InDesign CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Importing text


InDesign CS5 Essential Training

with David Blatner

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Video: Importing text

Okay, you have some text files, such as Microsoft Word documents, and you need to get them into InDesign. There are two basic methods for importing text into InDesign. The first one is to go to the File menu and choose Place. That opens the Place dialog box and it lets you choose which Word files, or in this case RTF files that you want to import. RTF is just another file format that a lot of word processors use. In this case, I'm going to choose the Shrubs RTF file from my Exercise Files folder and I am going to click Open.
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  1. 5m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. What is InDesign CS5?
      2m 26s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 51s
  2. 54m 49s
    1. Understanding the Application window
      6m 0s
    2. Navigating pages
      6m 39s
    3. Zooming and magnifying
      6m 57s
    4. Managing more than one document window
      3m 36s
    5. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 9s
    6. Positioning panels correctly
      6m 28s
    7. Saving time by making workspaces
      3m 24s
    8. Setting the view quality of artwork
      4m 9s
    9. Adjusting View and Preview settings
      4m 56s
    10. Rotating pages and spreads
      3m 2s
    11. Displaying a new view with the New Window feature
      3m 29s
    12. Setting application and document preferences
      4m 0s
  3. 21m 31s
    1. Using the Tool panel
      8m 1s
    2. Learning and editing keyboard shortcuts
      6m 24s
    3. Working with spring-loaded tool shortcuts
      1m 17s
    4. Using contextual menus
      2m 51s
    5. Choosing menu items with Quick Apply
      2m 58s
  4. 45m 25s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 28s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      3m 41s
    3. Using multiple Undo and Revert
      4m 28s
    4. Setting margin and column guides
      5m 16s
    5. Using ruler guides
      8m 10s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 29s
    7. Saving objects in libraries
      4m 49s
    8. Exporting and importing page snippets
      4m 29s
    9. Saving for CS4 with IDML
      2m 35s
  5. 31m 18s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      7m 23s
    2. Changing page size
      6m 14s
    3. Adding page numbering
      3m 43s
    4. Changing page numbering with sections
      5m 58s
    5. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 20s
    6. Overriding master page items
      2m 40s
  6. 1h 21m
    1. Understanding text frames
      4m 6s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 36s
    3. Filling with placeholder text
      2m 38s
    4. Inserting special characters
      4m 43s
    5. Importing text
      7m 49s
    6. Threading text frames
      4m 1s
    7. Setting text frame columns and insets
      6m 32s
    8. Setting vertical justification and first baseline position
      6m 9s
    9. Putting text on a path
      6m 51s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      8m 43s
    11. Checking spelling
      7m 42s
    12. Using Find/Change
      9m 25s
    13. Tracking text changes
      8m 1s
  7. 49m 50s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 11s
    2. Importing from Mini Bridge
      5m 27s
    3. Using the Links panel
      6m 34s
    4. Embedding links
      2m 37s
    5. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 14s
    6. Fitting graphics to a frame
      6m 12s
    7. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 53s
    8. Adding live captions
      5m 56s
    9. Colorizing images
      2m 1s
    10. Turning image layers on and off
      4m 45s
  8. 46m 15s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 32s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      8m 18s
    3. Using advanced strokes
      3m 28s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 38s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      6m 41s
    6. Applying feathering
      4m 25s
    7. Copying formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      4m 35s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 50s
    9. Making polygons and starbursts
      3m 48s
  9. 22m 56s
    1. Making interactive documents
      2m 6s
    2. Adding hyperlinks
      5m 52s
    3. Building bookmarks
      3m 38s
    4. Creating buttons
      8m 57s
    5. Animating an object
      2m 23s
  10. 23m 15s
    1. Creating color swatches
      5m 52s
    2. The danger and power of unnamed colors
      4m 33s
    3. Building tint swatches
      2m 18s
    4. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 56s
    5. Applying gradients
      6m 36s
  11. 50m 0s
    1. Positioning objects with the Page Gap tool
      2m 53s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 13s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      3m 53s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 37s
    5. Nesting objects
      2m 46s
    6. Editing frame and path shapes
      4m 6s
    7. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      3m 57s
    8. Grouping objects
      3m 14s
    9. Locking objects
      2m 39s
    10. Aligning and distributing
      5m 43s
    11. Understanding text wrap
      8m 13s
    12. Using anchored objects
      6m 46s
  12. 18m 49s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 39s
    2. Rotating objects
      3m 3s
    3. Scaling objects
      3m 57s
    4. Mirroring objects
      3m 46s
    5. Using the Transform Again feature
      2m 24s
  13. 25m 52s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 8s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 54s
    3. Changing case
      2m 51s
    4. Understanding OpenType features
      3m 19s
    5. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      3m 18s
    6. Using Find Font
      4m 22s
  14. 45m 27s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 14s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      3m 5s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      2m 1s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 16s
    5. Adjusting text hyphenation
      3m 21s
    6. Fine-tuning justified text
      4m 19s
    7. Setting tabs
      5m 54s
    8. Aligning to a baseline grid
      4m 24s
    9. Controlling orphans and widows with Keep Options
      2m 39s
    10. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 14s
    11. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 39s
    12. Working with numbered lists
      4m 21s
  15. 31m 3s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 34s
    2. Using character styles
      5m 43s
    3. Applying styles automatically with Nested Styles
      7m 19s
    4. Using object styles
      3m 27s
    5. Using Quick Apply with styles
      2m 49s
    6. Cleaning up a local formatting mess
      5m 11s
  16. 37m 0s
    1. Creating a table
      5m 54s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      6m 35s
    3. Formatting a table
      8m 5s
    4. Adding headers and footers
      1m 58s
    5. Applying table styles
      5m 32s
    6. Adding Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 56s
  17. 10m 14s
    1. Checking your document with the Preflight panel
      2m 54s
    2. Creating a custom preflight profile
      4m 45s
    3. Checking color with the Separations Preview
      2m 35s
  18. 31m 6s
    1. Packaging for output
      4m 12s
    2. Using the Print dialog box
      10m 22s
    3. Exporting a PDF
      8m 47s
    4. Exporting an interactive PDF
      3m 59s
    5. Exporting text
      1m 36s
    6. Exporting SWF files
      2m 10s
  19. 1m 32s
    1. Finding more information and help
      1m 12s
    2. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign CS5 Essential Training
10h 33m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Navigating and customizing the workspace
  • Managing documents and pages
  • Rotating pages and spreads
  • Adjusting and mixing page sizes
  • Overriding master page items
  • Putting text on a path
  • Threading text frames
  • Applying strokes, fills, and other formatting effects
  • Nesting, grouping, and locking objects
  • Formatting: character-level and paragraph-level
  • Packaging, printing, and exporting
David Blatner

