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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
- Did you know that InDesign has a last page number text variable? For example, if I zoom in to the bottom of my page, I can see my page number. But what if I want this page number to say, "Page 1 of," and then insert the last page number of my document? Well, it's pretty easy to do. All I need to to here is, go to my Master Page and insert the last page number variable. Let's actually delete the page number that's there, and I'll start from scratch. I'm gonna type "page ," the I'll go to the Type menu and choose Insert Special Character, Markers, and then Current Page Number.
Then I'll type "of ," and then I'll go to the Type menu. And this time, I'll go someplace else. I'll go to the Text Variables menu, and then Insert Variable, and then, here's the trick, Last Page Number. When I choose that, it inserts a variable that will always give me the last page number of this document. Right now, it doesn't look right because I'm on the Master Page. But if I go back to page 1, by double-clicking on it in the Pages panel, you'll see that now it says "page 1 of 27." And it says that because there are 27 pages in this document.
So that's awesome, right? But this document is part of a longer book. You can see it here inside the Book panel, my HOAbook, History of Art. And in this book, I have 111 pages, not just 27. So how do I make this page number reflect the entire book, not just this one chapter, this one document in the book? Well, that's trickier. And here's the secret: instead of using a text variable, use a cross-reference.
It's a little tricky, takes a few steps, but once you get the hang of it, it's not too hard. Here, let me show you how. In order for a cross-reference to work, you need to point it to some text or a text anchor. And that text or text anchor needs to be on the last page of the book. So I'm going to open my HOA_3 document. That's the last chapter in my book. And I'm going to go to the very last page, by going to the Layout menu and choosing Last Page. Here on the last page, I'm going to create a text frame. Doesn't matter where, I'll just hang it off the side of the page down here in the corner.
And I'm going to insert a text anchor. To do that, I need the Hyperlinks panel, which I can find by going to the Window menu, choosing Interactive, and then Hyperlinks. Inside the Hyperlinks panel menu, I can choose New Hyperlink Destination. You can see that there's a number of different kinds of hyperlink destinations that you can choose from in this dialog box. But we're going to create a text anchor. And I'm going to call my text anchor "Last page in the book." Can call it anything you want, really. But I'm gonna call it that. And I'll click OK.
Now I can close my Hyperlinks panel, and my text anchor is inside this frame. It's invisible, so nothing will show up and nothing will print. But it is there. In fact, you can see it if you want to, by going to the Edit menu and choosing Edit in Story Editor. There's my story, and inside the story, there's simply the text anchor. Looks like a little target icon. Now I'll lose the Story Editor and move on. Once I've created my text anchor, I can create a cross-reference to point to that text anchor. I'm gonna do that back in Chapter 1.
Click on Chapter 1, go to my Master Page, and I'm going to remove that text variable, the one that I added in there. I'm going to replace it with a cross-reference. To make my cross-reference, I need to open my Cross-References panel, which I can find in the Window menu, going down to Type & Tables, and then choosing Cross-References. Now all I need to do is click the New Cross-References button at the bottom of the panel, make sure it's set to Link to Text Anchor, not Paragraph, and then point it to my text anchor, the one I just created.
It's not in this document, not in Chapter 1. Rather, it's in Chapter 3. So I can choose that out of this pop-up menu. It's really helpful to have that document open at the same time I'm making my cross-reference. That way, it'll show up in this pop-up menu. Next, I need to tell it which text anchor inside that document I want to target. And in this case, there's only one, last page in the book. And finally, I need to give it a Cross-Reference Format. The format that it assigns by default, Paragraph Text & Page Number, is a disaster. You don't wanna use that.
Instead, you need to make your own custom format.
And you do that by clicking on this
little pencil icon on the right.
To make your own custom Cross-Reference Format,
click the + button in the lower left corner.
Then give it a name.
I'm gonna call it, "last page xref."
And then I'm going to change the definition
until it says only "pageNum."
I'm gonna get rid of all of that text at the beginning
and that parenthesis at the end,
and all I want is
That's it. I know it's strange, but that's what you wanna have in here to grab just the page number of the last page. So I'll click OK, click OK again, and it inserts the cross-reference right into that text frame. Now let's see what it looks like on my document page. I'll double-click on page 1, and you can see it says, "page 1 of" ... well, it looks like Roman numeral III, but it's not. It's page 111, and I can see that because the last page of my document is 111.
Now, of course, the great benefit of doing cross-references or text variables is that they update automatically when you add or remove pages. For example, I'll go to the Pages panel menu, and I'll say Insert Pages. And I'll insert, say, four pages after page 1. Click OK and it took me to page 2, so I need to jump back to page 1, double-click on that, and you can see that it updated automatically. It now says, "page 1 of 115." Why? Because I have 115 pages in the document now.
InDesign was smart enough to renumber the entire book, and it was smart enough to update my cross-reference automatically. So, true, it took a lot of steps to get here, but it's incredibly powerful. And, once you go through all those steps once, it's easy from here on out. All you need to do is copy and paste. I'm gonna go back to my Master Page, and I'm going to zoom back to fit the whole spread in the window, with a command option 0, or control alt 0. Let's go ahead and close my cross-references here. I don't need those anymore. And now I'm going to select this entire text.
I'll just grab all of that text and copy it, with a command c, or control c on Windows, and now I'm just going to paste it everywhere I want it. I'll paste it on both sides of the Master Page here. I'll go to my second document, go to my Master Page and paste it into here, paste it into here, and you see, everywhere I paste it, that cross-reference gets inserted. Finally, I'll go to my third document, go to my Master Page, and then paste it in here and here. Let's go look at one of those pages. How about page 109? And we can see that this says, "109 of 115." It's automatic and it's beautiful.
So there you go. The last page in the book, not the document but the book, as a cross-reference, not a variable.
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