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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Placing and Flowing Text

Take Control of Show Import Options

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It seems that whenever I want to see the Import Options dialog box of the text file I'm about to Place, I forget to turn on the Show Import Options checkbox and have to re-Place the file, this time carefully clicking the checkbox; yet when I don't want to see the dialog box; the checkbox happens to be checked and bang, there it is, the Import Options dialog box that I don't need and have to click out of. Is this some sort of practical joke?

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Yes, it is. Isn't it funny? No, seriously, just keep the checkbox turned off. InDesign maintains the most recent “on/off” state of the checkbox in subsequent trips to the Place dialog box, so you should only have to do this once per document.

Then the next time you want to see the Options dialog box, open the Place dialog box as usual and select the name of the file. Hold down the Shift key when you click the Open button to invoke the Import Options dialog box for the selected file. After a few times this method will become an ingrained habit.

Fix Import Problems with MS Word Files

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Some Microsoft Word .doc files import with missing characters, or worse, they don't import at all — the file is grayed out in the Place dialog box.

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First, make sure that Microsoft Word's Preferences > Save panel does not have “Allow Fast Saves” enabled (in some versions of Word it's on by default). Fast Saves have long been known to cause problems when importing those files into any page layout program.

Then open your document in Word, and choose File > Save As. You should be able to place that new file in InDesign now without any problems. No? Try saving the Word file as an RTF (Rich Text Format) file and make sure the file name ends with “.rtf”; that's often more reliable.

Still have missing text? Some InDesign users have traced the problem to Word files that contain Page Breaks embedded in text paragraphs (instead of sitting in their own paragraph as the Good Lord intended). Open the Word file and check/correct those if necessary, then try again.

(For problems having to do with placing Word and Excel tables, see the Tables section at the end of this chapter.)

Shake Off that Loaded Cursor

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How do I get rid of the loaded cursor icon? I changed my mind after clicking Open in the Place dialog box, but I can't seem to change the cursor back to a “normal” one.

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Clicking any tool in the Tools palette will fix it, but why bother dragging the cursor over there — just tap any letter on your keyboard. Chances are it's a keyboard shortcut to one of the tools. Hit the “V” key (the shortcut for the Selection tool) if you want to be consistent about it.

Get that Loaded Cursor Back

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Half the time that I place a file, it replaces something in my document that I didn't want replaced. Sometimes a text file replaces an image, sometimes an image appears in the middle of text frame, or worse, sometimes I don't know where it's gone to. What's going on?

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Get in the habit of pressing the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-A/Ctrl-Shift-A (Deselect All) every time you're about to Place a file. That way, even if the Place dialog box's “Replace Selected Item” is turned on (the root of the problem), the imported file won't replace anything — because nothing is selected.

While you're ingraining that habit into the InDesign grooves of your brain, remember there's always our friend, Undo (Command-Z/Ctrl-Z). That will extract the file from wherever it ended up (un-replacing the original item) and give you back the loaded cursor you wanted. If you Undo one more time, it's as though you had never selected Place in the first place.

Autoflow Without Adding Pages

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I want to autoflow a long text file into a series of pages I've already set up with column guides, but I don't want InDesign to add additional pages. Possible?

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The little known “semi-autoflow” function will do exactly that. Load your cursor with the text file, hover over the first empty column, and hold down Shift-Option/Shift-Alt when you click (Figure 3-2).

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Figure 3-2 InDesign's Forgotten Cursor, Semi-Autoflow.

Create Multiple Autoflows on the Same Master Spread

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In our facing-pages publication, we need the left-hand pages to show an original manuscript in English, and the right-hand pages to show the Spanish translation. The two manuscripts are each hundreds of pages long, so we want to use InDesign's automatic text flow feature. But the Master Text Frame option in the New Document dialog box allows for only one automatic text flow, filling both pages of each spread with the same file.

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InDesign automatically flows stories from the left page to the right page of each spread because the two text frames on the master are threaded (linked) by default. To unthread the master text frame, open the facing-pages Master from the Pages palette. Click the left-hand page text frame with the Selection tool to see the In and Out ports, then double-click on its Out port to break the thread.

You end up with two individual, unthreaded frames, one per page. Now go to page 3 of your document, the right-facing page of the first two-page spread, and autoflow the Spanish manuscript (Shift-click with the loaded text cursor). The text fills up all the right-hand pages, creating additional spreads as necessary. Then make page 2 active, the first left-hand page of the document, and autoflow the English manuscript. The English text fills up all the left-hand pages of the document, creating additional ones as needed (Figure 3-3). Note you don't have to start on page 1 and 2; you can begin the autoflow on any page you like.

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Figure 3-3 Multiple text flows in the same document are easy to set up in InDesign.

What if you want two autoflowing threads on the same page? No problem. Manually drag out two text frames (let's call them L1 and L2) on the left-facing master and two (R1 and R2) on the right-facing master. Use the Selection tool to thread frame L1 to R1, then thread L2 to R2. InDesign is smart enough to know that in the document, when L2 becomes overset, it should continue on the next spread by linking to L1.

Superfast Frame Threading

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Is there a faster way to create a series of empty threaded text frames other than drawing each one out, one by one, with the Type tool; then switching to the Selection tool and threading them one by one?

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Create the first frame with the Type tool as usual, then click on its Out port with the Selection tool. Your cursor is now loaded with “phantom” text. If you hold down the Option/Alt key while you drag out additional text frames with that cursor, each frame will be threaded to the previous one. A text file placed into the first frame will automatically fill up each additional frame you threaded to it.

This also works with actual text. Starting with a text frame that's overset, click on its overset icon to load the cursor with the additional text. Then Option/Alt-drag a series of text frames until all the text is placed.

Add Pages Automatically as You Enter Text

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It's quite aggravating that InDesign doesn't automatically add another page when I'm entering text at the bottom of a text frame and need to continue typing in a new frame threaded to it. I made sure to set up a Master Page text frame just so it would. But it won't.

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For this you'll have to turn to one of two InDesign plug-ins: Inflow, from EmSoftware; or EasyFlow, from 65bit. Both work about the same; except EasyFlow is a little cheaper and you can turn its “auto page insertion” feature off if necessary from the Pages palette menu. With InFlow, you'd have to disable the plug-in and restart InDesign to turn it off. (On the other hand, why would you ever want to turn it off?)

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