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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.
Something that is central to how InDesign works that I found a lot of users don't realize is that there is no such thing as a frame. You might say, oh, I am going to drag out a Text frame, so you drag out a Text frame, or I am going to drag out a frame for an image. These are called frames, but you know what they really are? They are really paths. There are four paths that are connected with points in a shape of a rectangle. So they are there for your convenience. You might as well, if you want to drag out a text frame, use the Pen tool and then just click four times--I am holding down the Shift key to keep things on a straight narrow.
And then close it up. Little off, but you would see what I mean, that is a text frame, I can click inside it and there we go, we have a text frame, that's working for us. What that means then is that all of the frames on your pages and many other things besides frames are simply paths. And they can be edited with any of the Path tools. You can add points to them with Pen tool, you can change the direction of some of the points, you can change like the corners of your text frames to curves if you wanted to, you could delete points and then you can adjust the paths and the points themselves with the Direct Selection tool.
So a very simple example is like, let's take a look at this Text frame, quote unquote. And say that we wanted the left edge to be curvy. The easiest way to do that is with actual Pen tool. You don't need to go to the Add Anchor Point tool because by default when you hover with the Pen tool over an existing path, anywhere on the path. When you see the little Plus symbol appear that means it knows to add an anchor point there. If I just click it will create a corner point. If I press and drag, it will create a curve point.
So let's make a curve down here in the middle. Press and drag and you are dragging out the curve handles. Let's look at it in Preview mode, everything is deselected, that looks pretty neat. You can do that with any of the existing frames in your document, picture frames or text frames. Let's go back to Normal view. Sometimes you need to use this ability for production reasons rather aesthetic design reasons like, there are occasions when I mean it to notch in a corner of a frame, graphic frame or text frame.
You might need to select the frame first so I am holding down the Command or Ctrl key for temporary selection tool. And then hover the tip of the pen, the very nib of it. I want one there and then I need other one there. And then to adjust the points by themselves, use the Direct Selection tool. And I can just drag this and deselect, click in the blank area, click once to just select that one point and then you can drag it and there we go. So now I have bitten out a corner of a text frame.
Still a normal text frame, I can still edit text and it wraps as normal. Now not everything that looks like a path in Indesign can be modified. Like for example, this arrow that I have up here. This is drawn with the Pen tool and I can add points to this path. And we select it, there is one point down there already. I can add more points if I wanted to, make it even curvier. I can adjust the existing points by selecting them and dragging them with direct selection tool. I can drag on the direction handles to change that.
What I can't adjust and what I wish we could adjust is the arrow heads. That would be great, if we could select this and make it a larger arrow head or a smaller one. Can't do that to either the beginnings or the ends of the strokes. The starts to the ends that you see here, these are not editable unfortunately. Now there are a couple of things you can edit with path editing tools in InDesign, for example, wraps. Just take a look at this triangle interacting with this text frame here. I am going to zoom in. So here is the triangle and then I have applied a wrap to it so I open the Text Wrap panel.
And it has a two point wrap which is reasonable but, because of the way text works, it's impinging too much on the bottom. If you zoom in and you see the wrap boundary then you can use your Direct Selection tool, to adjust the wrap. Now when my direct selection tool is over a sub path--meaning a part of path in between points--it gets that line next to the curve shape, see it appear. When it sticks to a point you get the Square that means it is going to select the square. But I want to move this line and if I just drag it up a bit, there we go.
So I've been able to adjust that and I have another wrap over here on the right, this girl over here, if I select it and look at the Text Wrap panel. This is detecting edges of the picture of the girl. Zoom out and if I want to adjust this one pica wrap around the edge, I really can't see it. The trick is that you need to select the picture with the Direct Selection tool. Click on it and then you'll see the wrap path. Then I can zoom in and then with my Direct Selection tool I can drag the points around to sort of cheat this in your out, sometimes you have a bad hyphenation happening and you just want to sort of give it a little bit more room at a certain point.
I'll move it back out or you can even add or remove a point if I wanted to remove a point, hover over an existing point to straighten that line, maybe you added a point by mistake, you can get rid of it. In fact, if you select this graphic and you can tell InDesign to detect the clipping path. You can even turn that clipping path into a frame. If I select this graphic and go to the Object menu, go down to Clipping Path > Options and say, hey, find me the clipping path with detect edges. There it is.
And now I can actually select it again and say convert that clipping path to a frame. And then delete the girl herself and now I have an image frame that I could fill with another image. Just follow this rule of the thumb. If it looks like a path, it probably is an editable path. And give it a go with Pen tool and Direct Selection tool.
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