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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.
I have a bulleted list here, but I'm using this plain old round boring bullet. Here let me show you. I'll zoom in and you can see that this bullet is not very interesting at all. But I want something a little bit more interesting, more spicy. In fact, the bullet that I want to use is this shape up here, this thing that looks kind of like a flower. I'd like to make that flower be my bullets. So let's see what kind of options we have. I'll double-click this list to switch to the Type tool and then while the Control panel is in the Paragraph Formatting mode, I can Option+ Click or Alt+Click on the Bulleted List button.
When you hold on the Option or the Alt key when you click, it forces the Bullets and Numbering dialog box to appear, and now you can choose any of these different kinds of bullets. Those still aren't very interesting. That's certainly not the flower shape I want, so I can click the Add button. And when you click the Add button, you can choose almost any character you want. But there's a catch, the character has to be inside of a font, you can't just choose arbitrary shapes. And unfortunately the shape that I want, the thing that I drew, is not in a font. Or I should say, it's not in a font yet.
Let me show you what I mean. I'll click Cancel, click Cancel, and I have that character in a separate InDesign document here, there it is. I'll choose my Selection tool so you can see that this is just regular frames right in InDesign, and I want to make a font out of that, because if I make a font out of it, then I can use it for my bullets. Now you might think that you have to go out and buy font software in order to do that, but in fact, I can do it right with inside of InDesign, because I have a free script that you can get too.
And that free script is called IndyFont. You can get IndyFont from indiscripts, and there is a commercial version which lets you make a whole font, or a free version which lets you make just a bullet, and a bullet is all I care about right now, so I am pretty happy. Now once you download the free IndyFont, you need to know where to put it. I'll then go back to InDesign and I'll show you. I'll go to the Window menu, choose Utilities and then choose Scripts. Then I'm going to right-click or Ctrl+Click with one-button mouse on the User folder and choose Reveal in Finder.
On Windows it will say Reveal in Explorer. Now I'll open up the Scripts Panel folder. The scripts have to go inside the Scripts Panel folder. And I'm going to take my font from my Downloads folder and put it into my Scripts panel. That's all I need to do, it's ready to go. So when I switch back to InDesign, you'll see inside the User folder, just click on that expanding triangle, there is my script. The one that I just downloaded and installed. You don't have to restart InDesign or anything like that.
Now here's how to use the script. First double-click on it, it will ask you for a Font name. I am going to call this Roux Bullet. You can call it anything you want. Then click OK. It creates a document for you and lets you set up your font. I am going to go back to my original artwork document for a moment and copy this to the clipboard, then come over here, go to page 2 in the Pages panel and paste it. That's all you need to do. And I'll position it over here on the left side of this green line.
Now I can stretch this, make it bigger, do whatever I need to do here. I want to make sure typically that the character fits inside from the left edge, call the left bearing, to this green line, which is the right bearing. In fact, that's just a guide. Now I can stretch this, make it bigger, move it around inside here. I've typically want to make sure that it sits in between the left edge of the page and this green line. If it doesn't, you can move that green line, it's just a guide, until it's slightly to the right of the shape.
Once you set up your shape, you're ready to make your font. To do that, you need to run the script again. I'll close the Pages panel here, and then double- click on the script, and up comes this dialog box saying, where do you want to save the font? I am going to save it just inside the InDesign Fonts folder, that's the easiest, and I'll click OK. It tells me that the font was created, click OK, and that's all I need to do. It's ready to go. I'll go back to my brochure document, and I am going to zoom in here even more so you can really see those bullets. I'll double-click again to once again switch to the Type tool, I'll Option+Click or Alt+Click on the Bullets button, and I will say Add a new character, and the new bullet is going to be inside the font that I created and that always starts with IF, IF for IndyFont, in this case Roux Bullet.
When I click down here in the Font Style area, up comes all of the characters in this font, in this case just one. So I can choose it, click OK and there is my bullet, it's as simple as that. Click OK and it added that character as my bullet. I'm pretty happy with that, so I am going to go over to the Paragraph Styles panel and from the Panel menu I am going to choose Redefine Style. That takes that bullet decision, that local formatting that I applied here and applies it to the entire Paragraph Style.
It's beautiful! It's a custom bullet using a font that I created right within InDesign. Remember as great as InDesign is, it's often the add-ons like this IndyFont script that provide the extra features that make your workflow really fly.
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