Layout Zones How-To

Installing the Layout Zone script:

  • Unzip the script and put the Layout Zones folder in the root level of InDesign’s Scripts folder.

  • Don’t put it in the Scripts Panel folder, because you run this script from InDesign’s Edit menu. Developer Martinho da Gloria took advantage of InDesign’s ability to enable a script to added to an actual application menu, so you don’t have to run the script from InDesign’s Scripts Panel.

Using the Layout Zone script:

  • Select some the page objects that you want to convert to a placed InDesign file.
  • Note that the placed InDesign file is a single object on a single layer, so keep that in mind when you decide what objects to select.
  • Go to Edit > Layout Zone > Objects To InDesign Document to run the script. The first thing you’ll see is this dialog box:

  • You have the choice of converting just your selected objects or all the objects on a page that you specify.
  • You can choose to Ignore locked objects in the conversion. If you don’t choose one of those options, then all objects, even locked will be part of the conversion.
  • You can also choose to not replace the objects with your newly created ID document. The new document is still saved and editable, just not placed in your current layout. This is useful if you just want to duplicate something you’ve created for someone else to use.
  • The script gives you options for dealing with strokes, or hanging punctuation, ascenders and descenders. The Ignore option is straightforward. Include In Page and Include As Bleed are two ways of accommodating content that exists outside the bounding box of the frames in which they reside. The former tries to calculate how much extra space those items need automatically (which is an educated guess…InDesign doesn’t provide that information to the script) and expand the new document size beyond the bounding box of the selected objects. The latter does the same thing but uses InDesign’s bleed settings to accomplish this. In both cases you can add extra bleed amounts manually if the situation requires it. Examples of objects to be accommodated would be text descenders that hang down past the bottom edge of a text frame, strokes that are drawn whole or in part outside the bounding box of a frame, hanging punctuation, etc.
  • The script will then bring up a save dialog box asking where you want your new InDesign document to be saved. Once it saves it replaces your selected objects with the newly created InDesign document (assuming you didn’t uncheck the box).
  • The script does a good job of preserving things like baseline grid settings, either on the document level or frame based grids…this is essential to keep your text from shifting and possibly recomposing in your newly created ID document.
  • At this point the new document can be edited by another user or by you. Opt/alt + double-click on the placed ID file will open the file for editing in another document window.

Converting Back to InDesign Objects

  • One of the greatest things about this script is that it enables you to convert a placed InDesign file back into native InDesign objects.
  • To do that, select the placed InDesign file, and then Edit > Layout Zone > Linked InDesign Page to Objects. That will bring up this dialog box:

  • This dialog gives you options for how you want the new native InDesign objects to be managed.
  • Check the Use Original Layers Order to preserve object layer assignments in the placed InDesign document.
  • Choose As a Group to have the objects created as an InDesign group.
  • Choose Paste Into Selected Frame if you’ve cropped the placed InDesign file and want to preserve that arrangement (very cool feature).
  • The script will preserve basic transformations like rotation and shearing that’s been applied to the placed InDesign file. That said, I think it will be easy to create transformations that will cause the script to fail. Experiment with the script a bit before you rely on it in a live production scenario.

Martinho da Gloria has done a great job putting together a very useful script that automates steps that otherwise would be pretty tedious to perform manually. Give his website a look and remember him if and when you need some custom plug-ins or other InDesign consulting work done.

Note: The first released version of this script won’t load in non-English menus. Martinho is currently testing a new version that will do that, so stay tuned.