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Autoflow Text when Pasting

O.B. wrote:

Let’s say I am online and I see an article on a web page. I copy and paste the whole article into InDesign, but I only get one frame. Is there an option that automatically add pages so that I see the whole story?

One of the most important hidden features in InDesign is Shift-clicking with the Place cursor. When you hold down the Shift key, the Place cursor changes from placing a single text frame to creating an automatic flow of text, adding pages to the document as necessary, until the whole story is imported.

However, this doesn’t work when pasting text, because there is no Place cursor! Drat, foiled again. Fortunately, you can kind of work around it:

  1. Make sure the Selection or Direct Selection tool is chosen in the Tool panel.
  2. Paste the text in. InDesign creates a small, square frame in the middle of the page.
  3. Click in the out port (the one with the red + symbol in it). That loads the Place cursor with the story.
  4. Press the Delete key to delete the frame you just created.
  5. Shift-click to create a new frame with auto flow (adding frames and pages as necessary).

Seems like a painful workaround, but it goes really fast when you get used to it.

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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19 Comments on “Autoflow Text when Pasting

  1. This is no doubt very simple,
    How do you continue flowing text
    I have 60 pages already in my book layout and would like to continue the text flow with extra text so that all pages will have text moving down as I edit text above?
    Hope that makes sense.

  2. Sorry to be commenting on such an old post but I’m facing the same issue.

    Your workaround is useful but it does create a new frame. What do you do if you want to flow the text into a master frame that is already set up?

  3. @Mike: Not a problem. Once the text is on the clipboard, shift-option/alt-click on the master text frame (on the document page) to override it. Then click inside with the Type tool and paste. If additional pages are not added automatically, then you’ll have to 1. load the place cursor from the overset frame; 2. create a new page (if you don’t have one already); 3. shift-click on the master page text frame on this new page.

    (If you have a text frame on a left-master page that is threaded to a text frame on a right-master page, then ID will automatically add pages and thread them when you paste, so you don’t need to do the steps above.)

    • This last explanation loses me. Every time I click I create new text frames.

      What do you mean by “one the text on the clipboard?” Do you mean the Loaded Cursor OR when you’re pasting from the clipboard into InDesign?

      And are you suggesting I shift-option/alt-click on the text frame of the master page? Because if I shift-option/alt-click on the document’s text frame CREATED FROM the master page I immediately get a new texted frames. I’m sorry, I’ve tried every way I can think of and it doesn’t work.

  4. One important detail to the above. The master text frame has to be empty on the master page for this to work.

  5. You’re the man! Thanks for solving a problem that’s been driving me up the wall. I suspect there might be a more nifty one-step solution, but I sure haven’t found it.

  6. I am so happy to have found this neat trick and it will save me so much time. However is there a way to show ‘continue to p. x’ or ‘from’ at the top and/or bottom of each page?

    This pathetic piece of software has always caused issues. It hates Ai and it hates Ps.
    Working with this software is like using the Russian army to kill a fly, bulky, crazy and absolutely frustrating!! fk this for a joke I am using Pages and FKu Adobe !!

    • George: Hm. I’m sorry to hear you’re so frustrated. If you can do what you need in Pages, then go for it! Yes, InDesign is a professional-grade program, and it certainly is overkill for some projects.

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