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InDesign CS4: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Pros
Illustration by John Hersey
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10. Maintaining an InDesign brain trust


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InDesign CS4: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Pros

with Anne-Marie Concepción

Video: 10. Maintaining an InDesign brain trust

InDesign superusers do not work in a vacuum. They surround themselves with what I call a brain trust. Resources that they can turned to figure out problems that they are running into, to learn new skills, to find out about new plug-ins or scripts or you know just a talk shop with other InDesign users. Hey man you see that panel, isn't it cool? Yeah. Even if you are more of the shy, retiring type, you can still turn yourself into a highly effective InDesign pro just by hanging out with these resources and hearing what people are talking about.

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InDesign CS4: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Pros
1h 29m Intermediate May 26, 2009

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InDesign professionals have developed some very useful habits and shortcuts to maximize design time and minimize repetitive tasks. In InDesign CS4: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Pros, Anne-Marie Concepción takes the mystery out of the techniques that professionals use to create successful designs. From customizing InDesign for specific project needs, to using tools like GREP that are built into the program, these techniques can free up time to focus more on the creative process. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Exploring styles to help with design
  • Building custom defaults
  • Working with auto bullets and syncing to save time
  • Using keystrokes and Quick Apply
  • Creating and applying Masters intelligently
  • Mastering autoflow in InDesign
  • Managing links effectively
Subject:
Design
Software:
InDesign
Author:
Anne-Marie Concepción

10. Maintaining an InDesign brain trust

InDesign superusers do not work in a vacuum. They surround themselves with what I call a brain trust. Resources that they can turned to figure out problems that they are running into, to learn new skills, to find out about new plug-ins or scripts or you know just a talk shop with other InDesign users. Hey man you see that panel, isn't it cool? Yeah. Even if you are more of the shy, retiring type, you can still turn yourself into a highly effective InDesign pro just by hanging out with these resources and hearing what people are talking about.

So we have put together a whole bunch of resources and we're going to take a quick tour through a lot of them, roughly divided into online and offline resources. The first online resource that of course you must know about is the online help. So using Adobe InDesign CS4 the Help file is built in. You can also download the Help as a PDF to search through it. It's also available as live help via Community Help right here. So you can actually read people's comments on the Help pages. People will comment on the Help page like a blog page, if they find that there is an error for example or to show examples of stuff, like the GREP on the live help page is full of people contributing GREP examples of cool things you can do in InDesign.

And then of course, how could we forget lynda.com? With David Blatner, the king of InDesign, who has a ton of InDesign titles, a bunch of which just came out and of course if you go under Product and look for InDesign itself, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll and we'll go to InDesign CS4. Then there is all David's titles plus a few of my titles and some InDesign and InCopy titles and some of Deke's title and some of Nigel's titles. So there is a lot of InDesign training here on Lynda. I am not sure how you happened upon this one about 10 Habits of Highly Effective InDesign Pros, but in case you bypass the actual InDesign page, be sure to check that out.

Then there are blogs and websites that are all about InDesign and I am going to do a little self promo here and talk about indesignsecrets.com, which is the blog, podcast and videocast that I have been co-hosting with David Blatner for I think almost three years now. So you can see we have a lot of contributing authors and lots of tips and tricks. We sell a poster that's full of InDesign keyboard shortcuts and if you remember that lesson on staying on the keyboard to keep things going quickly.

InDesign Secrets is not the only blog. It's probably one of the busiest InDesign-centric blogs around. But if you just go to Google and search for InDesign blog or InDesign tips, you're going to come up against three or four great sites that you might want to keep bookmarked. This is a great way to keep up with what's happening with InDesign, read some great tips. A lot of these places have forums where you can ask your own questions and so on. Let's go on to actually speaking of forums, how about the Adobe Forums? If you go to the Adobe website at adobe.com and then under Communities click Forums, you'll arrive at a page saying which software program you are talking about? So I went to the InDesign page and here's one of the forums. There is five of them all together for Adobe InDesign and they just went through a forum redesign.

