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InDesign Tips & Tricks

Interface and Palettes


1. Close the Tabs Panel
In versions of InDesign before CS3, the same keyboard shortcut opened and closed
the Tabs panel (Shift+Ctrl+T for Windows; Shift+Command+T for Macs). In CS3, that
keyboard shortcut only opens the Tabs panel. However, if your insertion point is
blinking within the Tabs panel, you can press the Esc key to close the panel.

2. Lost Your Welcome Screen?


Remember the screen that welcomed you to InDesign when you first launched the
program? If you’re like most people, you clicked Don’t Show Again at the bottom of
the screen and forgot all about it. However it includes a handy list of the recent items
you’ve worked on, as well as links for support groups.
To bring it back, go to the Help menu and choose Welcome Screen. Uncheck don’t
show again.

3. Working with Layers


Have you ever had a long list of layers in the Layers panel and wanted to turn off the
visibility for all except one? Instead of clicking madly up and down the list, hold the
Option/Alt key and click on the layer you want to see. That layer will remain visible while
the others are turned off. The same technique can be used to lock all the layers except
the one you want to work on.

4. Use the Script Label Panel for Notes


How do you add notes to others working on a document? If you’re working within text
frames, you’ve got the handy Note tool. But what if you want to make a comment about
an image or other non-text element on a page? How can you give the next person who
works on the file instructions about that object?
Here’s how to do it in CS3: Select the image, then open the Script Label panel (Window
> Automation > Script Label). Write anything you want in the area inside the panel --
there’s room for hundreds of words.
Tell the next person working on the document to keep the Script Label panel open.
When any object is selected, the note will appear in the panel.

5. Transparency Grid for InDesign


You may be familiar with the Transparency Grid in Photoshop or Illustrator. This
checkerboard pattern sits behind artwork to let you know which areas are transparent
and which are filled with white or a colour. InDesign doesn’t have an actual
Transparency Grid, but another feature can act as one.
Choose Preferences > Grids and make sure the Grids in Back option is checked. Click OK.
Then choose View > Grids & Guides > Show Document Grid. If you see the Document
Grid beneath something, that something is transparent.

6. More Detailed Previews in Bridge


You can preview InDesign documents in Bridge, but most of the text may be greeked;
that is, appear only as gray lines. You can create a bigger preview, with more details,
from within InDesign by going to Preferences > File Handling with no document open.
Under the section for Saving InDesign Files, change the Preview Size to Extra Large 1024
x 1024. From that point on, each document you save will have a more detailed preview,
and most text will be visible in Bridge.
7. Clear Overrides of Mixed Paragraph Styles
The Clear Overrides button at the bottom of the Paragraph Styles panel lets you quickly
strip out the local formatting (indicated by a plus sign) in a paragraph. But you don’t
have to limit your selected text to a single paragraph style. Select a whole bunch
of text, or even all the text in a story. Even though no one single paragraph style is
selected, the Clear Overrides button still cleans up all the different paragraph styles.

8. Use Quick Apply to Quickly edit styles


The Quick Apply feature does more than just allow you to apply styles. Press Cmd/
Control-Return/Enter to open the Quick Apply panel. Then, type as many letters as
necessary to get to the name of a specific style. BUT, instead of pressing the Return/
Enter, press Cmd/Control-Return/Enter again. You’re now in the Style Options dialog
box for that style! Make your edits and then close to change the style definition.

9. See Guides Only at Certain View Magnifications


When you zoom out on your InDesign document, do all those guides clutter up your
screen? Sure, you can hide the guides or turn off the layer showing the guide or change
the view options for the guides on a layer. But here’s a better technique. Before you
start dragging guides out, go to Layout > Ruler Guides, and change the View Threshold
from 5% to something higher, like 101%. From that point on, any guide you create will
only be visible when you are zoomed in to 101% or higher. This means that guides that
you need for close up work are visible when you’re zoomed in, but they’re not visible
when you zoom out to see the entire page.

