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Cool Technique: Self-Contained InDesign Files

September 14, 2006 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Designers moving from QuarkXPress to InDesign tend to overlook some useful features in InDesign because they never existed in XPress. They're not on their "I did [x] in Quark, how do I do [x] in InDesign" radar.

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InDesign/InCopy 4.03 Patch Released

June 27, 2006 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Late last week, Adobe quietly released software updates for InDesign CS2 and InCopy CS2. According to the ReadMe file that accompanies the installation, the 4.03 update fixes a number of pesky anomalies and glitches in both programs, including ones involving incorrect font remapping, weird EPS output, unexplained slowdowns and unexpected quits.

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My Recent InDesign Tips

June 27, 2006 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

For the past month, David Blatner and I have been "stocking" our new blog (the one that hosts our podcast) with some useful articles. It's like moving into a new house and having to stock the pantry with staples. Once that's done then we just need to buy the weekly groceries.

Here are a few staples I've written that you might find useful — I think you can figure out the topic by the URL:
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Find Fonts Used in InDesign Style Sheets

March 14, 2006 - 3:00am ||| 2 Comments | Add new

Any InDesign user who has ever needed to change the fonts used in a publication knows this frustration: Neither of the two find/change font features in InDesign (Edit > Find/Change and Type > Find Font) can access the fonts specified in Paragraph or Character styles. You have to edit each style individually to change its font spec — an onerous task if you're dealing with twenty bazillion style definitions.

A little over a year ago I wrote about a method that made the task of converting a publication's fonts slightly more tolerable by combining Find Font with Redefine Style:

Find/Change in InDesign Style Sheets

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Nested Styles Tips in InDesign

January 25, 2006 - 2:00am ||| 2 Comments | Add new

Are you a fan of InDesign's Nested Styles? For the uninitiated, I'm referring to the ability to tell InDesign something like, "Hey, whenever I tell you to apply the Bullet paragraph style to some text, be a pal, wouldja, and apply the Character Style I made for the bullets too? Just to the first character in the paragraph. Thanks, man."

You set up these requests in the "Drop Caps and Nested Styles" panel (in ID CS or CS2) of the Paragraph Style Options dialog box. You only have to deal with four simple drop-down menus or fields per Nested Style. As long as you've already set up the Character Styles you want ID to apply, and can figure out a consistent pattern to their application ("first character," "up to the second sentence," "first three words," etc.), you can save yourself a lot of mousing around applying the same Character Style over and over throughout your text.

Here are a few Nested Styles tips I've picked up along the way to help you get more out of them. more >

InDesign Podcast: Join the Fun!

January 25, 2006 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Late last year I announced in DesignGeek that David Blatner (my co-author for InDesign CS/CS2 Breakthroughs) and I were starting our own podcast called InDesign Secrets:

So here it is a couple months later, a half-dozen episodes under our belts, and let me tell you it's going great! What a blast! I never knew it'd be so much fun to do this, nor did I realize how much other people might enjoy hearing us go back and forth on cool InDesign tips and tricks. (We've received a ton of e-mail feedback, and often answer user questions "on the air.").

I think what makes our podcast so lively is that there's two of us, and the fun we have talking about InDesign together comes through loud and clear. There's a lot of laughter and good-natured teasing. We don't take ourselves too seriously, but there's very little fluff. We jump right in to the content of the secrets we want to share in each episode and thoroughly cover a bunch of topics, one right after the other. more >

InDesign Secrets: Our New Podcast

December 5, 2005 - 3:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Fellow tip-ophiles, my apologies for not sending out a DesignGeek in November. I plead greed. There were so many new projects I wanted to do all at once that DesignGeek took a back seat.

I'm thrilled to say that one of these is a new web portal and podcast that David Blatner and I are doing. It's called InDesign Secrets:

For now, the web site is mainly serving as a home for the podcast. As of this writing we've got the premiere episode published — twenty minutes of David and I trading InDesign tips and techniques and having lots of fun playing radio dj's. Take a listen! more >

New Resources for InCopy Users or Wannabes

December 5, 2005 - 3:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Adobe InCopy, the editorial adjunct to InDesign, is slowly bubbling up into the collective consciousness of page layout professionals. This is evidenced by a growing number of articles, tutorials, and even (finally) a third-party book about the software. I'm thrilled, because I never know what to say to my InCopy training clients when they ask me what resources are available other than on-line help and my InCopy Resources page (

Don't Be Editorial's Prisoner
This was written by me and went up on's web site just a few days ago. It's actually a companion piece to a longer, more in-depth article I wrote on InCopy (and why designers love it) that's coming up in InDesign Magazine (see the next item).

Big InCopy Feature Article [working title]
Well, I don't know the title the editor will give to my InCopy article yet. But it's a good read — it's aimed at designers but has enough info for the editors and management at your company to warrant your passing it on to them (while paying for a second copy of course!). The article will be in the December 2005/January 2006 issue (#12) of InDesign Magazine, to be published in its usual 60+ page PDF form on December 12, along with lots of other great InDesign content that the magazine is known for.more >

A Ton of New Content on DesignGeek Central

December 5, 2005 - 3:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

My assistant, Sherri, and I just wrapped up a months-long effort of updating the content in DesignGeek Central, the section of my web site that contains my software resource pages (as well as DesignGeek back issues):

Check out the resource pages for Photoshop, Acrobat, InDesign and Illustrator, especially; as we found great new books and a sheaf of new Adobe white papers (in-depth guides in PDF form) for each of these programs, which were buried in various places on Adobe's web site. Also of note, the OpenType Resources page has links to new Type 1 to OpenType conversion guides and glyph charts, and I added two new resource pages, one for Adobe Bridge and one for Version Cue.

As before, each resource page contains links, artwork, and pithy commentary about what I consider to be the best information available for the program or topic in question, and best of all, many of the resources are free. A typical resource page includes links to relevant DesignGeek articles, best books and magazines, Adobe/Quark/Apple white papers and tutorials, user groups, mailing lists, forums, video and on-line training, third-party web sites, blogs, podcasts, plug-ins, actions, XTensions, and kitchen sinks.more >

Global Gradients and Patterns in Illustrator

October 19, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 1 Comment | Add new

One of the most common questions I hear from designers when I'm teaching Adobe Illustrator is, "What's the "Global" checkbox for in Swatch Options?" (Swatch Options is the dialog box that opens when you double-click a color in the Swatches palette so you can modify the color mix, or when you choose New Swatch from the Swatches palette menu.)

When you tick the Global checkbox in Swatch Options, you turn that swatch into a "linked" or "smart" swatch. From then on, filling or stroking an object with that swatch links the object's color to the swatch's definition, equivalent to applying a paragraph or character style to text. Modify the swatch's color mix via Swatch Options and you'll see all the swatch-colored objects in your illustration update their color to reflect that change.

In other words, global swatches act just like ones in InDesign's Swatches palette or QuarkXPress's Colors palette.more >