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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 is something that is seemingly so simple, but actually has some subtle, tips and tricks. This has to do with aligning objects. So first of all, I threw a bunch of objects on the screen and I filled them with various colors. Now you probably already know how to use, smart guides. Since they introduced smart guides a couple versions ago, I've found that I very seldom need to actually open up the align panel. So as you drag an object, you'll see little flashes telling you when something is aligning in a particular way.
When you see the magenta line appear, that means you are aligning to something on the page itself. So here, the left edge of the item that I'm dragging is aligned to the exact horizontal center of the page. If I want the center of the object aligned with the center of the page, I would drag down until I see a horizontal line bisect my object horizontally, and that stretches from page edge to page edge. Also, as you drag, you'll see these little green lines flash on and off.
And that means that you're aligning with objects next to or near this item. So, if I wanted to align the center of this object to the left edge of the blue square, this is where I would drop it. If I wanted to align the left edge of this object that I'm dragging to the left edge of the gold gradient object, then that's where I would release it. You also have in the Control panel, you have a bunch of alignment icons. And then if you have two or more items selected, you'll also see some distribute icons.
Let's grab three of these guys. Say that we wanted to align the top edge of these three guys. I select all three. And I double check under my drop down menu that I want to align these things to the selection. This is actually the default choice. And then I want to align the top edges so I find the top edge, and I click, and now they're all aligned. Let me undo that. Notice that they all align to the topmost item. That's the default behavior. If you wanted the top edges to align to the top edge of this blue square here, which is not the topmost object, you need to make blue square the key object, and the way to do that is, after you've selected all these items, you hold down the Cmd key, or the Ctrl key on the PC.
And click it once again, and it gets this blue line around it. And that's exactly the same as choosing Align to Key Object from here. And now that we have a key object selected, now we choose Align Top Edges again, and everything moves down to a line with a top edge of that item. Other choices that we have. Let's grab these three. Our align to margins, page and spread. So let's say Align to Margins. When you choose Align to Margins, and this stops a lot of people, you might think, why isn't it aligning to the margin? I told it to. Well, you're telling InDesign, what it should measure to.
Now you actually have to tell it what it should align to that measure. So we want the right edges to align to the margin. So you have to click one of these buttons after you choose something from that menu. So they align to the margin. If I set align to the page, and we did it again, they'd jump over to the page. Let me drag these over and space them out a little bit. Now, actually, the distribute commands also work according to this drop down menu. So you may wonder, how come there's no drop down menu for distribute to a certain locations? Well, they use this one.
But if I wanted these objects, say, distributed to the margins. I would choose margins, here, and then choose a distribute like distribute the top edges to the margins, let's see what happens. When it hits the margin, the top one and the bottom one, then they stop moving and then everything else is distributed evenly. Which I think is pretty cool. So you can distribute to the margins or the pages. You can do left horizontal distribute or vertical distribute. I find what a lot of people want to do is they want to add the same amount of space in between objects, and the objects might have quite different widths like these three things.
Let's do one more, let's add this guy. For that you do need the panel. So let's go and open up the panel. Go to Window > Object & Layout > Align, which also has distribute. What you want to choose is after you've selected these guys, you have to turn on Use Spacing. Because if you just say, distribute horizontal space, it's going to, equalize the amount of space in between each object. But if you're trying to set a certain amount of space in between each one, like say, 1.5 inches, then you have to use Use Spacing.
Come here and we'll say three pike, is a half an inch. And now we'll say distribute spacing horizontally and it adds exacly three-pike is in-between all these items, and it moves the position of the left and right items if necessary. So those are all my tips for aligning and distributing in InDesign.
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