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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.
You already know that you can place PDFs into your InDesign document, or TIFFs, or JPEGs, or many other kinds of file formats, but I want to talk about importing a different kind of file; InDesign files themselves. That's right! You can import one InDesign file into another InDesign file, and it turns out that that can be extremely useful. For example, I am working on my catalog right now and somebody else has been working on the application form, the form that I am going to be using in my catalog. Well, I could ask them to export a PDF and then import that PDF in the InDesign, or even easier, I will just go to the File menu, choose Place, and then choose the application.indd file itself. That's the actual InDesign file that they were working on.
When I click Open, I get the Place cursor, and now I can click in the upper-left corner and it places the page in exactly the right place. Now it's nice to save that intermediary step of having to make a PDF file but even better this is linked to the original InDesign file. If I look in the Links panel, I can see there it is, down at the bottom, the original InDesign file. So if somebody makes a change, and they save it, it will show up as modified here in my InDesign document. I just need to update it in the Links panel and that change shows up in this InDesign document too.
I want to point out that this InDesign document is not editable. It actually acts like a picture. You can even see that because you have the content grabber in the middle of it. It's just as though I imported a PDF file. I can't go in and edit the text at all. It's just a picture, and when I export another PDF or when I print it, it will come out looking as though I had imported a PDF. So very nice crisp text, it all works beautifully. The other cool thing about importing InDesign documents is that I can use the Edit Original feature. Can't do that with PDFs, but I can come over here in the Links panel and click on this little Pencil icon or go to the Edit menu and choose Edit Original.
Either way, it will launch the original application, which of course in this case is just InDesign, so it just stays in InDesign, and it opens that document. There is the InDesign document, fully editable. For example, I can grab that logo and I'll move it into the middle, I can select this text and I'll center it with a Command+Shift+C or Ctrl+Shift+C on Windows, and any other changes I want to make I can go ahead and make those. So I will go ahead and save it with a Command+S or Ctrl+S on Windows and then close the document with a Command+W or a Ctrl+W, and I can see that immediately it's updated in my catalog document.
I don't need to go and click Update or anything, it's just automatically updated right here. So it's very, very efficient for making changes. Now there is one other cool trick that I want to show you and this trick involves downloading a free add-on called LayoutZone. You can get LayoutZone at automatication.com and they have a very clear step-by-step instructions on how to install it into your copy of InDesign. And when you have LayoutZone, you have all kinds of cool features added to InDesign, but one of the coolest that I think is that you can convert imported InDesign documents back into editable objects. Let me show you.
I've downloaded and installed LayoutZone, so I can select this InDesign document, go to my Edit menu and choose from a Layout Zone menu, Convert Zone; and Convert Zone takes any InDesign document that you have placed and it coverts it back into original objects. There it is. There is my table. There is my original logo up here. Let me scroll over so you can see it better. I can move it around. I can edit my text, and so on. Isn't that amazing? Automatication has all kinds of really cool add-ons that you should check out, but this LayoutZone is a must-have.
This ability to import one InDesign file into another opens up all kinds of ways to make your workflow more efficient whether you work on your own or within a group of people.
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