Archive for April, 2009

April Help Updates

More new topics added to InDesign Help.

Create calendars and business cards from templates – “Calendar” is a popular search term, so I wanted to add a Help topic that points users to the community sites where they can find templates for creating calendars, business cards, resumes, flyers, and other specialized documents. Please leave a comment in that topic if you’re aware of good InDesign template sites.

Determine the word count – I had documented how to determine word counts and character counts, but searches for “word counts” haven’t been bringing up the right Help topics. So I added this little topic to make it more explicit and improve the search experience.

Editing hyperlinks imported from Word – Several people have asked questions in the user forum about how to avoid getting the white boxes around hyperlinks in imported documents. I wrote this topic to address that issue.

Page transitions – This isn’t actually a new topic. In fact, I removed a topic that explained the two methods for adding page transitions. In usability testing, the additional information confused users. I simplified the topic by removing the steps on using the Page Transitions dialog box. It’s just as well, since that dialog box is redundant with the Page Transitions panel.

Dynamic web documents for Flash – To unclutter the Help topic on exporting interactive documents to Flash, I broke the old topic out into three new topics: Create interactive SWF (Flash) files for the web, Create interactive XFL (Flash) for the web, and Flash export issues. I also edited a topic called Exporting content to the web to provide links and a better overview of different ways to export InDesign content to the web.

Create arrows using start and end shapes – This topic hasn’t been coming up when people search for “arrows” or “arrowheads.” Let’s hope it does now so people can see how easy it is to create arrows in InDesign.

Create button hot spots – I converted a couple of blog entries into Help topics: Display a hidden image on rollover and Display a different button on rollover. I also changed the title of the Add button states for rollover effects topic.

Unable to select objects – Troubleshooting topic.

Finally, in the Insert straight quotation marks topic, I provided a tip on adding prime and double-prime glyphs.

Got all that, Google?

Buried Treasure – Inserting Tabs in Tables

InDesign Secrets just did a post on typing tabs in a table cell. It’s a good tip that reminded me of a series I’ve been wanting to do called “Buried Treasures” in which I extract tips from Help topics and highlight them in this blog. I’ll start with this little topic called Insert tabs into a table cell:

Insert tabs into a table cell

When the insertion point is in a table, pressing Tab moves the insertion point to the next cell. However, you can insert a tab within a table cell. Use the Tabs panel to define tab settings in the table. Tab settings affect the paragraph in which the insertion point is placed.

1. Using the Type tool , place the insertion point where you want to insert a tab.
2. Choose Type > Insert Special Character > Other > Tab.
3. To change tab settings, select the columns or cells you want to affect, choose Type > Tabs to display the Tabs panel, and then adjust tab settings.

Note: When you use the Tabs ruler to apply a decimal tab to a cell or group of cells, you usually don’t need to press Tab at the beginning of each paragraph to decimal-align the text in the cells. Paragraphs are automatically aligned on the decimal character, unless the paragraph contains additional formatting, such as center alignment, that overrides the decimal tab.

On a Mac, you can press Option-Tab. In Windows, you need to assign a keystroke.

You may wonder why we don’t provide keyboard shortcuts in Adobe Help topics. It turns out that scattered keyboard shortcuts give our international friends fits when they’re translating the Help topics, especially for languages that use different keyboards. To save time and money, we keep all of our shortcuts listed in the Default keyboard shortcuts topic.

Numbered Lists — Part IV Numbered Steps

To number steps in a document, you can keep it simple by just clicking the Numbered List button in the Control panel to number the current paragraph. And when you want to restart numbering for a new set of steps, just Alt/Option-click the Numbered List button and change the Start At number to 1. That may be a fine approach if you have only one or two sets of steps, but if you have more, you’ll want to automate your layout with styles.

Let’s suppose your text layout looks something like this:


What’s the best way to restart numbering?

The numbering needs to be restarted after the “To insert a gadget” head step. One way to do this is to create two different styles for steps, such as “Steps Begin” and “Steps Continue.” That’s a perfectly fine approach. But in this document, we know that steps appear only after a “Head Step” style, so let’s take advantage of that.

Continue reading…

Numbered Lists — Part III Figure Captions

I’ve already covered how to create numbered lists for outlines and multi-level lists. Now I’m going to walk through the steps of adding figure numbers, such as “Figure 1-1,” “Figure 1-2,” and so on. Using sequential numbering for lists of figures is common in technical manuals and user guides. I actually did a fairly thorough job in the Creating running captions for figures and tables Help topic if I don’t say so myself, but it may be helpful to demonstrate this process with a specific type of caption list.

