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- 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
Skill Level Intermediate
Just like with styles, master pages, books, et cetera, layers are all about organizing things, so you can exert control over many items at once, and there are a lot of reasons why it's worth separating your page content into different layers. For example, if you want to grab all the items on a spread, like all the photos on this spread, I could kind of click around, and Shift + Click and try to grab this one and struggle a little bit to do that, or instead, I can just go to the Layers panel and just click on the square on the right-hand side, and then I have all the photos on the Art layer at once, much easier.
It's also common to have guides layers. By putting guides on their own layer on master pages, you can turn them on and off throughout your document and you can have multiple independent sets of guides. Like if you had a set of guides for the placing of art and another set of guides for the text. So, I can turn my Guides layers on and off. Of course, you'll have to figure out a layer strategy that makes the most sense for your projects. You don't have to create any extra layers besides the default Layer 1, but it usually is helpful in one way or another. Take for example, the behavior of master page items. If I go to a different page in this document, I'll go to page 21 and here I have a poem, The Mammoth Cheese, and I have a couple of text frames with my running header and my running footer, and behind those are this full-page photo of the Mammoth Cheese, and these are all separated out on their own layers.
So if I look in the Layers panel, the photo of the cheese is on the Art layer and my text frame and my header and my page number are on the Text layer. But if I had all these on the same layer, I'd have a problem. So if I select the cheese photo and move it up to the text layer, and even if I move it to the back, by going to Object > Arrange > Send to Back. See how it still obscures the running header and the page number. That's because master items that have not been overridden, always sit behind ones that have been overridden, and behind items that were created on the document page.
So I could make those text items appear by overriding them, but I'd rather leave them alone so they don't get moved or changed in any way by accident. So this is a great-use case for layers. Now, if you need to copy layers from one document to another, there are two ways to do this. For a single document, I'll go to my PastingLayers document, and I'll select this photo of the cheese. I'm going to go to my Layers panel and make sure that Paste Remembers Layers is turned on. This is key to getting this layer to come into my other document. So, I'll copy the photo, go to my other document and choose Paste or Command + V or Ctrl + V. And now the Extra Cheese layer came into this document.
But there're a couple of things to watch out for when you paste layers. First of all, check the stacking order here. In this case it came out right because the other three layers; Text, Art and Guides were common to both documents, but if you have the mixture of layers you might not get the stacking order that you expect. The second thing is, did you notice the different way this layer appears in the Layers panel from one document to another? If I switch back and forth, see how the words Extra Cheese are in oblique here, and they're not in this document. That's because in the original document, the Extra Cheese layer was set to not print.
If I double-click on it I can see the Layer Options and see Print Layer is unchecked, but if I go to the second document and double-click to look at layer Options, Print Layer is checked. So, this Extra Cheese layer won't print in the original document, but it will in the second document. So, that's just something to be aware of. Layer Options are not copied when you paste a layer from one document to another. You can also copy layers between documents via the Book panel and later in this course we'll have a whole series of movies showing what you can do with the Book panel, but I'll just mention this one issue here, since it's very specific to layers.
Here I've a Book panel with two small documents in it and I'll open SyncingLayers1. I know this is my style source document by this icon on the left side, and if I click off of it, I can then click on the Synchronize button, and I'll hold down the Option or Alt key to bring up my Synchronize Options. Now, there's no control here to synchronize layers, but if I select to synchronize master pages, all the layers that contain at least one object on a master spread will be synced, and even better those layer options will be copied as well.
So, if a layer is set to not print in one document, it will also not print in the other documents it's synchronized to. So, now if I press Synchronize, and click OK, I can check both of my documents and see that they have the exact same layers and the layer options are the same. Now, unfortunately this synchronization of layer options is a one-time thing. It only happens when layers are introduced into a new document via synchronization. If you change the layer options in your style source document later on, and sync the Book again, those options won't sync, but at least you get that one first full-time synchronization.
One more thing I wanted to mention was how to merge layers. So, we'll go to our Merging and Deleting Layers document. If you try to clean up a bunch of documents and make them all consistent. You might find you have some layer cleanup to do. Maybe someone didn't realize they weren't supposed to create their own layers or maybe they accidentally introduced bogus layers into the documents. So, first to get rid of empty layers, go to Layers panel, go to the menu and select Delete Unused Layers. So this'll get rid of all the empty layers in your document.
Then to get rid of other layers, but to keep the content from those layers, you merge them with the layers you want to keep. First, select the layer you want to keep. So, in this case I have photos that are on Layer 5 and the Extra Cheese layer, and I want all of my photos to be on this Art layer. So, I'll click on the Art layer first, and then I'll Shift + Click on Extra Cheese and Layer 5. So this will make Layer 5 and Extra Cheese merge with the Art layer. I'll go to the Layers Panel menu and choose Merge Layers, and now all the art is on the Art layer.
So, now that we've worked a little bit with layers and also worked with them in the Book panel. You might be wondering how do you synchronize the visibility of layers in multiple documents. In fact, there is no InDesign feature for doing this, but there is a free script written by Theunis de Jong, otherwise known as Jongware, which you can download from indesignsecrets.com. It's called Show/Hide Layer Per Book and it will allow you to do just that. So, I've installed it here in my Script's panel, and it's this one called layerPerBook2.
And to run it I need to close all the other documents that aren't in the Book. There, now I just have the Book open. I can double-click on the script and in the dialog box I can choose the layers that I want to synchronize. So, say I just wanted to have the Text and the Art layer, and the Extra Cheese layer off, in all my documents. I'll deselect Extra Cheese and click on OK. I'll show my Layers panel just to confirm that that worked. So, I have Text and Art visible, Extra Cheese and Guides off, and I'll look at my other document, and the same thing.
So, very nice, synchronizing layers via a script. Master pages in layers are very big aspects of document construction. Next, we'll get into some of the smaller parts of long documents, with a look at text variables.