The Best Of Layers Magazine Tips Of The Day

The Best Of Layers Magazine Tips Of The Day

by Jeff Witchel


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Jeff Witchel is a self-taught computer artist with over 24 years of experience. His initial introduction to the computer was with PageMaker, but he switched to Quark 1.0 when it was first introduced in 1987. Having arrived on the desktop publishing scene so early, Jeff became a "go to" guy for answers when others started getting into computer graphics.

As an Adobe Certified Expert, he's provided online support for Adobe and is now an Adobe Certified Training Provider for both Adobe Illustrator CS5 and Adobe InDesign CS5. Jeff is one of just a handful of Adobe Certified Instructors for InDesign CS5 in the New York metropolitan area. He also is a Quark Certified Expert as well as a master of Adobe Photoshop and related applications. He counts among his training clients advertising agencies, design studios, marketing departments, magazines, newspapers, illustrators, and photographers.

Jeff has written literally thousands of tips for Layers Magazine Tip of the Day over the past 4½ years. He also produces online video tutorials for the Layers Magazine website ( and writes articles for InDesign Magazine (

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781463402440
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 08/09/2011
Pages: 188
Product dimensions: 8.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Best Of Layers Magazine Tips Of The Day: In Design

By Jeff Witchel


Copyright © 2011 Jeff Witchel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4634-0244-0

Chapter One


Panels, customizing the workspace, customizing menus, preferences, recovery, undo

Who Screwed Up My Panels?

In using InDesign for my freelance work, I have 22 panels arranged just the way I like them around my document. I took care in setting them up to achieve the greatest efficiency for the way I work. However, working in an environment where others have access to my computer, my carefully set up panel arrangement can get totally screwed up during a trip to the coffee machine.

But not to worry! "Workspaces" to the rescue! When I set up my panels, I had saved my perfect panel arrangement as a custom Workspace (Window menu>Workspace>Save Workspace). So, I can get my panels back in place as fast as going to Window>Workspace>Jeff's Print. I also saved a separate Workspace for when I'm working on Interactive because I use different panels. It's a great time saver. (In CS4, CS5, and CS5.5, Workspaces also are available in the Application Bar above the Control panel (Window>Application Bar)

Undo Beyond a Save.

Like most people who create graphics on a computer, I'm constantly saving my work. Sometimes I hit Command+S without even thinking about it (Control+S on a PC). Well last week I thought I really blew it with my unconscious Save. Right after Command+S, I realized that I made a mistake and needed to Undo several steps. Much to my amazement, I was able to Undo back in time to the steps before the Save and then proceed. But unlike the movie Back to the Future, I know that I didn't disturb the time-space continuum. At least, I hope not!

The Magic of Auto Recovery.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine was working away on a layout for hours and hours without saving once since he originally set up and saved his layout. Then disaster struck. An error message popped onto his screen that InDesign had to quit because of some kind of system error. The error was actually quite easily explained. The cable that connected his external hard drive had pulled loose from the back of his computer. He expected the worst. He was sure he would loose all of his work. He turned off his computer, plugged the drive back in and restarted his computer.

When he opened InDesign, there was an unexpected surprise. A message opened on his screen asking if he would like to Recover his files, which of course, he did. Much to his surprise, not only did InDesign recover his layout, it included the very last change he made before the forces of the universe pulled the plug.

How could this be? With each minute you work on a particular layout, InDesign is performing mini-saves of your work to a data file it creates in the InDesign Recovery folder document. These data files are the miracle workers of Auto Recovery and unlimited Undos. Of course, Adobe still recommends that you constantly save your work, because there's nothing safer than saving.

Accessing Tools with Keyboard Shortcuts While Typing.

You're typing away in a Text Frame and you'd like to switch from the Type tool to another tool in the Tools panel using a Keyboard Shortcut. But everyone knows you can't press an "H" to get to the Hand tool or a "R" to get to the Rotate tool when typing. You'll just end up typing the letter. Right?