10. Turn a Frame to a Grid of Frames


Need a whole grid of frames? You could use the Step and Repeat feature, but if you
know how large you want the grid and not necessarily how large each frame should be,
Step and Repeat can be a hassle. Instead, just draw one big frame to cover the size you
want the grid to cover. Then, while that’s selected, open the Scripts panel (Window >
Automation > Scripts) and double-click on the MakeGrid script. That converts any single
frame into a bunch of frames on a grid, according to your specifications (how much
space between each one, and so on). This script is installed automatically in CS3, but in
CS2 you’ll need to install it from the sample scripts that come on the installer discs. To
learn how to install scripts, or find where to download them from the Web (in case you
don’t have the installer discs anymore) go to: http://indesignsecrets.com/free-bundled-
scripts-on-adobecom.php

11. Align Guides to Objects


Of course, you can align objects to ruler guides. But you can also align ruler guides to
objects. Just select the object and aim for one of the object’s handles as you drag the
guideline. The guideline will snap to the handle

12. Quick Zoom Shortcuts


* To highlight the zoom field in the lower-left corner of the document window, press
Command-Option-5. Just type the percentage you want and press Enter.
* Double-click the Hand tool to fit the spread in the window (or press Command-
Option-Zero/Ctrl-Alt-0)
* Double-click the Zoom tool to jump to 100% (or press Command/Ctrl-1).
* Command/Ctrl-spacebar-click zooms in, Command-Option/Ctrl-Alt-spacebar-click
zooms out.
13. View Image Scaling with a Shortcut
Assign keyboard shortcuts to Select Container and Select Contents (Edit > Keyboard
Shortcuts > Product Area: Object Menu). Now when you have an image frame selected
with the Selection tool, you can quickly see the image’s true scaling amount in the
Control palette’s Scale fields by using the shortcut for Select Contents. Press the
shortcut for Select Container to get back to where you started.

14. Quick Single-spread Documents


Do you want a two-page spread all by itself in its own file? Simply create a new two-
page document and check the Facing Pages option as you create the file. Then turn
to page one and choose Layout > Numbering & Section Options and start the page
numbering at 2. Click OK to leave the dialog box, and you’re done. Because it’s an even
number (page 2), InDesign moves it to the left side of the spread.

15. One-Click Selection in Palettes


If you’re manually clicking or dragging inside of fields in palettes to select the fields’
contents, you’re doing it the hard way. Just click the label or icon to the left of the field
– its contents are automatically selected, ready for you to replace it with new values.
Remember that you can press the Up and Down arrow keys on your keyboard to
increment a field’s current setting.

16. Navigate the Control Palette


When you use the Control Palette, you don’t need to open as many palettes. You can
choose to dock the Control Palette at the top or bottom of your screen, or you can
drag its left edge to tear it off and create a floating palette. To jump easily to the first
field in the Control palette, press Command/Ctrl-6. From the first field, use Shift-Tab to
highlight the Reference Point box. Use the arrow keys to highlight a specific Reference
Point and press the Enter key to select.

17. Turn the Tools Palette


You can rotate and elongate the Tools palette so it fits your screen size and working
style. For example, a longer, narrower Tools palette is good when your screen is small.
If you rotate the palette, it can reside at the bottom right of the screen, where there’s
usually little action. Change the orientation in the Preferences dialog box or by double-
clicking on the tab of the Tools palette.

18. Move Precisely


Sometimes the most precise way to move objects on a page is to use your keyboard’s
arrow keys. Press arrow keys to move items in 1-pt increments. (That’s the default; you
can change this preference in the Units & Increments panel of the Preferences dialog
box.) Add the Shift key to move items in 10-pt increments (or 10 times the current
increment value). Press Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) and the Shift key to move
items in .1-pt increments (or one-tenth the increment value).

19. Add Ruler Guides Fast


To quickly add a ruler guide, double-click on a ruler to create a guide out from that
point. For instance, for a vertical guide at 3 inches, double-click at 3 inches on the
horizontal ruler. Add the Shift key to snap to the nearest ruler tick mark.

20. Switch Measurements Quickly


To use a unit of measure other than the one displayed (for example, centimeters
instead of inches), type in the amount and the proper abbreviation for your desired
unit of measurement and InDesign converts it for you. For example, if you set your
measurement preferences to inches but want a three-millimeter drop shadow offset,
enter 3mm in the Drop Shadow dialog box. You can also quickly switch to another unit of
measure for the rulers by Control-clicking (Mac) or right-clicking (Windows) on either ruler
and choosing the new unit of measure.

