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Better InDesign Contact Sheets

Adobe Bridge CS2 and CS3 have a neat little automation script for InDesign users called Create InDesign Contact Sheet, found in the Tools > InDesign menu. It’s useful for quickly whipping up an InDesign layout filled with a grid of images and captions, automatically formatted with editable object and text styles. (And in Bridge CS3 they’ve added more customization so that the captions can include all sorts of metadata.) I love how you never have to open Photoshop to create the contact sheet — just Bridge and InDesign.

Normally, the script just lets you include images (any format that InDesign understands) in the contact sheet. But, leveraging InDesign CS3’s ability to place other InDesign files into a layout, Adam Pratt figured out how to edit just one line of the Bridge CS3 script so that you can include InDesign files in your contact sheets as well.

So, using the tweaked Javascript, you could make a visual reference file of all the InDesign documents created for a particular client or belonging to a particular book, for example. Or, you could make an archival layout that visually shows a project’s InDesign file and all associated linked images. There are tons of possibilities!

David and I demo’d the script in our sessions at the InDesign Conference this week, and it works great! It can even place a mix of CS3 and CS2 InDesign files at the same time. You might get a series of “missing fonts” alerts while the InDesign contact sheet is being built, but as long as you keep clicking the “OK” button in the alerts, the script will soldier on.

Also, Keith Gilbert has an excellent feature article on this very topic — using the InDesign Contact Sheet script in Bridge CS2 and CS3 — in the June/July 2007 issue of InDesign Magazine. If you’ve ever been disappointed with the results of the generic script, the article is a must-read. Keith went beyond the call of duty and fixed a couple glitches in the default Bridge script, created a couple other InDesign scripts designed to further enhance the finished contact sheet, and made an elegant template to use as an alternative. All of these can be downloaded from the article’s links or from his own blog in a few days.

[[Editor’s update: Keith’s excellent suggestions and files can be found on this post and then more here on this post.]]

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on lynda.com on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at amarie@cpn.co or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

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22 Comments on “Better InDesign Contact Sheets

  1. Too bad they didn’t think that people might take their advice and use the DNG format for their images — which the script also does not import and for which Pratt’s modifications don’t work. Oh, well. It does work great for ID files, though!

  2. The reason that the script doesn’t work with DNG files is that DNG files cannot be placed into InDesign layouts. The script is only able to automate what InDesign is already able to do. So there would be no practical, easy way to modify the script to allow it to accept DNG files.

  3. I use the contact sheet from bridge (CS2) all the time, but what annoys me is that it doesn’t remember your last page setup (I use the same all the time), it keeps defaulting back to Letter and won’t stay on A4 metric. When I used to use Photoshop for contact sheets it always remembered my last setup. Another annoying thing is bridge seems to ignore the ‘horizontal gap’ when set and just uses whatever it feels like.

  4. I have not really used Bridge, instead I have scripts that do this. I have built them for Quark and ID CS1/2. Right now I’m working on revising it in AppleScript Studio to include placing the images at 100% (maximizing the use of space for the given document size); sorting by file and/or folder; custom page size and layout.

  5. One of the features I had hope they’d add to Bridge is the ability to print the Bridge window. Working at a magazine, I was constantly creating mockups of screen shots of the Bridge window to show status of the pub. That being said, sounds like the ID script can now take care of that.

  6. InDesign is not listed under my Tools menu in Bridge. I own InDesign CS3 and Photoshop CS3, not the whole suite. Is this feature available only to suite owners?

  7. I use this useful function to quickly (notice I didn’t say ‘instantly’) create line sheets for my apparel company using metadata I’ve already entered into Bridge. I can pre-format the master pages using a template. This contact sheet function has saved me many many hours of formatting my InDesign line sheets. THANK YOU!

  8. Dose the above script work with snip-its? When I use the default tool in Bridge 3 and have just snip-its selected, it tells me no file types that are allowed can be found. Bridge will show me a preview of the snip-pi, but not allow me to make a contact sheet from them.

  9. I am having problems using the templates i created in CS2 in CS3… the photos don’t line up with the template. Is there anyway to fix this?

  10. Barb I. said:
    Barb I said on June 25th, 2007 at 3:42 pm
    “InDesign is not listed under my Tools menu in Bridge. I own InDesign CS3 and Photoshop CS3, not the whole suite. Is this feature available only to suite owners?”

    I have the same issues.What’s the solution?

  11. If you have quotation marks in a file name you will not be able to make a contact sheet with containing that file. Also, files with embedded color profiles will sort separately from files without, ie: they will be out of alphabetical order and placed last in the contact sheet.

  12. No one seems to want to take on the mystery of not finding InDesign (or any other) application in the Bridge tools menu. I have Creative Suite 3 Design Premium (Mac), and I don’t see it, tho I could swear I have seen it before–that would probably be on my work computer that has CS2. Whats up?

  13. I just now learned about this contact feature using Bridge and InDesign, but like everyone else – it is not available to me under the Tools menu in Bridge, and the actual Script folder in the library is empty. Did anyone ever get an answer to this mystery? I’ve found, and posted to, the same problem on an Adobe forum, but have not gotten any answers or help.

  14. I would love to have a better way of creating contact sheets from multi-page InDesign docs.

    If anybody has a good solution they would be willing to either share or even sell me. Please get in touch.

    Phil
    phil at phoenixedit dot com

  15. I too wanted a contact sheet showing my InDesign layout work as it progresses. Went to Bridge and under TOOLS in the menu I do have InDesign Contact Sheet. Somehow it doesn’t work the way I wanted it to – it keeps telling me that I haven’t selected the right files when in fact I have.
    An alternate solution: change your indesign layouts to jpgs by going to File>export. Here you can select the format for your document. I make a separate folder and send all of them to it so I can now go to Photoshop and make a contact sheet like I originally wanted! Lot of work for something that Adobe said could be done out of the box in Bridge…what gives??

  16. “I have not really used Bridge, instead I have scripts that do this. I have built them for Quark and ID CS1/2. Right now I?m working on revising it in AppleScript Studio to include placing the images at 100% (maximizing the use of space for the given document size); sorting by file and/or folder; custom page size and layout.”

    Jerome: Did you ever get anywhere with this? I find myself needing contact sheets where every image is placed at 100% as well, and are of varying sizes/layouts. Applescript would be a better option for me too, as I’m somewhat familiar with it. Javascript is completely foreign to me.

    Thanks.

  17. “For those that have the full suite, check your preferences under startup scripts and make sure the InDesign scripts are enabled.”

    I have the CS3 suite, and I have all scripts enabled in the preferences, but I still have no contact sheet option under the Tools menu. My Startup Scripts folder is empty, so where could it be pulling this info from?

  18. This was exactly what I needed. Thanks for the article. I was very frustrated with the PS contact sheet. This worked so much better!

  19. I really like the ID contact sheets, but is there a way to show the actual image dimensions in inches and show the resolution? Bridge CS3 shows this info. File size and pixel dimensions are not enough.

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