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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.
InDesign offers several choices here in the Stroke panel for stroke endings. For example, it has custom arrowheads, or circle, or a square. But many people want to create custom arrow heads, or other shapes on the end of their lines. Is that possible? sure, with a little work. I'm going to go ahead and close the Stroke panel, and I'm going make a custom point on the end of this line. To do that, I first need a shape, some sort of shape that I'm going to put there. And because I can't draw, I'm going to pull the shape out of a font. I'll grab the Type tool, drag out a text frame, and then I'm going to open the Glyphs panel by going to the Type menu and choosing >Glyphs.
As you know, fonts are full of hundreds or even thousands of different characters, and sometimes there are cool shapes that you can use. Things like ornaments or dingbats. In fact, I've used one recently, so it shows up here in the Recently Used section of my Glyphs panel. All I need to do is double-click on it and inDesign inserts it into my text frame. I think I found that character inside wingdings or webdings or one of those. In fact, I'll just drag over it to select it. An we can see that the Glyphs panel shows me where it is, and it shows me that it came from Webdings. Alright, let's go ahead and close the Glyphs panel. And I'm going to make this character big, much bigger.
Let's go ahead and say 60 points. Let's make it even bigger. How about 72 points? There we go. Now that I've got the character that I want to make my arrowhead, I need to anchor it onto the line. So to do that I'll go to the Object menu, choose Fitting, and then choose Fit frame to content. That just makes the frame as small as it possibly can be and still contain the character. Now you can't anchor an object on a line, but you can anchor an object on text on a path. So I need to convert this line into text on a path. And to do that I need to type on a Path tool. So I'll click an hold on the Type tool, and you'll see that underneath there, is the type on a path tool.
Now all I need to do is click on the line. That flashing line sitting on the end indicates that this is now type on a path. The easiest way to get this frame, that whole object as an anchored object on that path, is to select it with a Selection Tool and you'll see, in the upper-right corner, there's a little blue square. That's the anchored or inline object square. And if I hold down the Shift key, and drag that little square on top of this line, then, when I let go of the mouse button, it anchors it. It actually places it right on that path.
Now, if you're working with an earlier version of InDesign, and you don't see that little blue square. Another way you can anchor it on the path is by cutting the actual text frame to the clipboard. And then switching to the Type tool, clicking on the path, and pasting. And that'll do pretty much the same thing. Once your object is anchored or in line on that path, you can move it along the path in various ways. The easiest way, I think, is by selecting the path itself with the Selection tool, and then dragging over the left edge of this object. Now you want to make sure that the cursor shows a little black arrow pointing to the right.
That little black arrows indicates that if I click and drag I'm moving the position of the left edge along the path. So I'll click and drag and when I let go, you'll see that it moved that object along the path. Again, click, and drag, and now I'm moving all the way over to the bottom, and if I click and drag almost to the end but not quite, you'll see that it goes right past the edge of the path. If you go too far then the line will appear as over-set because it can't fit that on the line. So you'll have to drag back to the left a little bit. But here, it's almost to the end, but not quite.
So it looks pretty good. Now there's various ways to move that object down so that the actual character, that glyph, will be aligned along with a path. For example, you could use baseline shift. But, in this case, the easiest way I think is simply by clicking on it to select it and then dragging it down. You can even use the arrow keys to move it up and down and position it more precisely. So there we go. We have a custom arrowhead right on the end of that path. And in fact if we move the path, the arrowhead comes along with it. Or if we change the shape of that path, the arrowhead will change too. For example, I'm going to switch to the Direct Selection tool, and I'll deselect and then click on just the path itself, and I'll move this center point of this path.
I'll move it over this way. And you'll see that the arrowhead moves as well. Now, it didn't align, because the length of the path changed slightly. So, to fix that, I'm going to have to drag this point back a little bit, until it lines up. Now, to move it back onto the path, I can select that object, that anchored object. Go to the Object menu. Choose Anchored Object > Options, and then change the y offset. For example, why don't I bring this up a little bit? Turn on the Preview checkbox, so I can see what I'm doing. There we go. I'm just going to move my arrow keys until I get it into position. Click OK, and once more I need to adjust where it is along the path.
There we go. All right. I admit it, that is a little clunky. But it's cool that you can do it, you've got to admit. Ultimately, the best way to do custom arrowheads is to use our friend Illustrator. That's much easier. For example, I'll select this path, copy it to the clipboard by pressing Cmd+C, or Ctrl+C on Windows, switch over to Illustrator and paste. Illustrator brought the entire object over, including that custom arrowhead. But it also brought over a clipping mask. So I'm going to select this, go to the Object menu, come down to Clipping Mask, and say Release. There we go. Now, all I want is this path right now.
So I'm going to just simply drag it over here and put my own custom special arrow head on here. I'll head over to the Stroke panel and I'm going to put a custom arrowhead at the end of this line. I'll simply click on this popup menu and find one that suits me. This looks like a fun one right there. Let's go ahead and make this path larger too. And I better make this scale down a little bit, say 15%. There we go, that scaled down the arrowhead relative to the path. That looks great. So all I have to do to get back to InDesign is, copy it, come back to InDesign, and paste. Let's move this over a little bit, and you see that I now have a custom arrowhead on the end of my line.
Now, of course, it would be way cooler if Adobe just added the custom arrowhead feature to InDesign itself, but, of course, if they made it too easy, I might be out of a job.
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