Importing text

Okay, you have some text files, such as Microsoft Word documents, and you need to get them into InDesign. There are two basic methods for importing text into InDesign. The first one is to go to the File menu and choose Place. That opens the Place dialog box and it lets you choose which Word files, or in this case RTF files that you want to import. RTF is just another file format that a lot of word processors use. In this case, I'm going to choose the Shrubs RTF file from my Exercise Files folder and I am going to click Open.

Now, if I had an empty text frame selected when I did that, it would automatically fill it with that story. But in this case, nothing was selected on the page and so it did not fill any frames. Instead, it loaded the place cursor and is asking me, where do you want to put this thing? I'm going to put it right in here, inside this empty frame. Once again, I want to point out that cursors in InDesign are very important. If I'm out here, where there is no frames, I get that solid line cursor. That means it's going to create a new frame, but over here, I'm getting sort of the rounded parentheses cursor.

That means it's going to place the text inside this frame. So I'll click and in comes the text. Now I'm going to do the same thing again, but this time I'll use the keyboard shortcut, Command+D or Ctrl+D on Windows. Instead of just grabbing one, I'm going to grab four different files here that I'm going to import. I'll click Open and all four of them get loaded into the Place cursor. You can see the little blue 4 there saying there's four files here to be placed. If I press the Down Arrow key, I will go through each of those files one at a time.

