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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 Blatner: Don't let my friend and fellow lynda.com author Morty Golding hear me say this, but I actually think Illustrator is pretty darn cool. You know he and I have a running argument over which is better, InDesign or Illustrator, but we both really know the truth. Both programs are better. The key is to use the right tool at the right time. For example this map of California here, I would never want to create that in InDesign. That'd be crazy. So I created it in Illustrator and placed it into InDesign. Now when I wanted to bring this into InDesign, I actually had two choices.
I could place it, meaning go to the File menu and choose Place. That way I can place an AI file or a PDF file from Illustrator. Or I could have copied and pasted it into InDesign. The fact that InDesign and Illustrator that you copy and paste vector artwork back and forth is extremely powerful, but you have to be very careful when you do it. Let me zoom in on this so we can see what's going on. This graphic has some special Illustrator effects applied to it. It has Gradient Mesh. It has the Illustrator Extrude effect applied to it and those are the kind of things that you want to generally place, not paste, into InDesign.
Anytime you have a special effect that you really want to maintain the high quality, placing is the better option. In fact, I would even generalize that more and say that anytime you have a graphic that you're not going to be editing specifically in InDesign, you want to place it, not paste it. But there are times that copy and paste turn out to be really useful. For example, I want to do something special with the outline of this map in this document. So first I'm going to Option+double- click on the Mac or Alt+double-click on Windows and that's the same thing as going to the Edit menu and choosing Edit Original and Edit Original opens this file, this graphic, in its original application, in this case Adobe Illustrator.
Let's zoom in on this and you can see it's the same graphic, but in illustrator. Now I want just the outline of this graphic in InDesign to do something special with. So I'm not going to use the Selection tool, the black arrow tool. I am going to use the white Direct Selection tool to select the outline. I'll Option+click on the outline and that forces Illustrator to select all of the points on the outline itself. Now I'll press Command+C or Ctrl+C on Windows, switch back to InDesign, pan over here a little bit by holding down the Option+Spacebar or Alt+Spacebar so I see a different part of my document and then I am going to paste.
It's Command+V or Ctrl+V. Now you will notice that this map is much larger than it was before and that is because that graphic, that Adobe Illustrator file, had been placed and then resized smaller in InDesign. So I am going to get the same sizing here by coming up here to the Control panel and saying let's make this about 40%. I'll drag it into position. Now the great thing about copying and pasting from Illustrator to InDesign is you can edit this in InDesign. That is this is a real vector outline. In fact if I press the A key to switch to the Direct Selection tool, you can see all the same points on the path that you saw in Illustrator.
It's exactly the same thing. So what kind of things might want to do? Well, for example you might want to change the Fill Color. I'll make that None. Or you might want to change the Stroke Color. I'll make it black and make it a little bit thicker. And I can change the Stroke Style and so on and so on. I can even come over to the Effects panel and change this to something like Overlay so I can get a really interesting effect burned right into the background images. That's the kind of thing that'd be really tedious to do if you had to open it in Illustrator or make the changes, bring it back into InDesign with Place, and so on. Copy and paste is just much more efficient in this case, again because we're actually editing it in InDesign.
Let me show you one other example. Over here I'd like to do something fancy with this California title. So I am going to select that. I'll copy it to clipboard and come back to Illustrator. I will create a new document in Illustrator and paste it. Now it doesn't look like anything came over here because it was white text from InDesign placed into Illustrator so it's white on white. You can't see it very well. Why don't I change the color to something different so you will be able to see it? Here we go. Now I am going to apply a special effect. How about one of these Warp effects like Arc Lower from the Warp Options dialog box? I will click OK and that looks pretty good, very interesting, and now I want to get us back into InDesign.
So I have two choices. I could save it out as a PDF or an AI file and then place it into InDesign or I could copy and paste. Because I am going to be doing some additional editing to this graphic when I get it into InDesign, I'm going to choose the copy and paste feature, so Command+C or Ctrl+C on Windows, switch back to InDesign, and paste. Now I will use the Selection tool to position it where I want it. Go ahead and delete that original California word there. It looks good and I can change this anywhere I want. If I don't like that green, I'll change the fill to something else like the original Paper Color. Maybe I'll put a little stroke around it. How about a nice thin half-point stroke? There we go.
I could even put a Drop Shadow behind if I want to. In fact I could make this even crazier by going in and filling each one of these with a graphic or more text or whatever. They're just frames just like any other ordinary frame in InDesign. Now before you start copying and pasting vectors from InDesign to Illustrator or Illustrator to InDesign, there are a couple things that you need to watch out for. They are in the Preferences dialog boxes of the two programs. So I am going to press Command+K or Ctrl+K on Windows and I am going to jump over to the Clipboard Handling pane, way down here at the bottom.
In order to get your vector artwork from Illustrator into InDesign and maintain the editable outlines, you must have Prefer PDF When Pasting turned off. It normally is off by default, so it's usually not a big deal, but make sure that's off or else it will not be editable in InDesign. Let me click OK. I'll switch back to Illustrator here and open Preferences here too. Same thing. Command+K or Ctrl+K on Windows will bring up the Preferences dialog box and I am going to go down here to File Handling & Clipboard pane of the Preferences dialog box and the key here in Illustrator is you must have AICB turned on or else you cannot get the editable outlines from Illustrator into InDesign. That's important.
I normally turn off the PDF option if I am just going between Illustrator and InDesign. I'll just leave that off and just focus on AICB. Illustrator does give you the option of preserving the appearance and overprints or just preserving the paths. Ordinarily, when I am just moving the outlines between Illustrator and InDesign and back again, I just want the paths. I don't really want any special formatting, the Fill and Stroke and Effects and so on. So I leave this set to Preserve Paths. It's just a little bit more safe in my experience. Anyway those are the preferences that you need to watch out for or else it may not work on your system.
Now personally, I wish about a quarter of Illustrator's features were just built into InDesign, especially useful ones like warping or extruding text, but until that day comes, the best solution is to use both programs hand-in-hand and copy or place, depending on which one makes the most sense.
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