Scaling vs. Resizing in InDesign CS3
We’ve been getting a lot of questions from folks who’ve upgraded to CS3, asking what happened to the Transform Content command and how they’re supposed to transform a frame separately from its content (or vice versa), in InDesign CS3. Our friend Michael Ninness (the new InDesign Senior Product Manager at Adobe) recently wrote to us with a good explanation of this, so instead of writing it up ourselves, I’m just going to reprint what he wrote (with his permission):
Unfortunately, the Help documentation on this matter is a bit confusing. I thought your readers might appreciate an accurate description of the CS3 behavior.
The Transform Content menu command is gone in CS3, mainly because you don’t need it anymore. Here’s the skinny…
There is a difference between resizing something vs. scaling something in InDesign. Resizing is simply changing the Width and/or Height values of an object (i.e. picas, points, inches, etc.), whereas scaling involves using a percentage value and makes reference to the frame’s original “scale” (100%).
Resize a Frame
By default, when the frame is selected (and not the frame contents) changing the values of the Width and Height fields will only change the frame, not its contents, regardless of what selection tool you have active.
Scale a Frame and its Content
When the frame is selected (and not the frame’s contents) with the Selection tool, changing the values of the Scale X Percentage and Scale Y Percentage fields always changes the frame and its content.
Resize or Scale a Frame’s content
If you want to change only the content (resize or scale) of a frame, then you need to select the frame content first. You can do that by clicking on the Frame content with the Direct Selection tool, or you can double-click with the Selection tool to automatically switch to the Direct Selection tool. Once selected, you can use the W/H (resize) or the Scale fields depending on your preference.
The above behaviors apply to both the Transform panel and the Transform widgets in the Control panel.
If you want to scale the width/height of a frame or its contents by a percentage, and have the results returned in the current measurement system, you can enter in a number with the percent sign to override the default measurement system. For example, if the current width is 12p, and you want the new width to be 75% of the current value, you can enter “75%” into the Width field. After you press Enter, the new value for the Width would display as 9p.
The opposite is true for the Scale fields, in that you can use other measurement system values if you want to scale to a specific increment, but have the results display in percent of the original. For example, you can replace 100% with 9p and InDesign will figure out what percentage was required to make it that width/height.
The Rotate widget rotates both the frame and its content when the frame is selected with the Selection tool.
If you only want to rotate the frame content, select the content first with the Direct Selection tool.
If you only want to rotate the frame, select the frame with the Direct Selection tool, then click on the hollow dot in the middle of the Frame bounding box to select all the anchor points of the Frame. Then change the Rotate value.
InDesign Senior Product Manager
There’s plenty more to scaling in InDesign, of course. But this is a great primer to get started. And it explains a few things that have really confused readers. For example, many CS3 users can’t figure out how to scale a group of objects to a specific height or width: In CS2 you could simply change the value in the W or H fields. In CS3, you have to do this in the X or Y Scale fields!
Let us know what you think is helpful or frustrating for you with these new scaling shenanigans below!