So now you can include cute little pictures of yourself if you would like and you can see how many times people have viewed and how many replies there are. So like here somebody has got an issue with them. Let's see. Let's look at this rotated image is pixilating and then what's cool about the Adobe Forums now is that you can upload images. So you can actually show what you are talking about and interesting, look at this Bob Bringhurst who is the person who writes all of the documentation for InDesign and InCopy. He is one who wrote the Help file that we just looked at. He is also participating in the forums. Huh, no pictures on the left. Oh there you go.

Peter has put a picture of a leaf in the left, isn't that sweet? Now forums are great because you can read other people's questions, read the answers, you can ask your own questions, free to participate but a little issue that I have with forums that I always forget where I posted a question. So that's one reason why I still continue to subscribe to any InDesign mailing list that I find out about. So a mailing list is like a party line, if you remember that far back, where everything that you say is gets broadcast, everybody else who is a member of the mailing list and then when somebody replies everybody gets the reply.

So if you are a member of the InDesign Talk mailing list then you'll be a member of a community of about 500 people from around the world who talk about InDesign via email and you follow the conversation by the subject line of the emails, as long as you set up a special mailbox to funnel all the incoming InDesign Talk email to it so it doesn't clutter your Inbox, you start building up this incredible resource of information that's right there in your mailbox, so you can do a search for. I think I have mail going back to I think 1999 or so.

Well maybe not early for InDesign probably, more like 2002 or so, but I hang on to those archives. So when I am trying to figure out something to do with printer spreads., I can just search the mailbox for printer spreads and find all the things that people talked about. People often will post links to scripts and links to cool plug-ins they found. One of my favorite resources are mailing lists. And what I like about the InDesign Talk mailing list is that you can also search the list right here. So you just go to listsearch.com and you'll see this big long list of all the different kinds of mailing lists they maintain.

Now let's talk about offline. If you are near any one of the user group chapters for Adobe InDesign and there are ton of them, by all means you have got to go to at least one meeting to see what it's all about. It might sound geeky to you that to go to a meeting where all they are talking about is InDesign. But actually it's a lot of fun. It happens after work, usually in a central location. Adobe partially sponsors it so there are some pizzas to be had. They always have some great raffle prizes. It's just a two or three hour meeting. They have great speakers, often local ones.

Sometimes people from Adobe speak and they will talk about just topics that people are interested in and the one that I involved in Chicago has about 400 members, usually only about 60 or 80 show up to the meetings but it's a great deal of fun. New York City is one of the most active InDesign user groups and even if you can't go to a meeting, you can click on any one of these cities and read what they have met about and download any PDFs that they have distributed at the meeting. You can also see pictures. So here is the February 19th meeting of the New York City InDesign User Group and there is Noha Edell from Adobe with lots of cool pictures of people who showed up there. Meeting Topic Archive gathers together all of the meeting topics and lets you search for all the PDFs and how to use and things like that. So this is a great resource even if you never make it to a meeting. But I really encourage you to go to a meeting. It's a great place to network and to talk shop.

Of course you have to have a book about InDesign. I am a big believer in having at least a reference book and the reference book of choice is Real World Adobe InDesign CS4 by Olav Martin Kvern and David Blatner. They did an incredible book. The thing weighs about 900 pounds but it's kind of like the encyclopedia of InDesign. If you had a question about master pages, there is probably about 300 pages on master pages alone in this book. Right now I just happened to go to Amazon. But you can go to any online bookstore or offline bookstore and just look for any books on InDesign and an InDesign professional will always have at least 2 or 3 InDesign books at the ready, that are well thumbed through, to quickly learn new skills or to figure out a problem.

Finally this is one of the best publications I have been getting for years. InDesign Magazine and it's so funny because hardly anybody knows it exists. It's a PDF magazine. It comes out once every couple months. It's about 80 pages long with fantastic articles. It has software reviews, it's everything for the InDesign user that you would ever want to read and you have got to check it out. If you go to InDesign Secrets we have some deals on some inexpensive subscriptions or you can always ask for a sample issue.

So many of the resources that I have talked about are completely free, like the blogs, the forums, the mailing lists and even the ones that cost some money like InDesign Magazine is, you know, extremely cheap per issue. I urge you to get started today by going to one of these, reading a few post from the blogs, bookmarking them, get a book and by all means if you are near one of the cities where an InDesign User Group meets, find out when their next meeting is and show up. You are going to have a lot of fun and it's a one of the best ways to help yourself become a super user InDesign professional.

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