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InDesign CS2 For Dummies
By Barbara Assadi
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-7645-9572-5
Finding Out How InDesign Works
In This Chapter
Page layout programs have been around for the past couple of decades, so you'd think that software in this category is mature and past its innovative prime. But that's not true: Adobe InDesign has revitalized the category with a raft of powerful, unique capabilities. Yet Adobe InDesign, the new kid on the block, actually has a history that goes back way before its appearance on the scene. InDesign is the modern-day successor to PageMaker. PageMaker was an early - and popular - page layout program created by a no-longer-existing company by the name of Aldus, which was acquired by Adobe in 1994. To its credit, InDesign is also taking over market share from a market-leading competing product: QuarkXPress.
Why mention this history? Because if you're reading this, there's a good chance that you are already using a page layout program - perhaps QuarkXPress or PageMaker. If so, you'll find some features of InDesign to be familiar, others to be fairly easy to assimilate, and still others to be just about as confusing as can be. If you are new to page layout programs and are taking your first steps with InDesign, that's fine, too. You can get up and going with the program after a very short time.
If you're well-versed in how to use previous versions of InDesign, you already know the basics. Feel free to skip this chapter and move right ahead. If not, settle in for a nice conversation about how to get started using a very comprehensive page layout program.
Lots of Capabilities
Before InDesign, layout designers chose from two predominant software programs. PageMaker offered an unstructured approach to layout in which the designer had lots of flexibility but needed to manually position text and graphics on the print (or, later, online) page. A slightly later addition to the desktop publishing scene, QuarkXPress, offered structural elements to help construct the page while still making it easy to revise layouts. InDesign, which tries - successfully, for the most part - to be more things to more people, lets you choose from both approaches. This flexibility means that you can create a layout from scratch, or you can use a formatted template that helps you position text and graphics into a predetermined spot in the layout, with prearranged look-and-feel specifications. And if you want to deviate from the formatted template, InDesign lets you do that as well.
What kinds of layouts can InDesign handle? Pages for magazines, newspapers, marketing brochures, and ads to start with. InDesign is also an excellent choice for more structured documents, such as corporate reports, newsletters, white papers, and annual reports. The program's intuitive approach to publishing also makes it a good choice for smaller projects, such as newsletters and informational flyers. After you get the hang of it, you'll find InDesign simple to use. But don't forget that it is full-featured enough to handle the most complex page-layout tasks, everything from a magazine ad to an annual report. Figures 1-1 through 1-3 show a few examples of InDesign's range.
Finding Out What InDesign Can Do
Seeing as how InDesign is a leading, if not the leading, page layout program, it makes sense that it is a whiz at helping you lay out pages quickly and easily. InDesign offers a strong set of features for professional publishers working on brochures, magazines, advertisements, and similar publications. Although it lacks specialized tools for database publishing (such as for catalogs), it offers many unique features, such as a multiline composer, glyph scaling, and customer character strokes, some of which we talk about later in the chapter.
InDesign's use of both the free-form and structured layout metaphors - which we also explain later in the chapter - makes it very flexible, letting you pick the layout style that works best for you and for your document's specific needs.
Among InDesign's most useful and innovative capabilities are the following:
Discovering the InDesign Approach
Publishing programs have some similarities and some differences in their various approaches to the publishing task. One way to describe a program's approach to publishing is to talk about its metaphor, or the overall way that it handles publishing tasks.
Some programs use a free-form metaphor, which means that the method used to craft a document is based on assembling page elements as you would if they were placed on a pasteboard until ready for use. This is also called the pasteboard metaphor, which is an imprecise term because software that uses other metaphors can still include a pasteboard. PageMaker is the best-known example of the free-form approach.
Other programs approach page layout by using a frame-based metaphor, in which frames (or boxes) hold both the page elements and the attributes that control the appearance of those elements. QuarkXPress is the best-known example of the frame-based approach.
InDesign is the best of both worlds because it incorporates both the freeform and the frame-based metaphors.
The frame-based metaphor
When you work with a frame-based metaphor, you build pages by assembling a variety of frames that will contain your text and graphics. First, you set up the basic framework of the document - the page size and orientation, margins, number of columns, and so on. You then fill that framework with text, pictures, and lines.
These frames and lines need not be straight or square. With InDesign, you can create frames that are shaped by Bézier curves. (In the 1970s, French engineer Pierre Bézier created the mathematics that make these adjustable curves work.)