21. Build Guide Libraries


You can save a page’s guides by selecting them and choosing Add Item from the Library’s
palette menu or by clicking the New Item button at the bottom of the palette. Then,
when you want to use the same set of guides on another page, simply select it in the
Library and choose Place Item(s) in the palette menu. This places the same guides, in the
same positions, on the new page. You can’t add to or place guides from a Library using
drag and drop.

22. Sort Menus Alphabetically


To sort menus in the menu bar in alphabetical order, select the required menu while
holding Ctrl+Shift+Alt (Windows) or Shift+Option+Command (Mac). This shortcut sorts the
menu and sub-menus in alphabetical order; it’s also useful for sorting fonts in the Type >
Font menu.

23. Delete Preference Files


You can delete InDesign’s preference files when launching InDesign. To display this
option dialog, launch InDesign, then immediately select Ctrl+Alt+Shift (Windows) or
Ctrl+Option+Command+Shift (Mac OS).

24. The Environment Dialog Box


One of the most useful dialog boxes in InDesign is also one of the least seen: The
Environment dialog box. You can find this little creature by holding down the Command/
Ctrl key and choosing About InDesign (from the Help menu on Windows, or the
application menu on the Mac). The Environment dialog box tells you all about your version
of InDesign, including what plug-ins are running. More importantly, it tells you about the
current document, such as: Was it originally a QuarkXPress or PageMaker file? When was it
last saved? And what special plug-ins were used to create it?

25. Page Guides vs. Spread Guides


To create a horizontal ruler guide that crosses all pages of a spread, drag the guide onto
the page while your cursor is on the pasteboard area to the left or the right of the spread.
Or press Command/Ctrl while dragging a guide to make it a spread guide.

26. Clear a Page’s Guides at Once


Want to clear out all the guides on a page fast? Press Cmd-Opt-G (Mac) or Control-Alt-G
(Windows). This selects all the guides on the spread. Tap the Delete key and they’re gone!

27. Guides as Snippets


You can save a page’s guides by selecting them and choosing Add Item from the Library’s
palette menu or by clicking the New Item button at the bottom of the palette. Then, when
you want to use the same set of guides on another page, simply select it in the Library
and choose Place Item(s) in the palette menu. This places the same guides, in the same
positions, on the new page. You can’t add to or place guides from a Library using drag and
drop.”
But today, there’s another way to work: Save your Guides as Snippets. Instead of adding
them to a library, just select the guides and choose Export as InDesign Snippet. The Guides
will be fully visible in Adobe Bridge, where they can be dragged onto new InDesign pages.
28. Zoom-sensitive Ruler Guides
Hold down the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows) while dragging out a ruler guide to
make it visible only at the current zoom level and larger. If you zoom out, the guide will
disappear. When you zoom back to the previous magnification or above, the ruler guide
will reappear.

29. Harmless Error


When you open a file and get an alert saying, “Cannot open resource file,” it probably
means that the last time you quit the program with that file open, the Scripts palette was
open and included a script. The alert is harmless – just cancel it and continue. To prevent its
recurrence, close the Scripts window before closing the document.

30. Don’t Forget the Info Box


The Info box, which shows the size and location of a selected frame, can be a very useful
tool. Select an image and the Info box displays size, active and effective resolution, colour
space, and ICC profiles. Select a text box with the Text tool and the Info Box displays a
count of characters, words, lines, and paragraphs. (It also shows this information for linked
text boxes.) Select the frame with a Selection tool instead, and the box shows the current
fill and stroke colours. When nothing is selected, the Info Box displays information about
the document itself.

31. Protect Master Page Items


A feature that debuted in InDesign CS3 lets you make a master page object impervious to
being overridden on the document pages.
Select the object on the master page and turn off the toggle command “Allow Master Item
Overrides on Selection” from the Pages panel menu.
This command makes it possible to “protect” items you never want overridden on the
document page. For instance, you might not want automatic page numbers to be moved
or modified.

32. What’s a Slug?


Besides being a garden pest (or the slacker in the office), in InDesign the Slug area is an
area that may or may not be set to print. You’ll find the Slug area in the New Document
dialog box (File > New) by clicking the More Options button. The Slug area is a handy place
to stash information about the client, product, insertion date, and so on. You can choose
whether to print the Slug by clicking Marks and Bleed and then checking the Include Slug
Area checkbox in the Print dialog window.

