InDesign Guy

Just a guy with InDesign knowledge – end of story

New Approach – Videos

Hello – I’m putting this video up now – more will follow.

I’m going to do this blog as a series of videos. I feel that although there are myriad videos and tutorials online (as opposed to a drive-in theatre) I will try to bring a balance between explaining the basics and showing some amazingly complex solutions. Thanks for taking the time to watch.



Be the Master (page) of your document (part 2)

When last I posted – it was about using master pages to help organize a document. We looked at adding items to a master page as well as creating automatic folios (page numbers) for your document.

This post will focus on creating a russian doll set of master pages – let me explain.

Russian dolls are those creepy looking (traditionally wooden) dolls that fit inside each other. Oh, and they’re creepy looking, no doubt about that.

The concept

You might be working on a magazine or annual report (or whatever) that has a consistent folio look – but each section (area) of the document changes. It could change because of header info, design – heck it could just be that you have pages that contain 1, 2 and 3 columns (for example).

In any of these cases – having russian doll master pages (or compound master pages, as I really call them) can be a great time saver. Here’s how it works:

Understand what it is about your document design that translates into the items that will be master page items. That could be the folios, lines, type and shapes that are to appear on every page (or spread). Once you have figured that out – you now have to figure out what’s going on your ultimate master page. This is the page that all other master pages will be based on.

For this example I’ll say that the ultimate master page item is my folio. Beyond that I have a different colour sidebar for each section (area) of the book. Purpose of compound master pages is to build the document – such that when I may have to edit, I’m doing so with the most efficiency and accuracy.

So – let’s start with a document:

So – you have a one-page document. As mentioned, I’d like to have folios on every page. Big ones so that is easy to see (and so that my typography mentors – Don Niven and Peter Dorn – would be proud).

On the A-Master page – create a text box the size of the margin area – within that text box insert a Current Page Number (see previous post for description). Although you indicated a Current Page Number a letter will appear – the letter A. Which is correct – you are on master page A.

Make the folio:

Again – big so we can see it in the Pages Palette. Now, I want to make a few sections, each with a different colour bar (we’ll use the colours that InDesign gives us out of the gate (there will be future posts on colour – and ways to standardize colours for a document).

Although I want different colours – if I were to put a side bar graphic on A-Master – it’ll be on every page in the document. I want have only the Folio be the exact same on every page (in terms on font, colour and location – I know that each page will be a different number).

To get started – we need to add some master pages to our document. There are a few ways to do this – but for this exercise – we’ll do it through the Pages palette.

Your Pages palette should look something like this. If we click on the Palette sub-menu (the icon with the three bars and the down arrow – top right) we should see this (CS5):

There’s a lot of stuff here – and over time we’ll get to it – for now we are only concerned with anything with the word Master and black. The greyed out terms are not available based on the current document – that will change. From this menus we want to select New or Duplicate? Times up – it’s New. You might be tempted to think Duplicate – but it’s New.

New Master

Select New Master from the Pages palette sub-menu:

It’ll look something like that. We have a Prefix (B), Name (Master), Based on Master (None) and number of Pages (1). In the next post we’ll get into reasons for the Number of Pages – this post is concerned mainly with Based on Master. If you click in the area labeled [None] – you’ll see this:

Because we’re building compound master pages – we’re going to select A-Master. Your Pages paleet should look like this (I changed the palette options to make the master page icons bigger):

You’ll notice a couple of this – document-wise you’re on B-Master (as indicated by the bottom left page area, or the yellow highlight on the B-Master palette icon – or, oh, yeah and the fact there is now a giant ‘B’ where the giant ‘A’ was. Heres what you’ll notice. That we do indeed have two master pages. One is A and one is B, but if you look closely, the B master page as a tiny little A on it. This indicates what master page is the mother to the current master page (A is mother to B). That means whatever is on A – will exist on B, whatever it is. But like document pages – you cannot edit what is on B that is mastered from another page – in this cae the folio. You cannot select the folio – only on A can edits be made.

Side Bar

So now let’s add our ground-breaking sidebar graphic. While still on B-Master, using the rectangle icon (with no lines) draw a vertical box running beside the folio (make note of the indictor position (the 9-square diagram with the top-left square solid) :

And, we’ll make it Stroke [None] and Fill [c100, m0, y0, k0]. So to recap – we have two master pages and only one page in our document. This usually is concept that most people find hard to grasp. Best to think of it as a kitchen and pantry. The pages in your document are the kitchen, what you are currently working with – but at any point and time you can get from the pantry other stuff (in this case master pages) – that’s all.

So now we’re going to add a page to our to our document – taking one out of the pantry and bringing it to the kitchen. Once again, there are a couple of ways to do this – ours will happen from the palette. It’s this simple – drag the B-Master icon to the document area of the Pages palette – and put it past page one. When completed the palette should look like this:

Two master pages and two document pages – and there are indications on where everything is based (page one shows it’s based on A and page two shows it’s based on B – which is based on A). Confused yet? I hope not – because we’re going to add one more master page. Follow the same steps to create C-Master. Now, to add the sidebar in the exact same place (this time in red) we could follow the Side Bar instructions – or we could save some time. Let’s save some time.

