Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Help! Something is missing on my screen in InDesign!

I received a frantic call from an acquaintance today. She had been happily using the Dynamic Spelling feature in InDesign, when all of a sudden the red underline no longer showed up on her screen, even though she had misspelled words staring her in the face.

Ah! She's accidentally gone into Preview mode (View > Screen Mode > Preview), I thought, but that wasn't the case. After a moment of thought, I asked her to choose View > Overprint Preview and tell me if it was checked. Sure enough it was. This prompted me to write this post.

Both Preview Mode and Overprint Preview do very similar, but slightly different things. Both will hide all non-printing items, including:

Frame edges
Objects designated as non-printing via the Attributes panel
Guides and Grids
Hidden Characters
Text Threads
Assigned Frames
XML Tag Markers

But there are four important differences between the two commands:

1. Overprint preview will display objects that have been set to overprint via the Attributes panel as they will appear when offset printed. This overprint attribute is ignored in Preview mode.

2. Overprint preview temporarily displays all page objects in High-Quality Display Mode, similar to choosing View > Display Performance > High Quality Display. Preview mode doesn't change the Display Performance setting.

3. Preview mode hides all objects on the pasteboard with a gray background. Overprint Preview doesn't affect objects on the pasteboard.

4. Preview mode trims all page items that bleed off the page to the trim boundary, Overprint Preview doesn't.

In my humble opinion, Adobe should combine Overprint Preview and Preview Mode into one command. We just need an easy way to get in and out of a "make it look as printed" mode, like Preview Mode, but with the Overprinting and High Quality Display setting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Top Ten reasons to use InDesign’s Story Editor

The Story Editor is one of the best features of InDesign, but also the most ignored. The Story Editor provides a word processor-style view of any InDesign "story" (an individual text frame or set of threaded text frames). Any changes that you make to your text in the Story Editor are simultaneously made to the layout.

To quickly display the Story Editor, select some text with the Type tool or select a text frame with the Selection tool, and press command-y (Mac) or ctrl-y (Windows). (Think "y" because the word "story" ends with "y"). When you are finished in Story Editor, to return to the layout view, press command-w (Mac) or ctrl-w (Windows).

Here are the Top Ten reasons to use the Story Editor:

1. To help you concentrate on content, not formatting. Most formatting doesn’t display in the Story Editor view, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

2. To make it easier to navigate long sections of text. Text that flows through multiple columns can require lots of zooming and scrolling to edit it in Layout view. But in the Story Editor, the text appears in one long easy-to-work-with column.

3. To make text easier to read. The Story Editor can make small or obscure text easier to read and edit. By choosing Preferences > Story Editor Display, you can choose a large, easy to read font for the Story Editor display, different from the actual font used to format the text in the layout.

4. To see invisible items more clearly. Items such as XML tags, anchors, variables, hyperlinks, cross references and index markers show up much more clearly in Story Editor than they do in the layout view, making them easier to move, delete, cut, copy and paste. A list of these invisible items can be found here.

5. To edit overset text, or write copy to fit. The Overset Text Indicator in the Story Editor show you where text is flowing out of the last box in the text thread, but unlike Layout view, you can still see and edit the text that is overset. This makes editing copy to fit a fixed space much easier than in Layout view.

6. To work with overset text in table cells (CS4 only). In the past, if text was overset in a table cell, it could be very difficult to fix. Now, in CS4, you can see overset text in table cells in the Story Editor, and make changes to the text to make it fit the table cell if necessary. (CS2 and CS3 users, see this tip for a workaround).

7. To quickly move an inline graphic from one table cell to another (CS4 only). Working with graphic images in tables can be difficult, since the graphics have to be inserted as “inline graphics” in the table cells. Often, the easiest way to move a graphic from one cell to another is to go to the Story Editor and copy and paste the inline objects icon that represents the graphic.

8. To quickly view assigned Paragraph Styles. With a Story Editor window open, choose View > Story Editor > Show Style Name Column. This will display a column on the left side of the Story Editor window that will show any Paragraph Styles that are assigned to the text.

9. To view the length of your text. With a Story Editor window open, choose View > Story Editor > Show Depth Ruler. This will display a vertical ruler on the left side of the Story Editor that displays the “length” of the story in column inches, or whatever measurement system you choose when you right-click or ctrl-click on the ruler.

10. To view Note content. InDesign and InCopy allow you to insert nonprinting notes into your text. The note contents only display when you view your text in Story Editor.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tips for using the NEW panel icon

Many of the panels in InDesign, InCopy, Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash and Fireworks have a small icon at the bottom that looks like a page with a dog-eared bottom-left corner.

