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InDesign CS4: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Pros
Illustration by John Hersey

2. Building custom defaults


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InDesign CS4: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Pros

with Anne-Marie Concepción

Video: 2. Building custom defaults

I just love watching cooking shows. I especially love how the chef as he is combining ingredients into the pan on the stove makes it look so easy. He will say take one cup of diced zucchini, and he will have a little glass bowl of diced zucchini right there and he'll dump it right into the pan. And two tablespoons of curry powder. Now, he will have an even tinier precious little bowl of curry powder that has been pre-measured, right? So he dumps it right into the pan. I found that most InDesign professionals do a similar kind of preparation for doing any kind of work in InDesign. By the way, this preparation is called mise en place, and I don't know if that's the exact French pronunciation but I think so.

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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

2. Building custom defaults

I just love watching cooking shows. I especially love how the chef as he is combining ingredients into the pan on the stove makes it look so easy. He will say take one cup of diced zucchini, and he will have a little glass bowl of diced zucchini right there and he'll dump it right into the pan. And two tablespoons of curry powder. Now, he will have an even tinier precious little bowl of curry powder that has been pre-measured, right? So he dumps it right into the pan. I found that most InDesign professionals do a similar kind of preparation for doing any kind of work in InDesign. By the way, this preparation is called mise en place, and I don't know if that's the exact French pronunciation but I think so.

This mise en place, you may be, for example, creating all the paragraph and character styles for a project even before you bring in the first story or creating an object style for image frames in preparation for doing a photo spread. But at least one mise en place that every InDesign professional does is to prepare the application itself for the kinds of projects that they are going to be working on. They modify the application defaults and they create their own custom presets. That's what I am going to talk about in this video. So let's close this up.

Now, with InDesign running and no documents open, any changes that you make to the program become the new application defaults. Meaning that these will be the new settings that every new InDesign document that you create uses. For example, let's go right to Preferences, which on the Mac is under the InDesign menu and on Windows is under the Edit menu, and go right to General. There are some preferences that you might want to change as Application defaults could be for example, in the interface. If you are not a fan of Show Transformation Values, that's that new CS4 feature that puts little readout by your cursor letting you know the X and Y position of something or scale of something. Then you can turn that off here.

If you like the way of applying Leading to Entire Paragraphs, rather than to specific lines or characters, turn that on here. So this will be on for every new InDesign document that you create. I think one of the most common application defaults that people change is the preference for Units & Increments. You know that you've got your picas people, you have got your inches people and you have got your centimeters and millimeters people. If you are not a Picas person, choose Inches for both of these, if that's what you prefer with no documents open, and from then on, all of your new documents will by default have Inches in the rulers. Of course, you could always change this on the fly.

You might also want to change the Cursor Key increments down here, like for example, make the cursor key increment a little bit smaller to say 5, 1/100th of a point or maybe just 5/10th of a point. Whenever you press one of the cursor keys and change the Size and Leading to a smaller amount. Perhaps the story editor, you don't like having black type on a white background. You would rather have the background be little color behind it, and you don't like the Letter Gothic typeface because it's difficult to read. So you might want to change that to say Minion Pro is a good one. Maybe a little bit larger.

All these things that I am doing now become application defaults. But how about another application default, which is the default workspace? If you have already gone to the trouble of creating your own custom workspace for example that I talked about in a different video, you might want to choose that to be the default workspace whenever you start up InDesign. So I will just choose Anne-Marie. So I like to have Paragraph and Character Styles open. Finally, another one that I've seen a lot of designers do is they go to the View menu and they choose to Hide Frame Edges. That allows them to work in normal mode without a whole lot of distracting edges and guidelines.

So now if I create a new document, I am just going to go up to the File menu, and choose New, Document and click OK. You can see that the rulers are already in Inches and if I create a frame and then release it, the frame edge goes way. It's only when I select it that it appears because it's remembering that I want to hide frame edges, my workspace is active and so on. Now, if we open up a different document. So I will go to File > Open, and open say this magazine. Then you will see that InDesign switches the rulers back to Picas. So many of the preferences that you set are saved with document and InDesign will automatically honor the document default and you don't get a little warning about it, which is actually a good thing because very often your document defaults like for example, your default typeface or default paragraph style that kind of thing, you want to be specific to a particular document.

So the application defaults that you have just set mainly apply to all new documents that you create. If I create a new one by pressing Command+Option+N or Ctrl+Alt+N, you will see it goes back to Inches. So application defaults are one way to create a mise en place. Then the other way is to create presets. Every InDesign professional with his or her salt will create presets so they don't have to keep reinventing the wheel. So that their little bowl of chopped zucchini is ready for them whenever they want. For example, a common preset is a print preset. If I press Ctrl+P or Command+P here to print this document and then the Print dialog box, I change some of the default settings, such as instead of a PostScript File we want to print to Adobe PDF. I guess there is no printer setup for this recording computer.

But let's say in Marks and Bleeds for example, I want to print something with All Printers Marks. As soon as you start changing any of the default settings in the Print dialog box, the Print Preset changes to Custom and at that point, you can click Save Preset. So you might call this PS file with marks. Then it appears in the drop-down menu. I am just going to click Cancel here and even though I clicked Cancel, that preset is still saved. Probably a better way to create print presets and other presets is to go to their Creation menu under the File menu. If we go to Print Presets > Define, you can see the one that we just created right there, you get a little dialog box.

One thing that I usually do is I edit the default print preset so that it's my printer by default and my most common settings. So I will come here and I will choose Edit and then like if I usually want to include Marks and Bleeds, I will turn that on here. But you can create additional ones that are set up automatically for tabloid proofs on the color printer versus black and white proofs on the letter size printer in a different part of the office and so on. Then you will have a drop-down list of all of your favorite print presets right here.

A very good tip though to keep in mind is that if you ever rebuild your preferences, all of your print presets will be deleted. So after you've created the print presets, select each one and click Save, and then save them to some location on your hard-drive. It can be anywhere that you would like. You might even want to save it in the Preferences folder, id 6 print presets. I am making a folder here and then save it according to whatever name this was. So this was PS file with marks. So that way, not only can you resurrect these should you ever need to but you can also share them with other people.

The other person will just need to click Load in their Print Presets dialog box and suck it in that way. But the main point I am making here is that if whenever you are printing work, you are usually using two or three or four different kinds of combinations of printing preferences. Go ahead and save them as a preset so you don't have to keep reinventing that wheel. Other presets that you want to keep an eye out for would be for example, Adobe PDF presets. InDesign ships with a whole bunch of existing presets, but you can also create additional ones, like I have done here for Interactive PDF.

Presets are all over the place in InDesign and the more presets that you create and save, the more streamlined your work will be. So it's not just printing PDF but also you can create presets for new documents. When you do Find/Change, you can save your Find/Change queries. You can create transparency flattener presets. You can think of glyphs sets as a kind of preset. So if you are using the glyphs panel a lot and you use the same kind of special glyphs, you can create new glyphs sets as presets.

Even if you bring in say a Microsoft Word document. If I go to File > Place, and select a Word file and turn on Show Import Options, then the choices that I make here can also be saved as a preset. So I don't have to keep remembering to make the same choices, so I might say include styles or not include styles or include my custom style mapping of Word styles to InDesign styles, all those can be saved as presets. So these two techniques, creating application defaults and creating presets, are two of the most important ways that you can create your own mise en place for all of your InDesign projects.

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