Type
1. The Fifth Text Wrap Option
InDesign CS3 added tons of controls for all sorts of commands to the Control panel. This
makes it easy to add text wraps to objects without going to the regular Text Wrap panel.
Watch out, though. There’s an extra text wrap option that is only available in the regular
Text Wrap panel, and not in text wrap options in the Control panel. The fifth text wrap
option is Jump to Next Column (or frame or page). This command ensures that the text
wrap object is the final object in the column.
But you’ll never know the option is there if you look only at the Control panel for your text
wrap commands.

2. Make a Smoother Text Wrap


Let’s say you’re trying to wrap text around something. You open the Text Wrap panel
(Window > Text Wrap), select Show Options by clicking the tiny triangle on the panel’s right
side, and choose Detect Edges, Alpha Channel, or Photoshop Path in the Contour Options
drop-down menu. That usually works well, but occasionally it produces a text wrap path
with more points than is convenient. If so, use the Pen tool to make a path with no fill or
stroke that’s a simpler version of the object you want to wrap around. Then you need only
to select the simple path and choose Wrap Around Object Shape in the Text Wrap panel.

3. Customizing Text Wraps


Once you’ve applied a text wrap to an object (Window > Text Wrap), you can modify that
wrap by choosing the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) and clicking on the wrap’s nodes
(anchor points). But to add new nodes to the text wrap, switch to the Pen tool.
Position the Pen cursor over a point you want to delete and you’ll see a little minus sign (-)
next to the cursor. Click to delete the point. Position the Pen cursor where you want to add
a point and a plus sign (+) appears. Click and a point appears at that position. You can even
reshape type of point using the Convert Direction Point Tool, which you can quickly access
by holding the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key.
Switch back to the Direct Selection tool to move the points.

4. Find Missing Fonts


If you search for a missing font using the Find Font dialog box and can’t locate the
troublemaker on a page, cancel out of the Find Font box and bring up the Story Editor.
Your cursor will be where the missing font is.

5. Paragraph Styles – Diagnostic Tool


When you edit a file created by someone else, you may not know the full range of styling
applied to text. To find out, place the cursor in the text and create a New Paragraph Style.
The dialog box immediately displays every style applied to the object.

6. Reset Your Kerning and Tracking


The easiest way to reset the kerning and tracking for a range of selected text is to press
Command/Ctrl-Option (Mac) or Alt-Q (Windows). If you run all your copy with Optical
Kerning on by default, it does most of the work before you begin to edit.

7. Find Font Errors


If you suspect that errors in printing may be related to font problems, turn everything into
outlines and print again. If the problem goes away, you have a font issue to deal with. Start
by uninstalling the font from your font manager if you have one; otherwise just delete and
replace the font. Don’t leave any font as an outline, as it prevents editing and makes for a
much larger file.

8. Shadow One Word


Wouldn’t it be nice to have a shadow behind just one word in text? You can: Copy the word
into its own text frame, choose Object > Fitting > Fit Frame to Content (or press Command/
Ctrl-Option/Alt-C), and apply a drop shadow to the frame. Copy the frame to the Clipboard,
then highlight the word in the main text and paste. The text of the word will be replaced
with the shadowed inline frame.

9. Thread Frames Fast


Situation: Big story in a frame, no existing empty text frames to thread it to, can’t autoflow
for whatever reason. Solution: The fastest way to manually thread a story, starting with just
a single overset text frame, is to click on the overset icon with the Selection Tool to load the
overset text in the cursor; then hold down the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows) and
drag out successive text frames. Every frame you Option/Alt-drag is automatically threaded
to the previous one.
10. Type-size Shortcuts
To change type size and leading incrementally, start by setting increment size (Preferences
> Units & Increments). In your document, use Shift-Command/Ctrl- < to decrease the point
size of selected type by one increment, and Shift-Command/Ctrl- > to increase the point
size. Add the Option/Alt key to these combinations to multiply the increment by five. You
can change leading via Option/Alt-Up and Option/Alt-Down arrow key combinations. Add
the Ctrl/Command key to these combinations to multiply the increment by five.

