Thursday, January 31, 2008

Something that you can't do in InDesign

I've been asked twice this week if there is any way to select non-adjacent areas of text in InDesign. In other words, is there any way to select a section of text, skip over a couple of words, and then select another few words without deselecting the first selection? Microsoft Word (both Mac and Windows versions) can do this. And if I recall correctly, there is a QuarkXTension for doing this. But unfortunately, I know of no way to do this in InDesign. If you would find a feature like this to be useful, file an official Adobe feature request here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

En dashes and line breaks in InDesign

Whenever you have a range indicated in your text, such as "pages 130-176" or "Dec. 12-Jan 4", an en dash should be used instead of a hyphen. An en dash is a bit longer than a normal hyphen. En dashes are inserted in InDesign CS2 by choosing Type> Insert Special Character> En Dash, and in InDesign CS3 by choosing Type> Insert Special Character> Hyphens and Dashes> En Dash.

There is a difference between the way InDesign CS2 and CS3 break lines containing en dashes. In particular, if you have a range such as 130-176, CS2 will break the line after the en dash, if necessary, but CS3 will never break the line after the en dash. In other words, the "130-176" will always be kept together on the same line in CS3. For most usage, this is preferable behavior. But what if the project you are working on needs to allow line breaks after en dashes in InDesign CS3? Here is one workaround:

Insert a "discretionary line break" character after the En Dash by choosing Type> Insert Break Character> Discretionary Line Break. This will cause the line to break ONLY when it is necessary to do so, and will not cause any extra space to be added when the line doesn't break. The Discretionary Line Break appears as a vertical blue line when Type> Show Hidden Characters is selected.

To further automate this, you could assign a keyboard shortcut to the Discretionary Line Break to make it easy to enter, or use Edit > Find/Change to search for en dashes and replace them with en dashes followed by discretionary line breaks.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A look at Adobe's history

Adobe has a posted a nice 45 page interactive flash-based "book" covering the 25-year history of Adobe Corporation. Fun to read if you've been involved in the design and publishing industry for more than a few years.

For more, see this interactive timeline for a look back at the last 25 years of Adobe and the design and publishing industry.

For even more "back story" about Adobe, see the full-length book Inside the Publishing Revolution - The Adobe Story, now available free as an Adobe Digital Edition.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

InDesign spell check workaround

When you run a spell check (Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling) or use Dynamic Spelling (Edit > Spelling > Dynamic Spelling), InDesign checks the spelling of all the text in your document, including text on the master pages, and even text on locked and hidden layers! But what if want to check your spelling document-wide, but want to eliminate certain parts of the text from the spell-check process? Perhaps you have some "Lorem Ipsum" text that you have used as a placeholder, and you are annoyed by the spell check constantly flagging these these nonsense words as misspelled.

To solve this, simply select the text you do not want to check, and then choose [No Language] from the Language option in the Character panel or the Character Control panel. When no language is specified for text, InDesign doesn't know what dictionary to consult to check the spelling, and therefore ignores the text. Beware that the spelling dictionary is also used for hyphenation, so if you set the language to [No Language] the text will not hyphenate.

I was once asked to troubleshoot a file where the spell check had mysteriously stopped working. It turned out that the language had somehow accidentally been set to [No Language], but the user wasn't aware of it. Yet another reason to use paragraph styles, and to specify the Language in the style.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Export to JPEG from InDesign

Did you know that you can export any selected objects, or entire pages, from InDesign directly to JPEG format? This is a quick and dirty way to include a comp of a page design in an email or to create a simple Web graphic. Here's how:

1. Select the object(s) on your InDesign page that you want to export

2. Choose File > Export, and choose JPEG for the format at the bottom of the dialog box

3. Give the file a name, and click the Save button

4. In the Export JPEG dialog box, choose what you want to export (selection, range, all or spreads), choose the desired quality setting, select Baseline for the Format Method, and in CS3, enter the desired resolution of the JPEG. CS2 will only export the JPEG at actual size, 72 pixels per inch

5. Click the Export button, and you're finished.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Acrobat Redaction trick

Acrobat 8 Professional's Redaction feature makes it easy to highlight text or images and then permanently remove them from the PDF file. This feature was created for scrubbing sensitive information from legal documents, but also comes in handy for just "whiting out" information you do not want to include in a final PDF.

Here's a trick I ran into a few days ago: A client was trying to redact text from some emails that had been converted to PDF. There was insufficient space between lines, so the "Mark For Redaction" tool kept selecting text in the lines above and below the text that was supposed to be selected. A workaround for this problem, and a way to make more precise selections, is to hold down the Command key (Mac) or Ctrl key (Windows) while you use the Mark For Redaction tool. This will force the tool to select only text that is "touched" by the rectangular selection boundary that you draw.