Running caption for figures

Continue reading…

Numbered Lists — Part II Multi-Level Lists

In Part I, I covered how to create a traditional outline list. Now I’m going to walk through the steps of creating a multi-level list frequently used in academic papers, user guides, and military documents.


Continue reading…

Numbered Lists — Part I Outlines

When I wrote the InDesign Help topic on creating multi-level lists, I wasn’t able to go into the detail that I wanted to. Sure, a person can use the steps to figure out how to create multi-level lists, but without concrete examples, it’s not exactly easy. So I’m going to walk through the steps of different multi-level numbered lists. First, I’ll show how to create a simple outline in InDesign:


Continue reading…

Help Update – New Topics

Whenever I create new Help topics, I need to link to them from an external source like this blog to get search engines to recognize them.

New Topics

Add basic page numbering – When different search terms such as “page numbers” and “page numbering” are combined, this subject is the number one search in InDesign. Based on feedback I’ve been receiving, it appears that some novice users are having a difficult time finding the information they need. The problem is that information on page numbers is intertwined with more advanced pagination tasks. So I created a “basic” topic for novice users and added links to more advanced topics. I think this is a better approach. Now I just need to make this new topic popular enough to appear near the top of search results. (Hey, if you have a blog, please find an excuse to link to this topic.)

Removing white box effect in documents with transparency – In this case, I needed to break the record for the longest Help topic title. Also, this issue has been reported in forums, and it makes sense for it to appear more explicitly in Help. David Blatner wrote about eliminating the white box effect on the InDesign Secrets site.

Adding SWF files in InDesign – QuickTime is required to play videos in PDF documents exported from InDesign CS4. Unfortunately, QuickTime doesn’t play SWF files as well as it used to. This new Help topic briefly covers problems associated with adding SWF files to InDesign documents, and recommends adding the SWF files in Acrobat 9, which uses Adobe’s built-in Flash Player to play SWF files.

Other Housecleaning

These Help topics should appear higher than related Help topics in search results: Preflight panel overview, Adding transparency effects, Tabs and indents, Add basic page numbering (it can’t hurt to link to it twice, right?), Hyphenate text, Check spelling, Change document setup, margins, and columns, Gradients, Layers, and Create masters.

New and Improved Adobe Forums

Legacy Adobe and Macromedia forums have been integrated onto a single platform at


* Rich text options: inline images and videos, file attachments, code samples

* Integration of Adobe ID for true single sign on to all Forums

* Consolidation of Macromedia and Adobe Forums onto one new system.

* Updated look and feel, more consistent with other forum systems

* Email participation, including starting a new discussion and alerts

* RSS feeds for many parts of the forum (topics, users, announcements, etc.)

* Improved moderation capabilities (hosts can delete inappropriate content)

* Improved search capabilities, including wildcard searches and fuzzy searches

Adobe Forums FAQ

Have more questions? See the Adobe Forums FAQ.

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Video Tutorials

Click this link to get a list of video tutorials for InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Flash, Dreamweaver, Bridge, and all the other products that appear in the Design, Web, and Production Studio versions of the Creative Suite.

Before you click the link, here’s a tip. The best way to view the videos for each product is to click the “Episode List” next to the product. If you click the “Learn” link, such as “Learn InDesign CS4,” you end up going to a different index in AdobeTV. AdobeTV is great for viewing videos, but it’s still a work-in-progress in terms of navigation and searching. (How’s that for diplomacy?) OK, now we’re ready to click the link:

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Video Tutorials

Speaking of videos, I recently became aware of a cool site called Creative Mentor by Neil Oliver. It combines articles with accompanying videos that cover a wide range of InDesign topics. Neil left several comments in InDesign Help topics such as Import swatches, Preflight panel overview, and Setting preferences in which he linked to a related article on his site. I checked out his site and added it to the Google Custom Search Engine so that his articles appear when you include community sites in InDesign Help searches.

Reminder – If you’re aware of a good InDesign site or article that you or someone else has created, please leave a comment in a related Help topic. It promotes the best sites, and it helps other people get their questions answered. Oh, and that goes for appropriate forum threads and articles in popular sites like InDesign Secrets that every InDesign user should check in on regularly. Add links through commenting in Help.