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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.
Welcome back to InDesign Secrets. What do you do if your printer says you should convert all your text to outlines before sending them a PDF for your InDesign document? Well, I have a super simple answer for this situation. Find a different printer. Most printers who insist on converting text to outlines just don't know what they're doing. Or they're using equipment so old that I personally wouldn't trust it for modern publishing. However, sometimes you're stuck with the printer you've got, or maybe the printer really does have a good reason to insist on this.
For example, some signage printers really do need you to convert text to outlines. So if you're going to convert your text to outlines, how should you do it? I'll tell you. Don't select a text frame and then go to the Type menu and choose Create Outlines. At first it seems like its working but you can get into a lot of trouble if you do it this way. For example, let me zoom down here select this text frame and choose Create Outlines. Looked like it worked well kind of, but what happened to that gray bar.
It disappeared because the gray bar was created with a rule above. And rule above, rule below, strike through, and underlines, all disappear when you convert to outlines. That's a big problem. Finally, the biggest problem is, what if you later need to go in here and edit this? This is not text any more, so there's no way to make edits. So I'll use Create Outlines for a special effect once in a while. But I would never use it to convert all the text outlines. Let me undo that press Cmd+z a couple of times, or Ctrl+z on Windows.
There we go, we're back to editable text. And I'm going to show you how you can really convert all your text in the entire document to outlines and still keep it editable in InDesign. Here's the trick. First, you go to the Edit menu and choose >Transparency Flattener Presets. Next, click on the High Resolution preset and click New. I'm going to give it a name called Convert Text to Outlines. I'm going to make sure the Raster Vector balance is all the way to the right on Vectors and I'm going to turn on the Convert All Text to Outlines checkbox.
Okay, the next thing we need to do is make sure we have transparency in our document. You have to have something transparent on every page that has a font you want to convert. You can see if you have transparency on a page here in the Pages panel. In InDesign CS5 and earlier you got a little transparency icon whenever there was transparency on a page. But in CS6 you have to turn this on manually. To do that go to the Pages panel menu. Choose Panel Options, and turn on the Transparency checkbox. I'll click OK, and you can see yes, there is transparency on this page.
But what do you do if there isn't transparency? Well it's simple. Just make a frame. Any frame will do. It doesn't matter where it is. I'm just going to put one off on the side here, and I'm going to fill it with black. Could be any color, really, as long as it's opaque. And then I'm going to go to the Effects panel, and change the opacity to something really tiny, like 0.01%. 0.01% opacity is almost entirely transparent. You would never notice it's there. But just in case, I'm going to move it down, just so it's off on the corner of the page. Like I said, as long as there's something transparent on the page, this trick will work.
Now here's where the work gets done. Go to the File menu, choose >Export and then save this out as a print PDF. Click Save, and inside the Export Adobe PDF dialog box, I'm going to choose PDF X-1a. If you have some other preset that you usually use you could choose it there, but the main thing is you want to make sure that compatibility is set to Acrobat 4. Not five or higher, but four. That forces all the transparency to get flattened and that's what you need for this trick to work. Lastly, we're going to go to the Advanced pane, and we're going to choose Convert Text to Outlines from the presets pop-up menu. That's the one we just created.
That's it. Now, we can click Export and make our PDF. When it's done, it opens up in Acrobat and we can see that everything looks just the way it did in InDesign. But what about the fonts? Are they fonts or are they outlines? Well, there's only one way to be sure. I'll go to the File menu and choose > Properties. Inside the Document Properties dialog box, I'll click on the Fonts tab. And this shows me exactly what fonts have been used in this PDF. An the answer is, nothin', no fonts. Everything has been converted to outlines.
As I said, this trick should be used rarely, as an exception rather than the rule. But when you need it, it can really come in handy. See you next time.
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