That’s a pretty daunting sounding subject title, isn’t it. Bear with me here….
My first video in over two years comes in response to having come across so many InDesign users who don’t know the keyboard shortcut for increasing and decreasing the point size of text. Manually changing that numeric value in the Control and Character panels gets old really quick. So I talk about how to change your text size on the fly, along with a few other shortcuts that should give your productivity a power boost.
I also talk about customizing your “units and increments.” For example, say you select an object and you want to nudge it to the right with your arrow key. How do you make those nudges smaller for greater precision? Or larger for greater distance? That’s where InDesign’s Preferences panel comes in.
Finally, if you’ve ever needed to change your measurement units from inches to picas, or picas to pixels, or points to millimeters, you may already know how to do this using the Preferences panel. But there’s a quick shortcut that’s much faster.
So, nerdy subject, yes, but if you’re looking to eliminate task repetition from your life, this could be the video for you!
I’m about to embark on a full day of inputting proofreader text corrections for a very dense cookbook. Not looking forward to it, I must say. So many mundane tasks can be automated in InDesign, but until they invent robots to do this sort of thing (something I’m certainly not opposed to), we’ll need to continue manually entering revisions ourselves.
There are a few things we can do to make this process easier though. First of all, assuming your corrections are in a PDF, a second (or even third) monitor is critical. I can’t imagine jumping back and forth between windows on a single screen anymore (and wow, how did I spend all those years doing that?). Get a second monitor, place your PDF on one screen and your InDesign document on the other. A third cheapo monitor can display your email and/or web browser, and make you feel like you’re ruling the world from your high-tech wrap-around workstation (a conceit I admit to feeling at times).
Additionally, you can speed up the pace of entering corrections by quickly navigating through your InDesign document using your keyboard, not your mouse. There are a number of shortcuts that enable you to do this, either by moving the text cursor within stories, or by selecting text. Here are a few I find invaluable:
Jump cursor one word to the left/right:
Command-Left Arrow / Command-Right Arrow
Jump cursor one full paragraph up/down:
Command-Up Arrow / Command-Down Arrow
Jump cursor to beginning/end of line:
Fn-Left Arrow / Fn-Right Arrow
Jump cursor to beginning/end of story:
Command-Fn-Left Arrow / Command-Fn-Right Arrow
Select one word to the left/right:
Command-Shift-Left Arrow / Command-Shift Right Arrow
Select to beginning/end of paragraph:
Command-Shift-Up Arrow / Command-Shift Down Arrow
Select to beginning/end of story:
Command-Shift-Home / Command-Shift-End
Delete one word to left/right:
Command-Delete / Command-Fn-Delete
By memorizing these shortcuts (and once you use them a few times, it comes quick), you’ll save a lot of time by not having to switch back and forth between keyboard and mouth, not to mention staving off mouse-inflicted carpal tunnel.
In celebration of the end of the year 2010 (and having just cracked the 10,000 hit mark on this blog and my YouTube videos), I’m wrapping up my series on prepping your files for press with this video on how to use InDesign’s package feature, which collects all of your source files in a single folder. I also discuss how to export a press-ready PDF, and how to navigate though the (onerous) Export to PDF dialog box.
If you’ve made it this far through all six videos, congrats! Feel good about the files you’re about to send to the printer! In a future video, I’ll discuss how to use InDesign’s Live Preflight feature, introduced in CS4, which checks many of these issues for you and alerts you when anything is amiss.
I’ve been focusing almost exclusively on print in these videos, and a new year seems like a good time to shift gears and talk about interactivity. Many are calling 2010 the year of the eBook, so in the coming months, I’ll be talking about how to export to epub files (the most common eBook file format) from InDesign. I’ve also been having fun playing with InDesign CS5’s new interactive features, especially the cool Animation panel and the new Preview window, which allows you to view your interactive elements right in InDesign, instead of having to export and view in other programs.
Objects that bleed are those that extend to the edge of your document, and it’s imperative these objects be extended beyond your document edge so that your printer can trim them correctly. This is one of the simpler steps to do in our prepress process, and the following video shows how.
In this fourth video in my series on prepping your files for press (and my first using InDesign CS5!), I discuss how to check to make sure your images are linked, converted to CMYK, and at an adequate resolution for printing.
One issue I touch upon in the video is that if you’re using a PDF workflow, you don’t need to convert your images to CMYK. As long as your export settings are correct, the images will be converted to CMYK automatically when your PDF is generated. Old habits die hard, as I spent years opening each and every image in my document and converting them to CMYK in Photoshop (though setting up an Action to do this does speed up this process significantly). But it’s true: doing all that extra work is in fact not necessary if you’re sending your printer a PDF!
In this ongoing series on preparing your files for press, we’ve already addressed checking your document size and ensuring your fonts are loaded. Now we turn our attention to the exciting (and often confusing) world of color.
Ensuring that the colors used in your document are all using the same ink type is the next item on our prepress checklist. The two ink types used most often in commercial printing are called process and spot colors.
Process colors use ink combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (otherwise known as CMYK); when combined together in varying percentages, these inks reproduce a whole range of other colors. If you’re printing a “full-color” document, you will almost always want to use CMYK colors.