11. Copy Text Formatting


Do you need to copy text formatting from one location to another? To do it quickly, select
the Eyedropper tool, click on text you want to sample, and then use the Eyedropper to click
or drag over text you want to modify. This technique even copies text attributes from one
document to another. To set which qualities the Eyedropper tool will copy, double-click the
Eyedropper tool and enable or disable the individual attributes.

12. Reveal Custom Kerning


One person’s idea of appropriate kerning can be a compacted visual disaster for another
person. A good limit to set for the loosest and tightest kern is 30 (thousandths of an
em). That means if some copy is kerned into -20 I will never go over +10 elsewhere in the
document.
To see where kerning has taken place outside of paragraph and character styles, go to
Preferences > Composition, select the Custom Tracking/ Kerning option, and click OK.
In normal view mode (not in preview mode), InDesign now highlights in green text with
custom tracking and kerning.

13. Break Words


To manually break a word at the end of a line, use a discretionary hyphen. Put your
cursor where you want to break the word, then choose Type > Insert Special Character >
Discretionary Hyphen or Command/Ctrl-Shift-Hyphen. If type should reflow so the word is
no longer at a line ending, the discretionary hyphen disappears. To hyphenate a word that
never breaks on that hyphen, use a non-breaking hyphen: Type > Insert Special Character
> Nonbreaking Hyphen. To prevent a word or string of text from breaking, select the text
and choose No Break from the Character or Control palette menu.

14. How Spaces at the Start or End of a Line of Text Affect Centering
Let’s say you have a single line of text that you need to center in the frame. It’s no problem
to click the center alignment icon in the Paragraph panel. But what if that line of text has an
extra space at the end of the paragraph? Do you have to delete the extra space at the end
of the line? Does the extra space affect the position of the text?
Fortunately, the answer is “No.” InDesign ignores an extra space at the end of a line when
centering text. However, the opposite is not true. An extra space at the start of a paragraph
will affect the position of a line when centering text.

15. Multi-column Text, One-Column Headline


Making one headline span several columns of text in a multi-column text frame takes some
trickery. Here’s one way to do it.

• Use the Text tool to create a text frame.

• In Text Frame Options, choose the desired number of columns.

• Use the Type on a Path tool on the text frame outline and type the headline.

• Position the text brackets so that the text begins and ends above the text frame.
• Thread the text frames by selecting the headline out-port and connecting it to the
text frame.

• To vertically distance the headline from the body text, apply a baseline shift to
the headline.

Why bother with all these steps? Because you can use Object Styles and Apply Next Style
to format this type of frame and its content with one click. Also, both the headline and the
body appear together in the Story Editor.

16. Resizing Tables by Dragging


You can resize a table with the Type tool by dragging the right or bottom edge. But if you
want to resize all the rows, hold down the Shift key while you drag the bottom edge. To
resize all the columns proportionally, Shift-drag the right edge. Or, to resize the table rows
and heights at the same time, just drag the lower-right corner of the table with the Type
tool. Resizing the table using this technique does not scale the text in the table.

17. Select a Table’s Text or Cell


To select a cell within a table, click the cell with the Text tool and press the Esc key. This will
select the cell. To place the text cursor in the cell, press the Esc key again.

18. Extending a Line in a Table


Need to add rows or columns to a table? Here’s the fastest way to add rows at the end of a
table or columns at the right hand side of a table:

• Hover your Text tool cursor over the bottom or right edge of the table so that the cursor
changes to a double arrow.

• Now, press and hold down the mouse button – but still don’t move the mouse.

• Press and hold down the Option/Alt key.

• Now move the mouse down (for extra rows) or to the right (for extra columns). The more
you drag, the more rows or columns InDesign adds.

Colour
1. Apply Only Color Attributes with the Eyedropper
If you load the attributes of an object with the Eyedropper tool while holding down the
Shift key, the Eyedropper loads only the colour of the object (ignoring all other object
attributes). If you load attributes of an object with the Eyedropper and hold down Shift
while applying the attributes to another object, InDesign applies only the colour to the
object.

