Here, we provide some handy hints and tips on saving time when using InDesign.
InDesign is the tried-and-tested tool of every designer. However, there are several time-saving tips and short-cuts that even the most seasoned InDesign users may be unaware of.
Toggle Between Text and Cell in a Table
To toggle between selecting a cell and the text within that cell, click with the Type tool anywhere in the cell. Then hit the Escape key: now the cell itself is selected. Hit the Escape key again, and the text is selected.
Export Images from Word Files
Did you know that Word’s DOCX file format is a glorified ZIP file? Change the extension to ZIP, unzip it, and you’ll find all of the document’s original assets, including the images as individual files in a folder.
To create a lighter or darker version of a swatch as you are creating or modifying the colour in the Colours panel, just Shift-drag one of the sliders. All of them will move together. (This works the same way in Illustrator.)
Caps Lock Key On . . .
If you have been typing for some time and when you look up you realise that the Caps Lock key has been on for some time, InDesign offers a quick fix. Select the text, choose Type > Change Case, and select the correct setting from the submenu that appears. You can pick from Uppercase, Lowercase, Title Case and Sentence case.
Add Tabs to Table Cells
To jump from cell to cell in an InDesign table, just press the Tab key. But to insert an actual tab character in a cell, you’ll have to go to Type > Insert Special Character > Other > Tab.
Compare Two Layouts
If you have two layout files that look identical, but you suspect they’re not, how can you find the differences? Export each layout to PDF with a unique name and then use the Document > Compare feature in Acrobat Pro 8 or 9. In a minute or so you will be presented with a page-by-page breakdown of where formatting, position, and/or text changes occur in the two PDFs you selected.
Open a New Window to Preview Selected Type
If you are experimenting with different faces, colours and styles when laying out text and having difficulty seeing what your changes look like with the text selected, which inverts the colours, try this. Choose Window > Arrange > New Window. Next choose Window > Arrange > Tile. Nothing will be selected in the new window, so you can use it to preview all the changes you make to your type in the original window. This trick works for type on a path and tables, too.
Zoom-sensitive Ruler Guides – 1
When you zoom out on your InDesign document, guides that you have placed can clutter up your screen. 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 there is a better technique. Before you start dragging guides out, go to Layout > Ruler Guides, and change the View Threshold from 5% to something higher, maybe 101%. Any guides you create from that point on 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.
Zoom-sensitive Ruler Guides – 2
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.
Clear a Page’s Guides at Once
If you want to remove all guides from a page, press Cmd-Opt-G (Mac) or Control-Alt-G (Windows). This selects all the guides on the spread. Tap the Delete key and they will be removed.
Make All Frames the Same Height or Width
If you have a number of frames on the page and you want them all to be the same height (or width), try this tip. Select one of the frames and enter the correct height (or width) in the H (or W) field in the Control panel. Press Return. Now, select all the other frames you need to modify. Choose Object > Transform Again > Transform Again Individually. All of the selected frames change their height (or width) to the previous amount.
Turn a Frame to a Grid of Frames
To create a grid of frames 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). Locate the MakeGrid script under Application > Samples > AppleScript and double-click on it. That converts any single frame into a bunch of frames on a grid, according to your specifications (frame type, number of frames, how much space between each one, etc).
No More Rasterised Text
Drop shadows and other transparency can be very effective, but not when small text such as a caption rasterizes in the flattening process at print time. For worry-free designs, create at least two layers in your document: One at the top level for all your text and one at the bottom level for all your images. Text that appears above a transparency effect in the stacking order will never rasterize.