see in this one little bit of text.
For example this guy here. What the heck is this thing? A little arrow kind of thing pointed up with some dots above it and if you're not sure if that's an actual character that somebody just happened to color blue or not, you can always just hide the special characters that is signifying something and then show the Hidden Characters again. Then we have another instance of here is a hyphen with a little squiggle above it, a tilde, and then here is another hyphen without one. Is that supposed to mean something? Hey actually, yes it does.
In fact there are a slew of the hidden characters or special characters or symbols that may appear in your InDesign document that you might wonder what could these mean. So I am going to go through a few of the more interesting ones and then I'll show a guide that you can download that I put together for you that has the complete list of all of these special characters and what they mean. The first thing is you want to make sure and zoom in closely so you can what these look like and then it will also help you to view what's happening when you zoom out by pressing Command+Zero or Ctrl+Zero.
By going to the View menu and going down to Extras and choosing Hide Frame Edges, because some of these special characters run right up to the edge of a frame, and then also View > Grids & Guides > Hide Guides. So now we can see all these and I am going to zoom in a bit. This in case you are wondering is actually an index marker. Somebody clicked in front of the word Mission Dolores and they added it to the Index panel. This tilde above the hyphen means that it was automatically hyphenated by InDesign.
Hyphenation has been turned on for this paragraph and when InDesign decides it needs to hyphenated it will go ahead and do so but that little symbol means that it's an automatic one. So if I deleted some keys so that the word Missionization was on one line then the hyphen disappears. And that is different from this hyphen down here which is actually a hard hyphen. Let's delete a couple of words before it and scroll over and you can see that somebody actually typed in neighborly- Mission. And so if the word doesn't needs to break there you'll still see the hard hyphen.
So that's a hard hyphen and an automatic hyphen. There's a third kind of hyphen called a discretionary hyphen. So say that for example I didn't want the word eventually to break here, which is how it's going to break according to InDesign's automatic hyphenation. I want it to break right here between the n and the t. I could go up to the Type menu, go down to Insert Special Character > Hyphens and Dashes and enter a Discretionary Hyphen or press the keyboard shortcut.
So what this means is InDesign ignores your own hyphenation dictionary and only break the word right here right, where I put the Discretionary Hyphen in. It's called Discretionary, because if it doesn't hyphenate at the end of the line, if it doesn't need to break, then it doesn't appear. And there is no white space added by this. If I add Hide Hidden Characters, you see that you can't even tell that there was a hyphen here. Different than this hyphen which will always be there. So I am going to go ahead and Show Hidden Characters again and we'll see if we can force that word to hyphenate. Let's zoom out.
And I don't think we are going to be able to get this guy to hyphenate. But in case you see this strange little blue hyphen inside of a word, then that's probably what it is, is a Discretionary Hyphen. Since I am zoomed out we can see another kind of strange character. It looks like a little hourglass and this actually means that there is a note here. If someone is working inside the type and they wanted to add a nonprinting note for one of their colleagues to read they could go to Type > Notes and choose New Note and then if I click the top half of this the Note panel appears and it tells me that contents of the note. Please add which region of Spain here.
Let's zoom out a bit. There's another weird one down here. Let's see right here. So you might look at this and say oh I know what that is. That means that it's misspelled. That's the Dynamic Spell Check. But if we go to the Edit menu, go down to Spelling, you can see there's no checkmark next to Dynamic Spelling. It's not turned on. The other clue is that there is this large arrow to the left of it and if we zoom in even more closely, you can see that there are some dots here. So what is all this? This is actually an instance of conditional text.
If you go to the Window menu down to Type & Tables and choose Conditional Text, you can see that there is actually a condition that's visible here and that we could choose instead a different condition, which means it's not even there, so somebody didn't add the Spanish condition yet. This indicates the presence of conditional text and then this little red line, the squiggle, is the indicator for this kind of condition. You'll see even more interesting stuff if you click inside your story and then go to the Edit menu and choose Edit in Story Editor, where a lot of these settings look completely different.
For example here is the conditional text that we see in eyeball instead. Here is a hyperlink. Now this is kind of hard to tell. You may have just thought it was a color, but actually this is a hyperlink and in the InDesign when you are in the Layout View, hovering over hyperlink doesn't change your cursor to anything. It's only if you export it to PDF including hyperlinks that in the PDF in Reader or Acrobat then your cursor will change to a pointing finger indicating this is an actual link. So to quickly locate links inside your InDesign document, you could either look at the Hyperlinks panel or you could open up the story in the Story Editor and then these indicators indicate that it's a hyperlink.
Market Street in the early days apparently was marked off with XML tags. This indicator means that there is an in-line graphic. Here is a note that we just looked at in Layout View where they appeared in-line. Here is the Index Marker that looks like a something from a totem pole right before Mission Dolores. So you not only have to become familiar with what these hidden characters look like in the Layout View but also in Story Editor. That's the only way that you're really going to be in control of what's happening with your text is knowing like what these special symbols mean in both views.
And that's where this guide will come in handy. I went through all of the different special characters and took screenshots of them all and I made a PDF that indicates a different kind of hyphens and line breaks and also what things look like in the Story Editor as opposed to the Layout View. And you can download those from either lynda.com or if you go to our website at indesignsecrets.com go to the Resources section and choose LINK, SITES and RESOURCES and I'll have a link to the InDesign secrets guide to special characters there as well.
So now you an idea of the scope and breadth of all the different kinds of hidden characters that and InDesign file can contain. Each one has a specific kind of information that you need to know about. So become familiar with these and use our guide when you need some extra help.
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