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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.
Another habit of highly effective InDesign professionals is that whenever possible, they leave their fingers on the keyboard. They don't go the mouse and start looking for things like File > Print, right? They would press Command+P or Ctrl+P instead or File > Save or Cut and Paste, that kind of thing. It's like the difference between somebody who is typing and they are looking at the letters of the keyboard and they are typing an A, they look for the B, they look for the Z and the T and the Shift key to make a capital T, as opposed to a touch typist who is looking at the paper while they are typing, right? So if you can keep your hands on the keyboard rather than a hunting for menu commands or mousing over to panel fields, you will be a lot faster in InDesign and your work will be a lot more streamlined. So of course I encourage you to memorize the keyboard shortcuts for the menu items that you use quite frequently. But there are lots of other more subtle places where staying on the keyboard will help you out a lot in InDesign. But first, I have to get this out of my system.
Please, I am always surprised at how many people don't realize that the common keyboard shortcuts can be used to format type. Such as if you double-click a word and you press Command+Shift+B or Ctrl+Shift+B, makes something Bold, and pressing it again unbolds it. Ctrl+ Shift+I or Command+Shift+I makes it Italic or in this case, takes off the Italic. And now I will press it again and it puts it back. Ctrl+Shift+K or Command+Shift+K makes it all caps. Ctrl+Shift+H or Command+Shift+H makes it small caps. Ctrl+Shift+U or Command+Shift+U makes it underlined and so on. Let me mention also Command+Shift+>, that's right above the period on your keyboard, makes the type larger.
Command+Shift+< or Ctrl+Shift+< makes it smaller Option+Right Arrow or Alt+Right Arrow increases the tracking. Option+Left Arrow or Alt+Left Arrow decreases the tracking. Option+Up Arrow or Alt+Up Arrow decreases the leading and Down Arrow increases the leading. So those should be like second nature to you and I am always surprised by how often people are looking for the commands to make something Bold or Italic. All right, so some other good keyboard shortcuts are the ones that open and close panels. It is very convenient to have the panel dock over here with your most frequently access panels that of course you have customized in your own workspace. But instead of having to come over here and select them, why don't you just memorize the keyboard shortcuts of the ones you are constantly going into? Like for example, F5 on the keyboard will always open up Swatches and once the Swatches panel is open, you can use the Down and Up Arrows on your keyboard to cycle through the different colors.
Let's go back to None. All right. And then what about Links? I go into Links all the time. Now Links is kind of easy to remember. You probably have already memorized that Command+D or Ctrl+D is the Place command, right. And when you place something, you are making a link to it. So the Links panel shortcut is Command+Shift+D or Ctrl+Shift+D. So just add the Shift in there and the Links panel opens and of course pressing the same keyboard shortcut will close it again.
F11 on the Mac will do this, if you haven't setup your System Preferences to ignore those function keys and how they work with the Expose program. But normally, F11 opens and closes Paragraph Styles and Shift+F11 opens and closes the Character Styles panels. If you are on a Mac, let me show you how to turn those off. Go to the Apple and choose System Preferences and then go to the Expose & Spaces system preference. This is in Leopard. If you are in an earlier version of the Mac OS, just look for the one it says Expose. And you will see how the keys have been assigned F10 and F11. These are also used by keyboard shortcuts in InDesign. So for like, at least F11, you might want to turn it off.
So I will say it needs the FN and something else and this one needs F19. I'll just make them F19, F18. That's good and I might as well do this one too, F17. Okay, now when we come back to InDesign, when I press F11, then it opens and closes Paragraph Styles and Shift+ F11 opens and closes Character Styles. F12 opens and closes Pages and one keyboard shortcut that I use a lot in the Pages panel is add a page which is Shift+Command+P or Shift+Ctrl+P. Let's go out to fit in window, Command+0 or Ctrl+0. And you can see, as I press Command+Shift+P, it just keeps adding page after page after page, which is a lot easier than going to the Pages panel fly -out menu and choosing Insert Pages, right.