Spot colors are color swatches you can choose from in a pre-made library of color swatches, just as if you were selecting paint swatches from, say, a Sherman Williams or Ralph Laurent swatch book. By far the most common type of spot colors are made by Pantone, but there are actually many other systems that exist as well. (To view them in InDesign, go to your Swatches panel and select New Color Swatch, then click on the Color Mode drop-down menu to see a long list of options.)
Spot colors are commonly used for economic reasons. It’s often (though not always) less expensive to print a document that consists of just one or two spot colors than it is to print it in full-color CMYK. If you’re skilled at color, InDesign (as well as Photoshop and Illustrator) allows you to mix two spot colors together, which can result in some effective color combinations. These mixes are called duotones.
The rule of thumb to follow (except in rare instances) is that mixing spot colors with process colors is like mixing dairy ingredients into a vegan dish. It may look OK on the surface, but your end product will consist of problematic and incompatible results. Therefore, our prepress task in this step is to eliminate incompatible colors from our document.
Below is a video tutorial I did last year explaining how to do this. The focus is on how to eliminate spot colors in a CMYK document, though if you’re printing a spot color job, you can easily use the same process I describe to eliminate process colors while keeping your spot colors.
But there are yet even more color goodies to check for as well! One is to ensure you’ve converted any RGB colors to CMYK, and the other is to prevent any registration issues on press by avoiding CMYK ink mixes that mix together more than two inks in certain situations. Checking for these issues is explained in the following video.
It’s about time I added the second installment of my series on preparing your InDesign files for press. This is an important one: ensuring your fonts are loaded.
If you’re an InDesign newbie, there’s a good chance you may be working with just the fonts that come installed on your computer, in which case you may not need to worry so much about whether your fonts are loaded. But if you own lots of fonts and work with a font management utility such as FontExplorer or Suitcase, managing your fonts can be tricky. This video discusses the InDesign features that enable you to check the status of your fonts.
Note: My mic wasn’t working optimally during the creation of the video, so my apologies for the echo!
Yesterday my wife and I returned from Seattle where I was attending the InDesign Secrets Print & ePublishing Conference, which was held this past Thursday and Friday at the Adobe office where the InDesign brain trust resides. So much is happening in publishing these days: eBooks, the multi-purposing of content, the need for interactive documents, and the release of CS5 just to name a few. So this conference was certainly timely. And the people at InDesign Secrets deserve some serious props for organizing such an intensive and fun experience.
ePublishing was certainly the prevailing theme with such sessions as From InDesign to iPad, Producing eBooks from InDesign, From InDesign to HTML, and XML + XSL = Real World Examples. Learning how to export readable epub files and working with XML were the primary reasons for my attending, and what I took from these sessions made the trip well worth it.
Though it was such print and design-related sessions as The Matrix: Plugging Typography into the Grid (where Nigel French discussed setting up the perfect page grid by using leading multiples) and Unexpected Tables: Going Beyond the Spreadsheet (where Diane Burns showed some creative ways to use InDesign’s tables feature for non-tabular material) were what made me happily geeked out.
As a special bonus, the engineering team behind InDesign made themselves available for a couple of Q&A sessions. The “questions” were almost unanimously requests from audience members for new features, which the engineers politely listened to and acknowledged. Quite fascinating to witness the interaction between engineers and designers and the differing perspectives from which they approach their relationship with InDesign.
All in all, an edifying two days. I hope they organize more of these.
The most common questions I receive from readers pertain to how to prepare files correctly for press. Such questions are often about such issues as color (the difference between process and spot), bleeds, fonts, or PDF settings. InDesign CS4 has a fantastic prepress feature that allows users to quickly spot and resolve these prepress issues, but you still need to have a general knowledge of what those issues are, and how they affect the printing (or non-printing) of your document.
I have a prepress checklist I go through whenever I’m preparing a job for press, and I had the bright idea of preparing a video where I walk through each of these checklist items. Once I started recording myself talking about it, I quickly realized I’d end up blabbing about this subject for at least a half hour or so, so I’ve decided to create a series of six shorter video tutorials on this topic.
The first tutorial is below, where I discuss the importance of double-checking your document size and establishing a safe zone for all of your non-bleeding text and object elements, so that they don’t run the risk of getting trimmed off.
I’ll be adding each of the next five videos over the course of the next five weeks. Topic #2? Ensuring your fonts are loaded. To come soon.
One task that used to always drive me nuts was having to copy and paste all of my running heads—a task that was especially arduous for books hundreds of pages long. And then even after getting those running heads in place, there was always the worry that the chapter title would change, or that the running head title was appearing on its correct page.
This video explains the wonderful benefits of section markers and text variables, two features InDesign offers that allow you to automate the text in your running heads. No more copying and pasting, no more worrying about the correct title appearing on the correct page. If you work with lengthy documents and you don’t know about these features, learn about them—they’ll become immense time savers.
Two benefits about text variables that I don’t mention in the video: First, text variables will update your heads automatically when text is moved. So if a section title appearing on one page gets moved to a subsequent page, your running head reflecting that section title gets updated accordingly. Second, you can use text variables for other things beside running heads, such as chapter numbers and document modification dates. For example, I use a text variable for the date appearing on a daily newsletter that I produce. Each day, the date is automatically updated via the text variable on my master page. It’s a minor thing, but one less task to worry about. Take some time to explore the different text variable options in the Text Variables dialog box.