Category: InDesign

Add noise with InDesign CS2’s drop shadow feature

If you’ve upgraded to InDesign CS2, and you use drop shadows, you have have noticed a new feature in the drop shadow dialog box. It’s called Noise. To understand how valuable this addition is, take a look at a piece you’ve done with drop shadows on a white background, or a solid color background. Notice any banding? Does the shadow not “blend” with the background? Does it ever look like the drop shadow is simply another colored object? Enter Noise. What adding Noise does to your drop shadow is it breaks up the drop shadow color into random dots, rather than a smooth gradient of color. Between using Multiply and adding Noise, your drop shadows should look much more natural, and blend much better with background colors.

InDesign drop shadow

Getting better drop shadows in InDesign

In the screenshot above, I have purposely exaggerated the Noise amount to illustrate the results. Notice the randomness of the color dots, once printed they will actually appear smoother and more natural if you use the right amount. I recommend that you use nothing darker than 20-25% black on a white background for a nice natural soft shadow, but adding noise will allow you to go a bit darker if you wish. Experiment with the settings, I’m sure you will be quite happy with the results.

Add round corner effects to any path in InDesign

Did you know the Corner Effects feature in Adobe InDesign works on ANY corner, not just rectangular shapes? You can get a rounded corner effect on a path shaped like an L – without having to hand draw it with the Bezier Curve tool to edit it for the effect.

Quick & dirty duotones in InDesign

If you’ve created the “quick & dirty” duotones in Quark XPress by placing a grayscale image and coloring it in QX, then this InDesign tip is for you. You can do the same thing in Adobe InDesign by selecting the picture frame with the Selection tool (solid arrow tool) containing your grayscale image (warning: this tip will convert your spot color image to CMYK) and choosing a color to fill the box with from the Swatches palette. Then, click on the image again with the Direct Select tool (the hollow arrow tool) and choose Darken in the mode drop down menu in the Transparency palette.

Changing fonts & sizes with arrow keys in InDesign

Did you know you can change fonts, font sizes, leading and more in Adobe InDesign using the arrow keys? Simply click in the field you want and use the arrow keys to increase measurements, select the next or previous font, etc.. Perfect for making small adjustments.

Jumping pages when using InDesign page sections

In this previous tip I reminded you that hitting Command + J and typing a page number and Enter will take you to that page. But in the event that you have special page number options set, it won’t work without a little more effort. Lets say you have an 8 page booklet you’re working on in Adobe InDesign and you want the page numbers to start on document page 3 (because document page 1 is the cover and page 2 is the inside cover). You would right (Control) click on document page 3 in the Pages palette and select Numbering & Section Options and click the Start Numbering Pages At button and type “3”. This now makes document page 3 be page number 1. id_sections_dialogbox The problem is that now when you hit Command + J to jump to a page, you can’t because you’re using Section options. The way around it is to use the standard Command + J, but instead of typing just “3” you must use +3 instead. The + (plus key) tells ID that you want to go to the absolute document page 3… which is actually page 1 in your page numbering scheme. This is somewhat confusing, and quite frankly, I find it very unintuitive, but once you get used to doing it, it’s still faster than going to the pages palette and scrolling through a long document to get to the page you want.

Sizing a frame to fit content in InDesign

icon_idWhen you have content placed in a frame in Adobe InDesign, you can press Command + Option + C to resize the frame to the size of its contents – text or graphics. You can also hit Command + Option + E to stretch a graphic to fill a frame. If you want to keep the graphic scale proportional, add the Shift key. Once your graphics are placed in a content frame and sized to your liking, you can center the graphic in the frame by pressing Command + Shift + E. These commands may seem obvious, because they’re in the menus and in the manual, but I’ve found that many designers and production artists are so used to Quark’s key commands that they forget to learn new ones.

Automatic right-aligned tabs in InDesign

icon_idWhen you’re in Adobe InDesign and you have a text block that you have carefully set right-aligned tabs for using the tab bar, you’re somewhat stuck with the tab setting if you need to resize the frame. The tab setting stays where it is regardless of any width adjustments you make to the text frame. You can make it much easier on yourself simply by hitting Shift + Tab. This will automatically put the text after the tab to the far right point of the text frame regardless of the width of the text frame. This of course makes it much easier on you if you need to make that frame a bit thinner or wider.

Moving InDesign items to the front or back

icon_idWhen using Adobe InDesign, you can send any item to the back of a layer by pressing Command + Shift + [. To bring the item to the front, use the ] key instead. Take the Shift key out and you’ll move the item up and down in the layer order one at a time.

InDesign font selection shortcut

Getting control of the Font menu can be a daunting task if you have a lot of fonts activated. Adobe has made their apps somewhat easy in that they group fonts by family, but it can still be a long list to scroll through. When you’re working in Adobe InDesign, you can click in the font field in either the Character palette or Control bar and type a letter of the font you’re looking for, which will automatically select the first font using that letter. So if you type the letter “T” you will most likely end up at a font named Tahoma. Once you have the first font by that letter in the menu, you can click the font popup menu and select the actual font you want. Another way is to simply start typing the font you are looking for and InDesign will select the font as you type.