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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.
So you may not know that lynda.com recording studios are actually in California, and I live in Chicago. It's always so cool to come to California and I have come so often to record videos at lynda.com, or to do seminars, or visit friends in San Francisco and Napa Valley, that I've become quite interested in the history of California. So I came across this document that I was reading in InDesign, that had the early history of San Francisco and a couple of things caught my eye. For example, The first Europeans, including the David Blatner clan; obviously this is not completely 100% historically accurate portrayal of this.
No, obviously I put that in here, because what I want to show you is that there is a problem with this document that I will teach you how to solve in the video. And the problem is that there are a ton of words that are not in InDesign's default dictionary. If I go to the Edit menu, go down to Spelling and turn on Dynamic Spelling, which is my favorite way to check spelling in an InDesign document, I get this Microsoft Word-like squiggles under words that it does not recognize, so let me click here and zoom in.
You get a little red squiggle when it doesn't recognize the word in a dictionary, so if I right-click it says, well, this should be Halon, or Hollow, or Halloween, or Hullo; obviously it shouldn't be. I need to add this to the dictionary. Now if I just had one or two words, I can just right-click and choose Add this word to the dictionary, but, in this article there are lots of unrecognized words. They may be spelled perfectly correctly but they are just unrecognized. And if I know that I am going to be doing a project, for example, working on a book about California history, that these words are going to be repeated very often.
What I'd like to do, is to permanently add them to InDesign's dictionary. I mean, frankly I am surprised that Adobe still has not added Blatner to its default dictionary for InDesign. I mean, I can't believe it, this is Mr. InDesign! All right, so what we are going to do is add these words to InDesign's dictionary by creating a new custom dictionary. It's so simple to do. First of all, you need to have a word list, a list of words that you want to add to the dictionary.
Now what you could do, is just create a text frame and then copy and paste these words, right out here. Here's Mojave and I am going to hit Return, and Ohlone, copy that, paste and so on. You can get all those words out. And then all you need to do is go to File > Export, and export it as a Text Only file. So call it new-words.txt, for example, because I just did this, or you could just create it in Microsoft Word and save it as a Text Only file, it needs to be a text only file.
By the way you could also just export this whole thing as a text file and bring that in. It doesn't have to be all nice and neat with one word per line. It could be paragraphs, and even if a lot of words are duplicated, like if I actually did the whole thing, when and the we already know are in the dictionary, InDesign just ignores those, so don't worry about it. But we will be careful about it and we will just go ahead and create a word list. In fact, I already did. I have it open right here, so here is a list of the words that I copied and pasted over, and I included Blatner and then my name with and without the accent mark.
So once you have your word list, you can then go back to InDesign and add it as a custom dictionary that it will use from then on for every document that you create, not just this current one. It's a two-step process. Well I guess three steps, including creating the word list, all right, but you've got the word list, then it's a two-step process. In InDesign, go to the Preferences, which on a Mac is here under the InDesign menu, on the PC it's the last item under Edit, and go to the Dictionary entry.
The Dictionary is where you manage your dictionaries. Now there is a default one, that comes with InDesign, it's listed right here and it's stored on your hard drive. You can add multiple dictionaries, so you can either add one, if somebody in your work group has already gone through these steps, you can click Add and then just point to where they have created their custom dictionary. If you've never done this before, you first need to create the custom dictionary with this New User Dictionary button. So I click Create, and then you save the User Dictionary wherever you want. Now I would rename this because the naming can get confusing because they use the term user dictionary in lots of different places.
So I would call this something like California terms or something like that. I will just call it California. The UDC is the extension for an InDesign dictionary, so don't change that. If you have a work group you could save this on the server and then everybody else could go to their preferences and link to it. But anyway let's go on. We've created our custom dictionary, and now the second step or third step, but, who is counting, is to actually import those words into the dictionary. It would make sense if we could do it in that dialog box but of course we can't. Instead you need to go to the back to the Spelling flyout menu, which is under the Edit menu, and choose User Dictionary here.
In earlier versions of InDesign I believe this is just called Dictionary. This opens up the User Dictionary and this is where we would actually import the word list. Now the User Dictionary is the one that we are using right now, if you click here, you will see the custom dictionary that you created. So look for the one that ends with UDC and choose that. You need to choose the Target Dictionary first, if you want to import that word list into the Target Dictionary. You could import the word list into the User Dictionary, but then you really couldn't share that with anybody. So put it into this stand-alone User Dictionary, come down here to Import, and before I do that actually I am going to turn on Case Sensitive, because a lot of those words were capitalized, and I want InDesign to flag in case I enter a word from that word list that's not capitalized, I want it to flag it as a capitalization error.
So I am turning it on first. If you are going to do this, you need to turn this on before you import the words. So I click Import and then I locate that word list. So here's my word list and I am going to choose to add it to the dictionary, that's the default. If you have an existing custom dictionary and you've really messed things up, you can choose to replace it if you'd like, to replace the existing word list with the ones that you are bringing in. But this is also nice because as you come up with more words, you can create more word lists and keep adding them to the same custom dictionary.
So that was real fast as you saw. I have brought over both formats of Concepcion because either one can be kind of spelled correctly, and now we will click Done, and did you see that as soon as I did that, that all of squiggles disappeared? Except for the ones that I forgot to add. Right, so there is Asis hasn't been added. I don't really need to add 70s or 80s, and there is a couple other words, but that is how simple it is to create a custom dictionary. Three steps; create the word list, create the new dictionary and preferences and then go to Edit > User Dictionary and import the word list.
It's a little bit of work but it saves so much time, it's definitely worth it.
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