There is a Hibiscus, there is the-- whatever that is. I can't read it. It's Latin. So here it is, Azalea. Back to the first one and I'm going to click, one, two, three, four, and all four files imported into the text frame there. Looking good. Now, I will also point out that these are formatted, let me zoom in here and you'll see that these are already formatted. How did that happen? Well, I'm going to be talking about paragraph styles and character styles in a later chapter, but I just want to point out now that if your original Word document has styles in it, like paragraph styles and character styles, when you import that document, those styles will come with it.

In fact, if your Word document uses exactly the same name as your InDesign document, exactly the same naming between the two, then InDesign throws away the definition of the Word document and it uses the definition of the InDesign document. That's typically, exactly what you want it to. So it's extremely helpful to make sure that you've got the same names between the two programs. And it works beautifully like this. Okay, let me zoom back here, back with a Command+Option+0 or Ctrl+Alt+0 on Windows to fit the spread in window.

I'm going to bring in one more text story into this spread, to fill this frame over here. But this time, instead of using the Place command, I'm going to drag and drop. Let me switch to my Mac Finder, on Windows you would use Windows Explorer, either way, and I'm going to grab up my HP story and I'm just going to drag it right out of this folder and into InDesign in the background there. Once again, pay attention to the cursor, if it's out here on the pasteboard or someplace where there is no frames, you get one kind of cursor, but if you're on top of an empty text frame, you get a different kind of cursor.

So very handy, this cursor tells me it's going to go right into that frame. In fact, when I let go of the mouse button, that's exactly what happens. It fills this text frame with all of that text and formats it automatically. So this is great, if you're just dealing with a little bit of text, enough text to fit inside of a single text frame. But what do you do when you're importing a lot of text, like a whole book's worth of text, or an article that has multiple columns. Well, that's what we're going to look at next, here in this snowboarding document. So, I've got the snowboarding document open here and I'm going to import an RTF file using Command+D or Ctrl+D on Windows.

Grab my snowboarding file. Click Open. I want this article to be imported into all of these different columns here. So, couple things you need to know, they all have to do with modifier keys. There's all these six little modifier keys that you should know about when you're importing text. The first thing is, if I simply click with no modifier keys, InDesign will make a frame and fill it with text, except that there is way too much text inside this frame, so I get a little overset mark there. That's what that little red + is. That means there is more text than can fit into this little frame.

So I'm going to undo that with Command+Z or Ctrl+Z with Windows. It reloads the cursor and I'll show you another trick, which is the Shift+Click. This is one of the most important secret modifier keys in the whole program. You've got to know this one. Shift+Click with the Place cursor means load the whole document, keep adding text frames, keep adding pages. So, Shift+Click and it loads in all the story. It added one, two, three, let's see, about eight frames here, nine frames.

In fact, that was still not enough, so you can see that it added a new page at the end here and even linked to that one as well. All of these text frames are threaded together. So, it's just what you want in most instances. But not always, so it can be extreme. Sometimes it adds too many pages, so you have to be a little bit careful with it. Let me undo that, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z with Windows and show you a couple other things that you might want to do instead. For example, instead of Shift+Clicking, you might Shift+Option+Click and again pay attention to the cursor.

It shows a different icon depending on which modifiers you hold down. Shift+Option on the Mac or Shift+Alt on Windows gives you the sort of semi-automatic placement feature, which means that I can click and adds as many text frames as it can, but it will not add additional pages, just uses the available space on this spread. So, that could be a very useful one as well. At the very end here, it added a frame and overset, there was just one line there, so that's not very handy. Let's undo that, Command+Z, Ctrl+Z on Windows, and show you one last modifier key.

This happens to be my favorite, which is the Option or Alt key, which loads and reloads the Place cursor. Option+Drag out of frame, I'm going to drag over two columns here. We'll place that inside of a frame. So it builds a frame. It puts the text in there. If there is more text than can fit, it will automatically reload the Place cursor and I will Option+Drag again. It makes a frame, puts the text in there and then Option+Drag again, and you get the idea.

It keeps making frames and then reloading the Place cursor for me. This one, I happen to know is the last one I need. So, I'm simply going to drag out and it loads it in and places the text in there. Actually, there's a little bit of extra text in there. I think that's because these aren't long enough. So we could play around with that and make these frames longer if we wanted to, and make sure all the text fits here in the story. So that's another way to automatically or semi-automatically add a long story into your document. Now there is one other method for getting text into InDesign.

