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Setting text frame columns

From: InDesign CS6 Essential Training

Video: Setting text frame columns

You already know that you can change the number of columns on a page, but those columns are just guides. There's another feature in InDesign that actually forces text frames to break into multiple columns. Let me show you how you do it. I've opened the roux_article files from the Exercise Folder and I'm going to jump to the next spread by pressing Option+Page Down or Alt+Page Down, and I'll zoom in at the top part of this page with Command+Spacebar+Drag or Ctrl+Spacebar+Drag on Windows. I can see that I've a text frame here and it's a single column.

Setting text frame columns

You already know that you can change the number of columns on a page, but those columns are just guides. There's another feature in InDesign that actually forces text frames to break into multiple columns. Let me show you how you do it. I've opened the roux_article files from the Exercise Folder and I'm going to jump to the next spread by pressing Option+Page Down or Alt+Page Down, and I'll zoom in at the top part of this page with Command+Spacebar+Drag or Ctrl+Spacebar+Drag on Windows. I can see that I've a text frame here and it's a single column.

The key to making this a multiple column text frame is the Text Frame Options dialog box, which I can get to by going to the Object menu and choosing Text Frame Options. I'm going to move this down so we can see the important part of the dialog box, and the text frame at the same time. The first area of the Text Frame Options dialog box lists the number of Columns. Right now, we only have 1 column, but if I increase this to 2 or more, we can see that the text frame actually splits into columns. The amount of space between each column is called the Gutter, and you can control that in this field.

The third option is the Width. InDesign calculates that automatically, and it tells me that this is 126 points wide, from one edge of the column to the other. If my document were in centimeters or inches, it would show me at centimeters or inches instead of course. Sometimes, when I'm working on a document the design calls for a very specific column width, for example, maybe 12 picas. I can come up here and replace this Width with exactly the amount I want. I'll do 12p and then press Tab to jump out of that field, and you can see that InDesign actually changes the width of the column, infact it changes the width of the whole frame.

I'll move this dialog box up and click OK because I want to show you a problem. I've specified a very specific Width for my column, but if I accidentally come up here and stretch this frame out, InDesign throws that out the window. I still have two columns but they're completely the wrong width now. Fortunately, InDesign has two features that will help with this. I'm going to go back to the Text Frame Options dialog box, but this time I'm going to use a shortcut. You could press Command+B or Ctrl+B on Windows, or my favorite shortcut, simply Option+Double-click or Alt +Double-click on Windows.

When you do that up comes the Text Frame Options dialog box. Move this out of the way a little bit, and I'm going to change the Columns pop-up menu from Fixed Number to Fixed Width. If my design calls for a specific width, I probably want to change this to Fixed Width, and I'm going to choose the Width in here. I think, I said that was 12 Picas, right? Press Tab and you'll see that now the Fixed Width size is 144 points, which is 12 picas. I'll click OK and now we see something different happen when I try and stretch this out.

It won't let me make it anymore narrow. I'm dragging to the left but it does not change the Width because I'll always have a Fixed Width. Now something else happens if I drag to the right. If I drag farther to the right, it forces there to be a third column and it's always exactly the right width. Make this smaller again, I'll drag all the way over here, and it goes down to two columns. Make it wider and it goes to three columns. So maybe that's what you want. Another hand some designs call for it to be a little flexible and how wide that column could be.

So, in that case, I'll Option+Double-click or Alt+Double-click to open the Text Frame Options dialog box and I'll change the Columns pop-up menu to Flexible Width. Flexible Width activates a new field here called Maximum, and now we have a Width and a Maximum width. So I could say I want nominally, the column to be 12 picas, but I'm willing to let it go as high as, now let's say 15 picas. I'll click OK and now I have a slightly different effect. I can make it smaller, smaller, smaller, but as soon as it gets too small it snaps back to a different width.

Make it wider, and I can have actually wider, wider, wider and now, we actually have four columns. The fourth column is a little truncated here because I'm getting text wrap from that image. I'll talk about text wrap in a later chapter. But you get the idea, we actually have a little bit of flexibility and how many columns and how wide those columns could be. As you can see InDesign really tries to help you strike the right balance between creativity, flexibility and a tightly controlled design.

