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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.
Did you ever talk to somebody who is like a really good driver? And as they're driving their car, they refer to it by name, maybe by gender, and they know what it likes and what it doesn't like, they know the gas stations that it favors, they have really personalized that car. It's because they've come to think like that car. They've gotten to know what that car and what that engine tends to do, how it best performs, and then they try to cater to it. Well, that is how InDesign professionals work with Adobe InDesign as well.
They figure out how InDesign thinks and then they adjust their techniques to take advantage of it instead of fighting against it and trying to make InDesign work like how they want it to work. Obviously, you can customize InDesign to suit your own workspaces and your own keyboard shortcuts, but the internal philosophy or techniques that InDesign uses to actually create the page, it's something that we have figure out and then we have to work toward. For example, and just one example, is auto-flowing text. Especially, if you've come from a different page layout program, auto-flowing text in InDesign is confusing and aggravating. But if you start to think of how InDesign prefers to auto-flow text, then you can work toward its strengths and you'll see that it actually does make a lot of sense.
So this is just one example of trying to understand how InDesign prefers to do something and then catering to that. Just create any blank document or you can open up the one that I've included in the Exercise Files. It's called autoflow.indd. Basically an empty document with a few different pages. But I've also included a couple of long text files for us to play with. So what I would like you to do is just go to File > Place and grab one of those files. It makes no difference if you are going to bring in the formatting or not.
I'm turning on Show Import Options to Remove Styles and Formatting, because we're not really concerned about formatting at this point. Just click OK and you should have the long text file loaded into your cursor. Now what we're working on right now is just a regular default master page with a half-inch margin all the way around. If you hold down the Shift key to auto-flow so that the cursor changes to that little snakey guy and click, then InDesign will automatically flow this document page to page. I'm going to open up my Pages panel so that you can see. Let me reduce my master page stuff here.
It placed the entire story and it used the existing margin guides and column guides. Each frame is a single column that is threaded to the next frame. Now I would like you to undo so that you end up with just one page in your document again and the text is still loaded. Switch to the 3 column master and you can do that by holding down the Alt key and clicking on the master or the Option key, if you are on the Mac.
You'll see the text is still loaded, but now page 1 is based on master page B-3 column. It's a cool, quick little way to apply a master to a page, just by Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking on it. Now this time go inside the very first column, make sure that your cursor is inside the margin guides and you see this is three columns of the very high top margin. Hold down the Shift key and click again. Once again, InDesign auto-flows the text, automatically creating the frames, but this time it created three columns because it's following the column guides.
So if InDesign sees column guides within the margin guides, it will automatically flow to those columns guides. Also notice that instead of creating, say, one large frame with three columns, it created three single-column frames that are threaded together. So that's the way that InDesign prefers to auto-flow is always with single-column frames. In neither of these master pages, I've just double-clicked on A-default and B-3 column, are there text frames. So there are far fewer reasons to ever use a text frame in a master page in InDesign, because as long as you've set up your main body area within the margin guides and any columns, then InDesign will automatically create the text frames within those guidelines. So you don't have to worry about overwriting anything or that you have duplicate text frames or anything like that.
So a lot to easier to work with, and it's something to keep in mind. If you're accustomed to creating multiple- column text frames on the master page in order to get this effect on the document page, well, then you're working against InDesign. I've often seen people who need t o do a lot of auto-flowing, but they keep their margins really high up here, even though the text may not need to start until further down the page. So they tediously have to go page by page and drag down the tops of their frame edges. Why not create the margins to define the main body flow and then when you want to put extra text up here, like headlines and so on, then in your master page you can just drag guidelines to define where those should go? That way you're playing to InDesign's strengths. I'm not saying that you should never ever need to use a text frame on the master page. Double-click on C-margin notes. I would like you to undo enough times to get rid of all of those extra pages that were added so that you once again end up with a loaded text here. Then just press the Escape key to get rid of that text from your cursor.
Now let's look at margin notes, the margin notes master. Here is an instance where you might want to add text frames to the master page. The main flow of the text will be in this big area that's sort of on the inside of the pages. But on the outside of the pages, you're going to have margin notes, and perhaps you have a really long text file that you are going to flow into the margins. So you're going to have two instances of flowing text, one inside here and one outside here. Well, you can easily create a text frame on your own. I'm just going to create a text frame here and then I'm going to thread it to a text frame here; I'm making a phantom thread. I'm threading an empty text frame.
Or I could have created the two empty text frames and then manually threaded them just by clicking in the Outport here and then clicking anywhere on the text frame over here. But if I turn on View > Show Text Threads, you can see that these two frames are threaded. Now when I go to my document page and I apply the margin notes master page, remember how to do that? That's Option+ Click or Alt+Click on the master page. Now I have two text areas to bring my text into. I have the main text area here and then I have my little margin notes area.
So I'm going to press Command+D or Ctrl+D to select one of these files. Click Open and hold down the Shift key and auto-flow in the main text area. Then go back with Command+D or Ctrl+D, select the other file, click Open, and I hover over the text frame from the master page. Notice how it automatically recognizes it as being from the master page. Then if I hold down the Shift key and click here to auto-flow it, it automatically flows from margin to margin.
If I turn on Show Text Threads, all right, it's already on, let me go ahead and select a couple of these frames. You can see we have two sets of auto-flowed text happening, the margin notes and the main body text. Pretty cool, huh? Let's undo all that to get all the text out of there and come back to one page. Now a question that I hear a lot from users is how do I get the text to start on one master and auto-flow to another master? The answer is you have to do that manually. Actually, let's do this one. Let's double-click on page 1 of the document and then hold down Option or Alt and click on the 3-col master.
I'm going to start here, but then on the next spread we want to continue to the margin notes master. So what you do is first of all you go ahead and auto-flow it into the first page. So I'll press Command+D or Ctrl+D. Select the Aesop story. Now if you want to auto-flow without adding additional pages, there is a little known shortcut of Shift+Option or Shift+Alt. So see how the cursor is not a little snake-y thing. Here it is. There's just the snake-y thing. That's the regular auto-flow where it will add pages.
Add the Alt or Option key and it will auto-flow into existing pages, but not add additional pages. Now what you have to do is actually add another page based on the new master and then manually you can thread the text from the old master to the new page on the new master. Remember to hold down the Shift key when you do so. So when we hold down the Shift key, it's going to automatically auto-flow the rest of the story, but it's going to be based on that master. Because that's how auto-flowing works. It creates additional pages based on the page that you Shift+Clicked on.
So knowing how InDesign thinks is key to getting the most out of the program. All it takes is a little bit of testing to see how InDesign is set up to do a task normally, by default, without a whole lot of extra work around. So you get to know its natural tendencies and you take that into account when you create your project's first master pages and styles and whatnot. That way you're working with InDesign instead of against it and you are on your way to becoming a professional super user.
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