Why would you want to use frames? Publishers find several reasons why frames come in handy:
Whether you start by creating frames to hold graphics or text or you simply place the text and graphics directly on your page, you're using frames. When you directly place elements on the page, InDesign creates a frame automatically for each element. The frame InDesign creates is based on the amount of text or the size of the graphic, rather than on your specific frame specifications. Of course, in either case, you can modify the frames and the elements within them.
The free-form metaphor
Working under a free-form (pasteboard) metaphor, you draw a page's content as if you're working on paper. If you've been in the publishing business for a while, you might once have used wax to stick strips of type, camera-ready line drawings, and halftone pictures to a pasteboard. You would then assemble and reassemble all those pieces until you got the combination that looked right to you. The free-form metaphor encourages a try-as-you-go, experimental layout approach, which is particularly well suited to one-of-a-kind documents such as ads, brochures, annual reports, and marketing materials.
If you use a frame-based approach to page layout, you can experiment with using the frames as placeholders for actual text and graphics. Visual thinkers like to work with actual objects, which is why the free-form metaphor works much better for them. With InDesign, you pick the metaphor that works for your style, your current situation, and your mood. After all, both approaches can lead to the same great design.
Understanding Global and Local Control
The power of desktop publishing in general, and InDesign in particular, is that it lets you automate time-consuming layout and typesetting tasks while, at the same time, letting you customize each step of the process according to your needs.
This duality of structure and flexibility - implemented via the dual use of the frame-based and free-form layout metaphors - carries over to all operations, from typography to color. You can use global controls to establish general settings for layout elements, and then use local controls to modify those elements to meet specific publishing requirements. The key to using global and local tools effectively is to know when each is appropriate.
Global tools include:
Styles and master pages are the two main global settings that you can expect to override locally throughout a document. You shouldn't be surprised to make such changes often because, although the layout and typographic functions that styles and master pages automate are the fundamental components of any document's look, they don't always work for a publication's entire specific content.
Local tools include:
Choosing the right tools for the job
Depending on what you're trying to do with InDesign at any given moment, you may or may not know right away which tool to use. If, for example, you maintain fairly precise layout standards throughout a document, then using master pages is the way to keep your work in order. Using styles is the best solution if you want to apply standard character and paragraph formatting throughout a document. When you work with one-of-a-kind documents, such as the poster shown in Figure 1-1, it doesn't make much sense to spend time designing master pages and styles - it's easier just to format elements as you create them.
For example, you can create drop caps (large initial letters set into a paragraph of type, like the drop cap that starts each chapter in this book) as a paragraph option in the Paragraph pane, or you can create a paragraph style (formatting that you can apply repeatedly to whole paragraphs, ensuring that the same formatting is applied each time) that contains the drop-cap settings, and then apply that style to the paragraph containing the drop cap. Which method you choose depends on the complexity of your document and how often you need to perform the action. The more often you find yourself taking a set of steps, the more often you should use a global tool (like character and paragraph styles) to accomplish the task.
Fortunately, you don't need to choose between global and local tools while you're in the middle of designing a document. You can always create styles from existing formatting later. You can also add elements to a master page if you start to notice that you need them to appear on every page.
Specifying measurement values
Another situation in which you can choose between local or global controls is specifying measurement values. Regardless of the default measurement unit you set (that is, the measurement unit that appears in all dialog boxes, panes, and palettes), you can use any unit when entering measurements in an InDesign dialog box. For example, if the default measurement is picas, but you're new to publishing and are more comfortable with working in inches, go ahead and enter measurements in inches.
InDesign accepts any of the following codes for measurement units. Note that the x in the items listed below indicates where you specify the value, such as 2i for 2 inches. It doesn't matter whether you put a space between the value and the code: Typing 2inch and 2 inch are the same as far as InDesign is concerned:
You can enter fractional picas in two ways: in decimal format (as in 8.5p) and in picas and points (as in 8p6). Either of these settings results in a measurement of 8 1/2 picas (there are 12 points in a pica).
Basic InDesign Vocabulary
Not too long ago, only a few publishing professionals knew - or cared about - what the words pica, kerning, crop, and color model meant. Today, these words are becoming commonplace because almost everyone who wants to produce a nice-looking report, a simple newsletter, or a magazine encounters these terms in the menus and manuals of their layout programs. Occasionally, the terms are used incorrectly or are replaced with general terms to make nonprofessional users feel less threatened, but that substitution ends up confusing professional printers, people who work in service bureaus, and Internet service providers. Throughout this book, we define other publishing terms as we go.
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