Paste in Place

A great quick way to put items from one page onto another page (even master pages). Your Pages palette should look like this (with the C-Master):

So – to copy the blue bar – double-click B-Master. Select the blue bar – copy (command-C). Now double-click on C-Master and Paste in Place (Shift-Command-Option-V). It will paste the blue bar in the exact location that it was on B-Master. Now change the fill colour [c15, m100, y100, k0]. Once completed it should look like this:

Note that B and C both have A as a mother – yet each contain their own thing (the blue and red bars). We’re going to add C-Master as a page to the document. Drag C-Master to the document area past page two – and tada, three pages in your document each based on a different master page (while two of the master pages are based on one master page).


One of the reasons to build documents like this is for accuracy, the folios will be in the same place – always. And if you do things like Paste in Place – so will other elements on your page(s). But a true benefit to working this way is changes (they happen). If you wanted to adjust the folios – size and colour – we have only to make that adjustment in one place – on A-Master. Try it, double-click on A-Master and change the point size and colour of the folio. Once you make the change it’s already made on B and C – which means that the document pages have that update as well. One change and it affected five other pages (three in the document and two other master pages). Amazing!

Keeping organized

Once you start working this way – depending on your document (I’ve had a few annual reports with up to 19 different master pages) – you’ll have a need to know what master page you’re dealing with. For that, we can change the name of each master page. to do this – double-click on A-Master. Using teh Pages palette sub-menu – select Master Options for “A-Master” – you should see this:

We’re not going to change the Prefix, but we will change the name. Highlight the area beside Name and change Master to Folio – select OK. It should now look like this:

You can apply that to the other master pages – calling then blue and red. This will help when building your document in the future, or if someone else has to work with the document as well – think about how much easier it will be.

Well, that’s it for part 2 – part 3 will be in the same lines – master pages building master pages – but different. It’ll be great.

Be the Master (page) of your document (part 1)

When it comes to longer documents there really is no better way at starting to be efficient with InDesign than looking further than Master Pages. This is especially true if, like me, you have come to InDesign from a QuarkXpress background.

What is a master page?

Well, a master page is almost as it sounds – it is a page template that houses items that you want to appear on multiple pages throughout your document. Things like footers, headers, folios (a fancy word for page numbers), and any support graphics that might go with any of those item – and more.

How many master pages can a document have?

Too quote Monty Python’s Life of Brian – a lot!

What are the advantages to master pages?

There are many advantages to master pages, from having repeating items (such as the already mentioned folios) to making it easier to update and adapt files for ongoing uses (like newsletters, annual reports).

Basic use and application of the master page features

Understand that when you create a new InDesign file, you are using a master page. There can be no pages in your document without a master page. Where is it and how does it affect your document? There are a few of ways (like everything in InDesign) to view and edit master pages. Let’s start with the Pages palette – found under the View menu – it’ll be the one called Pages, you’ll also notice that it has a keyboard short-cut indicated to the right of the menu item – F12 (and command – F12). Another, direct, way to get to a specific master page is to use the quick page navigation menu located in the bottom-left of the current document window – it will show what page is currently being displayed. Click the arrow to immediate right of the page number and you’ll be presented with a drop-menu of all of the pages and master pages. For this we’ll concentrate on the palette version.

Shown above are the different views for a new document Pages palette – created with and without facing pages applied. As mentioned, every document has a master page – looking at the screen schots they are at the top of the palette, above the divider line (between master pages and document pages). In both cases they care called the same thing – A-Master. Second to that you’ll notice that each document contains only one document page (page 1) and that in the top area of each is a tiny letter ‘A’. This is an indication that each page is built with master page ‘A’. So whatever resides on master page (mp) A will be on document pages built with mpA.

To edit mpA – you have to select it as the location. To do this you can double-click on the icon or the name A-Master. Your Pages palette will then look like this.

You’ll notice that in the previous palette views the document page was highlighted – and in this third version it is mpA. You’ll also see that in the bottom-left, the page navigation box shows that we are indeed on A-Master. To show how a master page works – make a box (fill [black] and stroke [nothing]) on the page. Double-click on page one of the document – you’ll see that the box that you created on mpA is now visible. You’ve created your first master page item. You will not be able to select the item on page one – welcome to the world of real master pages (most notably because for the longest time QXP has had master pages, but those items on those pages are clickable on the page document pages). To edit any aspect of the box you need to go back to mpA.

As much as master pages are great at doing things like this – it’s big advantage is applying variable information to pages (like folios). If you go to mpA and delete the black box – we’ll now add a pretty large text box. In that text box type the number 1 (typeface [whatever] point size [150]) – making sure that we can see the number. Under the Layout menu, select Pages and then Insert Pages – let’s add 15 more pages to the end of this document. You should have a Pages Palette that looks like this.

