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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.
Most of InDesign's features live in its panels, like up here in the Pages panel, and there are a lot of panels in this program. And since you're going to be looking at these panels a lot, you should really know how to manage them efficiently. Now by the way, I'm using the word panels, some people call these palettes. If you hear someone say palette, that's fine, just smile and know panels and palettes, they're all the same thing. Now when you first open InDesign, you see a list of panels along the right edge of your screen here. They're all in something called a Dock. Let's get our terminology straight so we all know what we're talking about.
The thing on the right here is the dock, inside there are these tiles, and these tiles represent panels. If I click on a panel it closes all the other panels from that dock and opens this panel. Some panels live by themselves in their own panel group and sometimes they share a panel group with others. For example, up here the Color and the Stroke panel are in the same panel group. I can tell that by this little dotted gray line up here at the top of the group. Now panels don't have to live in a dock. I can drag them out so they're free-floating.
For example, I'll drag this Color panel out and now it's floating out here all by itself on top of my document. So now the only panel left in the group is the Stroke panel and I can close that again by clicking on the tile inside the dock. I can also drag the Stroke panel out, and notice that this one looks a little bit different. This is a tile inside its own free- floating panel but you can change this into what looks like a normal panel by clicking that little double arrow in the upper right corner. That expands it into a normal panel.
Click it again and it will close back into a little tile again. I'll open it up and then I want to show you that I can drag the Stroke panel over on top of the Color panel and now these will go back into a group again. So I now have two different panels inside this one group. If I later decide I want to dock them again, no problem, I can either dock them one at a time by dragging out the name of the panel. I'll just drag that right into the dock. There we go, and I'll drag the Stroke item over, and now while I'm doing this, pay attention to where the blue line is highlighting.
If I highlight it down here, it's a little bit hard to see, but if I highlight it down here, it will create a new panel group. If I move it up a little bit, so it highlights the Color group, then it will add it to that group. There we go. So now both of those are inside the group. Let me show you one more way to add it to the group again. I'll pull out that whole group, so I can see both of these. I'll maximize it so we can see it, and now I want to move the whole group back into the Dock again. But instead of doing it one panel at a time, I'm going to move the whole group back by dragging its dark gray title Bar or whatever that's called, that little bar at the top.
Drag that handle all the way in, and once again I can add it as its own group or even add it to the Swatches panel group. So, now I have all three of these inside one group. One more important thing about the Dock here that's holding all of these, You can resize the Dock itself. Right now, it's too wide for my taste. I don't need to see the words Stroke, Color, Swatches, etcetera. I know what those panels are, just because I can look at the icons, and after you work with InDesign for a week or two you're going to recognize those icons as well, and you won't need to see the names up there anymore.
So reclaim some of your screen real estate by minimizing the Dock itself. And the way you do that is by placing the cursor over the left edge of the Dock, you have to wait until you get that little double-headed arrow and then drag to the right, and you can see that it just minimizes it, shrinks the size of the Dock until it snaps down to being just icons. And if you do forget what one of those icons are, you can always just hover the cursor on top of it until you see a little tooltip. So that one says Links, this one is Layers and so on. So you do get a little hint there from InDesign if you need it.
Now let's go ahead and open some more panels. Remember, all the panels in InDesign live under the Window menu. I'll go ahead and open, let's say the Info panel. There we go. There is the Info panel and let's open some other ones as well. How about inside the Output sub- menu, we can grab something else like Separations Preview. There's all kinds of panels in here. This is actually going to be a bunch of different panels in a group and I can put all of those into the Dock down below these in that gray area, or I can drag this up until I see a vertical blue line. Again, it's a little bit hard to see but if you look for a vertical blue line highlighting there and I let go, it actually creates a new Dock.
So now I've got a second Dock next to the first. I'll bring this panel group up here and I'll drag that in as well. Now why do these look like full panels even though they're docked? It's because they're expanded. Once again you can expand or minimize by clicking on the double triangles, those double arrows up there, there we go. Now they are just icons or tiles as I call them. And I can minimize these as well if I want to. It's up to you. The cool thing about having two different docks or even more docks if you want, is that you can have more than one docked panel open at the same time.
So for example I can click on Separations Preview and click on the Color panel and both of these can be open at the same time. You can only have one panel per dock open, but if you have more than one dock then you can have more than one panel open. So that's kind of handy. But in general, if you do want to have more than one panel open I recommend just dragging it out and having it free-floating. That's usually easier. Now once you have a panel open, you can resize it in various ways. The basic way though is to drag either in the lower right corner, this little shaded area, you can drag it and make it wider or smaller or just by dragging the edge, either the bottom edge or the right edge, you can make it wider or shorter, narrower and so on, to resize it to the size that you want.
Okay, there's one more thing about panels which I want to tell you and this actually has nothing to do with positioning but it does have something very important to do with panels themselves which is in the upper right corner of most panels, just below that double arrow, is a little icon which means there is a menu there. Most panels have their own menus and if you click on them, you'll see that there's a bunch of features in here and some of these features do not appear any other place in the program. So they're not up in the menus here, some of them don't even have keyboard shortcuts. So it's very important that whenever you're looking at a new panel that you take a look at the Panel menu to see what kind of features are hiding in there.
Positioning your panels is all about finding what you need as easily and quickly as possible. If you're spending all your time moving panels out of the way and opening new ones, closing them and so on, you're not being very efficient. So fortunately that's where InDesign's Workspaces feature comes in.
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