Wrong! Command-click (Control-click for PC) on the Text Frame first and then press your Keyboard Shortcut for any tool. So, if you want to go to your Scale tool when typing, Command- click and then press your "S" key.

Get Faster Tool Tips.

If you're new to InDesign, you probably want to learn all the in's and out's of the application as fast as possible. If you're looking to learn Keyboard Shortcuts to access the tools in your Tools panel, the Tool Tips that pop up when you hover over a tool can be very helpful. But waiting a couple of seconds for the tip to pop up can really slow you down.

If you want faster tips, change the Default Preferences, which are set to delay how fast Tool Tips pop up. Go to the InDesign Application menu (Edit on PC)>Preferences, and in the General section (Interface in CS3 or CS4), change Tool Tips from "Normal" to "Fast" and press OK. In CS5 or CS5.5, Tool Tips are set to Fast by default.

Jump to Any Page.

Is there a command that allows you to jump to any page in InDesign like there is in Quark? Yes! Simply press Command+J (Control+J on PC), which highlights the page number at the bottom of your window or opens a dialog window in more recent versions of InDesign. Then type in the page number you want to jump to, and press Return (or Enter). You can even jump to a Master Page by typing in "A" for Master A, "B" for Master B, and so on.

Need a Bigger Pasteboard?

Sometimes, when I'm working on a layout with lots of pictures and type, I need a place to put all of these objects off the spread when I'm moving everything around as part of the design process. The Pasteboard to the left and right of my spread are plenty big enough, but not always all that convenient if I'm zoomed way to work on the center of the spread. It would be nice if the Pasteboard to the top and bottom of my spreads could be made larger.

By default, the Pasteboard above and below your pages is just 1" tall, not a lot of room to store design elements while laying out a spread. To make the Pasteboard taller, go to the InDesign menu (PC: Edit)>Preferences>Guides & Pasteboard and increase the Minimum Vertical Offset in the Pasteboard Options section of the dialog window to any size up to 120", and click OK to apply.

Give Yourself a Hand While Typing in a Text Frame.

One of the easiest ways to quickly move around a page is to access the Hand tool by pressing the Spacebar. When you release the Spacebar, you return to the original tool you were using. But how do you access the Hand tool when you have a cursor in a Text Frame? If you press your Spacebar, you'll end up with lots of spaces added to your copy, but no Hand tool. If you press the Option key (Alt on PC) however, you'll access the Hand tool to move about your page, even though the cursor is still blinking in the Text Frame. When you release the Option (Alt) key, you can continue typing without missing a beat or adding unwanted spaces.

Taking Control of Ruler Units with a Single Click.

I opened an InDesign layout that another artist had created. When I looked at my Rulers, he was using Picas for the units of measurement. Is there any way to quickly change to Inches without having to go into Preferences?

Sure! Control-click (Right-click on PC) with your mouse on the intersection of the two Rulers in the upper left-hand corner of your document window, and select Inches (or Inches Decimal) from the popup menu. To change only one Ruler, Control-click (Right-click on PC) with your mouse on that particular Ruler.

A Nice Welcome!

When you first saw the Welcome screen in InDesign, if you're like me, you probably immediately headed for the "Don't show again" checkbox. Not so fast! When I took a better look at what is included in this screen, I decided to keep it available for a while. No matter how you're using InDesign, this screen offers a lot of valuable information and shortcuts. My favorite part is the "Open a Recent Item" section, which is the fastest way to find and open documents that you recently worked on. You also can create new Documents, Books, and Libraries, and have access to a vast collection of Templates in Bridge. And it's a great portal into the InDesign community, with one click access to InDesign Exchange, InDesign User Groups, as well as InDesign Partners for training, printing, plugins, and solutions.

Reordering Your Panels Within a Panel Group.

