Allow Your Frames to Resize with Your Text
Steve Werner February 26, 2013
It's often the little features which I appreciate the most. InDesign CS6 added a few of these that can improve your productivity, and one of my favorites is called Text Frame Auto Sizing. This feature solves one of the little annoying problems that occur as your layout proceeds when the text gets edited and re-edited. While we have had to ability to fit a frame to text for some time, the amount of text within the frame can continue to shrink or grow. When it grows we see the dreaded red plus sign of overset text. In the past, this has meant manually sizing and resizing frames.
InDesign CS6 solves this problem by adding another tab to the Text Frame Options dialog (Object > Text Frame Options) called Auto Size. When you click on this tab, you see an interface that allows the frame to resize smaller or larger as text is removed or added.
This feature shouldn't be used on your main text flows that thread from frame to frame. But it works especially well on all the supporting players on the spread: sidebars like the one above, pull quotes, figure captions, picture credits, and so on. You have options to let a frame resize with Height Only, Width Only, both Height and Width, and Height and Width while maintaining proportions. Best of all, you can lock the position of one part of the frame, and let the frame grow or shrink from that part.
In fact the widget that lets you control what part of the frame gets locked looks almost identical to an old friend: Adobe Photoshop's Canvas Size dialog box.
The result is that the selected frame automatically adjusts—eliminating any overset, and exactly fitting the frame to the new text. In this example, I selected the text is set to grow only in height, and I picked the center of the frame to lock to the layout. The result is always clean and neat!
Here's another good use: Fitting a figure caption whose text changes. This time the Auto-Sizing is set to Width Only. You can also specify a minimum width (but no maximum!), and you can restrict line breaks.
Finally, the Auto Size feature is also integrated into object styles. Once you've created your frame the way you like, save it into an object style, and you're set to go as you continue with your layout.
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