So if you just want to quickly add a page after the active page, just press that keyboard shortcut and speaking of pages, you can also use keyboard shortcuts to navigate. I flipped over here to a longer document that has spreads to show you of course you already know that Command+J or Ctrl+J is Go to Page, right. You press that. Enter the page number that you want to go to, and then press Return or Enter to go to that page. But also if you press Shift+Page Down, that will move you one page at a time down through your document and here you see I am going to Page 8, Page 9 and so on.
And then Shift+Page Up goes the other way. If you want to go spread at a time, just hold down the Option or the Alt key on Windows and use Page Up and Page Down. One very useful keyboard shortcut that everybody seems to forget that InDesign has for page navigation is called go back and go forward, sort of like how a browser might go back and go forward and that is this little thing that looks like a fish skeleton is the page up key and the one pointing down is the page down key. So Command+Page Up or Ctrl+Page Up on Windows will go back to the previous view.
So for example let's go to Page 1 and press Command+J or Ctrl+J, and I am on Page 1 and now I am going to go to Page 9 with Command+J or Ctrl+J and then I just pressed Command+Page Up or Ctrl+ Page Up and it jumps back to Page 1. Because that's go back, right, and go forward is Command+Page Down or Ctrl+Page Down. So you can quickly jump back between like say the Table of Contents entry and then the page of that Table of Contents where that item begins, back and forth from the keyboard. We are almost done here with different kinds of keyboard shortcut tricks.
Obviously, when you are working with type, right, you want to work with the Paragraph Styles and Character Styles and you probably already know that you can add keyboard shortcuts to Paragraph Styles and Character Styles. I know a lot of my clients do this. Now I actually don't have enough brainpower to memorize yet even more keyboard shortcuts especially since between document to document, the keyboard shortcuts might be different for the different Paragraph Styles and Character Styles. So instead, I've become a big fan of Quick Apply and that is a common trait among a lot of InDesign professionals is that they use Quick Apply all the time and as opposed to the general population who use InDesign who barely even know that it exists.
Quick Apply is fantastic not just for applying styles, like let's see how we can apply a style to this paragraph again. Right now it says Captions. Let's say that we want to apply the style called Title to this paragraph where my cursor is blinking. If I just press Command+Return or Ctrl+Enter on a PC, the Quick Apply window opens and I will start typing the name of that Paragraph Style, Title. You see how it came up almost immediately. As soon as it gets selected in Quick Apply, just press Return or Enter and it applies that. I am going to undo and this time, I am going to scroll down here where we have a few paragraphs in a row, and this paragraph that I clicked in is body text. Let's say that I want to apply the Caption style to this.
Command+Return or Ctrl+Enter, CA. As soon as I type c, it automatically selects it. So it doesn't have to be the first few letters either. It could be 'aptions,' right. So it can be anywhere from within the word. Let's say that I don't want this nutty- tasting to break as it's breaking here. I can apply a menu command from Quick Apply and this is where you start to really fly. If you can remember the name of the menu command, you don't have to move your mouse to go there ever. You could always use Quick Apply.
So Command+Return or Ctrl+Enter, start typing in the name of the menu command, No Break. Look as soon as I type 'n-o' space, it selects it. Now this command is really buried in InDesign. No Break, which is inside the Character panel menu. So I just typed n-o space, Press Return or Enter and it automatically applies that menu command. Quick Apply has basically every menu command available in InDesign in its tiny little brain here. You can also apply Object Styles in addition to Paragraph and Character Styles.
You can apply Text Variables. You can do Conditions. You can even turn on Scripts if you want. So if you are not the kind of person who can memorize arcane keyboard shortcuts for stuff, then you can always use Quick Apply because you must know the name of the menu command, right, because you are about to mouse to it. So just use Quick Apply, just press -- it's such an easy keyboard shortcut to remember. Command+Return or Ctrl+Enter and then just start typing the name of what it is that you want. Now if you can't remember how to get to Quick Apply by the way it's here under the Edit menu, Quick Apply and there it is, the Command+Return or Ctrl+Enter.
I would ask you that if you would like to become one of these InDesign professionals, to get into the habit of at least trying to memorize one keyboard shortcut or one keyboard based technique like getting to the control panel with Ctrl+6 or Command+6, rather than mousing to those fields. Do one or two a week and within a couple of months, you will be on your way to being a true InDesign super user.
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