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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, the print and interactive page layout application from Adobe, in InDesign CS5 Essential Training. The course shows how to create new documents with strong and flexible master pages, precisely position text and graphics, prepare documents for print, and export designs as interactive PDF or Flash SWF files. Exercise files are included with the course.
Much of publishing is based on reusing page elements. So the more that you create systems that help you in that task, the more productive you'll be. One of the best techniques for reusing frames or images or text is to turn them into something called a Snippet. These are little files on disk that describe the page objects. Here let me show you. I'm going to select this whole little group of objects, this Payment Method tab thing, and I'm going to go to the File menu and choose Export. I'm going to save this out as a Snippet. In order to save this as a Snippet, I need to choose InDesign Snippet from the Format popup menu.
Then I just give it a name. I'll call this payment form and then click Save. Before I do, notice that it says idms. That's the filing name extension for an InDesign Snippet. There we go. Save it out as a Snippet and it is now sitting on my Desktop as a file. It's a file that I can put into another document if I want to. I'll go to File, New Document. I'm going to turn off Facing Pages because it's coming from a non-Facing Pages document. And I will place this in here. I'll go to my Desktop, choose my Snippet on the Desktop.
There is the payment form.idms file. Click Open and now it loads up my placement cursor and it gives me a little thumbnail of that object, or that group of objects, in this case. Now, I can simply click and it adds it exactly where I clicked ,or let me undo that with Command+Z or Ctrl+Z on Windows. Or I can Option+Click, or Alt+ Click on Windows, and it does something slightly different. You can see the cursor changed just a little bit. That means when I click, it's going to remember the page geometry. It's going to remember where on the page it was when I first made it into a snippet.
And it was down here in the lower right corner. So that's a very helpful trick when working with snippets. Now anything on your page or spread can be turned into a snippet. In fact, I can could come back here and select everything on my page if I want to and turn the whole thing into a single snippet. In fact, I'll do that. I'll select all of these objects on this page. That's everything that's not on a master page, and I'm going to turn it into a snippet. Once again, I'll go to the Export dialog box, which I'll get there the shortcut way, by pressing Command+E or Ctrl+E on Windows. Make sure this is set to Snippet, give it a name, my whole form, and then hit Save.
And now that whole thing is in a single file, and I could give that file to another InDesign user and they could place it in their InDesign documents. It's a very handy way of moving around page elements that you want to reuse. Let's go ahead and do one more here. I'm going to grab this Submit and Reset button and I will put that out on the Desktop as well. And this case, I'm going to create a Snippet in a slightly different way. Instead of using the Export dialog box, I'm going to drag and drop it. So I'm going to start dragging these objects and I'm going to use my application switcher, on a Mac that's Command+Tab and on Windows it's Alt+Tab, and I'm going to go over to Bridge.
Here I am in Bridge and I'm going to drop it into my Content pane of Bridge. And when I do that, it's automatically turned into the Snippet and given a name. It's kind of a weird name. But it's given this name. Let me go ahead and change that name to something more obvious, like my submit buttons. There we go. Now, I like using Bridge for working with Snippets. It's a very handy way. It's sort like a super duper meta major library system. It's such a great content management system that it works great with snippets. And one of the best things it does with snippets is it gives me a preview of my snippets.
A nice big preview. So as I click on things, I can see what things are going to look like. There we go. These are each of the three snippets I just created. Now later, when I want to put them into InDesign document, let's go back to InDesign here with my application switcher. I'll create a new document, and I will turn off Facing Pages. Click OK, and I want to put those objects into this new document. I simply use my application switcher to select the snippet I want. In fact, why don't I just grab the whole form here, select this snippet, start dragging and now I'm going to use the application switcher to get back to InDesign and I'll drop it.
When I drop it into InDesign, it gives me the place cursor automatically. Now, I can click to just plop it right wherever I click. Let me undo that, or Option or Alt+ Click to put it in exactly the same location as it was in the original document. In a later movie, when I talk about the Mini Bridge panel inside of InDesign, you'll see that this Bridge to InDesign workflow is even cooler than what I'm showing here. But I'm just going to focus on Snippets here and the ability to move snippets from one document into another very, very quickly.
So that's snippets. Try them out. You will find yourself hooked on them in no time.
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