Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with templates, part of InDesign CS3 Long Documents.
Let's talk about working with templates and how you might leverage the power of templates to speed up your workflow. I'm in a document called realworldtravel and this is in the Travel Brochure folder and this layout that I have here is essentially going to serve as the blueprint for all of the different travel itineraries for this fictional travel company and if I just take a spin through I've got various other itineraries planned, different regions and the text has been poured in and roughly styled but only this one has actually been designed and this design is what I want to carry through to the other countries.
So I just want to talk about the elements that I'm including in the template and this is a very personal thing. People do this in very different ways. I might myself do it in a different way depending on how I wake up in the morning. But these are some things to consider when making a template. So firstly, we want to be working with a grid. I'm going to turn on my guides by pressing W to go to my Normal View mode and we see that I have a baseline grid set up and furthermore the text is locking to that baseline grid.
Now the baseline grid is going to help me achieve a much more ordered look to my document which if that's what you want then it's a hard thing to achieve without the grid. It's going to mean that the baselines of our columns align across columns and it's also going to determine a base increment, which is used to space the different elements. You'll see that the spacing between the columns, the spacing between the pictures is all based upon the grid increment. So it kind of takes the guesswork of positioning items on the page and to set up my baseline grid I went to my Grids, Preferences.
Now if you're working on a Windows machine that's going to be under the Edit menu, Preferences. So, that's one preference and since we're going to be going to Preferences anyway and that's another aspect of what we want to consider in our template. Let's go to Preferences right now and we'll just take a spin through and I will mention the things that I think you might want to consider changing. In General Preferences they can all stay as they are. Interface, no need to change any of those. Likewise, with Type, Advanced Type, yep, fine. Nothing to change there.
Units & Increments. Now here, I do recommend you make some changes. I find that the default Cursor Key Increment is a bit too coarse. This is the distance that any item moves when you nudge it with your cursor arrow. So I like to reduce that. Now if I do want to go in large increments I can always hold down the Shift key to move things. So I'm making mine a one-quarter point. Likewise with Leading and Size and with Baseline Shift, although I frankly rarely use the keyboard shortcut for Baseline Shift.
But Size and Leading, these are the increments in which you step up or down when you use the keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease your point size or increase or decrease your Leading and the default setting is 2 and I just think that's a bit too much so I change that to one. Now most important of all, the Kerning setting, which also applies to Tracking. Kerning, the space between a pair of characters. Tracking, the space across a range of characters. The factory default is 20, which is much too much.
I've taken it all the way down to the lowest increment, which is 1, which perhaps is getting a little bit obsessive about it, but you can always go in large increments by using modify keys. So when I use the keyboard shortcut Alt+Left Arrow or Alt+Right Arrow to decrease or increase my tracking or kerning, I go in 1/1000 of an em. If I want to go in increments of 5/1000 of an em, I hold down the Ctrl or the Apple key with that.
So that's Ctrl or Apple + Alt or Option + Left Arrow or Right Arrow. Then we come onto the grids, which is where we kind of came into this and I find that the default color of blue is a bit too distracting so I change that. I make is relative to the top margin, so that's where it starts and crucially I set the increment to my leading value, which is 12 points. And my View Threshold is going to vary from machine to machine but I like to make it correspond with my Fit in Window view size.
The View Threshold is the size at which the grid becomes visible when you have it turned on. Grids in Back, I have that unchecked because I like to see my grids. I find them very useful for spacing and sizing elements. I forgot to mention in Units & Increments, I'm using points. Since I've got my grid in points, since my type size, my leading, my space between paragraphs is all in points, it makes sense for my rulers to also be in points. Although arguably I could have my Vertical ruler also set to a custom value of 12 points, the increment of my leading grid.
Moving on through the Preferences, other things that we might want to consider- because everything is going to derive from this template document, it makes sense to invest a bit of time in setting this up. Nothing to change there, Here is one we might want to consider, Dictionary. Merge User Dictionary into Document. I'm going to check that. If you are making hyphenation exceptions and you're also adding your own words to your custom dictionary, it's a good idea for your user dictionary to be merged into the document so that should you send your document elsewhere, your text won't re-flow when it is composed on another machine that won't have, unless you do this, your particular user dictionary.
So just as a cautionary measure let's do that. Nothing to do there. That can all stay as it is. My Story Editor. I think Letter Gothic which is the default font that is used is a little bit hard to read, so I have changed that to Verdana. I think that's a little bit more readable. Display Performance on my Vector Graphics. This is just the way things look on screen and for Vector Graphics having them as a proxy can sometimes render them a bit unreadable. Rather than make everything high resolution, which can potentially slow me down especially with a graphic-rich document like this, I've just changed that for Vector Graphics.
