InDesign tip : #25

InDesign’s print dialog offers more information than you may first think.

here’s a screen grab of what your print dialog might look like by default — this one shows a tiled job previewed in the bottom left corner :
screen grab of standard print dialog

if you click on that preview you’ll be given some handy specs. particularly useful is the number of pages your tiled job is going to print on — something which is often hard to easily see in the first preview :
screen grab of second print dialog window

click the preview again and you get the last screen which can be useful if you’re using custom paper sizes or other media :
screen grab of third print dialog window

that preview also has an icon at bottom left showing the currently selected colour output mode :
composite grey previewGrayscale
composite c m y k previewCMYK
composite r g b previewRGB
separations previewSeparations

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InDesign tip : #24

InDesign’s preflight panel is a great tool. as mentioned previously, live preflight is a dog, but the preflight panel is pretty much a compulsory tool for anyone sending stuff to print.

however, there’s still no substitute for doing your own manual and visual checks of a document before sending it out into the world. just as spell checking and grammar checking are no substitute for a proper proof read.

one invaluable feature which you should take a look at before sending EVERY job to print is the separations preview panel — if only to check your black plate. here’s a simple job about to go to press — boring design, yes, but looks fine to go :
screen grab showing simple page layout

now let’s take a look at it with the separations preview panel (click to enlarge). here we can see three common problems :
screen grab showing simple page layout with separations preview panel activated

the first is the spot colour (this is supposed to be a process job). whether or not that would be picked up by your preflight panel depends on how you’ve set it up. but this is a problem easily spotted in your swatches panel too.

the other two problems are highlighted by turning off the black plate in the separations preview panel (click on the eye to turn it off). you’ll notice all the black text has disappeared — this is how it should be.

that graphic is going to be a bitch to print — especially those fine diagonal lines — you’re just about guaranteed to get coloured halos around those lines when the heavy CMY plates hit the sheet (note: you can get readings of ink coverage by hovering your mouse over part of your artwork. the readings in the screen grab are from that graphic). BEWARE — images downloaded from online sources will not necessarily be well prepared.

ok, the last problem is that first bit of black type knocking out the coloured background. again, you’re creating a potential registration problem on-press with this fine type knocking out — it should overprint. in this case the problem is due to the type being inadvertently set to 99% black (as soon as type is anything but 100% black, it will knock out by default).

so there you have it — two common black plate issues which will not be picked up by your preflight panel but which could still compromise the quality of your printed job. remember — when sending a job to print — ALWAYS check your black plate in the separations preview panel.

… and keep grunting

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InDesign tip : #23

sometimes you get a reminder that what is obvious to you may not necessarily be obvious to others. and this is why sharing information on blogs and forums is important. knowledge only becomes obvious once you possess it.

this post was inspired by seeing an experienced InDesign user forcing text to the next column with multiple returns. there are a bunch of different break characters in InDesign. this post is about the big four :

1. return — also called a line break or hard return — the most common break, this designates the end of a paragraph.

2. soft return — also called a forced line break — place a soft return using shift-return — you use these when you want to force a line break within a paragraph. the difference between a return and a soft return is particularly noticeable when using paragraph styles or space after/space before settings.

screen grab showing four different break characters

3. column break — THIS is what you should use if you want to force text to the next column. why? because if you use multiple returns, and then later edit the text before those returns, there’s a pretty high likelihood that you’ll stuff up your neat columns. if you have a keyboard with a number pad, you can use the enter key to place a column break. with a truncated keyboard you use function-return (the function key is the fn at bottom left). you can also use a right-click (or the type menu) to access the conditional menu :

screen grab showing how to select break characters from conditional menu

4. page break — similar to the column break — hopefully the name makes its purpose obvious. also accessible through the conditional menu.

work smarter, not harder. and get in the habit of using returns and breaks correctly — this will make you a better layout artist.

