Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Letting InDesign do the math, part of InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics.
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If I select these three objects on my page, I can go up to the Control panel and see that their left edge is almost two and three quarter inches across from the left side of the page. Now let's say my art director tells me to move this over 5 millimeters. What is 2.7361 inchs + 5 millimeters? I mean, I could figure out the math if I had to, but it would probably take a few minutes to find my calculator. Forget it, don't worry about it. InDesign can do the math for you. In this case, if I want to move this over 4 mm, I press Command+6 or Ctrl+6 on Windows. That simply jumps to the first field in the Control panel. I press the right arrow key just to move the cursor over to the right and then I will type +4 mm. You can do math right in the field in here. Every field in InDesign, any place that you can type a number you can do math. So here I am adding 4 mm to what was there, hit Enter and they all move over exactly 4 mm. I don't have to do the math myself, I love that. And it's not just addition. You can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division even percentages. Let me show you an example.
Let's say I want to cut this image right in half. I wanted it to be half as wide as it currently is. I will zoom in 200% with Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows and if I want to cut this in half, I have to go to the Width field and I need a half of 4.9826 inches. That's ridiculous. I'd never be able to figure that out if I had to do the math myself. So instead I simply click to the right of it, press divided by, the divided is the slash, so I do /2 and hit Enter and it cuts it exactly in half. Now in this case the Link button was turned on, so it did both the height and the width at the same time. That's not what I wanted, so I better undo that. Click on that. Let's try this one more time, divided by 2, there you go. Half as wide as it was previously. Let's say I wanted it twice as wide as it currently up. I'll put it back to the way it was. I will click up here in the Width field. I will type multiply by 2, the multiply character is an asterisk so I just type *2. So that value times 2, hit Enter and now it's back to 2 times what it was.
What if I wanted the width to be let's say 75% of what it is currently? I can do percentages as well. I will use the keyboard shortcut to jump to the last field, which is Command+Option+Tilde on the Mac or Ctrl+Alt+Tilde on Windows. It jumps back to the same field and I will replace the entire thing with 75%. Now InDesign guesses that because I typed a percentage value in this field, it says oh! I bet you mean you want 75% of what was there previously and it does that math, that little multiplication for you behind the scenes. Hit Enter and now it's 75% of what it was.
Letting InDesign do the math for you means you get to have more time to focus on what you do best, design and layout.
- Automating with Data Merge and XML
- Optimizing page layouts
- Using advanced effects
- Creating interactive documents
- Integrating with Illustrator