Tips for Editing DPS Scrollable Frames in InDesign

Creating scrollable frames in DPS is easy. Just create a content frame and a container frame, paste the content frame into the container frame, and then use the Overlays panel to specify scrollable frame settings for the container frame. (If you’re confused, see the help article about scrollable frames, and then come back.)


But what if you know the content isn’t final and you’re going to edit the scrollable frame content later? And what if your scrollable frame content includes a bunch of buttons and overlays that are hidden from view?

Scrollable Frame Tips

Here are a few tips to make sure that your scrollable frames can be edited easily.

Tip #1 – Increase the size of the vertical pasteboard

If you’re creating a long vertical scrollable frame, you’re going to need enough room to work with. The 72-pixel default vertical setting for the pasteboard is frequently too small to fit the content frame. And even if there is enough room to fit the tall content frame into the pasteboard, pasting the content frame into the container frame can change the position of the content frame and make the text overset.

In InDesign, go into Preferences > Guides & Pasteboard, and then specify a larger Vertical setting under Pasteboard Options.



Tip #2 – Use Auto Fit

When you add or remove content in the content frame, you want the text frame to be resized automatically. To do this, select the content frame and open the Text Frame Options dialog box. For a vertical frame, choose Height Only and anchor the top of the frame so that the bottom of the frame can increase or decrease with edits.



Tip #3 – Avoid unwanted text cropping

In some instances, ascenders or descenders can get cut off at the top or bottom of the frame, especially when Auto Fit is selected. To avoid this, use Text Frame Options to add inset spacing on all sides of the text frame.

inset spacing


Tip #4 – Selecting nested buttons

Does your content frame include buttons with MSO actions? If so, the buttons will likely lose their actions when you paste the content frame into the container frame (it’s an InDesign bug). If the buttons are hidden, how do you select them?

One approach is to use the selection icons in the Control panel to drill up/down and next/previous through the nested objects. If you’re used to these selection icons, you can locate nested objects pretty quickly.


An easier approach is to drill down through objects displayed in the Layers panel. When you find your button, click the little box to the right of the object to select it. Then apply the button action.



Methods for Editing Content Frames

Let’s assume you have your scrollable frame set up and tested, and now you need to edit it. Editing the content frame can be difficult for two reasons. First, most of the content is invisible because it’s pasted into the container frame. Second, when you copy/paste content frame, some button actions are lost. So what are your options?

Method 1: Cut & Paste, Edit, Cut & Paste Into

This method works great for scrollable frames that don’t include nested interactive objects. Hold the mouse pointer over the frame, click the donut (er, content indicator), and cut the content frame. Paste the content frame onto the pasteboard and make your edits. When you’re done, cut the frame, select the container frame, and choose Paste Into. The container frame maintains its settings, so you’re done—unless your content frame includes buttons with MSO links. In that case, you’ll need to select each button and re-apply the button actions. In other words, you might want to take a different approach.

Method 2: Story Editor and Layers panel

Instead of cutting and pasting the content frame, select the content frame (or the text frame in the content frame) and choose Edit > Edit in Story Editor. Use the Story Editor to edit the text, and close the window when you’re done. Again, you should use Auto Fit to allow the text frame to grow or shrink as you edit.

If you need to edit objects such as buttons or images within the content frame, use the Layers panel to select the object as discussed in the fourth tip above, and make your edits.

Method 3: Group Trick

The first two methods are likely all you’ll need, but I think this technique is pretty cool, so I’m including it. With this approach you add your content frame to a group along with two dummy objects. When you want to edit the content frame, you use the Layers panel to drag the scrollable frame out of the group to make it visible. When you finish your edits, you drag it back into the group in the Layers panel. Easy. (Note that you need two dummy objects because a group must have at least two objects to remain a group.)


Additional Methods

If you’re using InDesign CS6 or later, you can set up a scrollable frame that includes a link between the parent content frame on the pasteboard and the child content frame pasted into the container frame. When you need to make edits, you edit the parent frame on the pasteboard and then update the child frame. It sounds easy enough, but I think it’s too much effort, and it can be a little too confusing if you need to troubleshoot problems.

11 Responses to Tips for Editing DPS Scrollable Frames in InDesign

  1. Another option to edit scrollable content is to put it in especially made INDD file and place it into the main project using as content to scrollable frame.

    • Bob Bringhurst says:

      Right, that works as long as the placed InDesign file doesn’t include interactivity.

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  3. Why not just use a child frame?

    Place the parent frame on the pasteboard. Select it, Edit > Place and Link. Place it, then cut it, then select the receiving frame (for the scrollable content) and Edit > Paste Into. Now when you need to edit text, edit the one on the pasteboard. The child frame gets the Out of Date badge that you can just click to update, or you can update it in the Links panel.

    • Bob Bringhurst says:

      I mentioned that approach under “Additional methods.” I can get it to work, including updating nested interactive items, but it’s too much effort, and too quirky. For example, I keep getting messages about overriding local edits in the child frame when I haven’t made local edits. If I’m going to go thru setup effort, I’d rather set up a group.

  4. Bob Levine says:

    Great article but just a quick note on the height of the pasteboard and autofit of text frames.

    If you increase the size of the pasteboard after creating a text frame that would ovelap the bottom of the pasteboard, it will remain overset so while it might be a bit of pain going from page to page, it’s best to err on the side of too large for vertical pasteboard.

  5. michiel says:

    Hi Bob,

    I have been practicing and practicing and starting al over again … but there is something I apparanty am doing wrong. My Scrollable Frame item in the overlay creator is not active. It stays in ‘italic’ and if I select it (and try to click on it) I have the following message : Resize the iamge frame to crop the image …

    I followed your instructions (on the DPS tips iPAd app) I don’t think I have done anything wrong,(I have updated all the CS5 indesign addons) but it still stays ‘inactive’.

    Do you have any idea of what I am doing wrong?