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In a very macro sense, one of the first things that we want to do when we place a text file is clean up that text file, by which I mean we need to remove any extra paragraph marks, any extra spaces, or any of the rubbish that's come in with the text file. It's very common to inherit text files that are in a less than pristine condition. I am going to work with a very long text file; specifically mobydick, so the text of Herman Melville's novel. I am going to autoflow this text. I could've done this using a primary text frame if I'm in CS6, but this approach is non-version specific, and that's autoflow.
Hold down a Shift key, and then click on page 1, and now it's going to autoflow all of the text, creating pages to accommodate the text. And we see that we have 660 pages. Now, as I mentioned in an earlier movie, it's a really good idea to work with the hidden characters turned on. So I am going to turn on my hidden characters, and we see that there is a hard return at the end of every line. Sometimes this will happen if you are copying and pasting text from an e-mail; sometimes it comes in this way if you have copied and pasted it from an HTML file.
However it got there, this is not how we want our text to be. This is going to be incredibly limiting. So we need to remove those hard returns; all 666 pages worth of them. Thankfully, we can use of Find/Change to very quickly come to our aid. So under the Edit menu, I am going to choose Find/Change. Now, what we're looking for here -- and this is why we are working with our hidden characters shown -- we want to find two consecutive end of paragraph marks, and this is what an end of paragraph marks looks like.
We could also insert one right there. But we want two of these, and we want to retain these, but then we need to remove the remaining end of paragraph marks that occur only at the end of a line. Thankfully, the paragraphs are differentiated by having two paragraph marks at the end of them. So I am going to change this to something that I am absolutely confident is not going to occur within the text, and that's going to be a series of bullets, three bullets, and I am searching in the whole document.
I will Change All, and imagine how tedious it would have been to do that by hand; 2,897 replacements. So now that we've isolated what will become the end of paragraphs, I am going to change the remaining paragraph marks to what they really should be, and that's a space. Another Change All, and then having done that, I will go back and change those three bullets to a paragraph mark, making sure that I remove the space that was previously in the Change to field.
So we should now see that our text has the right structure, the paragraphs are paragraphs, and we don't have paragraph marks at the end of every line. However, we do still have a lot of unnecessary formatting in there. We could continue using Find/Change to address those problems, and I could use these very handy saved queries. These queries ship with InDesign: Multiple Return to Single Return, Multiple Space to Single Space.
If you want to look at that, you can. I am going to right-click on it, choose Reveal in Finder; there it is. I can then open it up in a text editor, and we see that this is just a series of find change routines, and it has written in plain English what each of them does. Now, I don't need to change that. I could if I wanted to; I could customize it, but all I am going to do is double-click on the script itself. I want this to affect the whole document.
And we see that it's removed all of that extra spacing; all of that extra paragraph spacing, all of that extra word spacing, and our document is now ready for us to apply our paragraph styles, and our character styles to further give it structure. Notice, too, the number of pages has changed, and that's because we are working with our Smart Text Reflow turned on, and remember that's a preference in our Type Preferences; Smart Text Reflow turned on, so that as we are making these changes, pages are being added, or specifically in this case, removed as necessary.
So the point I'm really making here is that sometimes you may get a text file, it may look like a dog's dinner, but it's often a very easy thing, just a few simple find change routines will make the world of difference to the structure of that text.
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