Adobe InDesign Tutorial: Five Power User Tips and Tricks!

Adobe Indesign Tutorial Tips and Tricks
Adobe InDesign is a fantastic software application that is used to create all sorts of layouts including books, magazines, posters, business cards and much much more. It’s a massive program with many features and panels allowing you to do all kinds of tricky things. Here’s five tips and tricks that will power up your InDesign usage!

Use InDesign to Calculate For You

Did you know that InDesign can add, multiple, divide and convert? Within the Control panel or Transform panel you can do simple calculations when working with objects or entering certain values. For instance, if you have a rectangle selected and wish to add a certain amount to its width or height, there’s no need to do the maths in your head. Simply place the cursor after the current value and type + (plus key) then the additional amount and hit Return. Or, if you wish to subtract an amount just type - (hyphen key), then the amount and then hit Return. This handy trick even works with X and Y Locations—great if you would like to move an object by an exact amount. You can also use * (Asterisk key) to multiply and \ (Backslash) to divide.

Now, let’s say that you wish to enter a value that is not set as the default—for example, you want inches when the Ruler units are set to millimetres. Easy! Just type the number followed by the measurement abbreviation, such as ‘in’ for inches, and InDesign will convert it for you. You can enter any measurement system—‘pt’ (points), ‘p’ (picas), ‘mm’ (millimetres) , ‘cm’ (centimetres), and so on.

Customise Links Panel

The Links panel displays a lot of helpful information regarding resolution, colour, profiles, image size and much more. However, a lot of this stuff is hidden in the extended ‘Link Info’ section and is easily missed. I like to customise the panel so I can see this important information quickly and easily.

From the Links panel menu, choose Panel Options. Then select Large Rows for Row Size, tick the Color Space, ICC Profile and Effective PPI boxes under Show Column and then click OK. Now you’ll see large thumbnails with all the extra specified information next to them in the top section of the panel. Of course, feel free to experiment with your own settings.

Frame Fitting Options

Don’t waste your time resizing images when you first place them into a document. Instead, use frame fitting options. You can find these options by selecting a Frame (any but a text frame) and then choosing Object>Fitting >Frame Fitting Options. You’ll now be able to specify fitting options for this frame such as content fitting, alignment and crop amounts. When an image is placed into the frame the settings will be applied, allowing you to automatically resize and position images.

Obviously to do this to each frame before you place an image would be time consuming and no quicker than manually adjusting an image once it’s placed. However, here is where the power is, for frames that are positioned in the same area on each page place them on a Master Page. You can also specify these settings when creating an Object Style, but my favourite is to create default fitting options for the Rectangle Frame Tool.

To create this, make sure you don’t have any documents open, click on the Rectangle Frame Tool in the Tool panel and choose Object>Fitting>Frame Fitting Options. Now specify some default settings— I like to Fill the Frame Proportionally, Align from the centre Reference Point and add a 0.25mm Crop amount to all sides. From now on whenever you draw a Rectangle Frame in a document these fitting settings will be automatically applied.

Document Presets

Constantly setting up documents with the same settings such as business cards? Well, use document presets and save some time.

Choose File>New>Document and enter all the desired settings in the New Document dialogue box. Now before clicking OK, click on the Save Document Preset button, give the preset a name and click OK. Now this preset will appear in the Documents Preset drop down menu whenever you create a new document.

You can also edit previously defined presets or create new ones by choosing File>Document Presets>Define.

Optical Margin Alignment

They say it is the small things that make all the difference when it comes to typography and I would have to agree! This is one of those things.

Optical Margin Alignment is best used when you have a quotation mark a the beginning of a line. Looking at the pictured example, you will see the first column appears to have poor vertical left alignment due to the quotation mark. However, the second column makes use of Optical Margin Alignment and the results speak for themselves.

This is easily achieved by first making the Story panel visible (Windows>Type & Tables>Story), clicking on Text Frame in question and then by ticking the Optical Margin Alignment check-box. You can then make further adjustments by changing the Align based on size amount.

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