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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.
Every new InDesign document you create should contain five things. Well, okay, maybe not every document you create; a shopping list, or a letter to your mom may not need all these things, but every real document you create, a book, magazine, brochure or something like that, you're going to need five things. And I'm not going to describe exactly how to make all of them in great detail. I'm not going to tell you what you should put in all of them. I'm just going to tell you exactly what I think that you should have in every document. First of all, layers. The default Layer 1 is just not enough.
You need several layers to make this thing work. I'm going to Option+Click or Alt+Click and I'm going to create a layer called text. I'm going to do another one called graphics. Let's do another one, master page items. All my master page items like page numbers, and so on, are going to go on those. Let's do another one called background images, things like that, and I'm going to drag that to the bottom of course, it's background images. Now my Layer 1, I might want to change that to something else, like interactive documents, so let's double-click on that and say interactive elements, things like that.
You want to have yourself a group of layers that you're going to be using throughout the creation of your document. Next thing you want is some paragraph styles. You don't want to use the basic paragraph. How many times do I need to tell people this? Don't use basic paragraph. You're going to get yourself in trouble. Create your own default styles. So let's go ahead and Option+ Click or Alt+Click on this. I'm going to create a new one called default para style, and you can call it anything you want, but I'll make it that, and you can set this up to whatever font you want and et cetera, et cetera.
I'm just going to click OK and now while nothing is selected on my page, I'll click on that, and now that becomes the default paragraph style for all my new documents. I usually create a couple more paragraph styles, but you get the idea. Make some paragraph styles that you're going to work with in your document. Don't rely on basic for everything. Same thing with number three, character styles. We want some character styles and you don't want to rely on local formatting for everything like bold and italic. You want to make character styles. You'll be sorry if you don't. So Option+Click or Alt+Click on that, I'm going to make one of these called italic, and this would be a Basic Character Format which simply applies the italic style.
That's all it does. Next, we'll do another one called bold and you get the idea. Do a few of these that you're going to be using for your document. There we go! We'll leave it set to that. You do not want to select one of these while no object is selected on your document, otherwise that character style will be applied to everything you create, and that would be a disaster. So make sure that while nothing is selected on your page, it's set to None here. Next thing, you want some object styles. Object Styles, same thing goes. Don't rely on basic for everything. Create your own graphic frame style, your own text frame style.
You get the idea here. I'll just create a new one that I'm going to call my default text frame, and I will set this up however I want to set it up. For example, if you want it to always have a paper background, you can create a paper white background, et cetera, et cetera. And then while nothing is selected, just go ahead and drag this little icon down to your new style and now you have a default text frame which truly is the default for your text frames. Number five is master pages. Make sure you really take a moment to create some master pages for your document.
Again, if it's just a single brochure or a single page, a flyer or something, you may not need master pages, but it's worth thinking about. Do I need to set up my master page? Or even more important, do I need to set up a series of two or three or more master pages for my document? For a book or a catalog, magazine, you're probably going to want more than one master page. And when you make your master pages, think seriously about whether your new master pages should be based on an already existing master page. So, for example, I'll hold down Ctrl+Alt on Windows or Command+Option on Mac and click on that, and that creates a new master page that enforces that dialog box to open, and then I can name it something.
It's a really good idea to name it not just something like master, but name it like TOC, or a sidebar, or something descriptive so that you know what it is. And if this is going to be based on another master, make sure you apply that here in this pop-up menu. Now there's lots of other things you might want to add to your documents, bleed guides, slug guides, special custom color swatches, and so on. That's okay. You can apply those as you need them. But the last thing I really want to encourage you to add to your documents is notes. Leave yourself some notes.
You can put them out here on the pasteboard if you want to, but just go ahead and leave yourself some notes, especially if somebody else is going to be using this document. You want to give them an idea of how to use the document, what kind of layers you've set up, what kind of dials you've set up. And so give them some notes and make them big if you need to. Of course, if you've taken the time to add all of the stuff once, you can reuse it over and over again by saving this out as a template. I'll go to the File menu, choose Save As, and I'm going to save this out to my Desktop as a template.
I'll choose template from the Save as type pop-up menu here. I'm just going to call this My Template.indt. There we go! Click Save and now I can use this from now on and every time I open it, it will open up as a new untitled document. Now that you've added layers, paragraph styles, character styles, object styles, and one or more master pages, you are ready to start laying out your pages.
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