Join Mike Rankin for an in-depth discussion in this video Using libraries and snippets, part of InDesign: Creating Long Documents.
- In your long documents you probably have at least a few common design elements that don't always appear at the same locations on the page or maybe you need to share page elements with someone else or you need to use a set of page elements across multiple publications. If any of this sounds familiar, you should be using libraries or snippets. First let's talk about creating snippets and library items. To create a snippet, I can select a page item. And I can choose file, export, and format, I'll choose snippet.
I'll put it on the desktop, and I'll give it a name. I'll just call this feature box left, and click save or I can select an item and drag and drop it to my desktop. And for that, since I'm using the application frame, I have to drag InDesign out of the way so I can actually see my desktop. And I'll drag it over and drop it in place. And when it appears on the desktop, it's now an InDesign snippet, and it's named with this sort of meaningless file name. But I can quickly change that. I'll just call this feature box right and switch back to InDesign.
Now, to create library items, you first need a library to put them into. So to create a library, I'll choose file, new, library, I'll put this on the desktop, and I'll call it Cheese Library. And now I can place items into this library. So with this group on the left selected, I'll hold option or alt and click on the new library item button. This brings up the dialogue box where I can name it, again, I'll call it feature box left. And I can select an object type.
I'll just leave it at text, and I can add a description. I'll call this sidebar feature for left pages, and click okay. I can also drag an item into a library and then double-click it to edit the information, call it feature box right, the object type is text, and the description, sidebar feature for right pages, and click okay. And the benefit of descriptions is that you can search on them. So if I had a huge library with all kinds of items, I could find this element quickly by clicking on the search button and typing in some words that were in the description.
So I'll choose description contains and say right, and click okay. And notice that even though I have two items in this library, I now see only one, just the one that matched the search that I just did. I can show all the items in the library by right-clicking in it and choosing show all. This can be helpful if it seems like some library items are missing. You might just be viewing a subset of the items. You can update library items easily. So if the design of something changes, like say the fill of this box on the left-hand side needs to be made darker to match the one on the right, I can select the frame, I'll use the control panel to darken the fill to 50 percent, select the group, and then right-click on the item in the library and choose update library item.
And you can see the fill changed inside the library. You can even add guides as library items and snippets. You can't drag guides into libraries or onto your desktop to make a snippet. But you can add them to libraries by selecting a guide like this one right here and then clicking on the new library item button. I'll double-click it, and we'll just call it feature guide. To export a guide as a snippet, with it selected I'll just press command or control E, save it to the desktop, again choose format, InDesign snippet, and we'll give it a name, call it feature guide, and click save.
Now, one thing to note is that you can't save guides and page objects into the same snippet or library item because it's impossible to select both things at the same time. To place snippets in library items, you can just drag and drop them into the layout. So I'll delete the originals here, and I can drag this library item into the layout or if I delete it, I can place it just by right-clicking on it and choosing place item. And when I place it, it goes to the position of the original item.
To place a snippet, I'll press command or control D to get the place dialogue box, navigate to the desktop, select feature box right, and click open. Now, you have the option to place snippets at the same location as the original or at your cursor. And the default for this preference is set in your file handling preferences. Right now my preferences are set to go to the cursor location, so if I click, this box will go exactly where my cursor is. But I can undo and hold option or alt and click, and now the box goes to the position of the original.
You should also know that snippets and library items will retain their layer associations if you've selected paste remembers layers in the layers panel. So let's go over to the layers panel and check that out. Layers panel menu, paste remembers layers, and it's selected, I can tell by this little check mark here. So my snippets and library items for these feature boxes have all gone on to the features layer. If paste remembers layers was turned off, an imported snippet or library item would go to whichever layer was targeted in the layers panel.
Another cool use for snippets and library items is as repositories of document resources you might want to reuse in the future. So what do I mean by document resources? Well, things like paragraph styles, character styles, table and cell styles, object styles, swatches, strokes, layers, hyperlinks, even XML tags, all of those things can be saved in snippets and library items. And when you place a snippet or a library item into a document, all the resources come along with it.
So let's see how that works, I'll create a brand new document, just press command or control N and accept the default. And right now this document has just about nothing in it, so it's got just the default layer one, no paragraph styles other than basic paragraph, no character styles, and so on, so let's add some resources. I'll press command or control D. I'll go into the exercise files, go into the folder for this movie, and select this snippet BaseStyles.idms.
I'll click open, and you can see I have a bunch of resources right here at my cursor. Even though I haven't clicked yet, all the resources for these page items have now been added to my panels so you can see I now have a text layer and an art layer, and I have a whole bunch of paragraph styles and a character style and so on. And since I don't really want these page items placed into this document, I just wanted those resources, I can press the escape key and get rid of the page items, and I still keep all the resources.
So I still have all those paragraph styles. So as we've seen in this movie, both snippets and libraries can be really useful in long document workflows, both for storing and reusing page objects as well as for giving you a way to instantly inject things like styles, swatches, and layers into your documents.
- Using automatic numbering for pages, sections, and chapters
- Using text variables for running headers
- Creating templates for InDesign, InCopy, and Word
- Formatting page elements with object styles
- Automating text formatting with nested styles and GREP styles
- Controlling color with swatches
- Building page elements with libraries and snippets
- Performing GREP find/changes
- Tracking changes
- Adding footnotes and indexes
- Using InDesign book files
- Preflighting documents