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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.
While there are a few people who use InDesign for pictures only, most of us need to put text on our pages. Well, you can't have text without a text frame. But the good news is that there are a lot of ways to make text frames in InDesign. Let's look at a few of them. The basic method is to use the Type tool, the Type tool lets you edit text inside of a text frame, but it also lets you create new text frames. For example, if I want a text frame here on my page, I simply click-and-drag out an area. Now I have a rectangular text frame and I can start typing some text.
Just simple as that. A second way you can make a text frame is by making any kind of other frame or shape in InDesign. For example, I am just going to grab this Graphic Frame tool and draw something out on the pasteboard here. Now this is technically a graphic frame. It has a big X in it, which means it's expecting a graphic to be put into it. But I can grab the Type tool and click inside of it. Notice what happens to the Type tool when I hover over it. Out here the Type tool cursor is square which means that it will make a new frame.
But as soon as I hover on top of a frame it becomes circular kind of like parenthesis and it means that if I click now it's going to put the type into this frame. In fact, if I do that it literally converts that Graphic frame into a Type frame. So it's changing from one type to another, and then I can just type some random text in there. So that's another way you can make a frame. Once again, any frame can turn into a text frame simply by clicking on it with the Type tool. In fact, I could even use the Pencil tool, just to kind of do some kind of crazy shape, doesn't even need to be closed.
Grab the Type tool and click on top of it and all of a sudden I have a text frame in this wacky shape. So anything can be turned into a text frame in InDesign. Now some people don't like that fact, they want graphic frames to stay graphic frames, they want weird pencil shaped things to stay weird pencil shaped things without text going into them accidentally, and that's okay too. You can set up InDesign so that Graphic frames and regular paths do not get turned into Type frames and the way you do that is by changing its Preferences.
So I'll go to the InDesign menu on the Mac or on Windows, it's under the Edit menu and I'll scroll down to Preferences and I'll choose Type. That just is a shortcut to go to the Type pane of the Preferences dialog box. And there are lots and lots of preferences in here. I am not going to go through all of them but I do want to point out one of them here called Type tool Converts Frames to text frames. And if I turn that off then I've changed the behavior in InDesign, I'll click OK, I'll make a new graphic frame here, just draw a big graphic frame right in the middle of the page here.
Grab my Type tool and look what happens when I place the cursor over it. It no longer changes into those rounded parenthesis. I can click on it and nothing happens. It will not convert that frame into a text frame. So I have changed the behavior of InDesign. Okay, there is one more way that you can create a text frame in InDesign and that is by importing text, either by copying it from some other program and pasting it in here when nothing is selected on the page, or by using the Place command. I am going to go into a lot of detail later on in the chapter about importing text from Word processors like Microsoft Word, but I'll just do the really quick version right now.
I'll go to the File menu, I'll choose Place or you can Command+D or Ctrl+D on Windows. I'll select my text file, it's an RTF file and I'm going to click Open and it loads up something called the Place Cursor, it gives me a little thumbnail description of the first few words of that text file right next to the cursor. And this Place Cursor can create a Type frame for me as well. If I hover on top of an empty frame you'll see that the cursor changes to again those rounded parentheses, and that means if I click it's going to fill some frame in the background with my text.
But I can still click-and-drag out an area, and if I click-and-drag out an area it automatically makes a frame, that size, and fills the place text into it. Now that you know how to get a Text frame let's take the next step, editing that text inside the frame.
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