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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.
- There are lots of different times when you need to fill an empty text frame with placeholder text. For example, if you want to experiment with formatting, what should the body copy look like if you haven't gotten the body copy yet from the writer, or maybe somebody needs to know a word count, so you need to fill up a text frame and apply the style and then get a word count. InDesign, of course, does have a way to fill up empty text frames with placeholder text. Up here, under the Type menu, choose Fill With Placeholder Text, and what comes in is kinda boring, lorum ipsum, you know, fake, Latin looking kind of type, which is fine if you wanted to get an idea of how many words were in here, you would just click inside text, and then go to the Window menu, choose Info, and as long as you have clicked inside with your Type tool, you'll see a word count.
So I could tell the writer, give me 371 words. To be more accurate, I would want to format it so I might select it all and apply my paragraph style of Body copy, and you can see I have more room now. And then I'll fill it again with placeholder text, and now the accurate quote for him would be 530 words or so. After a while though, you get tired of using the same old lorum ipsum text. Since CS6, InDesign has had a few different variations of that that are not apparent.
Let me show you, I'm gonna select all and delete, and I'll close the Info panel, we don't need that anymore. If you hold down the Command key on a Mac or the Control key on a PC, and then open the Type menu, and keep that key held down while you choose Fill With Placeholder Text, you'll get Placeholder Options, which is kind of neat. You can fill this with the Roman lorum ipsum text, or with Greek and Hebrew and Korean and so on. Let's try Korean. Now I don't know how useful that is in getting a word count for your author, especially if they're not Korean, but this is quite useful if you're laying something out in Korean.
What if you wanted though, lorum ipsum in an English sort of language but that's not lorum ipsum? Well there are a ton of fantastic websites that will give you all sorts of lorum ipsum text and I can show you how to create that. But even before you go to websites, you can do your own. All you need to do is grab any kind of text, for example, here's some text from Alice in Wonderland. You might have your own corporate document that you might want to use for placeholder text, just select a bunch of paragraphs, copy it, and then you just need to make a plain text file out of it.
So here I'm going to just paste it into an empty text frame and export it to text only, so Paste, and then it doesn't make any difference if it's overset, I'm just going to choose Export to Text Only format that's down here, you can also use any kind of text editor or Notepad editor on a PC, you can even use Microsoft Word, but anything that can save as text only, that's important. The file name is the other important thing, it has to be named placeholder.txt.
Where it's saved is the InDesign Application folder, and this works not just in CC, but in basically any version of InDesign since time began, so I'll click Save right here, we'll save it in Macintosh format, since that's what I'm on, now let's go back to our San Francisco document and we'll go to Type, Fill With Placeholder Text, and what InDesign does is checks to see if there's a file called placeholder.txt in its folder first. And if it does, well, that's what it fills it in with.
Isn't that cool? Now you can get this text from anywhere, and when it gets to the end of the text, it just repeats, by the way, in case you're wondering. You could even create something that's just one sentence long, and that same sentence would just keep repeating. But if you go to Google or Bing or any search engine and enter lorum ipsum, you'll come across hundreds of websites that offer this kind of placeholder text. Here's one called Fillerati that lets you choose a classical author, we'll leave it as Edgar Rice Burroughs, and which title do you wanna pull from, and then down here, make sure that you have chosen the text format, because these are HTML formats.
You can drag to see how many words you wanna copy, and you just click to copy. Let me scroll down so you can see what we're getting. One problem with this method though, is that it doesn't give you paragraph returns. So everything is gonna come in just one big paragraph. But everything has been copied, so I'm going to switch over to TextEdit, which is a text editor, create a new document, switch the format to Plain Text, and then paste that text in there. And then I'll just go ahead and save it, you wanna save it right to the InDesign folder, we'll call it placeholder.txt and write over it.
So you don't need to restart InDesign or close the document or anything like that. Let's test it out, so I deleted all that text in there, Type, Fill With Placeholder Text, there's our new text, pretty neat. One thing is that when you do it this way, if you try to use that other trick of holding down the Command or Control key to get different languages, it doesn't quite work right. If you choose Roman again, you don't get lorum ipsum anymore. One last website I want to tell you about is this one called Choose Your Ipsum.
Go to this URL, that you can see on your screen, and you can see that there are at least 100 different kinds of websites that allow you to generate and copy to your Clipboard, ipsum based on how Borat speaks, ipsum based on beer, ipsum based on gangster speak, even hippie talk, so add a little spice to your InDesign life and try some different kinds of placeholder text for the Type menu command, Fill With Placeholder Text.
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