Looking at the palette – you’ll see that every page has ‘A’ in the top and below each page is the actual page number. But each page shows a ‘1’ – clearly not a effective (or correct) application of folios. To adjust this to be, well, folios. We need to tell InDesign that we wanted folios. To accomplish this we need to go back to mpA – double-click on the master page. To make folios, you need to select the number 1 that you typed into the text box. Then you need to go under the Type menu, go to Insert Special Character, go to the sub-menu Markers and then select Current Page Number. This will show the following ‘A’. This indicates that you are on mpA – and that you have the correct variable data selected. You know that it has worked because your pages palette should look like this.

See that the Folio matches up with the page number. That alone is a great reason to call them folios rather than page numbers.

So – now you can use Master Pages to help organize your document with folios. The next post will show how you can use master pages to make – wait for it – other master pages.

That’s it for now – enjoy your week.

a New (Document) start

Welcome the new home for my InDesign blog. Let’s get started.

There are myriad benefits and features to using InDesign and we might as well get started in how we can create a new document. InDesign gives us the ability to create a new library and book as well, we’ll get to those in a future post.

Let’s first have a look at the expanded (more options) view of the New Document dialog box.

For this post I’m going to assume that most users of InDesign use (or at least know of Facing Pages and Page size) I’m going to discuss some of the often overlooked aspects of creating documents.

Firstly, let’s start from the bottom up, it seems strange – but you’ll see why in a few minutes.

Bleed and Slug

The Bleed and Slug area. A bleed is the ink that needs to print beyond a trim line so that when a printed piece is cut there is no potential of paper showing. Depending on press style this amount can vary from 9pts (just so I’m clear up front, I work in points and picas – I’ll extoll the benefits in yet another future post) to 36pts (or whatever is required). A slug is an area outside of the trim that is used to convey information about the printed piece. Traditionally this was an Advertising slug – containing information on the publication, date, agency, art director, etc.. That is still required sometimes, although there are other uses for the slug area – e.g., if you were to create a document that had multiple folds and wanted to indicate them with fold marks you could draw in the lines outside of the trim area. They will only print if you define the slug area – and subsequently print that area (a checkbox in the print dialog box).

For both bleed and slug you have the ability to lock the measurements (the little lock icon to the right of each). This means that when you type in a value for any location (Top, Bottom, etc.) that number will be automatically applied to the remaining three. Having those unlocked allows you to input unique numbers for each side. For example if you were to use the slug area for fold marks, you might only need slug on the top and the bottom.


Now, let’s talk about the Margins, like the bleed and slug you can lock measurements here as well. The margins are good for defining the area that the main part of your text will go into (and unlike QuarkXpress – it actually serves a purpose, yet another future post). Note that the names of the areas will change depending on the selection of Facing Pages.

Columns are pretty straight forward. How many columns of text do you want for your document. And (you guessed it) a future post will explain strategies when building larger documents that might require different sections to have different number of columns.

Number of Pages and Start Page

As mentioned, we’re skipping Page Size and moving right to Number of Pages and Start Page. Number of pages is what it sound like, but rest assured, this is not the only place to in the pages. It can happen through the Layout menu, it can happen automatically when placing text. So, you don’t need to stress about that at this point – unless you know that each month you produce an 8-page newsletter. The start page button is is exactly what it says. If you need a document to start on page 24 – it will if you type this in. Be warned that if it’s a Facing Pages document the first page of the document will be a left page (you cannot override this, left pages are even, right pages are odd).

Intent and Document Presets

Which brings us to the top of the dialog box – Document Preset and Intent. Intent is what will be the final use of the document – print or web. Document Preset is one of those features that people see and never really use, or at least never really use all that much. I think a lot of people think of it as the same as page size – and it’s not. The Document Preset is a snapshot of the Dialog box, to be used in the future to get the same numbers. So if you do produce an 8-page monthly newsletter, you can have all of your settings in place and then click the Save Preset…. This will bring up another Dialog box, allowing you to name the Preset. So if you’re constantly doing documents that have the same set-ups over and over – save some time and frustration by starting to use Document Presets.

Try it out and see if it helps. Enjoy.

InDesign Guy – an introduction

Hello and welcome to InDesign Guy – I’ll try to help out with features, benefits and systematic workflows for Adobe InDesign.

A little bit about me. My name is Scott McMann, I’ve been using InDesign since version 2.0 (I’ve owned it since v1.0). I was part of the InDesign Beta Testing team from CS1-CS4 – a totally great experience. Am I Adobe certified – no! Will I ever be – no! I’ll get into that in a future post. Do I know what the hell I’m talking about – damn right I do.

I started this on Blogger and will be moving over the three posts I did over the next few days – plus all future blogs will go here. I will be deleting my blog on Blogger.

So, if you’re looking for InDesign knowledge – keep it bookmarked. If you have a specific question – let me know.

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