Friday, August 31, 2007

Handy CMYK reference chart

It can be maddening trying to get an exact color match on your color desktop or office printer. One easy way to achieve this is to choose a color from a CMYK swatch book that you have printed on that device. Visit Kodak's RealTimeProof Web site to download either a letter- or A4-size CMYK swatch book. Print this PDF on your color printer, and then keep it handy when you need to specify a color for output on that device. Simply enter the CMYK values from your chosen color on the chart into InDesign, Quark, Illustrator or Photoshop.

While this will allow you to get predictable color from your laser or inkjet printer or copier, this will not necessarily be the same color you will get on another device, or on a printing press. To specify CMYK colors accurately for offset printing, use either the TruMatch Colorfinder Fanguide or the Process Color Manual.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scaling objects in InDesign CS3

The way that objects are scaled with the Control panel and the Transform panel has changed in InDesign CS3.

If you look in either of these panels, you will see four important fields: width and height fields (indicated by a W: and H:, and scale x/y percentage fields (next to the width and height fields, with fields displaying 100%). There are three important things to remember here:

1. You may enter a measurement in inches, picas, millimeters or centimeters in any of these fields (width, height or scale x/y). You may also enter a scale percentage in any of these fields (width, height or scale x/y). Just enter an i, ", p, pt, c, mm, or % after the value you enter.

2. You may enter mathematical expressions into any of these fields. So you can enter *5 to make the object five times larger, or /2 to make it 50% smaller, or +1i to make it 1 inch larger.

3. Values entered into the width/height fields will cause the selected frames(s) to scale, but not the contents (text or graphics) of the frames, nor the weight of any strokes applied to the frames. Values entered into the scale fields will scale the frames as well as the contents of the frames and the stroke weights.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The "Start Meeting" button

Don't overlook the "Start Meeting" button in the Favorites panel in Bridge CS3, or the File > Start Meeting command in Acrobat 8. Clicking this button or choosing this command launches Acrobat Connect. Acrobat Connect is a subscription service from Adobe for "virtual" collaboration and online meetings. Here is how it works:

1. You sign up for an Acrobat Connect account with Adobe. Service starts at $39/month, payable monthly with no long-term contract necessary. For this amount, you can hold an unlimited number of meetings per month with up to 14 other people  in each meeting. Each meeting may have different groups of attendees.

2. Once you are signed up, to hold a "meeting", choose Start Meeting in Bridge or Acrobat, and Acrobat Connect is launched. You are asked for the email address of the people you want to invite to the meeting. An email is automatically sent to each person, inviting them to the meeting and giving them a URL to click as well as dialing details for the phone conference (audio) portion of the meeting.

3. When the attendee clicks on the URL, the Flash Player is started on their system, and they are taken directly into the "meeting".

4. Once everyone is assembled for the meeting, they are able to see either your entire screen, just one application, or just a single window, depending on your preference. You can also give attendees control of your cursor, if you desired.

This is a fantastic way to collaborate "virtually", without everyone being in the same location. It blows simple phone conferencing away whenever you need to collaborate visually. I use this to deliver small group remote training sessions to clients, for individual technical support, and to collaborate with clients on design and layout issues.

Note that each attendee only has to have the Flash Player installed. It doesn't matter what operating system, browser version or Acrobat version they have installed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Formatting phone numbers in InDesign

In a previous Blog entry I wrote about the new GREP search capability in InDesign CS3. Today I hammered out the following GREP string for a client, and thought I'd share it here, hoping you might find it useful.

The procedure below allows you to search for U.S. phone numbers in almost any format, and replace them with numbers in the format (800) 555-1212 with a non-breaking space after the area code and a non-breaking hyphen before the last four digits. This is a variation on the GREP string included with InDesign that formats phone numbers in "dot" format.

1. Start InDesign, and choose Edit > Find/Change

2. Copy the string below into the Find what: field.


3. Copy the string below into the Change to: field


4. Click on the small disc icon at the top of the Find/Change dialog box, and give the Query a name. Now, any time that you want to find and change phone numbers you can just choose this name from the Query drop-down list, indicate the scope of the search, and click on the Find button.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Microsoft fonts

Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 ship with seven new type families (Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Consolas, Constantia, Corbel and Cariadings) known as the Microsoft ClearType Font Collection. An overview of these OpenType fonts with type specimens is available here. If you need a copy of these fonts to use on Windows XP or Macintosh computers, you can purchase the fonts on-line in OpenType format from Ascender Corporation.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Deleting Preference files, revisited

In a previous entry, I described how (and why) to delete the preference file automatically as InDesign, InCopy, Photoshop or Bridge start up.

Well, it turns out that this works in Illustrator also. You just don't receive a confirmation dialog box in Illustrator that anything has happened, but your Illustrator preference file will indeed be deleted. Just hold down the same key sequence (command-option-shift-control (Macintosh) or control-alt-shift (Windows)) immediately after you click the Illustrator icon to launch Illustrator, and keep holding the keys until Illustrator has finished starting up.

If your copy of Illustrator is misbehaving in any way, this is always the first thing to try. The only downside is that you will lose any custom settings that you have applied in the Preferences dialog box.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Illustration with type

Veer has created a cool Flash video containing images constructed entirely of type characters. (Click on the "Type City" link on

See also "Type City: A Visitor's Guide", a PDF containing the illustrations in detailed print format.