Join Anne-Marie Concepción for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up layers to streamline production, part of InDesign: Designing Templates.
- Another hallmark of smart InDesign templates is the existence of multiple layers to help the designer isolate individual items much more easily. For example, if we look at our final Globe Bank White Paper, this is an old issue, and we go to layers panel, you can see that there's multiple layers here. So I can easily click the eyeball next to the text layer, for example, to hide all the text and just work on the images or hide the image background layer and so on.
But by default, your InDesign documents don't come with all those layers. You have to create them yourself. Everything appears in a single Layer 1, and the color, that blue bar next to it, is used to outline frame edges and so on. Before I talk about creating layers and moving items to layers in this Layers Begin, let me talk about layers in general, just in case you're not that familiar with working with them. I tell you, it's surprising to me how the majority of users that I encounter when I'm training or demoing don't use multiple layers.
They only use Layer 1. I remember one time I got a call from a client who'd been using it to publish a newspaper at a college who said that there was something wrong with his InDesign because he was seeing items that were colored in orange and red and green instead of the traditional blue, which is this color right here, and it was because he had gotten a template from a smart InDesign user that used different layers. So I have a layers demo here and we're just going to talk about it briefly. If you've never used layers before, this is not your video.
You need to go to Lynda.com and check out my friend David Blatner's title, InDesign Essential Training. Here's the one for CC, but he's done them, I think, since version one, where he has many videos about working with layers that go into great detail about how to manage objects and layers. But in this little video, I want to show you an overview of how layers work and then we'll actually create the layers that we want for our template. The basics are that every time you drag out an object onto the page, it goes into a layer, and if you haven't done any additional layers, they go into Layer 1.
In more recent versions of InDesign, objects that you put on the page get their own sublayer like here. So I can select an item on the page and that gets highlighted with this filled-in square on the layer that it exists in. So the name of the layer and then also the object itself. As I create objects, they appear on top of each other. That's called a stacking order, and you can move items in a different order, stack-wise, by going to the Object menu, going to Arrange, and using these commands. These only effect the stacking order within a layer.
It doesn't send something to the bottom most layer, just within the same layer. Now if I wanted to just work on text and not the graphics, I would have to come over here and click the eyeball next to all the other things that I don't want to see. And, see, that's kind of a pain so what we want to do is we want to create a bunch of layers that, I think, every new template should have or every InDesign document for that matter. Background, Images, Text, and Folios, and we'll do that starting with this document. First, I'm going to rename Layer 1 to Text, and to rename a layer, you can double click it or just click once on the name and then again after a pause.
That's called a Southern double click, like a drawl, from my friend Claudia McCue. We'll called this text. That's all. And now we're going to create another layer, and what are the other layers that we want? We want images, background and folios so I'm going to create a new layer and we'll call this images. I'll do the Southern double click and call this images and you could also OPT or ALT + click right on the new layer button and give it a name here. I'll call this folios and, finally, we want one for backgrounds.
Here's another way to create a new layer, right from the Layer Panel menu. Call this background. There you go. And we'll also want to arrange the layers themselves in logical order. For example, background should be at the bottom, right, because objects that are in a higher layer will appear above items in the lower layer. Go down here. There you go. So that's background. Folios at the top, image and text. Is that what I want? I want the text above image. Yeah, that makes sense. So I'll just move this up to just drag and drop them.
Watch where that line appears, and we're good to go. Now let's actually assign something to a layer. I'm going to go to the Pages panel and go to the cover, where we have this piece of artwork that is locked. So I'm going to unlock everything so I can move it, and now in the layers panel, you'll see that it's in the text layer, the default layer, and I want to move it to the background layer. And so to move an object from one layer to another, simply grab its little target icon at the right of its name in the layers panel and drag and drop it onto a layer that you want.
Now it's on the background layer. That way, it's going to be behind everything that I put into this document, and I can easily lock the layer itself without having to lock every single item in the background, which is really nice. When I'm working, I want to make sure that items that I'm placing on the page are going on the right layer so I don't have to worry about dragging them to the correct layer later. So that's something that you get into a habit of is checking the layers panel and clicking the text layer before you drag out a text frame, for example. I'll do that really quickly so here I drag a text frame and it's colored blue, and if I wanted to place an image, I'd probably go into the images layer first, and then place an image and so on.
I'm going to get rid of that for now. One last thing I want to mention is that you might think, "Oh, this is going to be a pain." But actually it's a lot simpler. Once you set them up, that's about it, and usually you're working with text for a long time so you just stay in the text layer, and what's nice is that you don't have to worry about "Am I on the right layer?" You can close the layers panel when you're done, and just click anywhere and you can see that I can select pictures and text and all sorts of items as long as they're not on a locked layer, and I don't need to worry about which layer they're on. Everything is completely editable as though we were in one layer, but I can use the color of the non-printing frames as a guideline to tell me which layer this object sits on.
So I strongly recommend that in any document that you're creating to use as a template or a starter document to take the time to create a few layers by default, and then use those during production. It'll make laying out your pages much easier.
So what are you waiting for? In this course, Anne-Marie Concepción shows how to use InDesign to find and create templates that fit your needs. By building in the power tools you need for production—flexible master pages, logical layers, object styles, libraries and snippets, and styles—you'll have a template that prepares you for success. Plus, get tips, secret shortcuts, and useful scripts, as well as practice lessons to reinforce your newfound skills along the way.
- Finding free and paid InDesign templates
- Creating templates from existing documents
- Setting up new templates: margins, swatches, grids, and more
- Adding text and image placeholders
- Creating reusable elements
- Making smart paragraph, character, and object styles
- Embedding a custom preflight check
- Adding a style guide
- Working with special EPUB and interactive templates