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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.
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.
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