Join Mike Rankin for an in-depth discussion in this video Using InDesign templates, part of Creating Long Documents with InDesign.
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Consistency and efficiency are key to a good long document workflow, and you can't have either without a solid foundation on which to build your pages. That foundation is your InDesign template. So, let's take a look. So, what do I mean by a template? Well, a template is an InDesign document with master pages, styles, swatches, grids and guides and other elements that serve as the basis for construction of your long document. And you can save it in InDesign template format as a .indt document, which will prevent any accidental changes in the template, but that's not absolutely necessary.
So, what is necessary? We can begin this discussion with a list of some of the templating best practices. Many of the issues I touch on here are described in-depth in other movies in this series. One of the first questions to answer is will you be using any third-party plug-ins in your workflow? There are a lot of plug-ins that can be a huge benefit in long documents, but before you create a new document that will serve as the basis for your template, figure out if you're going to use these third-party plug-ins and confirm that everyone who needs to work in the InDesign files will have these plug-ins.
You don't want to create files dependent on plug-ins that other people in the workflow don't have, because this can lead to missing plug-in warnings and other errors when documents are opened. You can tell which plug-in a document is using by holding the Command or Ctrl key and choosing About InDesign. There you can see the plug- ins used and if any are missing. Next, confirm the physical size of the job. If at all possible, you should be 100% sure that the trim, bleed and slug sizes are set correctly from the outset, because these things are not easily changed later on.
You can press Command + Option + P or Ctrl + Alt + P to open the Document Setup dialog box and check these values. Here, I can see the width and height and if I click on More Options I can see the bleed and slug values. Next, confirm your font set. This will save you many hours of aggravation and lost productivity if you could be sure to build your templates using the correct font set and nothing but the correct fonts. Keep all the fonts for a project in one folder and if possible use OpenType fonts, which are cross-platform compatible.
If you need to juggle large numbers or projects and fonts, consider using a third-party font management tool. You can check which fonts your template uses by choosing Type > Find Font, and see the current list of fonts in the document. Master pages are probably the most important aspect of your template. You need to create master pages for each page type in your prototype. Typically, you would create master pages for body text, chapter openers, feature pages and the like, whatever designs will be repeated through the long document enough that you don't want to build them from scratch.
Layers are also a key tool for organizing your pages. They should be carefully planned to give you the flexibility to output custom versions of a job if that's a requirement, and to ease production by keeping things organized. If any art is linked to the template, you should be sure that it's in the right color space and resolution for your expected outputs. You can embed a preflight profile in the template to ensure that errors don't sneak in during production. Down at the bottom of the document window, I can choose Define Profiles and here I can embed a profile in the document.
This can help you avoid prepress problems at the end of the workflow when your deadline is looming. Consider how you name styles and swatches. If you expect to be styling large amounts of manuscript, you might want to use the Quick Apply feature to apply styles. With Quick Apply the names of styles serve as the keyboard shortcuts to apply them. So here I've used little letter prefixes for each of the styles, so I can type those in Quick Apply and quickly apply the styles. When it comes to swatches, it's a good idea to name them all with the color values.
So, for example, you don't end up with two different blue number twos. Also, make sure there are no unnamed colors in the document. Every color used in the template should come from a swatch because that's how you ensure consistency and your ability to quickly make changes. So, after you're done adding all the page elements and styles, go to your Swatches panel and choose Add Unnamed Colors. One of the most fundamental aspects of a long document template is the baseline grid. I can see that by going to InDesign > Preferences > Grids, and here is the Baseline Grid.
It's like the glue that holds everything in place and it can literally hold text in place if you setup your styles to align to the grid. It can hold the spread together by ensuring the text base aligns across the pages, and it can serve as a guide for placing things like tables and photos and other elements, so they all fit together with even spacing. Typically, you would set the grid to start with 0 offset relative to the top margin of your text and increment equal to the leading of the body text. In addition to the baseline grid, confirm that other document specific preferences are set the way you want them to be.
Things like superscript and subscript settings, text wrap, and overprinting black are just some of the examples of document-specific preferences. And there are also lots of little things you can build into a template to save time when you're building layouts. For example, you can setup frames so that when you place a photo in them, the photo is automatically scaled to a certain percentage. You can set this up by going to your InDesign > Preferences > General Preferences, and select Adjust Scaling Percentage and click OK. Then draw out a new frame, and use the scaling controls in your Control panel to enter the scale that you want, say 60% in this case.
Now, I can resize this frame using the Selection tool to any size I want and it retains that scaling percentage. So if I place a photo in here by pressing Command + D or Ctrl + D, it's automatically scaled down to 60%. Very handy! The final step in template prep is cleanup. It's time to get rid of any unused swatches, styles, masters, anything lingering on the pasteboard. So, first get rid of any document pages and master spreads that aren't needed and then clean up the pasteboard.
Zoom all the way out by choosing View > Entire Pasteboard. Stow the panels, and here I can see I have some lingering text frames that I want to get rid of. So, I'll select them and delete them. Be sure to do this on both master spreads as well as document spreads, and then go through your style panels, paragraph styles, character styles, object, table and cell and delete anything that might have snuck its way in accidentally. Then once you're totally satisfied that your template is ready to go--and I'm going to just get rid of this picture.
You can save it in InDesign template format by choosing File > Save As > Format > InDesign CS5.5 template. This way you and others can open it and automatically have a new document created, leaving the original that you work so hard to perfect in its pristine state. Templates are the blueprints from which your long document can be built. Next, we'll take a look at a key aspect of templates that's sometimes overlooked, setting up document preferences.
- Using text variables
- Creating templates for InDesign, InCopy, and Word
- Employing nested styles
- Creating GREP styles
- Managing color with swatches
- Building page elements with libraries and snippets
- Performing GREP find/changes
- Using InCopy workflows
- Tracking changes
- Adding footnotes and indexes
- Using InDesign book files
- Versioning documents with conditional text or object styles
- Preflighting documents
- Archiving a project
- Finding and installing useful scripts and plug-ins for frequent challenges