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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.
The more that you customize InDesign to the way that you work, the more efficient you're going to be. It's a simple law of nature. Now the primary way to customize InDesign is through the Preferences dialog box. In Windows, you get to the Preferences dialog box under the Edit menu. But here on the Mac, we find it under the InDesign menu. There it is, the Preferences submenu, and it looks there's a lot of different Preferences features, but, actually they all go to the same place. If you press Command+K on the Mac or Ctrl+K on Windows or choose any of these items, they all take you to the Preferences dialog box.
Each of those menu items is simply a shortcut to a different pane inside the Preferences dialog box. Now I'm not going to cover all of these things. It would just take way too long and there's probably a hundred of features in here, but I will point out that there are two different kinds of preferences. There are Document Preferences and Application Preferences. Now a Document preference will only affect the currently open document. That's the important thing here. So for example, in an earlier movie, I talked about the Ruler Units preferences. That is the horizontal and vertical measurements and I talked about how you can change those by using the context menu on the rulers.
Well, you can also change those here inside the Units & Increments pane of the Preferences dialog box. Right now this document is set to Inches, but if I use Millimeters, I can go ahead and change both of these, Horizontal and Vertical, to Millimeters. When I click OK, it changes all my settings to Millimeters. For example, if I choose this text frame, the Control panel lists the size of it in millimeters. So that's great, but this kind of preference only affects the document. It's a document preference or a document default. As soon as I create a new document by going to the File menu, choosing New and Document and I'll click OK to get a brand-new document, you can see that all of these measurements are in picas again, because the default preference for InDesign is picas.
So what do I do if I want millimeters for all my future documents? Well, the trick to setting document preferences is set them while no documents are opened. I'll go ahead and close this, and then close this one, and I won't even save the changes, I made there. I'll go back to the InDesign menu and choose Units & Increments from the Preferences submenu. That takes me right to that pane and now I'm going to change this to Millimeters. Click OK, and now when I open a new document from here, click OK, you'll see that now I'm in Millimeters.
So I've changed my underlying defaults. All of my new documents from here on out will be set to Millimeters. Now I mentioned that there's another kind of preference. Let's go back to Preferences here, and that is application preferences. And these preferences are settings that affect all documents. The one that's open, future ones, old documents that I open and so on. An example of an application preference would be, for example, under the Display Performance pane of the Preferences dialog box, I can change my Greek Type Below setting. Greek Type is a way to make InDesign more efficient by changing little tiny text to just gray bars.
It makes it just a gray bar, a line, on screen, instead of having to render little tiny text. So, I find it really annoying. I hate seeing those little gray bars. So I'm going to change this to two points. I'll very, very rarely see that gray bar. So that's great. I've made this change and this instance is an application-wide setting. So this will change all documents whether they're new documents or old documents. Those are all affected by this setting. In general, most of the Preference panes from Dictionary on downward are application-wide and most of the settings from Guides & Pasteboard up are document-wide settings.
There are some exceptions, but in general, that's the rule. In later movies, I'll be covering a number of different features in the Preferences dialog box, but always remember that document preferences will only affect future documents if you make them while no documents are open; that No Publication state. If you remember that, you'll keep yourself out of trouble and keep yourself efficient.
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