InDesign tip : #32

it’s amazing the stuff you’ll find sometimes just by poking around in a program. it seems that if you hold the command key while selecting InDesign > about InDesign you’ll get this panel :
InDesign Component Information Panel

it contains all kinds of gobbledegook — the top section of the panel relates to the InDesign application, the bottom section is about the current document.

no doubt this stuff is useful to professionals who know what’s what, but the bit that’s probably most informative to us amateurs is the document history in the bottom left corner. if you scroll down in that panel you find a blow-by-blow rundown of what’s happened to the document since it was first created in InDesign :
Indesign Document History 01
this one shows a document that was originally converted from a QuarkXpress file back in 2009, has been ‘saved as’ several times, and went through a conversion this morning when it was opened on a different machine in a different version of InDesign.

the listed dates may well help you track down earlier versions of a document but it’s particularly good at letting you know when a file might be getting a little tired (before it finally falls over and refuses to budge).

there are two ways to quickly build a fresh version of a failing file. the first way is the ‘authorised’ technique : save or export your file to the idml format, then open and save. the advantage of this method is that you get an exact duplicate of the old file (with ALL styles, swatches, etc.). the new document history will look something like this :
Indesign Document History 02

but way back in tip #05 we looked at a different method. it basically involves moving pages to a new document :
Move Pages dialog

this is a superior method in several respects : it’s faster, especially as documents get bigger (‘converting’ an idml file can often take some time) ; it also strips out all unused styles, swatches, master pages, etc. so you basically end up with a cleaner file. and the new document history will look something like this :
Indesign Document History 03

have a look and add a comment if you find another cool use for the Adobe InDesign Component Information panel.

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InDesign tip : #31

the last couple of scripting lessons (#30 & #31) showed a couple of examples of how to use applescript to assist with reformatting an existing table. but if you are setting up your own tables you’d use table and cell styles to make your life a little easier.

as with paragraph, character and object styles — if you are going to use particular formatting settings more than once in a document, it’s smart to create a style for those settings. so, if your document has several tables with similar formatting, you’d create a table style. this example only has one table, so we’ll just look at cell styles.

when we first change our text to a table it will look something like this :
screen grab of unformatted table

then we start to create the table formatting we want :
screen grab of partially formatted table

to create the cell style for the reversed row, highlight that row and then choose “New Cell Style…” from the flyout menu on the cell styles panel (windows > styles > cell styles) :
screen grab of cell styles panel flyout menu

you can also access this functionality directly from your control panel :
screen grab of cell styles menu in control panel

the new style takes on the formatting of the selected cells. we’re calling that style ‘header row’ and you can see that, as well as the colour of the cells, the cell style will also apply a paragraph style to the text in those cells. that is, the paragraph style does not need to be applied separately — it’s part of the cell style :
table15

then repeat the process for each different cell type. for this table we’ve created three different cell styles :
screen grab of new styles in cell styles panel

the easiest way to proceed from here is to first apply the most common style to the entire table. to select every cell in a table, first place your cursor somewhere within the table and then move your mouse to the top left corner of the table until you see a downward pointing arrow, then click.

here we’ve applied the ‘basic row’ style to the entire table by clicking that style in the cell styles panel (or from the control panel dropdown) :
screen grab showing entire table with bsaic row style applied

then go through and apply the other styles to their relevant cells (here we’re doing entire rows in the same style) :
screen grab of table with complete formatting

now here’s why you’ve gone to all that trouble … when the client comes back and says they want all the reversed rows to be thicker and all the blank rows to be thinner (or any of a gazillion other possible alterations), you don’t have to change each row individually (or use applescript) you just change the cell styles. unfortunately InDesign does not yet allow you to specify a specific cell height in the cell style (who knows why), but you CAN change the spacing — or cell insets. here we’re changing the top and bottom insets for the ‘header row’ style from 1mm to 2mm :
screen grab showing cell style options for the header row style

and like magic the entire table is updated automatically :
table13

so, if you’re working with tables but not using cell styles, you’re probably working way too hard.

