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Printing Notes (With Some Help From InCopy)

by Aman Arora

The Notes feature of InDesign can be used for adding comments, reminders, annotations, or design notes within your document. This feature comes handy when you are working as part of a team on a long document, where the user notes can be read by all the different contributors. When in the layout view of InDesign, each note is indicated by a note marker (as shown in Figure 1 below).

Figure 1: Illustration showing the hourglass shaped note markers

The contents of the note can be viewed from either the Notes panel or from the Story Editor (Edit > Edit in Story Editor). Within the Story Editor, all notes are displayed inline between the bookends markers (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Note text as seen within the story editor

At times, it becomes crucial to also have a record of your notes as a print or in form of a PDF.

Unfortunately, when in the Story Editor view of InDesign, both the Export and Print options are disabled. At this point, you need a little help from InDesign’s complementary application, InCopy. InCopy is a part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud offerings. If you have a subscription to the Creative Cloud you can install it from the Apps section of the Creative Cloud application. (Figure 3)

Figure 3: InCopy can be installed from the Creative Cloud application

The steps to use both the applications in sync to print your notes are explained below (FYI: the same step hold true for printing Track Changes markups present in your document).

1. The first and the most obvious step is to add the required editorial notes in the InDesign document. (Figure 4)

Tip: Notes can also be color-coded to distinguish amongst the different users of InDesign. To learn more about adding notes in InDesign you can read this help page from Adobe.

Figure 4: Stories in InDesign document with notes added by different users

2. The second step is to decide if you want to print notes of a specific story or notes present in multiple stories of the InDesign document. The process for printing notes in the entire document is explained below. If you are working or have access to only a *.icml file (a single story), just export that story to InCopy (.icml) format from the File > Export menu, and then skip to step 4.

3. Create a new assignment by opening the Assignments panel from the Window > Editorial menu. From the panel menu, choose New Assignment and after specifying the file options (just accept the defaults), click OK.

Now, select all the stories that contain the notes you want to be printed and from the Assignments panel menu, select the Add To Assignment option.

Next, choose Update All Assignments (Figure 5) from the Assignments panel menu to make the content files available to InCopy users. To learn more about assignments you can read this help page from Adobe.

Figure 5: Update all assignments from the Assignments panel menu

Once done, a folder should be created in the same location as the InDesign document by default. This assignment folder includes the *.icma assignment files and a content subfolder that contains the exported InCopy story files (in .icml format).

4. Open the .icma (or .icml) file in InCopy and navigate to the Story view by clicking the Story tab under the document’s file name. As with the Story Editor in InDesign, InCopy displays all the note content inline with the text. If you’ve opened an assignment (.icma) file, you can see multiple stories as once in the Story tab, a feature not possible in InDesign. (Figure 6)

Figure 6: *.icma file opened in the Story view of InCopy

5. You can now easily print any notes (or track changes markups) that are included in the document by choosing File > Print in InCopy. Be sure to choose View: Galley & Story in the Print dialog box. You can also create a PDF of the stories with their inline Notes.

Figure 7: The print dialog box of InCopy with view as “Galley & Story”

The Print or the Export dialog box, when invoked from the Galley & Story view of InCopy, puts many options at your disposal (Figure 7). The Print Inline Notes option allows you to choose to print all notes or only the notes that are visible and not collapsed (clicking on a note’s bookend marker in the Story view collapses the note). The Show Notes in Background Color option controls whether or not you print/export the background color set from the Note preferences of the application.

Bonus Tip: In InCopy’s PDF dialog box (File > Export > PDF), if you switch the View option from Galley & Story to Layout, you can choose to convert any notes to Acrobat comments (“annotations”), as explained in this post by Bob Levine. 


Aman Arora has been with Adobe for over a year now. He is an Adobe Certified Expert in InDesign and looks specifically into the text areas of InDesign. In his spare time, he enjoys learning new InDesign workflows and resolving customer issues.

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5 Comments on “Printing Notes (With Some Help From InCopy)

  1. Yes, thank you Aman! Please submit more great tips. ;-)

    One thing about your steps above … personally, when I want to print notes found in multiple stories in InDesign, I skip the whole Assignment stuff (steps 2 and 3 above) and just go to Edit > InCopy > Export > All Stories. I have a keyboard shortcut assigned to that command because I use it so often. (In the Export dialog box, create a folder to hold all the .icml files so they’re easy to find/delete after).

    Then in InCopy, I can just open the same InDesign (.indd) file via File > Open, and proceed with your step 4. One less file format to worry about.

  2. Aman, this procedure may be acceptable for the use case that you describe: ‘The Notes feature … comes handy when you are working as part of a team on a long document, where the user notes can be read by all the different contributors … At times, it becomes crucial to also have a record of your notes as a print or in form of a PDF’. In other words, for creating an archive at the end of the project.

    For those of us who edit the work of those who write with MSWord and can usually be persuaded to mark up a series of proofs with Acrobat as work progresses, it is much too cumbersome. In this use case, export of notes directly from InDesign to PDF comments is the only efficient workflow.

    • Yes, great feature request! Both the Notes and the Track Changes features have not been looked at in years, in either program. It’s frustrating that ID can’t print an “all story view” that shows tracked changes markup and inline notes.

      • Another change coming down the line is communicating with authors who use Markdown. See the current discussion of favourite Mac Markdown software at tidbits. For we editors, that means CriticMarkup. I’m not sure at what point it makes sense to import such a document into InDesign but import and interpretation of Markdown mark-up might prove useful. See also Leanpub’s publishing system based on Markdown, which produces, along with other formats, ID documents from text marked up with Markdown.

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