Whenever you see this icon in one of these programs, the icon means "new". If it's at the bottom of the Pages panel, it means New Page, at the bottom of the swatches panel, it means New Swatch, etc. You can click on this icon to create a new page, swatch, layer, or whatever.

Here's a nifty trick. If you option-click (Mac) or alt-click (Windows) on the New icon in certain panels, you will get a new page, or swatch, or layer or whatever, but first you will be presented with some options (thus the option/alt key) that will control how the resulting page, layer, swatch etc. is named or what it looks like.

For example, clicking on the New icon at the bottom of the InDesign/InCopy Paragraph Styles panel creates a new style named Paragraph Style 1. But if you option/alt-click on the New icon, the New Paragraph Style dialog will appear, giving you a chance to name the Paragraph Style and set other style options.

Option/alt-clicking on the New icon at the bottom of the Layers panel in InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop displays the New Layer dialog box, giving you a chance to name the layer before it is created.

Likewise, option/alt-clicking on the New icon at the bottom of the Paths or Channels panels in Photoshop gives you a chance to name the Path or Channel as it is created.

So, two things to remember:

1. Look for the dog-eared page icon in many of the panels in Adobe Products. It always means New.

2. Try option/alt-clicking on this icon, to see if it provides additional functionality that can make you faster and more efficient.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Illustrator's "Isolation Mode"

No, this isn't where Illustrator is sent to a corner by itself for a time out! Isolation mode is one of the coolest features of Illustrator. It's been around since Illustrator CS2, but it's been tweaked a bit in each new version.

Simply put, isolation mode lets you "isolate" an object, group, or layer so that you can work on the object, group or layer without fear of accidentally changing the surrounding artwork. It's a great alternative to constantly ungrouping items or repeatedly locking and unlocking objects or layers.

Isolation mode is pretty simple to use. Just double-click on an object or a group with the Selection tool. You'll see the rest of the objects on the page dim, and a breadcrumb navigation path appear at the top of the active window.

Now you can edit the isolated object or group to your heart's content. When you're finished, either click on the breadcrumb navigation trail to back out of isolation mode, or just double-click somewhere outside of the isolated objects.

Many people don't realize that individual layers or sublayers can be isolated as well. Just select a layer or sublayer in the Layers panel, and choose Enter Isolation Mode from the Layers panel menu.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Free image every day

I've mentioned Creative Stock Images before, on 2/27/09 and 3/30/09. It is a wonderful source for both stock images as well as vector artwork.

Today, though, I want to point out one of the neatest features of Crestock: The Daily Free Stock Image. Each and every day they give away a new high-res stock image or vector image completely free. And they make it completely simple with an RSS feed, so you can have a link to each day's free image appear in your in box.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Sign of the times?

Upon completing a purchase at Target a couple days ago, I found myself with the receipt pictured below.

This got me thinking:

1. As newspaper readership continues to drop, Target is certainly closely examining their bang-for-the-buck from traditional weekly newspaper circulars.

2. Perhaps the week after Easter is a slow week for retailers, or perhaps Easter Sunday has particularly low readership for newspapers. At any rate, I assume economics were behind this decision. Target still had to pay designers, production artists, photographers, retouchers, stylists and support staff to product the circular for April 12. The only savings will come directly from the print production costs.

3. I'm sure there will be teams of analysts at Target HQ here in Minneapolis trying to quantify the cost savings vs. impact on sales the week of April 12.

4. If you are a designer with knowledge and skills solely in the print world, now is the time to start learning some of the concepts and skills behind designing for the world of Web, motion, and interactive.

By the way, the Target Weekly Ad site uses the ubiquitous "page curl" effect. When you use the new feature for exporting a file from InDesign CS4 to Flash SWF format, you have the option of automatically generating a similar page curl effect.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Nice examples of interactive graphics

The folks at the Wall Street Journal are doing some really nice work creating online interactive graphics published as Flash SWF files. Some of my favorites are:

Layoffs Pile Up
Economic Forecasting Survey
Map of the Market
The Military Toll In Afghanistan
How the G-20 Players Stack Up

No matter how well illustrated, charted, detailed and explained, bad news is still bad news! Here's one on a lighter note:

The Letter Law

And last, here's a list of all the recent interactive graphics that have appeared on the Wall Street Journal web site.

These wonderful graphics are great examples of the online experience being richer and more meaningful than the print experience.

[via Thad McIlroy's Blog]