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InDesign tip : #22

of course, you already use paragraph and character styles — and you know that anyone using InDesign and NOT using styles is a loony — but many people are still missing out on the full power of these features simply because they don’t know about nested styles.

nested styles allow you to quickly format a bunch of paragraphs that share the same character style overrides. this grab shows part of a page of text — the first paragraph shows how all the other paragraphs should look (click to enlarge) :
screen grab show page of text and first paragraph styled

for that first paragraph we have created a paragraph style (basic body) and two character styles (body bold and body oblique). now, you could format all the rest of the text by first styling it all to the paragraph style and then manually selecting the bits you want to be bold and oblique and applying the appropriate character styles — but that would be tedious.

for nested styles, once you have your para and chara styles set, you format ALL the text to just the para style (and apply the chara style ‘none’) :
screen grab showing all text styled to paragraph style only

… then you edit your paragraph style to set the nesting :
screen grab showing how to set the nested style

for this example we’re using a ‘line’ style — which applies the character style body oblique to the entire first line of each paragraph (there are soft returns after the dates in these paragraphs). and the other nested style applies the character style body bold to the first four words. and PRESTO! :
screen grab showing fully styled text for all text on page

… quicker than you can say “wow” the whole shebang is done. but there’s a little glitch — not all the bits of text that should be bold are four words long — dammit :
screen grab showing problem paragraph

it would be great if we could fix this by just setting the nested style to change at the em dash — but, unfortunately, that’s not possible just yet (maybe future versions). so we have to try another trick — the end nested style here character. for this example we’re placing the character just before the em dash. you do that by placing your cursor and right-clicking to bring up the contextual menu — then choose insert special character > other > end nested style here :
contextual menu showing where to find the end nested style here character

… then just use find/change to seek out all em dashes and replace them with the special character/em dash combo :
using find/change to place special character before em dashes

… then go back and edit the paragraph style. this time we need to set the first nested style to apply body bold up to first end nested style here character :
changing nested style to end at special character

sorted :
screen grab showing correctly styled text

now, after all that, just to reiterate THE most important piece of information in this post — if you’re not using paragraph and character styles, you’re probably a loony.

keep grunting

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InDesign tip : #21

screen grab showing page tool in tool panelof all the groovy features released with CS5, the most longed-for must be the ability to have different page sizes in the one document. now you can have a whole stationery set in one file, or do tricky things with book covers without lots of guides and measuring and whatnot. once you get started with the page tool — near the top of your tool panel — you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

this tip will use a book cover with flaps as its example. the page tool is easy to use — just grab the tool and click on the page (or pages) you want to adjust. you’ll get familiar fields up in your control panel :
screen grab of control panel when page tool is selected

of course, if you’re smart (and you know you are), you’d do this with your master pages and then drag the masters down to make your spread. here’s the 300x200mm covers with a 100mm flap at each end :
screen grab of four page spread — covers and flaps

now (obviously) somewhere down the track the specs are going to change and you’ll need to add a 10mm spine to that cover. no worries, just make a 10mm wide page and drop it in … but what’s this? :
screen grab of margin warning dialog

buggeration! but don’t panic. all it means is that you can’t have, for example, 15mm margins on a 10mm page. just set margins and columns appropriate for that page and you’ll be cruising :
screen grab of cover spread with spine

ok, you got that sorted and now the client has come back with another change (don’t you just love your job?) — covers are now to be 250mm instead of 300mm. no worries just use the page tool to change your master and everything’s sweet … um … :
screen grab of messed up cover spread

now that’s annoying. and it gets even more annoying when you try to drag those little buggers back into a nice neat spread in you pages panel — go on, try it, dare you.

but don’t despair, because the fix is pretty easy. just grab your page tool again and shift-click to select all the pages in the spread. in the control panel check the use spacing box, set the spacing to 0mm and hit the horizontal spacing button :
screen grab of page alignment portion of the control panel

… and everything is hunky dory again :
screen grab of fixed spread

there may well be limits to page sizes but there seems to be no problem making pages 1x1mm — so now you can go ahead and make that nano-book you’ve always dreamed of (you know you want to). go sick.

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