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Edit a Shape’s Frame

question markI created a text frame, filled it with text, gave it a fill and stroke… it’s perfect. Except that now I’d like to make one side of the frame have an S-curve. But there’s no “convert to Bézier shape” command like there is in QuarkXPress! How do I make that curve?

checkmarkInDesign doesn’t have that command because every frame — text, graphics, and unassigned ones — is an “editable Bézier shape.” Use the Direct Select tool to select and edit the individual points in your frame, and/or use the Pen tool to add, remove, or modify exisiting points on the path. No intermediate conversion command is required.

The sequence below shows the original frame, the selected frame being edited with the Pen tool (just click and drag over a segment on the path to add a curve point at that position), and the final version (after curve points were added to the left and right sides).


(Excerpted in part from Adobe InDesign CS/CS2 Breakthroughs.)

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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14 Comments on “Edit a Shape’s Frame

  1. Ahh, the good news is that “every frame … is an ?editable Bézier shape.?

    The bad news is that “every frame … is an ?editable Bézier shape.?

    I say bad news because it is too easy to distort an object’s shape with the Direct Selection tool. I already wrote part of my InQuestion column abnout how a mis-aligned frame distorted the alignment of some bullets.

    I wish there were a command that “froze” the shape of any object so that the Direct Selection tool couldn’t modify the Bezier curves and points.

  2. I have to agree with you there, Sandee! I’ve seen so many “rectangular” frames that are slightly off because someone accidentally dragged a point (or a segment between two points) and moved it a point or so.

  3. I love the fact that everything is an editable Bézier shape…mostly because, when I was in school, we didn’t use InDesign, I hated Quark, and so I used Illustrator for EVERYTHING…horrible, I know, but I was SO ready for InDesign when it became available to me.

    Anyways, I guess to eliminate the problem of misshapen text boxes, the user could put them on a different layer.

  4. Luckily, the quick fix for accidentally distorting a frame’s shape (if it’s too late to Undo) is to select it and choose Object > Convert Shape > Rectangle. You might still need to resize it a bit but at least all the lines will be perfectly horizontal/vertical.

  5. AM, if I remember correctly, that feature was added in CS2. If so, anyone still using CS would have a hard time finding a command that’s not there.

    If it did exist in earlier versions, just pretend I was never here.

  6. I’m just struggling for words why anyone would use the direct select tool to select a box, let alone physically click and drag on a point, if they didn’t intentionally mean it that is.

    As it was said earlier about Paragraph Styles should be named Paragraph and Character Styles so people don’t make two styles that do the same thing, they shoud maybe perhaps rename the tools perhaps as Selection Tool and Anchor Point Selection tool.

  7. What about boxes with rounded corners? I use CS2 and those don’t seem to be editable the way other kinds of shapes are. You can’t delete a few of the points to create a different shape.

  8. Lisa, you need to listen to Podcast 54. The quick version is: Choose Object > Pathfinder > Close Path to convert the corner effect into actual bezier points.

  9. Thanks David. Once again you help me out. I’ve been a big fan of your books for a long time and I’m relatively new to this blog. No, I had not listened to your podcast. I’ll give this a shot and see if it works.

  10. Update, just listened to the podcast and tried out what you said and it works. Also, I didn’t realize you could draw a jagged line (like a z shape) and then apply the corner effect to get the corners to be rounded. Very cool.

  11. Pingback: InDesignSecrets Podcast 168 | InDesignSecrets

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