InDesign Central: Your place for good, concise, InDesign related hints.

InDesign Tips & Tricks

Tips and Tricks for InDesign

I'm a long time user of InDesign (since version 1.0) and Adobe Certified Instructor. After teaching InDesign to so many people, there are certain issues that commonly come up. I want to share some with you. I hope they will help you to master InDesign. Note: Cmd is short for the Command key (sometimes called the Apple key).

Hidden Tricks & Easter Eggs

If you don’t like InDesign panel names in ALL CAPS, here’s a secret to make them Regular Case like they used to be in CS3 and earlier.

Create a folder inside the InDesign CS4 application folder named noallcaps (and, as part of the joke, the folder name is of course case sensitive). When you relaunch InDesign it will once again have Regular Title Case Names. Now they take up less screen space—13 pixels less in my case! As of Oct 7, 2008 I haven’t seen this published anywhere else, so you heard it here first!

InDesign Mysteries & Bugs

Why are Two Type Sizes listed? (As shown below)

This is a CS2 (and prior) issue that has been fixed in CS3!
What causes the issue and how to avoid it:

If text frames are part of a group, do not scale the group! You can ungroup them and then scale, but if you scale a group of objects that include text frames, the text sizes will display as two sizes: original type size (current type size after scaling).

How to fix the issue:
1. If the objects are grouped, ungroup them (Object > Ungroup)
2. With the objects selected, go into the Control palette menu and choose Scale Text Attributes.
3. If needed, regroup the objects (Object > Group).

I can’t delete a color swatch. Why and how do I delete the color swatch?

Something has gone a bit corrupt in the InDesign file. To fix it:
1. Go to File > Export.
2. Set Format to InDesign Interchange and click Save. This creates a .inx file.
3. Go to File > Open and select the .inx file you just created.
4. A fresh new untitled document will be created. You should now be able to delete the color.
5. Save this new, fixed document.
Please note that this technique also works for “phantom” fonts that InDesign says it is missing, but aren’t actually being used in the document.

InDesign says font is missing, but I am not using that font and replacing it doesn’t work.

Refer to the above explanation of color swatches that can’t be deleted.

Transparency Issues

White boxes around drop shadows, discolored background behind shadows, etc.

This is one of the most commonly asked questions. When you go to File > Print, click on the Advanced section on the left and set the Transparency Flattener to [High Resolution]. That is a temporary fix, but to make sure it's permanently fixed:
1. Go to File > Print Presets > Define.
2. Select [Default] and click Edit.
3. Click on the Advanced section on the left.
4. Set the Transparency Flattener to [High Resolution].
5. Click OK and OK again.
Also be careful of the same Flattening Setting when making PDF files. Again it's in the Advanced section on the left. Typically the white lines that display in PDF files viewed in Acrobat are only display glitches from the Transparency flattening and do not print. If you want to send someone a PDF that looks nicer onscreen, export the PDF from InDesign as Acrobat 5 or later. This will not flatten the transparency and it will look nicer onscreen.

Transparency in Illustrator EPS files doesn't work right.

Illustrator files containing semi-transparency should be saved as Illustrator (.ai) files, NOT .eps files.

InDesign Tips for Quark Users (but helpful for everyone)

How does Quark's kerning amount compare to InDesign's kerning amounts.

The kerning numbers of Quark and InDesign are not the same since Quark uses 200ths of an em and InDesign uses 1000ths. That means 1 in Quark is equal to 5 in InDesign. That's like saying 1, 2, 3 in Quark is the same as 5, 10, 15 in InDesign. Since InDesign's default keystroke does 20, that is like 4 Quark amounts all in one keystroke. That's a lot! I suggest you:
• Close all documents (this makes this preference a default for all new documents.)
• Go into the InDesign menu[mac] or Edit menu[pc]
   and choose Preferences > Units & Increments.
• Set Kerning to 5.
• While you’re there also set Size/Leading to 1pt and Baseline Shift to 1pt.

In Quark I can select a box hidden behind another with a keystroke. Can InDesign?

Of course you can! The keystroke is different, but it works the same. Just hold Command[mac] or Control[pc] and each time you click InDesign will select the object behind the current one.

How do I Copy and Paste Pictures between boxes in InDesign?

As much as I love InDesign, this is something that was easier in Quark. You could simply copy an image from one box and paste it into another box. In InDesign you must:
1. Select the image content using the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) or the Position tool.
2. Copy it.
3. Select the new box. If you have trouble selecting it, use the Selection tool (black arrow).
4. Select Edit > Paste Into (or press Cmd–Option–V [mac] or Ctrl–Alt–V [pc] ).

Where is Runaround in InDesign?

It's called Text Wrap and it's found under Window > Text Wrap.

Miscellaneous InDesign Tips and Tricks

How to save an InDesign CS4, CS3 or CS2 file for use in a previous version:

1. Go to File > Export.
2. Set the format to InDesign Interchange. (This will make a .inx file.)
3. Older versions of InDesign can open that .inx file. I recommend applying all InDesign updates before doing this to get the best results.

Quickly places images at their print size.

1. Don't have anything selected.
2. Going to File > Place.
3. Choose the photo.
4. The cursor will have a loaded image icon, just click on the page where you want the image.

Drag and Drop Images/Text onto and InDesign layout.

You can just drag an image or text file from anywhere (the Finder, Desktop, Adobe Bridge, the older Photoshop File Browser, etc.) and it will create a frame for it. You can also drop it onto an existing frame! Starting with CS2 this is also a way to swap one version of a an image with another. Just drag the new version over the old version and it will update it, keeping the same size and cropping. Nice!

Live Image Previews

When cropping an image or moving an image within a picture frame, click and hold a second before dragging. If you are patient and wait a second before dragging you'll then get a transparent overlay of the rest of the image being cropped off.

InDesign Keyboard Shortcuts

Where do I find all the good hidden keyboard shortcuts?

Check out Noble Desktop’s keyboard shortcut guides (Noble Desktop is were I teach InDesign). There are even PDF files there for download so you can print it out. It is the best one page InDesign keyboard shortcut guide that you'll find.

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