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InDesign tip : #19

ok, here’s another follow-up post to cover stuff you weren’t told the first time around. InDesign tip : #12 showed how to place multiple images — a really brilliant feature we’ve had since CS4. that tip showed how to load a bunch of images into the cursor and place them one at a time throughout your document.

this tip is about the other cool trick — placing all images on the page in one hit. the images are arranged in a nice, neat grid which makes it a perfect technique for creating contact sheets.

first, grab all your images :
screen grab showing loading multiple images in the place cursor

as usual, your cursor will show a counter and a ghosted version of the first image. click and drag to begin making a frame (this will be in the proportions of your first image) before letting go of the mouse button, use your up and right arrows to add rows and columns to make a grid :
screen grab showing grid being drawn

now you can drag the grid to whatever proportions you like. if you need to remove rows or columns, just use your down and left arrows. when you’re happy with the way your grid looks, let go of the mouse button and your images will all be placed, in order, in the new grid :
screen grab of final grid with all images in place

what you end up with is a whole bunch of individual frames (not a grouped grid). only enough frames are created for the number of images you are placing — so, if you draw a 12-frame grid but only have 10 images loaded, only ten frames are created. if your grid isn’t big enough to hold all your images, the remaining images remain loaded in the cursor ready to be placed elsewhere.

but that’s not all…
if you find the grid you’ve drawn isn’t quite right, just undo (command-z) — all the frames disappear and all the images are reloaded into the cursor — ready to try again. you can change the spaces between the frames while you’re drawing the grid by using the command key with your arrows. and if you hold command-shift before you start drawing your grid — you’ll get a grid with the same columns, rows and spaces as the last grid you drew.
cool, eh?

but wait, that’s (still) not all…
this isn’t just for when you’re placing images. you can use the same technique if you just want a grid of rectangles, ovals, polygons, text frames or even graphic lines. some of you will have noticed that this new ‘gridify’ functionality stuffs the ability to adjust polygons (arrows) and stars (command-arrows) on the fly like in the old days. but, if you hit the space bar while drawing a polygon you’ll deactivate the grid thing and get the old functionality back. hit the space bar again to reactivate gridify.

can you believe that’s still not all?…
you could use the same technique to create text frames and add live captions to include name labels for your images, but the next scripting lesson will show you an easier way to label all images in a file in one sweep. making contact sheets is easy as.

incidentally, if you like those funky little icons, you can find them over at shutterstock — an excellent source of good value stock images. just search in the contributor field for ‘samer’.


• related post : InDesign scripting : lesson 21 : label all images in document quickly.

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InDesign tip : #18

InDesign tip : #14 talked about different ways of zooming about an InDesign document. but it missed one really cool little trick which has, apparently, been with us since CS4 — when the navigator panel was dropped — and it’s called, impressively, power zoom.

you start with the hand tool. as always, you do not have to select the hand tool from the tool panel — you activate it temporarily in one of three ways :
• if you have one of the selection tools active — hold down the space bar;
• if the text tool is active but no text frame is selected — use option-space;
• if the text tool is active in a text frame — use option only.
why the developers insisted on making it this complicated is a mystery.

anyway, once you have the hand tool up, click and hold the mouse button. after a couple of seconds the screen will zoom out a little and present you with a red outline (and you can let go of whichever keys you’re holding down). drag the red outline to wherever you want in the document — scroll up or down (or use your arrows) to resize the red outline — let the mouse button go and you’ll zoom into the new outlined area. now THAT’S cool :
screen grab of view before power zoom
screen grab of view during power zoom
screen grab of view after power zoom

incidentally, if you like that groovy little image by dek wid, you can find a tutorial showing how it’s done over at photoshop tutorials.

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InDesign tip : #17

lovers of typography love a well designed ligature. those who are indifferent to typography generally say “what’s a ligature?”. and those who are entirely ignorant don’t even notice a ligature even when they are looking straight at one. although, that’s actually the point of the ligature in the first place — you’re not supposed to notice the typographic trick, because the ligature is intended to make reading easier.

just to make clear the foregoing blather — here are some standard ligatures in well-known fonts. you’ll notice that not all fonts have been designed with a full complement of ligatures :
screen grab of a selection of ligatures in various fonts

that’s right, ligatures are those little joined-together thingies that are generated by default in InDesign. unfortunately, ligatures do not always lead to improved readability and sometimes you’re better off just using the standard letterforms.

you can turn ligatures off in the dropdown menu in the character panel. if you’re doing the right thing and using styles for your text formatting, you’ll find ligatures as one of the options under basic character formats. you can set no-ligatures as your default for all future documents by unchecking it in the character panel when you have no documents open.

the only way to turn ligatures off for an entire document in one hit is with a script something like this one :

tell application "Adobe InDesign CS4"
  tell active document
    tell every story
      set ligatures to false
    end tell
  end tell
end tell

of course, the Adobe CS being what it is, you do NOT turn ligatures off in Illustrator the same way you do in InDesign. for Illustrator you have to go to the opentype panel instead.

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