One thing that was a problem in InDesign, before CS3, was changing the order of the panels in a panel group. If you weren't happy with the order, you usually had to pull the entire group of panels apart and start building the group from scratch. With the huge improvements in InDesign's interface, starting in CS3, reordering panels in panel groups barely gets a mention. In Panel view, click-drag on any panel's tab to move it to the left or right in the panel group, and release your mouse. In Icon view, simply click-drag the icon up or down until you see a blue insert line at the position you'd like within a group and release your mouse. It's incredibly easy and far more intuitive than in earlier versions.

Saving Custom Workspaces Saves Time.

A Workspace in InDesign can change the positions of panels, how panels are docked in groups and whether they're in panel view or icon view. You can also customize menus (Edit>Menus) to limit what is shown in each, plus you can highlight various commands in a color to make them stand out.

Depending on how I'm using InDesign for a particular project the Workspace may look entirely different. So instead of spending a lot of time tweaking panels and menus manually, I save custom Workspaces for print design, print production, and interactive design (Window>Workspace>Save Workspace). So if I need to put on my print production hat while designing an ad, I can switch to the perfect Workspace for the task as fast as Window>Workspace>"Print Production."

Sizing Up the Biggest Ideas.

I recently needed to design a fairly large poster measuring 12' X 16'. In good old days when I was using another layout application, I would have needed to design this poster at 25% of actual size. That's because the dimensions for a layout could be no larger that 4' in either direction. Can I design this poster at actual size in InDesign? No problem! For as far back as I could check (ID 2), InDesign has been able to set up layouts as large as 18' X 18' (216" X 216"), so it can size up some pretty big ideas with no problem.

Deactivation, My Most Important Tip Ever.

According the Adobe license agreement, you're allowed to install InDesign (or all of Creative Suite) on two computers that will not be used at the same time, such as a laptop and a tower or an office computer and a home computer. Your software must be Activated within 30 days of installation or it will no longer work. To combat Piracy, this software can only be activated on two computers (Help>Activate).

There's a potential problem with Activation if you're not careful. Let's say that you just bought a brand new computer. Congratulations! You'd like to install your software on the new home computer, but it's already installed on your old home computer as well as your laptop. As a good citizen who follows the letter of the law, you delete your software from your old home computer, before installing on the new computer. You try to Activate this software and it doesn't work. Here's the tip to avoiding a lot of frustration and a conversation with Adobe Customer Support. Deactivate your software (Help>Deactivate) before trashing it or you will not be able to Activate it on the new computer.

Quick! Command those Panels Out of the Way.

With the extreme makeover of the entire interface in InDesign CS3, it's nice to know that one important CS2 command still does the job in CS3 or later. Press Command+Option+Tab (Control+Alt+Tab on PC) and all panels will temporarily retract out of the way until you press the command again. Press the Tab key and all panels will disappear until you press the Tab key again.

Where Is the Group Selection Tool in InDesign?

Illustrator users often question, "Where's the Group Selection in InDesign?" For those not familiar with Illustrator tools, the Group Selection tool (an outlined arrow with a + sign to its upper right) is used to click and select single objects within a Group. If you click a second time on this object, the whole Group is selected—a very useful tool in any design application. Well, where is the Group Selection tool hiding in InDesign? It certainly isn't in the Tools panel. Or is it? Choose the Direct Selection tool (A) and before trying to select an object in a Group, hold down your Option key (PC: Alt) and the Direct Selection tool transforms into the mysteriously missing Group Selection tool.

Horizontal Tools Panel.

"Is there a way to make my Tools panel horizontal?" a designer asked in a recent training class. "It keeps getting in the way when I'm working on the far left side of my layout."

I answered, "Sure! If you find this happening all the time, you may want to change your Preferences (Command+K [PC: Control+K] and look at the top of the Interface section). But if you want to display your Tools as a horizontal row temporarily, first you'll have to 'undock' the panel (if it's docked) by clicking and dragging from its title bar. Then click on the small double arrows to the left side of the title bar. This will change the configuration of your Tools panel, with each click, from a single column to a single horizontal row to the familiar double column [from CS2]. To redock your Tools panel (no matter what the configuration), click and drag from its title bar to the far left side of your screen. When a highlight appears, release your mouse and the panel will be docked in a vertical format."

