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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.
- InDesign is a page layout program, and I believe that page layout, at its core is all about managing the relationships among all the different elements of your page. But sometimes it seems like InDesign forces you to do a lot of manual work to keep all those relationships going. For example, on this page I have a very simple relationship between the images and the text frame. I want these images, these captions and this line to move down the page as this text frame up here expands as I add text.
Now, InDesign should be able to do that for me, right? And indeed it can. Here's how we make it work. First I need to turn on Auto size for this text frame. To do that I select it on my page, go to the object menu and then chose text frame options. Or press Command+B or CTRL+B on Windows. Now I'll press Command+3 or CTRL+3 on Windows to jump over to the auto size tab. You could just click on that tab if you want to but using a keyboard shortcut's more fun. Now in order to make this text frame grow as I add text or shrink when I remove text, I need to turn auto sizing on.
And I'm gonna set this to height only. And, I'm going to have it grow from the top down. That's this top button here. Than means anchor the top and let the bottom flow up or down as necessary. And when I click okay, it doesn't look like anything's changed, but in fact, that is now going to auto size as I add or remove text. But the question is, as I add text and that text frame expands, how can I get these other objects, that line these images and these text frames to move down the page too? So the answer is, to anchor them into the text frame itself.
The first step in doing this is to select all of these objects and group them. I'll just press Command+G or CTRL+G on Windows. Next I want to anchor them into the text frame above. To do that I'm gonna use the selection tool in the tool panel. And then I'm going to drag this little blue box, see the one up here in the upper right corner? I drag that up into this text frame. And I'm gonna drop it, could be anywhere but I'm gonna put it right at the very beginning of that story. Now that group of objects doesn't move but the square turned into a blue anchor symbol.
By the way, note that this in only blue because the current layer color is blue. If these objects were on a different layer it would be Red or Green or something else. Now we need to tell InDesign how the anchored object should behave. To do that I could go to the object menu and then chose Anchored Object and then options. But I like right clicking, I like that context menu. So I'm simply going to right click on top of that object, that group. And I'm gonna chose anchored object, options. Now inside of this dialogue box, which I admit looks kind of confusing, we need to tell InDesign what part of the anchored object, that group, should be positioned, and based on what part of the text frame.
Now in this case I want to position the upper left corner of this group. So I'm going to click on the upper left corner of the Reference Point icon here. Next I need to specify what the anchored position should be. I'm gonna make sure "X Relative To" is set to "text frame". And I'm gonna change the X offset to zero. That means the left edge of this group should be aligned to the left edge of the text frame. Next, and this is the core of the trick, I'm gonna change "Y Relative" also to "text frame". And I'm gonna change the Y offset to something small.
Maybe three picas, that's half an inch. Now just to review what I'm doing here, I'm setting the upper left corner of the group. The anchored object to be aligned along the left edge of the text frame. And three picas or one half inch down from the bottom of the text frame. See how this icon right there is set to the bottom left corner? That means as that bottom left corner moves the anchored object will move too. This dialogue box can be confusing so take your time with it and look over the settings carefully.
You'll need to set the X offset and the Y offset appropriately for you're design of course. Also, see this "prevent manual position" check box down here? Selecting that check box locks the objects in the group so that you can't place or change text or graphics in them. So in this case that's good, but on the other hand if I were making a template that would be a problem, because somebody else opening this document would not be able to change those images or the text. But on the other hand if I turn that off then they might accidentally move the group on the page.
So they have to be careful. Now when I click okay, you'll see everything looks just right, but remember that anchored objects act kinda like characters in your text story. And I can see that really easily by selecting that text frame, going to the edit menu and then choosing edit in story editor. See that Icon up here in the upper left corner? That's the anchored object right there. And the reason that's important to know about is, when I edit the text inside this text frame, I have to be careful not to delete that character at the beginning.
'Cause if I do, then the whole group disappears. All of those graphics and the line and so on. That would be bad, but as long as you keep that in mind you can now edit this text. And as you add or remove text, the other frames will move too, let me show you. I'll close that, I'll click here at the end of the story and I'm just gonna type some gibberish to give you a sense of what's goin' on there. But as I type, you'll see that the text frame gets bigger and all those objects also moved down the page because they're anchored.
Now I'll do the opposite, I'll pull out some of that text. And as soon as I hit the delete key you'll see that the text frame gets smaller, and all those objects move up. The more you use anchored objects and get comfortable with that anchored options dialogue box, the more cool things you'll find yourself doing with that feature, it's really powerful.
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