Archive for May, 2009

Best InDesign Links of May

Here are a few of the best tutorials and articles that came out in May.

InDesign Eye Candy

Need inspiration for using transparency effects? Check out Mike Rankin’s excellent three-part series: Part I, Part II, and Part III. The folks at InDesign Secrets continue to amaze.

Using Camera Raw with InDesign

Can you use Camera Raw photos in InDesign? Watch this tutorial by Layers Magazine and find out. While you’re at it, check out these other Layers Magazine tutorials.

InDesign Snippets

Neil Oliver at Creative Mentor has created a bunch of excellent videos, including this one about using snippets.

Tools and Their Modifier Keys (PDF)

Mike Witherell creates excellent PDF cheat sheets for InDesign, including this one that describes all the tools, their shortcuts, and how modifier keys affect the tools.

New presentations

Keith Gilbert points out the new slide presentation beta software that you can play around with.

InDesign and Acrobat Forms

I already mentioned Gabriel Powell’s excellent new video on creating forms in InDesign and Acrobat, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it again.

Style Mapping Presets Bug

InDesign news isn’t always cheerful. Michael Murphy mentions a nasty bug that prevents style mappings from being remembered in saved presets. The InDesign team is working on a fix. Michael also uncovered a hidden GREP feature in this article.

By the way, take a look at Michael’s book, Adobe InDesign CS4 Styles. It’s one of my favorite InDesign books.

InCopy CS4 Hands-On Guide

Anne-Marie includes hands-on exercises and sample files to help you learn the InDesign/InCopy workflow.

100 Wicked Tips

These tips cover all the Creative Suite apps. Michael Ninness wrote the InDesign section.

Multitouch Now

“Panning and zooming are key parts of any creative workflow, but alone would be pretty inefficient when navigating through multi-page documents. In InDesign, in addition to the pan and zoom gestures, you can use the three-finger swipe gesture to quickly go to the previous or next page. Here’s another gesture you can use on pages: the rotate gesture can turn the current spread 90 degrees, so you can flip between landscape and portrait orientations. If you have an object selected, meanwhile, the rotate gesture will instead act upon that object, enabling you to rotate it with fine control.”

Working with Indents, Tabs, and Text Wrap in InDesign CS4

Terry White’s video is a good getting started resource for anyone working with indents, tabs, and — you guessed it — text wrap.

By the way, here’s a good collection of InDesign resources: 15 Great Resources for Learning InDesign. The author mentioned a couple of resources that I wasn’t aware of.

5 InDesign Typing Rules

When so many users complained about not having a way to save backwards from InDesign CS4 to InDesign CS2, I offered to convert files. Many people have taken me up on this offer. As a result, I’ve been able to see documents people have been working on. Many of the designs have been great, but I’ve seen some sloppy practices. The most egregious error is not using styles for formatting text and objects. I’ll write more on that later.

I also noticed a few common typing errors that should be avoided.

1. Use hyphens, em dashes, and en dashes properly.

A hyphen divides a compound word, such as “post-Colonial.”

An em dash indicates a break in thought—what was I talking about? (Unfortunately, my blogging tool shortens em dashes, so you’ll just have to imagine a longer dash.) An em dash is also used to indicate an open end date, such as “Peter Baxter-McGill [1964—]” or an open-end date, such as “19—.” There’s no reason to create a dash using two hyphens (–) in InDesign.

An en dash is used to indicate a range of numbers, such as “35–44.” It also indicates a link between geographic references and routes, such as the Mason–Dixon Line and Oakland–San Francisco. It’s also used for joint authors, such as “Kvern–Blatner” and for the minus sign. (Unfortunately, it looks like my blogging tool converts en dashes into hyphens. Oh well.)

Some people prefer using the en dash – instead of the em dash – in the middle of a sentence because it looks better than the em dash. If you take this approach, make sure you add a nonbreaking space (Type > Insert White Space > Nonbreaking Space) before the en dash so that the dash doesn’t start a line.

2. Use discretionary hyphens to break words.

If you don’t like the way InDesign composes text and decide to break up a word with a hyphen, use a discretionary hyphen (Type > Insert Special Character > Hyphens and Dashes > Discretionary Hyphen). A discretionary hyphen is also known as a “soft hyphen” or “optional hyphen.” It’s visible only if it breaks the word at the end of a line. If you just add a hyphen, you may end up with “Spam- alot” in the middle of a line.

3. Use quotation marks and prime marks correctly.

Use straight quotation marks (" ") when you’re typing code. The rest of the time use curly quotation marks. In InDesign, you can change a preference setting to determine which quotation marks are used. You can read more about it in the Use quotation marks Help topic.

Use the prime mark (′) to indicate feet, arcminutes, or minutes of time. It looks like a slanted apostrophe. Use the double prime mark (″) to indicate inches, arcseconds, or seconds of time. Some fonts include the prime and double prime marks. Use the Glyphs panel to insert these marks. If the font doesn’t have a prime or double prime mark, insert the straight quotation mark, and italicize it.