2. Switch Swatches
The New Swatch button on the Swatches palette duplicates any selected swatch. To
duplicate the swatch and open the New Color Swatch dialog, hold down Option/Alt while
clicking it. To create a spot colour version of a swatch, select the swatch and hold down
Command/Ctrl while clicking the new swatch icon. You can also switch among RGB, CMYK,
and Lab modes inside the Color Swatch dialog box by holding down Shift while clicking on
the colour proxy.

3. Change Colour Modes Quickly


To change the colour mode (RGB, CMYK, LAB) in the Color palette, Shift-click on the
colour spectrum bar (the colour picker). If you see an out of gamut warning (the yellow
triangle with exclamation point), click on the symbol to force the colour to the nearest
in-gamut colour.
4. Apply Swatches to Frames and Tables
You can apply a swatch to any frame or stroke by dragging a swatch from the Swatches
palette and dropping it in a frame or on a stroke. Try this method for tables, too; you can
apply a swatch to any table cell or cell border.

5. Make Tints
You can easily create a named, tinted colour from any colour in your Swatches palette
in InDesign (including CMYK builds). Open your Swatches palette (Window > Swatches),
choose the colour you want to start with, type a percentage in the Tint box, then
immediately click the New Swatch icon at the bottom of the palette. The new colour is
named the same as the original with the percentage indicated to the right of the name.
Changes to the original colour are reflected in the tint based on that colour.

6. Sample Images with the Eyedropper


Use the Eyedropper tool to sample colours from placed images. With the Eyedropper tool
selected, move over the desired colour in the placed image. Click to sample the colour,
then click the New Swatch icon in the Swatches palette, or Add to Swatches from the
Color palette to store the colour as a swatch. The eyedropper samples the colour in the
same colour mode as the placed graphic. For example, sampling an RGB image creates an
RGB swatch. Now you can apply that new colour to an item by clicking on it with the full
Eyedropper. When you want to sample a new colour, be sure to use Option/Alt-click to get
the empty Eyedropper.

7. Suppress a Color Onscreen and in Output


Some publishers use a special spot colour for items in a layout they don’t want printed in
certain situations, such as teacher’s annotations in a textbook. The print vendor produces
the teacher’s edition normally – using all colour plates in the file – but doesn’t print the
spot colour plate for the student edition. The problem with these sorts of projects is that
it’s impossible to proof the student edition onscreen or in composite print/PDF output
because there’s no Hide command for individual inks or colours.
The solution is to create a new spot colour that’s white, named something like Hidden.
When you need to suppress the unwanted ink for onscreen proofing, alias it to the Hidden
colour (using Ink Manager inside the Swatches palette menu) and turn on Overprint
Preview in the View menu. Abracadabra, the colour disappears. It will also print and export
as it displays. Just don’t forget to turn off the ink alias before you send the file to the
print vendor.

8. Find that Colour


Find/Change can’t search for a colour swatch unless it’s applied to text. If you need to find
all instances of a colour used in a document, temporarily turn it into a spot colour (if it’s not
already) from its Swatch Options dialog box. Choose View > Output Preview > Separations,
turn off all colour plates except the new spot in the Separations palette, and scroll through
your document. You’ll see black “ink” appear everywhere the colour is used. (For very long
documents, you may find it faster to print only that spot colour plate to separations and
leave the Print Blank Pages checkbox off so you only get the pages with spot colours on
them.) Change the colour back to its original colour mode if necessary when you’re done.
Images
1. Place EPS Images without the “White Background”
If you have legacy vector files saved in the EPS format (this includes Illustrator, FreeHand,
and CorelDraw files), they may show up with a white background when you place them
into InDesign. There are many ways to fix the problem, but here’s my favorite:
Choose Show Import Options when you place an EPS file and check the Rasterize the
PostScript option under Proxy Generation. Don’t panic, you’re not actually rasterizing the
vector information; you’re only changing how the preview appears.

2. Sizing a Group or Image in CS3


InDesign CS3 radically changed the rules for scaling groups and images. You used to be
able to select an image or a group and change the W or H fields in the Control panel and
have it scale everything to that measurement. No longer! Fortunately, the functionality
isn’t gone, it just moved. To scale a frame and its image, or all the objects in a group, to a
specific width or height, type that measurement in the scaling fields (the X or Y percentage
fields, that usually say 100%). For example, if you replace 100% with “20 cm” then the
object or group scales to that size.