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This video is part of

Image for InDesign CS6 Essential Training
InDesign CS6 Essential Training

113 video lessons · 85752 viewers

David Blatner
Author

 
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  1. 1m 23s
    1. What is InDesign?
      1m 23s
  2. 2m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 38s
  3. 21m 19s
    1. Getting started
      3m 33s
    2. Adding or editing text
      3m 23s
    3. Adding or replacing graphics
      4m 31s
    4. Moving objects around
      4m 55s
    5. Printing and creating a PDF
      4m 57s
  4. 26m 6s
    1. Exploring the application window
      6m 25s
    2. Navigating and magnifying pages and objects
      6m 24s
    3. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 35s
    4. Working with panels
      3m 58s
    5. Setting the view quality of artwork
      2m 31s
    6. Adjusting view and preview settings
      4m 13s
  5. 27m 52s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 39s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      4m 2s
    3. Saving for CS4 and CS5 with IDML
      2m 24s
    4. Setting the margin and column guides
      4m 29s
    5. Putting ruler guides on the page
      5m 7s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 11s
  6. 23m 37s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      4m 32s
    2. Changing page size
      4m 38s
    3. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 18s
    4. Overriding master page items
      2m 43s
    5. Adding page numbering
      2m 22s
    6. Changing page numbering with sections
      4m 4s
  7. 52m 47s
    1. Understanding text frames
      3m 38s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 48s
    3. Inserting special characters
      4m 1s
    4. Importing text
      3m 47s
    5. Threading text frames
      3m 12s
    6. Setting text frame columns
      4m 31s
    7. Setting text inset and vertical justification options
      3m 48s
    8. Allowing text frames to grow and shrink
      4m 5s
    9. Putting text on a path
      5m 50s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      5m 10s
    11. Checking spelling
      5m 12s
    12. Using Find/Change
      4m 45s
  8. 28m 19s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 20s
    2. Using the Links panel
      7m 17s
    3. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 10s
    4. Fitting graphics to the frame
      5m 1s
    5. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 31s
  9. 35m 49s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 2s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      5m 6s
    3. Colorizing images
      1m 59s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 4s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      3m 33s
    6. Using other transparency effects
      5m 15s
    7. Copying and formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 59s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 51s
  10. 18m 34s
    1. Creating color swatches
      4m 33s
    2. Understanding the danger and power of unnamed colors
      5m 46s
    3. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 53s
    4. Applying gradients
      4m 22s
  11. 15m 27s
    1. Editing frame and path shapes
      5m 8s
    2. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      4m 8s
    3. Making polygons and starbursts
      1m 59s
    4. Creating text outlines
      4m 12s
  12. 37m 56s
    1. Positioning objects with the Gap tool
      3m 54s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 5s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      5m 27s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 33s
    5. Grouping and locking objects
      3m 10s
    6. Nesting objects
      3m 23s
    7. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 20s
    8. Understanding text wrap
      5m 51s
    9. Using anchored objects
      6m 13s
  13. 26m 16s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 37s
    2. Collecting, conveying, and placing content
      8m 58s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 22s
    4. Scaling objects
      4m 21s
    5. Skewing objects
      1m 8s
    6. Mirroring objects
      3m 50s
  14. 24m 19s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 31s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 28s
    3. Changing case
      3m 23s
    4. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      5m 3s
    5. Using Find Font
      3m 54s
  15. 32m 51s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 4s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      2m 10s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      1m 52s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 26s
    5. Setting tabs
      7m 36s
    6. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 23s
    7. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 10s
    8. Numbering paragraphs
      6m 10s
  16. 19m 47s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 10s
    2. Using character styles
      4m 45s
    3. Editing and redefining styles
      2m 20s
    4. Using object styles
      2m 47s
    5. Applying styles with Quick Apply
      3m 45s
  17. 39m 59s
    1. Creating a table
      4m 29s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      4m 36s
    3. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      3m 0s
    4. Formatting a table
      4m 32s
    5. Formatting cells
      6m 2s
    6. Applying table styles
      5m 33s
    7. Placing graphics in cells
      3m 1s
    8. Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 46s
  18. 16m 45s
    1. Building a multi-document book
      7m 27s
    2. Creating "continued on..." jump lines
      3m 51s
    3. Constructing a table of contents (TOC)
      5m 27s
  19. 23m 8s
    1. Exporting EPUBs
      6m 12s
    2. Creating an interactive PDF
      12m 49s
    3. Building a Flash SWF
      4m 7s
  20. 28m 1s
    1. Checking a document with the Preflight panel
      5m 26s
    2. Packaging for output
      3m 34s
    3. Using the Print dialog box
      4m 52s
    4. Printing a small booklet
      2m 46s
    5. Exporting a PDF
      7m 56s
    6. Exporting text
      3m 27s
  21. 1m 25s
    1. Next steps
      1m 25s

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