Keyboard Command Puts the Control Panel at Your Fingertips.

I love visiting studios, because you never know what time-saving tips you'll pick up from the artists. On one recent visit, I saw a production artist use a keyboard shortcut (Command+6 [Control+6 on PC]) that highlighted the Type Family field in the Control panel. Then he typed a "G" and pressed his Down Arrow key to navigate to Adobe Garamond. A Return key later and he was now typing in Adobe Garamond Regular. Then he pressed Command (Control)+6 again and pressed his Tab key again and again to navigate from field to field in the Control panel. He looked up from his work, and all I could say was, "Wow!"

A Test of Grid-y Determination.

I recently pick up a new freelance client, and when he heard that I'm an Adobe Certified Expert, he decided to put my knowledge to the test by giving me a bunch of rather silly InDesign problems to solve as part of my first freelance assignment. My favorite: Create an ad layout by following a rough tissue on which he indicated all measurements inside the 8 1/2" X 11" Trim in twelfths of an inch. For example: Make the Margins five-twelfths of an inch in from the Trim; or make the top of the headline one and seven-twelfths inches down from the top Margin; and so on and so on.

Upon seeing this odd request, I decided to have some fun and asked to set up his ad on one of his computers. Intrigued, he said, "Yes!" And he decided to watch. I knew he expected me to pull out my calculator to convert twelfths into decimals. Much to his surprise, I opened InDesign Preferences instead (Command+K [PC: Control+K]), and in the Grids section, changed the Document Grid to 12 Subdivisions, both Vertically and Horizontally. Then I turned on Grids (View>Grids and Guides>Show Document Grid) and created his layout in a matter of minutes, snapping all objects to my custom twelfth of an inch Grid. He just smiled and said, "Show off!"

Finding the Right Layout with "Browse" Is a Breeze.

Is there a quick way to look through a bunch of layouts within a folder and actually get a nice-sized preview of what's in the files without having to open each of them? Yes! That's what File>Browse is all about in InDesign. This command opens Bridge, which is perfect for the job of searching through all the layouts in a selected folder that includes a great preview of the first page in each document. In seconds, instead of struggling to decipher very similar file names, you can find and open the exact layout that you need.

With the addition of the Mini Bridge panel in InDesign CS5, I expect a lot of artists to start previewing and opening all of their layouts through this extremely helpful new panel, not to mention the time they'll save by dragging and dropping images from the panel directly into their layouts.

Changing Defaults Couldn't Be Easier.

If you know the rules, changing defaults in InDesign is simple. With a document open and nothing selected, just about anything you change will become a new default going forward for just that particular document. So if you deselect all objects and change the Stroke to Blue, the Rectangle tool, the Line tool and the Pen tool will now draw objects with a Blue Stroke. The default in this document has changed for all objects being drawn with these tools from that point forward. Existing objects remain the same.

If you close all documents and change anything, that change will become the default for all new documents going forward. So if for some reason you wanted to change the default font in InDesign, close all documents and in the Paragraph Styles panel (Type>Paragraph Style), double- click on the default Basic Style, and in the Options window that opens, change the Font in the Basic Character Formats section and click OK. Your new font choice will be the default font for all new documents. Please remember to change everything back when you're done experimenting.


Excerpted from The Best Of Layers Magazine Tips Of The Day: In Design by Jeff Witchel Copyright © 2011 by Jeff Witchel. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


About the Author....................i
1. The basics....................1
2. Layout....................15
3. Frames and objects....................43
4. Text and typography....................59
5. Styles....................91
6. Text with objects....................107
7. Long documents....................111
8. Tables....................117
9. Graphics....................121
10. Color, Swatches, Fills, and Strokes....................135
11. Transparency effects....................147
12. Exporting....................157
13. Printing....................161
14. Help....................167

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