3. See What Files are Loaded


The Place dialog box in InDesign CS3 lets you select more than one item in a folder at a
time and import them all at once. To select more than one item in the dialog box, Shift-
click (to select contiguous items) or Command/Ctrl-click (to select discontiguous files). After
you click Open, InDesign loads all the files into the Place cursor, showing you a thumbnail
of the first one along with a number that shows the total number of files loaded. You can
rotate through the loaded files by pressing the left or right (or up and down) arrows on
your keyboard. If you decide you want to “throw away” one of the files (remove it from the
Place cursor), press Esc.

4. Same Image, Multiple Frames


For an interesting effect, you can make one image look as if it’s inside multiple frames:

• Place the image in a circular frame.


• Use Edit > Step and Repeat to create a row of frames.
• Using the Direct Selection tool, shift-click to select each image.
• Using the Alignment controls in the Control Palette, align first the top edges and then
the left edges of the images within the frames. (Yes, you can align images just like you
can align frames!) Poof! It looks like you’re looking through portholes.
Here’s another method: Place the image in just one of the frames and choose Object
> Arrange > Bring to Front. Now choose all the frames (the image frame and the empty
frames) and choose Object > Pathfinder > Add. The image in the topmost
frame appears in all the frames.

5. Show Options When Placing


When you place content into your layout, click the Show Import Options checkbox to
intercept a file and perform certain functions, such as stripping formatting from a Word file.
You can access the Import Options dialog by holding the Shift key when you click on the
Place button in the Place dialog box.
From that point on, you don’t have to select Show Import Options; InDesign applies the
setting to all new placed images.

6. Make the Default Display High Quality


There are some documents, especially those with placed Adobe Illustrator files, that I want
to always open at High-Quality Display. But even when I switch the file to View > Display >
High-Quality Display and save the file, the file reopens with the Typical Display.
That’s because the control for the view for a document isn’t the view at which the
document was last saved. You need to go to Preferences > Display Performance and
change the Default View to High-Quality to make sure the document always opens in that

Modifications
1. Reverse the Direction of an Arrow
When you add an arrowhead to an open path, the arrowhead appears at either the start of
the path or the end. However, you might want to change the placement of the arrowhead
from one end of the path to the other. The quickest way to do so is to choose Object >
Paths > Reverse Path. That will change the start of the path to the end and the end to the
start. You can also click the Reverse Path icon in the Pathfinder panel.

2. Dragging Effects from Object to Stroke to Fill


It’s easy to forget to target just the stroke or fill when you apply an effect such as a drop
shadow to an InDesign frame. But instead of deleting the effect and then reapplying it to
the correct attribute, you can drag the little “fx” label in the Effects panel from Object to
Stroke or Fill.
If you want to add the effect from the stroke to the fill, hold the Opt/Alt key as you
drag. You’ll keep the effect on the first attribute and duplicate the effect onto the
second attribute.

3. Easier ways to Modify and Replace a Template


Ever want to modify and then replace a template? If you simply double- click the template
file or drag it onto the InDesign application, you have a copy of the template or an untitled
document. That means you have to then rename the template with the same name as the
original, and then replace the original.
Instead, choose File > Open, and navigate to the template file. When you choose the
template file, look at the bottom of the dialog box and click the option to Open Original.
This will open the template file as a template, instead of a copy or untitled document. Once
you’ve made your changes, just save and close the document. You don’t have to rename or
write over the original file.

4. Double Paths Copied from Illustrator


Watch out when you copy paths from Illustrator into InDesign. Depending on the attributes
applied to the path in Illustrator, you may wind up with more than one path in InDesign.
For instance, double strokes or fills will always create multiple paths in InDesign. But even
a single fill and stroke with a Twist effect will create multiple effects. The easy way to tell
if you’ve pasted in multiple objects is to look at the Fill/Stroke display in the Tools panel. If
you see question marks instead of colours, you know you’ve got multiple objects.

5. Getting Your Buttons and Hyperlinks Into PDFs


It’s easy to make a button in InDesign with the Button tool, or by selecting any object
and choosing Object > Interactive > Convert to Button. And it’s relatively easy to make a
hyperlink using InDesign’s Hyperlinks panel (even though the user interface for hyperlinks
definitely leaves something to be desired). But the number one problem people have
with these interactive features is them not functioning once they get to Acrobat. Why? In
almost every case, it’s that they’ve neglected the most important step: Turn on both the
Hyperlinks and Interactive checkboxes in the Export PDF dialog box. Without that last
crucial step, you don’t get bubkes!