And that's simply to copy and paste it from some other program. While this often works just fine, I honestly really don't recommend it for anything more than just a paragraph or two. I certainly wouldn't use copy and paste, for any text that was formatted or included foreign languages or special characters. I have just seen too many problems over the years, with text showing up. Well, just wrong, really wrong after pasting it. The Place command is much more reliable, when you're trying to get text into InDesign.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: In the “Exporting to PDF” video, the author states "The flattener, and how to control it, is an advanced topic that I cover in a later title."
Is this “later title” available on yet?
A: Unfortunately that title is still in development. However, the features are exactly the same in CS4, so please see Chapter 11 in InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics.
Q: Can an image be placed into a cell in InDesign?
A: Yes,  but only as an anchored (inline) object. Cut the frame with the Selection tool, switch to the Type tool, click in the cell, and Paste.
Q: Is it possible to load or import pages from one document to another in InDesign CS5?
A: Pages cannot be “loaded”, but they can be "pushed" from one document to another by choosing Layout > Pages > Move Pages.
Q: When I place an image, it is distorted or pixilated to the point of not being able to use it. I can place or open those same images in Photoshop or Illustrator and they are fine.
A: You are likely seeing the low-resolution preview. To see high resolution or vector artwork, choose View > Display Performance > High Quality.
Q: When I place an image, it is distorted or pixilated to the point of not being able to use it. I can place or open those same images in Photoshop or Illustrator and they are fine.
A: You are likely seeing the low-resolution preview. To see high resolution or vector artwork, choose View > Display Performance > High Quality.
Q: I'm looking for a tutorial that will allow me to use InDesign to create files that can be emailed. I guess they have to be converted to HTML first? Is that possible?
A: If you are trying to make an HTML email, then InDesign really isn't the tool for you. It's HTML abilities are extremely limited. Look toward Dreamweaver for that. Alternatively, you could create a layout in InDesign, then export the page as a JPEG image and put that in the email.
Q: Since I upgraded to the new version of InDesign, when I click the "edit original" button in the Links panel, the pictures open in Preview instead of Photoshop
A: "Here are two articles about this problem: 
Q: I cannot see files on the desktop when in InDesign.
A: If you are using the Mac OS, you may need to turn off Window > Application Frame in order to see files behind InDesign (such as those on the Finder Desktop). If you are on Windows, you are seeing a difference between Mac and Windows. In Windows, the application is always living inside the application frame. If you un-maximize the windows frame, you can drag it smaller so you see the desktop and drag to or from it.
Q: I am currently working on an InDesign document originally created in Spanish. I am translating it to English and I need to change the language preference to be able to use the spell check in English. I have changed it in Preferences, but when I go to do the spell check on the document it is still in Spanish. How can I change the spell check to English?
A: Changing the language in preferences does not change the document or text language. You need to change the langauge in the paragraph style or the character style or in the Character panel or the Control panel (select the text first).
Q: In the movie, "Inserting, deleting, and moving pages" the author claims you can Shift-click text and the red overset symbol (a plus sign) will disappear. This isn't working for me.
A: Shift-clicking to make text automatically flow to the next text box or boxes only works when you place text from a loaded cursor. Shift-clicking existing text will not affect it.
Instead, if the overset text symbol appears in an existing text frame, choose the Selection tool and click the symbol to load the text in your cursor. Then Shift-click inside the next text frame to start it auto-flowing from there.
Q: I want to add a 2-page spread following a 1-page spread, but when I insert two new pages, InDesign creates a 3-page spread. How do I solve this?
A: If you're seeing 3-page spreads, turn on Allow Document Pages to Shuffle (and Allow Selected Spread to Shuffle) from the Pages panel menu.
Q: The keys used for navigating to the previous or next spread in a layout (Command+Page Up/Command+Page Down) don't appear on my laptop keyboard and the arrow keys don't work. What keys should I use?
A: Most laptop keyboards don't have these keys anymore. Look for a "modifier" key (such as the Alt or Fn keys) to press to access these keys. For example, on a Macbook Pro, you'd press Command and then Fn+Up Arrow to invoke Next Spread.
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