Tagged: InDesign

Get a sneak peek of your InDesign documents with document previews

Adobe InDesign has the capability to create a preview of documents viewable in the Open and Place dialog boxes. You can also view previews of your file in Bridge much the same as you would a PDF or image file.

Unfortunately, this capability isn’t automatic, and Bridge won’t build a preview of the document on its own. You have to set InDesign’s preferences to do so.

InDesign document previews

Document previews allows you a quick peek of your file in Open & Place dialogs

Visit the InDesign Preferences (Command + K) and choose File Handling from the list on the left. Under the section titled Saving InDesign Files. Make sure you tick the Always Save Preview Images with Documents checkbox. You can then choose to save a Small, Medium, Large or Extra Large preview image. If you’re using InDesign CS5, you can also choose to save previews of one, two, five, ten or all the pages in your document.

I have InDesign set to save a large preview of the first two pages; it’s usually enough to tell me if I have the right file. It’s important to know that saving preview images of your InDesign document will add to the file size. It’s not much, but depending on the number of pages in the document, it can add up quickly.

Auto-distribute InDesign objects with a keyboard shortcut

The Align & Distribute panel in Adobe InDesign is a handy tool for lining-up objects and distributing them equally in a specified space. But in order to distribute objects, you have to set the left-most and right-most objects exactly where you want them before using the Distribute icons in the panel.

Auto distribute objects

A simple keyboard shortcut allows you to "eyeball" the distribution of objects

If you would rather “eyeball it,” you can do so simply by selecting your objects, grabbing one of the selection handles on one of the objects and hold the space bar down as you drag the handle. Rather than resizing your objects, the space between the objects will increase or decrease accordingly.

It’s important to note that the objects don’t distribute EVENLY automatically using this shortcut. In other words, if you have a quarter inch between the first and second object, and a half inch between the second and third, it won’t re-distribute the objects giving them equal space between them, it will only adjust the spacing already there proportionately.

Viewing overset text in your InDesign document

When you’re entering or placing text in a text frame in your document, InDesign lets you know when you have more text than it is able to display in the frame by adding a tiny red + icon in the lower right corner of the frame indicating overset text. For obvious reasons, you might want to know how much text is overset, but expanding the frame to see how much text is overset is, well, overkill.

Overset Text

InDesign can display exactly what text is overset in a text frame

Instead, you can view exactly what text is overset by simply hitting Command + Y with the text frame selected. This brings up a small window called the Story Editor.

At the bottom, you’ll see a red bar along the side, as well as a gray divider line showing exactly how much text is overset. To save time, you can edit your text right in the Story Editor until it all fits in the frame, if that’s what you choose to do.

Turn off multiple InDesign document layers with a single click

InDesign CS5If you have several layers in your InDesign document, and wish to work with no visual distraction on only one layer, you can turn all the others off quickly by holding down the Option key and clicking the eye icon of the layer you wish to keep visible in the Layers panel. I’ve used this same tip in Photoshop for quite a while, and finally realized it worked in InDesign as well. If you make use of layers, it’s quite handy!

Save space and never open the InDesign Swatches panel again

InDesign Swatches panel via Control panelOne unfortunate fact of using Adobe InDesign is the plethora of panels that most designers have to keep open and accessible at all times in order to be productive. It doesn’t leave a lot of space to view your document.

Fortunately, InDesign CS5‘s Control panel includes a full version of the color Swatches panel, so you can save yourself some screen real estate by using it instead of keeping the Swatches panel open on the screen at all times. The bonus of using the Swatches panel this way is that it scoots out of the way automatically when you’re done applying a color swatch to a fill or stroke to your object or text. You also have access to the Swatches panel fly-out menu.

Adjust your InDesign Pages panel view for a clearer picture

InDesign Pages panel optionsBy default, Adobe InDesign’s Pages panel displays Master Pages and Document Pages in a top-down vertical view. This is fine for a single page document, but for a document with dozens of pages and multiple Master Pages, it get pretty annoying scrolling up and down in the Pages Panel.

By visiting the flyout menu in the upper right of the Pages panel, and selecting Panel Options… at the bottom of the list, you can adjust your Master Pages and Document Pages to display horizontally by unchecking the Show Vertically check boxes. Setting the Sizes drop-downs to Small also helps in displaying more pages in a small space – perfect for users working on a laptop with smaller screens.

As you can see in the bottom half of the image, you’ll get a better view of your document pages in the Pages panel doing this than you would by default in the top half of the image.

Selecting cells with the keyboard in your InDesign table

Selecting InDesign Table Cells

Selecting individual InDesign Table cells, and the content in them, is easy with the keyboard

If you use Tables in your InDesign document, selecting individual cells with the mouse can make your fingers sore. Instead, use the Tab and/or Arrow keys to move between them. Maybe you already knew that. But did you know that you can click the cell you wish to work with and hit the ESC key to select the entire cell (perhaps to fill the cell with a color) and hit ESC a second time to select the content inside the cell (to change the font, for example).

Give your InDesign text a “highlighted” appearance

Ever want to give your text in Adobe InDesign a highlighted appearance but not want to bother with creating a separate piece of artwork to overlay? It’s a simple effect to create, with the added benefit that it sticks with the text when it gets reflowed.

Highlight effect in your InDesign text

Adding a highlight effect in your InDesign document text doesn't require separate artwork

To create the effect, take note of the point size of your text (you’ll need to know that later). Now select the word(s) you want to highlight, click the fly-out menu of the Character Panel and choose Underline Options…. In the dialog box that pops-up, click the Underline On and Preview check boxes so you can view the effect in your document as you make adjustments.

To customize your highlight choose the line type from the drop-down menu, most likely you’ll want a solid line. Now choose a color (any color in your Color Panel) is available to use. You’ll want to do these steps first so you can see the results as you customize further.

Now adjust the Weight of the underline to be a few points thicker than the point size of your text – in the case of the sample image above, my text was 12pts, so I made the underline 14pts. Now adjust your Offset amount by a few negative points so that it overlaps your text – in my sample, -3 was just the right amount. Finally, click the Overprint check box to give it a more realistic effect (overprint will really show if your text is a lighter color). Now just hit OK button to apply the effect.

Highlighted text sampleYou could stop here, but you’ll notice that the highlight begins and ends exactly at the edges of the first and last letter of your highlighted word(s) – as you see in the top of the image at the right. While this isn’t that big of a deal, it’s not quite as realistic as it could be. To extend the highlight effect to just a tiny bit before and after the text as you see in the bottom half of the image, add a space before and after the word and reduce the Tracking amount of each space. I used -140 for the sample image to show how this adjustment affects the highlighting, but you may want to reduce the space even further to avoid unsightly gaps.

If you want to apply this effect to more text in your document, you may want to save the effect as a Character Style.

The Graphic Mac Link Box #5

The Graphic Mac Link BoxA collection of interesting or otherwise helpful links I’ve come across recently that you may not have seen:

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Free Adobe Creative Suite printing guide available for download

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Many users of Adobe’s Creative Suite software are unaware that Adobe provides an excellent printing guide in PDF format to aid in learning the ins-and-outs of successful commercial printing using the Creative Suite apps

The guide is an excellent resource for new users, serving as a training manual, as well as a brush-up for experienced users. The guide covers a wide-range of printing-related topics in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat. The free Creative Suite 5/5.5 Printing Guide is a 22MB download.