6. Switch Between Selection Tool and Direct Selection Tool


There are several ways to switch between the Selection tool and the Direct Selection tool
quickly. When you’re not editing text, you can press V for the Selection tool and A for the
Direct Selection tool. I recommend that you use Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts to assign your
own custom keyboard commands for these two tools that will also work when editing text.
You can also press Control/Ctrl-Tab to alternate between the Selection tool and the Direct
Selection tool. In CS3, you have even more options. When you’re editing text, you can press
Esc to switch to the Selection tool. And double-clicking on a frame or graphic with the
Selection tool switches to the Direct Selection tool (and vice versa).

7. Quick Duplications
You probably already know you can hold down the Option (Mac) or Alt (Windows) key to
drag and duplicate objects. The Option/Alt key can perform the same duplication function
during other operations, too. For example, you can hold down the Option/Alt key as you
choose Flip Horizontal from the Control palette menu. InDesign will duplicate and then
flip the selected frame. Or place the cursor in the X field of the Control palette and change
the value. Then press Option/Alt-Enter and InDesign moves a duplicate of the object to the
new location.

8. Creating a Knockout Rule


Want a line that has a “knockout area” on either side of it? For example, a line that when
placed over an image will still be visible because it has white areas around it. It’s easy to do:
Select the line, make it at least one point thick, and change its style to a double line (double
stripe). Now in the Stroke palette, set the line colour to Paper and set the Gap colour to
Black (or whatever colour you want the visible line to be). Finally, make an object style out
of it, so you don’t have to take these steps again!

9. Fix Flaky Files


If your InDesign file is behaving erratically, it may be damaged. One easy troubleshooting
technique is to choose File > Export and export the file in the InDesign Interchange format.
This will create an .inx file. When you open the .inx file, InDesign rebuilds the file from the
ground up– hopefully without the problems of the original.

10. Maintain Vectors from Illustrator or FreeHand


Paths and shapes from Illustrator or FreeHand can be placed and edited directly in
InDesign. Simply copy the item or items from the source document (Illustrator or
FreeHand) and paste into your InDesign document. The paths are now fully editable within
InDesign. To copy paths from Illustrator 10 and up, be sure that AICB is checked and the
Preserve Paths button is selected in Illustrator’s File Handling & Clipboard preferences.

11. Quickly Convert Corner Points to Curves


Everyone knows that you can use the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow) to select a
point on any frame. But did you know that if you hold down the Command and Option
keys (Ctrl and Alt on Windows) you can drag on any corner point to convert it to a Bezier
curve? Alternately, you can click once with those modifier keys on a curve point to convert
it to a corner point.

12. Rotation – Clockwise or Counter-clockwise?


Have you ever had that moment of doubt as to which direction InDesign’s rotation angle is
going to move your object? Are positive numbers clockwise or counter-clockwise?
I can’t remember myself, but there’s a little cheat that helps me look smart in front of a
class. Just take a quick peek at the Rotation tool in the Tools panel. Notice that it indicates a
counter-clockwise direction. That’s your clue that positive numbers rotate objects counter-
clockwise. Negative numbers go clockwise.
13. Scaling without Grouping
In previous tips, we’ve told you that you can scale grouped text and images together by
holding the Cmd/Ctrl+Shift key and then dragging. But grouping can be awkward, as
objects all move to the same layer.Fortunately, you can resize multiple objects without
grouping them. Select all the objects and switch to the Free Transform tool in InDesign’s
toolbar. Then simply drag on a corner of the selection and hold the Shift key to constrain
the proportions.
Your objects scale together without being grouped.

14. Reposition as You Create Objects


So you’re right in the middle of drawing a frame or a line and you realize that you need
the object a little further up the page so you can get a better idea of how big it should
be. There’s no need to stop the drag and reposition -- just hold the spacebar and you can
move the object anywhere you want. When you’re satisfied with its position, release the
spacebar (but not the mouse) and continue to draw. This tip also works while drawing in
Photoshop or Illustrator!