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A new feature in InDesign CS6 is the ability to auto-size text frames. It's long been a bugbear of InDesign users that when you add type the text very easily becomes overset, causing you to then readjust the size of your text frame, or thread that text frame to a new column, a new page, or a different part of the page. This is a partial solution to that problem, and I perhaps am exaggerating the problem in the first place. It's not that big a deal.
We need to take control of where our type goes. So anything that has auto in front of it for me is a little bit suspect, but it can be very useful in the following circumstances. So I'm not going to use auto-sizing for my main flow of text. If I were do so, let's see what we might end up with. You can see that my text is currently overset, as indicated by the red plus. Auto-size exists here in our Text Frame Options.
It's a tab within that dialog box. Now, if turn on Auto-Sizing, these are the difference favors of auto-sizing that I have. I'm going to choose Height Only, and I'd like the text frame to grow from the bottom, so I'm going to select this top center square. And then when I turn on my Preview, we can see that it's just going to add more space below the image. It's not going to thread it to a new location. So in this case, I need to take control of this particular text frame.
Auto-sizing is not going to work for me. But in the case of these smaller supporting frames -- so I have a sidebar article here, I have a picture caption, and I have a picture credit -- here's where auto-sizing can be particularly useful. So for this one, I'm going to select it; Command+B or Control+B, Auto-Size. Now, in this case, Height Only, and it is resizing from the bottom. So the top is going to be locked in position, and it's going to grow from the bottom.
That means that when I zoom in on there, I can start adding content, and we can see that the text automatically resizes, including any space that I may have incorporated into the bottom of that text frame. You can see that I've included a slightly larger Bottom inset, and that's factored into the resizing, so that's useful. I'm just going to select a piece of text there to copy that, and now I'm going to into this, which is a picture caption relating to the picture beneath, and when I paste that into there, you can see that this text frame resizes, but it grows upwards, and we have the bottom locked in position.
So for picture captions placed above images, that may be a good option for you. And in the case of this text frame, we have a picture caption; let's say I need to add some information to that. I have inserted my cursor at the end of caption, and I can paste that, and we can see that it automatically grows in size. Very fiddly stuff that prior to InDesign CS6, every time you did this, you had to come and readjust the size of your text frame, which very quickly became rather annoying, so it's very useful to have this option. If we go and look at the Text Frame Options, Auto-Size, this is Auto-Sizing, Width Only.
So that's my personal take on the new auto-size feature in InDesign CS6. Not so useful for your continuous text flow, but very useful for your standalone text frames; stories that start and finish within the same text frame, such as sidebars, captions, and picture credits.
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