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InDesign Tips and Tricks

Enjoy the tips and tricks below, most of which are specific to InDesign CS5 or higher.

  • Presentation Mode—Press SHIFT-W to hide the interface and center the document on the screen with a black background. Press G to change the background to grey, W to change it to white, and B to change it back to black. (W without SHIFT changes between Preview and Normal mode.) Escape closes the presentation view.
  • Change ruler measurement on the fly with a right-click on the ruler (this has been around for several versions).
  • To change the stroke or fill of an object, try these keyboard shortcuts:

X – toggles between stroke/fill indicators
Comma (,) – applies default color
Period (.) – applies gradient
Forward slash (/) sets current fill/stroke to None.
Shift-X – fill color and stroke color swap places.
(These shortcuts also work in Illustrator)
Look the Control Bar next to the stroke width menu for a new way to access the Swatches to control fill or strokes.

  • Change a Polygon—While dragging the Polygon tool, press SPACE, then use the up and down arrows to choose the number of sides. Left and right arrows control the inset. (If you don’t press SPACE first, you get duplicate shapes.) This also works in Illustrator.
  • Gridify tool—(First check margin gutter settings: Layout>Margins and Columns) While dragging with the frame tool, tap the arrow keys. Up/Down change the number of rows and Right/Left change the number of columns. The space between is determined by the settings in Layout>Margins and Columns.
  • Place Multiple Images—When doing File>Place, select several pictures to “load” the cursor. While the cursor is loaded, toggle through them with the arrow keys to decide which to place. (This has been available in the last couple of versions.)
  • Object>Fitting>Fill Frame Proportionately—make images fit into frames (some edges may be cropped).
  • Autofit checkbox—The new option in the Control Panel now links the image to the frame, making them one object instead of two. Now the frame and the image can be resized at the same time.
  • Object>Captions>Generate Live Captions—will generate captions based on filenames. Captions can be customized in Object>Captions>Captions Setup.
  • Live Corner Effects—Click the yellow box on the frame to activate live corners, then drag the yellow diamond to round the corners. The tool-tip explains how to customize.
  • Document Fonts—Always do a File>Package before sending the document to an outside printer, or when transferring the project to another computer. New in CS5, a Document Fonts folder is created inside the package folder. When the document is opened on another computer, the fonts that this document needs are automatically installed! When the document is closed, those fonts are automatically uninstalled!
  • Multiple Page Sizes—In the Pages Panel, insert a new page and select it in the panel. Click the Edit Page Size icon at the bottom of the panel to choose the size for that page.

InDesign CS5 (or higher) Interactions (a couple quick easy ones)

  • Open the document and switch to the Interactive Workspace. (Window>Workspace>Interactive)
  • Click any object and choose the Animation panel, to choose from animation presets.
  • In the Timing panel, arrange animations in the order you want. (If two items are to animate at the same time, SHIFT-click on them and click the link icon.)
  • To make a slideshow of images on the page:
  1. Place several pictures, stacked exactly one on top of the other (they should all be exactly the same size).
  2. Select all (make sure they are all selected, by moving them with the Select tool).
  3. Open the Object State panel
  4. Click the “Convert selection to multi-state object” icon at the bottom of the panel.
  5. Name the object state a unique name.
  6. Name individual multi-states (double-click on names)
  7. For navigation buttons, click on the Library icon, and drag directional arrows. Put one on either side of the slides.
  8. To program the buttons, click Buttons to open the Button Panel.
  9. If the pre-programmed action isn’t right (default for arrows is to go to the next page), click the minus sign.
  10. Click plus to add the correct action—choose “Go to next state.”
  • Click the Preview in the workspace panel to see how your interactions will work.
  • To Publish—File>Export>make new folder
    • Save as type>Flash Player (SWF)
    • If you have multiple pages, make sure to Include Interactive Page Curl.

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