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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.
There are a dozen different ways to make blank lines for forms and contracts. I'm just going to show you two of my favorite methods using a feature that a lot of people don't think about for form lines. Rule above and rule below. In this document, I have a sample contract and there are two different kinds of form lines that I need to add. Down here, I want to add lines that go from the end of the word to the right side of the column. Up here though I want to add lines inside the text, inside the paragraph itself. Something that will align with the baseline of the rest of the text and will even flow with the text, if the text gets edited.
Let's start down here, to add my line down here after the word Name, I'm going to double-click to switch from the Selection tool to the Type tool automatically, and place the cursor next to the word Name. Now, I'm going to go up to the right side of the control panel, all the way over here and select from the pop-menu Paragraph Rules or you could press Cmd+Option+J on the Mac or Ctrl+Alt+J on Windows. I'm going to use the Paragraph Rules dialog box to add that line. To do that, I'll first turn on a rule above. I just click on that little Rule On checkbox.
One point lines are kind of clunky, so I'll make this thinner. Let's say, half a point. And I'll make sure that it's a solid line. And it's going to go all the way across the column from the left edge of the column to the right. Of course, the problem here is that the rule and the line are overlapping, which looks kind of ugly. So I'm also going to add a rule below. I'll click on the rule above check box here and set this to rule below and turn on the rule below as well. Let's change the color of this so we can see what's going on. I'll just make it cyan just for a moment so we can see. I'll also make it thicker, let's say about four points.
You see, I now have two rules on this paragraph, a rule above and a rule below and both are aligned along the base line of that paragraph. I'm going to change the offset of this rule below just a little bit by pressing the arrow keys on my keyboard and you'll see that as I go down pressing the down arrow key, it goes to a negative offset. A negative offset on a rule below actually moves the rule up so that it overlaps the rule above. Why would I want to overlap it? Well, because I'm going to change the width of this rule, this rule below, to text, instead of column.
Now this rule below just overlaps the text and leaves the rest of the rule, the black one, to go out beyond the text. Finally, I'll change the color from cyan to paper because paper does not show up at all. So as you can see, I have a rule above that goes across the entire column and I have a rule below that goes just the width of the text and that knocks out that rule above. The last thing I notice here is that, that line is too close to the word. I'd like to move it away just a little bit. And I can fix that by changing the right indent of this rule below.
If I increase the right indent, it actually reduces the size of that white rule. So I don't want to increase it, I want to decrease it. Just like the offset, I want it to be negative, and you can see that you have a lot of control over exactly how far away that rule should be away from the word. That looks great. Now I'll click OK and I want to apply this same rule to all of these other paragraphs. So, I need to make a paragraph style to do this efficiently. I'll open my Paragraph Styles panel, choose New Paragraph Style, and give it a name. You can call that anything you want of course, but I'll click OK and apply it to that paragraph.
Then, I'll select all of these other paragraphs and apply the same paragraph style. You see, in one click you can get all of those rules. We can make this even prettier by editing this paragraph style. I'll just double-click on it and go over to the Span Columns pane of the Paragraphs Style Options dialog box. And I'm going to change the paragraph layout to split the columns. I'm going to split this one column that's really wide into two narrower columns. And I'm going to make sure the inside gutter is large enough. I'll set that to let's say two picas. I'll click OK and you can see that we now have two columns and the rules look great.
Alright. Lets turn our attention to adding these rules up here. To make a name or address rule in the middle of a paragraph, I'm first going to create a new text frame out here, in an area that doesn't have anything on the page. And, I'm going to type in the word that I want to have as a label for that address. I'll just say, name. Let's go ahead and select that and make it smaller. Let's change the fonts to make it italic, probably center it. That looks pretty good. And now we need the rule itself above that label. To get that rule, I once again go to the Control Panel flyout menu and choose Paragraph Rules.
In this case, I could add a Rule Below or a Rule Above. But, technically because the rule is going to be above the text, I'll make it a Rule Above. I say Rule On, make it a little bit narrower. And then, change the offset, and I'm going to make this a positive offset until it goes above the word. Now, in this case I do not want that rule to go outside of the frame. It's going to mess up my trick if it goes beyond the frame. So instead I'm going to turn on Keep in Frame, turn on this little check box here and that forces the rule inside the frame.
Just forces it right along the top edge of the frame. But as I increase my offset, it changes the distance between the paragraph, that word, and the rule. So I'm going to set this, let's say about seven points down. That looks good. I'll click OK. I always like making a paragraph style for these things, in case I need to change them later. So I'll make a new paragraph and I'll call this label for form, and apply it to that paragraph. Finally I'm going to go back to my selection tool and I'm going to double-click on the bottom side handle to make this smaller.
That snaps that side up so that can be a small as that can be and still fit all the text it needs to fit. So, there you go. I have a rule, I've got a label and all I need to do now is put it down here inside my text. There are several different ways to anchor objects inside text but I'm just going to go to the Edit menu and cut this to the clipboard with a selection tool. Then, I'll double-click on this to switch to the type tool, select that word that I'm trying to replace, delete it, and then paste from the Edit menu. That actually pastes that object in as an in-line or anchored object inside the paragraph.
I'll go back to my selection tool and you'll see that this is too high. I need that rule which is going along the top edge of that frame down along the base line down here. So, all I need to do is click on that anchored object, and drag it down. I'll drag it down as far as it'll go and it stops when the top edge of that frame is at the baseline of the text. Let's click off of here and go into preview mode, by pressing the W key to see how this looks. That looks pretty good. Course, I probably want a space before the R, so I'll double-click in there, and click and add a space.
There we go. Now, I'd like to add another one of these over here for the address. I'll just drag over it with the mouse, copy it to the clipboard with a Cmd or Ctrl+C. Come over here to the address and paste, and you'll see that I now have pasted in exactly the same anchored object into this section; except that this should be not labeled name, it should be labeled address. So I'll just select it, just by double-clicking on it and changing the word. I could do the same thing over here by selecting this text down here and pasting.
In fact, while it's on the clipboard I could paste this 50 times really quickly and then go back and change the labels. One of the great things about this technique is that the label will always stay centered inside the line. The other great thing about this technique is that it's really easy to expand or extend the line or make it shorter. Just choose the selection tool, click on the anchored object, and then expand it, by dragging one of the side handles to the right or left. There we go. Now, that ones wider. And we can make this one narrower, if we want. There we go. You see you have a lot of control over the width of these lines.
Now, as I said, there are a lot more good ways to make lines for forms, including tabs with leaders or using anchored paths. But, I find that these two rule above methods really help when you're trying to lay out a form quickly.
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