4. Use Space After and Space Before instead of paragraph returns.

Novice InDesign users control paragraph spacing using the Enter key. This frequently causes problems, especially with blank lines at the top of a frame. The better approach is to control paragraph spacing with paragraph styles. The Space Before and Space After settings are found in the Indents and Spacing section. You can also use the Control panel to change Space Before and Space After values of individual paragraphs.

5. Watch for widows and orphans.

A widow is the last line of a paragraph that winds up all by itself at the top of a column or page. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph that lands all by itself at the bottom of a column or page. Designers sometimes also refer to the single-word last line of a paragraph as either a widow or an orphan. Some people call this a “runt.”

InDesign offers several methods to avoid widows and orphans. See the Ways to control paragraph breaks and Control paragraph breaks using Keep options Help topics.

Did I miss anything?

Fixing Incorrect Last Name Sorts in Index

For another edition of my Buried Treasure series, here’s a tip found in the Help topic, Index a word, phrase, or list quickly. This topic describes how to index names quickly in the Last Name, First Name format. To index a proper name quickly by last name, select the name and press Shift+Alt+Ctrl+] (Windows) or Shift+Option+Command+] (Mac OS).

This works well for names like Arthur Mays (Mays, Arthur) and Harriet R. Smith (Smith, Harriet R.). But what about names like Edgar de la Peña, Thurston B. Howell III, Floyd Airweather Jr.? You’d have an index that looks like this:

III, Thurston B. Howell
Jr., Floyd Airweather
Peña, Edgar de la

Here’s where the buried treasure comes in.

To index compound last names or names with a title, include one or more nonbreaking spaces between the words. For example, if you want to index “James Paul Carter Jr.” by “Carter” instead of “Jr.”, place a nonbreaking space between “Carter” and “Jr.” (To insert a nonbreaking space, choose Type > Insert White Space > Nonbreaking Space.)

If you add nonbreaking spaces (also called “hard spaces”) between the “real” last name and all the words that come after it, the generated index won’t have the bad sorting problems:

Airweather Jr., Floyd
de la Peña, Edgar
Howell III, Thurston B.

Vertical Alignment and Corner Effects

[This article applies only to InDesign CS4 and earlier. InDesign CS5 lets you apply vertical justification to non-rectangular shapes.]

For another edition of my Buried Treasures series, here’s a note found in the Help topic, Align or justify text vertically within a text frame.

Vertical justification isn’t applied to text that takes on a non-rectangular shape due to influences such as text frame shape, text wrap, or corner effects. In these cases, top alignment is applied. When a corner effect is applied, vertical justification is possible if you make the text area rectangular by increasing the Inset value in the Text Frame Options dialog box, relative to the Size value in the Corner Options dialog box.

In other words, vertical justification and corner effects don’t play nicely with each other in InDesign CS4. One workaround, as described in the Help topic, is to increase the inset value in the Text Frame Options dialog box (Ctrl+B/Command+B) so that it’s at least as large as the corner effect value. In the example below, I justified the text within the text frame, and then I added a 2p corner effect, and then I added a 2p inset.


That’s one option, which works perfectly well if you don’t mind changing the inset value. If you want your inset value to be smaller, the best approach is to use two frames of the same size. Apply the vertical aliignment to the text in one frame, and apply the corner effect to the other frame, and then stack and group the two frames.

Creating PDF Forms in InDesign

We asked Gabriel Powell to create a video that addresses the workflow of starting a form in InDesign and completing it in Acrobat. He did an excellent job.

Click here to watch Gabriel Powell’s video

As the Creating PDF forms topic suggests, the gist of the workflow is that you design a form in InDesign that includes placeholders for fields such as radio buttons, check boxes, and text fields. Then you export to PDF and use Acrobat to convert the placeholders into form fields.

This isn’t a perfect workflow. Ideally, you should be able to add form fields in InDesign so that exporting to PDF results in a finished form. Instead, you end up with two master documents, which means that if you need to make any changes in InDesign, you’d have to redo all the form field recognition work in Acrobat.* Still, if you make the right decisions and create a clean InDesign document, it’s a good way to make data forms.

As we were putting together the plan for this video, I came across a detailed document from the Acrobat team that provides valuable technical details on field recognition and best practices for designing a form. View Notes on Form Field Recognition (PDF).

UPDATE: See also Michael Murphy’s videocast on designing PDF forms in InDesign:

UPDATE: The Acrobat team wrote an article about Designing forms for auto field detection in Adobe Acrobat.

* Kriss has an interesting workaround tip in comments. Basically, you can use the Replace Pages feature in Acrobat to swap in an edited InDesign page without losing the buttons. Bob Levine describes the process in detail in this InDesign Secrets post.