Appearance of Black. I've changed this to Display All Blacks Accurately. That way I'm not setting myself up for any kind of disappointment when I see my blacks on screen displayed as rich black, but when I output them and I see them in reality as a kind of dark gray, which unfortunately is what they are. Of course we can and I have made a rich black color, which I'll show you when we look at the color swatches in a moment. But I want to see my blacks as close as possible to the way they're going to print.
File Handling, Clipboard Handing, nothing to change there. So those are my Preferences. We've looked at the grid, we've looked at the Preferences. Other things that we want to include in the template? Of course we want to include Paragraph Styles, so I've taken quite a while in preparing my style sheet, if I can use that as the collective term for my Paragraph Styles, and I've also grouped them together in Style Groups, which I'm still undecided about whether or not that's a time saver but it does make some sense.
I've got them kind of arranged into logical groupings. Also in the way I have created my styles, if we take a look at the style body_indent for example, we can see that this body_indent is based on body, meaning that should we decide at some point downstream that we want to change our body text font, which after all probably accounts for more than 90% of the text in the document, then one change will ripple through our whole document because body_indent will also change, it being based on body.
Likewise with my heads. If we look at head2, it's based on head1. It just being like head1 but smaller. So that's my Paragraph Styles. I also have my character styles. I also have some object styles. I've changed the definition of what the basic graphic frame is and I've also created an object style for these boxes here. info_box and if we take a look at that we could see that it is recording the fill color of that box, a little time saver there.
That's it for the styles. Of course, if we did have any tables, which in this document we don't, we would also include Table Styles and Cell Styles, but we definitely want to make sure that we have master pages. So I'm going to go to my Pages panel and let's look at the master pages. Now I've got this one here and there we see the grid and I'll be talking in a different movie about specifically setting up the master pages, but for now I just want to mention their importance and the need to have them as part of your template and I've got two master pages. I've got master page A, which I've rather- that's reflecting the earlier version of this document and it's called master page 3 column. Of course it's not 3 columns any longer, so let's go and change that and we'll just call this main page.
Now master page B, which I'm using for my section openings, if we just take a quick look at one of those. There is a section opening and this is based on master page B, you can see the B's in the outside top corners of the page icons there. This is based upon master page A because if you look in the master page icons we've got those A's in the top outside corners. Meaning that if I make any changes to master page A, master page B will also change as well.
So again we have potentially this ripple effect by editing the parent item and then that change affecting all of the offspring items. What else? We have Layers. I've got a text layer, a pictures layer, and a background layer. Those are the crucial ones and then I have got a couple of others that have also been added one for the- if we take a look at the document again. Each document has a flag. They've ended up on a different layer and the pictures have captions which have ended up on different layers or rather, I put them on different layers.
So we have layers and let's see. We have colors. I have selected all unused and deleted them, flushed out anything that we're not going to be using. So we are left with the color palette of just the ones that we need. There's the rich black color that I was talking about. That rich black applied to these black backgrounds for the picture captions because they are going to overprint on top of pictures and we don't want to see any ghosting of the picture coming through the regular black which it would do because this is just 100% black but my rich black, if we take a look at it, is made up of cyan, magenta, yellow, as well as 100% black.
So that's going to be nice and solid, but we will only of course use that for elements. We would never apply that to text because it would be impossible for it to register accurately. Well I think that's it for the template. Everything that we need to consider, Paragraph Styles, character styles, Layers, Swatches, master pages, Grid, what am I missing? Well, I must be missing something but the good news about this is that we can always change things while they're in progress and in fact it's good to maintain the flexibility to do that.
Anyway I want to now save this as a template. There is no requirement to work with templates. In fact, I tend to not work with them that much myself but they can be especially useful when you're working with a group of people and you just want to hand off a document that basically outlines the structure of the whole thing. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to save this as a template. File, Save As and that's all we need to do. It's going to give it the file extension INDT.
Now when we open that template, the only difference between it and the document is that it's going to open as Untitled and should we find ourselves wanting to update the template then we can either do a Save As, saving as file type template, making sure that we overwrite the existing file name or knowing in advance that we want to do that, we can open the template as an original rather than the normal behavior for the template and it's going to open the template itself.
One other thing about template, what do I do with this text that's in here? This is actually real text. Do I want to replace this with just placeholder text, so there is not chance of anyone getting confused and printing something that shouldn't be printed? Well, that's a kind of subjective thing that's going to vary from place to place but what I've seen a number of places do is replace text with a bunch of X's. No one is going to confuse that for real copy or perhaps we just remove the text altogether.
I'm just deleting the text content, but I'm leaving the text frames, these threaded text frames that you can repopulate with the actual text. How you approach that one is up to you. Well next up we're going to look at preparing our text.
- Setting up templates and master pages
- Working with Bridge
- Creating books
- Planning and managing styles
- Troubleshooting with the Story Editor
- Managing footnotes and endnotes
- Searching with GREP
- Generating a table of contents
- Automating layouts
- Repurposing material as PDF and XHTML documents