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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.
InDesign has a page numbering feature which is great most of the time, but sometimes you need more control or you want the numbering feature to do something that it wasn't really designed to do. For example, let's say on these pages we didn't want it to go 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on, we wanted it to be 1A on the left page and 1B on the right page, and then 2A and 2B and so on. Can you do that in InDesign? Well, not with the page numbering feature, but you can with a different automatic numbering feature in InDesign. That's right, the automatic paragraph numbering.
Let me show you how to do it. Because this is page numbering, I'm going to do it on the Master page. So I'll press Command+J or Ctrl+J on Windows to open the Go to Page dialog box. Press A, press OK, and now here we are on Master page A, that's where we're going to put this. And I'll select the Type tool, draw out a little text frame here, and I'm going to put my numbering in there. Let's go ahead and zoom into 400%, so we can see that better with a Command+4 or Ctrl+4 on Windows, and I'm going to put my automatic number inside this text frame.
So I'm going to hold down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows, and click on the Numbered List button here in the Control panel, that forces the Bullets and Numbering dialog box to open; little shortcut to that dialog box. And I'll turn on my List Type and set it to Numbers. There we go. I'm going to make this a numbered list. I don't need the period and the Tab in the Number field there, I just want the number itself, and I want it to be 1, 2, 3 and so on, but I want it to be 1A, 2A, and so on, on the left-hand pages.
So I'm going to type the letter A in here. So in this case, when I see my numbering, it's going to be number A on the left-hand page. I could go ahead and turn Preview on and nothing happens. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and click OK and still nothing happens. Why? Because I need to have at least one character on this paragraph in order for the numbered list to show up. I'll just press a Spacebar and you can see, there it is, there is my 1A from the numbered list. I'm going to make that a little bit bigger, but of course you can't select a numbered list, there's nothing to select, it's an automatic numbering, but I can select that little invisible space that I just typed.
So I'll select that. I'm going to make this bold, and you can see that anything that I apply to that space also gets applied to the numbering, so that's convenient. I'll also make this a little bit larger; I'll bump this up about 36 points. Okay. That is looking pretty good, a pretty good page number there. But there's one more thing that I need to do to this numbered list before it's going to work properly. So I'll go to the Control panel, switch back to the Paragraph Formatting, and then Option or Alt+Click on that button again, but there's one more thing I need to do if this is going to work correctly.
So I'm going to go back to the Paragraph Formatting mode of the Control panel, Option or Alt+Click on that Numbered List button, brings up the dialog box again, and here I have to choose List. Lists are essential whenever you have a numbered list that goes across multiple text frames, when those text frames are not threaded together, you have to use a List, otherwise you'll just get 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, it will never increment. You have to use a List to make them increment, 1, 2, 3, and so on. So I'm going to make a new list from this pop-up menu by choosing New List from the menu there, and I'm going to say this is my left page list. All right, you can see here's the trick, Continue Numbers across Stories. All right, Click OK, and that's all I really need to do for now, so I'll click OK.
I'm going to jump back to Fit Spread in Window with a Command+Option+0 or Ctrl+Alt+0 on Windows, and I'm going to use the Selection tool to Option or Alt+Shift+Drag this over to the right-hand page, and then I'll do a Command+Shift+R or Ctrl+Shift+R to make it right-aligned. That's looking a little bit better. And you can see that even though it's two separate text frames, they are incrementing the number from 1 to 2, because they're both set to that list. But what we're trying to do is have it say 1A and then 1B.
So I'm going to double-click inside here and change the numbered list. I'll Option or Alt+Click on the Numbered List and I'm going to change this to B, because this is supposed to be B on this side, and I need to create a New List. This is going to be the right page list. Click OK, click OK, and now we're set. On the Master page we have it set up to do 1A and 1B. Let's go try it out on a real page. Command or Ctrl+J, press 2, click OK. Excellent! 1A and 1B right here on the pages, that's just what we wanted.
Let's go try the next spread and see if it's still working. Uh-oh, it still says 1A and 1B, and on the next spread it still says 1A and 1B. I'm just using the Option or Alt+Page Down to move from one spread to the next. This is an interesting problem when you're doing numbered list on the Master page. It turns out that numbered lists never update when they're on a Master page. Because these are Master page items, you can tell that they are because there's a dotted line around them, they never get updated.
However, if you override that Master page item, suddenly it kicks in; suddenly InDesign knows, oh, I better increment that by 1. So for example, I'll go in here. Let's go back to where we were originally, here we go. On this page I'm going to Command+Shift +Click or Ctrl+Shift+Click on Windows, that overrides it, brings it on to the document page itself. Command+Shift+Click. Excellent! Then go to the next spread. Command+Shift+Click and Command+Shift+ Click and you can see what's happening, as I'm overriding those things, the numbers are incrementing.
Go to the next spread and Command+Shift+Click or Ctrl+Shift+Click all the way along the way. So it's a little bit tedious here, but you get the effect that you want. We're getting A on the left and B on the right, and a same page number on both. There are so many other cool things that you can do using paragraph numbering instead of the automatic page numbering. For example, let's say you want to make numbered tickets. You could set up a whole bunch of tickets, maybe 10 on a single page, and use automatic numbering to increment the numbers on those tickets one at a time.
Just let your imagination go wild and have fun coming up with your own numbering tricks.
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