DIY Solution: Pasteboard Notes
Most users in an InCopy/InDesign workflow make at least some use of the Notes feature (Notes > New Note). They’re a great way for editors and designers to communicate with each other within the file itself, without worrying about compromising the text flow or accidentally including some sort of in-house business in a final printout.
But Notes fans soon find themselves wishing for more. It’s hard for designers to find the notes, for one thing, since they’re almost always working in Layout view and those tiny icons are hard to spot. And I’ve frequently heard editors wish there was a way to insert a note next to an image or in a margin area, or in a story someone else has checked out.
A clever way I’ve seen some publishers work around the limitations is via “pasteboard notes.” These are not notes per se, but extra text frames in the pasteboard area, outside the boundaries of the page so they don’t print.
Typically, the layout designers add a little 2″ by 4″ text frame on either side of each 2-page spread in a publication and export them to InCopy so editors can check them out. If they’re using an Assignment-based workflow, they include the pasteboard text frames (just the ones next to the assignment stories) in each assignment.
People can still use the Notes feature in stories they’ve checked out, of course. But now they have a little whiteboard sort of area next to each page they can use as well.
An editor might check out the pasteboard frame next to an article they’re working on, for example, and then enter some notes about the article itself, like “Mary: Please enlarge the headline frame so I can fit a second line, or you could bring the picture to its right down a bit and then widen the frame.”
And then, when Mary updates her layout, she’ll clearly see the editor’s notes appear next to the spread. Editors can use large type, perhaps in color (via the Swatches palette or even via a “Joe_notes” Paragraph Style that the designer creates for each editor) so their text is easy to read even when the view is scaled down enough to show the spread and the pasteboard.
Other users can check out the same pasteboard note and add their own comments and notes below those of their colleagues. I have a couple clients that use pasteboard notes like the slugs they used to attach to paper proofs; as a means of signing off levels of approval for each spread in the document. The text frames look like little forms complete with checkboxes and their logo.
Finally, designers can optionally add a Slug area to the layout (File > Document Setup > More Options) so that whenever they print a layout from InDesign, or export it to PDF, they have the option of including the slug area. This way, the pasteboard notes appear in the output as well, safely outside of the trim area.