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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.
Here's a request that I've heard for years. I want an object style to set the size and position of a frame on my page. Now I'm not sure why Adobe hasn't offered this feature in Indesign yet. But I do know a kind of workaround that sometimes helps. This is a nice design here but let's put a bird on it. I'll choose the Place command, grab an image. And place it in my document. Excellent. Now I'd like to set up an object style that whenever I click on it, it will automatically move that object to the right place on the page.
The trick to doing this is turning this object into an anchored object. So I'm going to grab a text frame, just draw out a little one here, go back and grab my Selection tool. Click on my object, my graphic here, and drag this little blue box, the one in the upper-right corner, I'm going to drag that into my empty text frame. Doesn't have to go into an empty text frame, it can go into any text frame, but it does need to be anchored into a text frame. You'll see that little blue box turn into a ship anchor, and that means it's anchored in a text frame somewhere on my page.
The cool thing about anchoring objects is that you can determine exactly where they should be on the page. To do that, I'm going to choose my Object Styles panel, choose New Object Style, and I'm going to call this my happy. Anchored object. You can call it anything you want really, but I'm going to choose that. Now, I'm going to choose the Anchored Object Options pane. This is a little bit overwhelming, so let me go through it one step at a time. First, we need to determine what part of the object, the graphic frame in this case, that we're talking about.
And I'm going to say I want the upper-right corner of this frame, this bird. To be in a particular place on the page. Then I'm going to say, what part of the page, should it be attached to? So first I need to say, X Relative To Page Edge. And Y Relative To Page Edge. Next I choose what part of the page. And I'm going to say, right corner. In other words, I'm putting the upper-right corner of the object in a position relative to the upper-right corner of the page. And where should it go? Well, I'm going to say, minus 20 pixels, and 20 pixels.
That means, move it in from the edge of the page 20 pixels. And down from the top of the page 20 pixels. Let's see if it worked. Click OK and there it is, the upper-right corner is just where I wanted to put it. Now remember, this image is anchored in this text frame, so if I want to put the same image onto another page, all I have to do is select a text frame. Copy it to the clipboard with a Cmd or Ctrl+C. Jump to the other page. I'll just jump a couple pages in, and then paste. The text frame moved to the middle of the page, but the graphic's in the same place.
In fact, it doesn't matter where, on my page, this text frame is. I can even make it smaller or bigger. The graphic is still going to be in the same place relative to the page, not the text frame. Let's try it on another page. I'll jump to the next page. I'm going to import my bird again. Click Open. I'm going to make this one smaller. I'm going to grab another text frame, go back to the Selection tool, and anchor this bird into that text frame. It hasn't been moved into position yet, because I haven't applied my object style. So all I need to do is click on the object style and, boom, it's in the right place.
Upper-right corner is exactly where I wanted to put it. Now one of the coolest things about object styles is that you can redefine them. And in this case I'm going to redefine where on the page this should be. A right-click or Ctrl+click with a one button mouse. Edit my style. First thing I'm going to do is change my Style Name. I don't know how that got messed up. I'll call this my happy little object style. You can call it anything you want, I suppose. And I'm going to go in here and say that I want the upper-left corner of the object.
To be in the upper-left corner of the page. I can change the offset values if I want to, but in this case, I'll leave them the same. Note that it still says minus 20 pixels, even though it's plus 20 pixels in. That's just a weird thing about InDesign and how it deals with anchored objects. A minus 20 pixel X offset means move it in from the edge of the page. Click OK. And let's see if it worked on the other pages too. I'll move back to the previous spread, yep it moved there, and it moved here. So we have an object style that can determine where on a page an object should be.
What about the size of an object? I want an object style to make a frame that's always 10 picas wide by 20 picas tall. Can I do that? Well, I can, but not to any kind of frame. It'll only work on text frames. Let's jump in, and I'll show you how to do it. In the Objects Styles panel menu, I choose New Object Style. I'm going to call this, my text frame. And I'm going to say, this is going to have a fill of some color. I'll pick kind of a yellow color, and a Stroke of None. You don't have to set Fill in Stroke, but it's just going to help for the demonstration.
Next, I'm going to choose Text Frame Auto Size Options. This is a new feature in InDesign CS6, and it lets me set the minimum size of my frame. I'm going to choose Height and Width. And I'm going to say, enlarge this frame from the upper-left corner. And finally, I need to set my minimum height and width. I believe I said 10 picas by 20 picas. It's converting those to pixels because that's the measurement in this document. I'll click OK, and let's try it out. I'll make a frame, any size I want, over here on the Paste Board, select it with a Selection tool, and then choose my text frame.
There we go. It set the size of my frame exactly the way I specified. However I think I specified it backward so I better go edit that. A right-click on this object style, choose Edit my text frame, chose Text Frame Auto Size Options and yes, the height was supposed to be 20 picas and the width was supposed to be 10 picas. There we go. Perfect. Once again, all I need is a text frame. Select it with a Selection tool, which you can do by pressing the Escape key. And then, click on the object style.
It'll always be exactly that size, unless you start putting text into it. In which case, it may start growing. So okay granted, this is a cluge, I admit it and it may not work in your situation, but still, isn't it kind of cool to know that InDesign can do it?
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