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The quickest way to create a series of threaded text frames

Imagine you want four columns of text on a page, and want to do this with 4 threaded text frames. You can do this a slow, painful way, or a quick, painless way...your choice!

The slow way:

Create a single text frame. Click on the "out port" at the bottom-right corner of the text frame, and then drag out a second frame with the loaded text cursor. Repeat this for frames 3 and 4. Then, fiddle endlessly with alignment and spacing to get the frames spaced apart with the desired gutter.

The fast way (CS5 or newer):

1. Select the Type tool, and drag out a large text frame. Do not let go of the mouse button.


Create a text frame that is the total width of all 4 text frames.

2. While dragging, press the right arrow (cursor) key 3 times. You will see the frame divide into 4 equal frames, evenly spaced, with equal gutters. If desired, press command-left/right arrow (Mac) or ctrl-left/right arrow (Windows) to adjust the gutter size.

Pressing the right and left arrow keys will subdivide the single text frame into 4 frames.

Pressing the right and left arrow keys will subdivide the single text frame into 4 frames.

3. When you let go of the mouse, the result will be 4 perfectly even frames, equally sized and spaced, and threaded together!


Voila! 4 perfect, threaded text frames.

One variation on this technique: if you do not want the resulting frames to be threaded together, just hold down the option/alt key before you release the mouse button.

Keith Gilbert
Keith Gilbert has worked as an independent consultant and educator in the design industry for 25 years for clients such as Apple, Adobe, Best Buy, Cargill, General Mills, Lands? End, Medtronic, Target and the United Nations. His work has taken him throughout the US and Canada, as well as to Barbados, Kenya and Monaco. He is an Adobe Certified Instructor in InDesign, InCopy, Illustrator, Photoshop and Acrobat, and the Chapter Representative for the Minneapolis InDesign User Group. You can read his Tips & Techniques Blog at
Keith Gilbert

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9 Comments on “The quickest way to create a series of threaded text frames

  1. And pressing the up-arrow key will make you a whole grid of threaded text frames?
    If you also manage to press the shift key you get a grid of squares.

    You could also adjust the default for the width of the gutter, if you go to the Layout menu and choose Margins and Columns.


  2. to complete the feature: the value of adjusting the gutter size later depends on preferences > units & increments.

  3. And a cool thing is that after creating a grid or a series of text frames you can change the content type of any of them and the threading will not be broken. It will just skip that newly changed frame. I think it rocks.

  4. Just so strange that this does not work with a loaded text cursor (as it does work with loaded images), never understood why not…

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