Monday, July 28, 2008

Modifying styles

One of the best features of InDesign and InCopy is the Redefine Style command found in the Paragraph Styles, Character Styles, Object Styles, Table Styles and Cell Styles panel menus. This often-overlooked command makes updating styles quick and painless by using a "Style by example" approach. Here's how:

1. Select a paragraph to which you've assigned a Paragraph style. Looking at your Paragraph Styles panel, the Paragraph style you've assigned should be highlighted, and there shouldn't be a plus sign next to the name of the Paragraph style.

2. Make some formatting changes to the text. Make these changes using the Control panel or Paragraph and Character panels. When you are finished, a plus sign should appear to the right of the name of your Paragraph style. This plus indicates that you've made some changes to the selected text, and the text formatting no longer matches the Paragraph style. (These changes are called overrides in InDesign-speak.)

3. Choose Redefine Style from the Paragraph Styles panel menu (or press command-option-shift-r (Mac) or ctrl-alt-shift-r (Windows). This will update (redefine) the Paragraph style to match the formatting of the selected text. Of course, all the text throughout the document that is assigned this Paragraph style will be reformatted automatically.

This is a much easier, more direct way to update a Paragraph style than wading through the Style Options dialog box. Keep in mind that this same basic idea also works for Character, Object, Table and Cell styles (but with different keyboard shortcuts).

As you get in the habit of updating styles this way, you may find that sometimes the Redefine Style command is grayed out when you go to select it. This happens if you have a mixture of different formatting options in the same selection. To resolve this, just put your text cursor in between two characters that have the formatting you want to match in your redefined style, and then choose Redefine Style.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PDF Conference coming to Minneapolis

The Adobe Acrobat & PDF Central Conference will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center on September 23-25, 2008. I'll be presenting a couple of sessions at the conference: Creating Print-Ready PDFs from InDesign and Commenting and Reviewing Best Practices on September 24. This looks like it will be an excellent conference, with three tracks and more than 24 seminars covering all things Acrobat. If you are in the Twin Cities area, don't miss this rare opportunity to attend a conference without travelling to the coasts. If you are outside the Twin Cities area, I expect it will be worth the trip!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Prevent hyphenation between columns

When hyphenation is turned on, InDesign typically allows a word to hyphenate between the bottom of one column and the top of the next column, or between the bottom of one page and the top of another. You should try to avoid this "ugly" hyphenation whenever possible. Thankfully InDesign CS3 makes it easy to avoid this. In the Hyphenation Settings dialog box (Control Panel menu > Hyphenation), just deselect the Hyphenate Across Column option. While you are at it, you might want to deselect the Hyphenate Last Word option (introduced in CS2) also. This will prevent hyphenation of the last word of a paragraph, which is also undesirable.

Both of these options are selected by default, so that documents created in previous versions of InDesign don't reflow when opened in CS3. But of course, you can make these settings part of your paragraph styles (you are using paragraph styles, aren't you?) and then you can forget about them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Let Photoshop take notes!

Have you ever finished a complex sequence of steps in Photoshop, and later wished you could remember what those steps were? Photoshop offers an alternative to jotting all this down on a sticky note, legal pad or napkin. Photoshop can actually record these notes for you, keeping a detailed account (called a History Log) of each and every command that you perform. Here's how to set it up:

In Photoshop CS or later, choose Preferences > General. Select the History Log option. Then, you can save the Log Items either to Metadata or a Text File. If you choose Metadata, the log becomes part of the file you are editing, and can be viewed at any time by choosing File > File Info in Photoshop and choosing the History category on the left. If you choose Text File, you will be asked for a name and a location in which Photoshop will save a text file containing the log. You also can choose the level of detail you want Photoshop to record, from Sessions Only (the most basic) to Detailed.

Once selected, the preference setting will remain on and in effect, logging every change you make to every file you open, until you return to Preferences and turn it off. You may want to set up an Action to make it easy to turn the History Log preference on and off with a single click.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Use that scroll wheel!

Anyone using creative applications on either a Macintosh or Windows computer should be using a two button mouse with a scroll wheel. The scroll wheel allows you to scroll horizontally and vertically as well as zoom in and out in most applications. Modifier keys for the scroll wheel were inconsistent in CS2 applications, and made more consistent in CS3. See the tables below for a summary of modifier keys for Macintosh and Windows.

Using a wheel mouse in Macintosh design applications

Scroll vertically Scroll horizontally Zoom
InDesign CS2 wheel only shift or option command
Illustrator CS2 wheel only command not available
Photoshop CS2 wheel only command option
Bridge CS2 wheel only not applicable control (resizes thumbnails)*
InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop CS3 wheel only command option
Bridge CS3 wheel only not applicable control (resizes thumbnails), or wheel only (when viewing a preview with the loupe)*
Acrobat 7-9 wheel only not available option
* in order to use the control key plus the mouse wheel, the Mac "Keyboard & Mouse" System Preference for "Zoom using Scroll Wheel..." must be turned off


Using a wheel mouse in Windows design applications

Scroll vertically Scroll horizontally Zoom
InDesign CS2 wheel only alt ctrl
Illustrator CS2 wheel only ctrl alt
Photoshop CS2 wheel only ctrl alt
Bridge CS2 wheel only not applicable ctrl (resizes thumbnails)
InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop CS3 wheel only ctrl alt
Bridge CS3 wheel only not applicable ctrl (resizes thumbnails), or wheel only (when viewing a preview with the loupe)
Acrobat 7-9 wheel only not available ctrl

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Amazing Census Atlas

The U.S. Census Bureau has published 19 PDF files which together comprise the Census Atlas of the United States. Take a look at this atlas for a great example of well-designed presentation of complex information. The atlas is also a treasure-trove of information for anyone wanting to target their marketing efforts to specific geographic, economic, ethnic or professional niches. Thanks to Chuck Green's PagePlane Blog and the always-useful Design Tools Monthly for bringing this to my attention.