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Q&A from the InCopy Tips Webinar, Part 2

Picking up where I left off, here are some more great questions (and my answers) that the attendees of my InCopy Tips & Techniques webinar had during and after the main presentation.

Q: Can you only create packages in InDesign?

A: I know you’re referring to e-mail-based Assignments, aka InCopy packages (INCP in CS3, or ICAP in CS4) or assignment packages; and the answer is “essentially, yes.” Only InDesign can initiate the remote workflow by creating an InCopy package “from scratch,” that is, from a regular assignment in a layout. An InCopy user can’t do this; they can’t decide on the fly, “Oh I think I’ll work on this from home, I’ll send it to myself.” However, if an InCopy user receives a package from a designer and opens it in InCopy; then she can create another package from it. She can either return it to the designer as an InDesign package, or repackage it into another InCopy package, assumably for another editor (by choosing Forward to InCopy from her Assignments panel).

Can you explain again why the remote workflow won’t work with remote designers?

Well, I suppose it can, if the remote (offsite) designer keeps the layout on their home computer, creates assignments there, and then sends out e-mail-based assignments (InCopy packages) to the editors (and they return InDesign packages back to her).  In other words, if you keep the workflow all remote, it can work.  I actually have a few clients, some with over 60 people around the country, who are putting together publications in this way.

But when people ask this, they almost always have something different in mind. They’re thinking that the designer could “bring work home” by sending a package to himself at the end of the day, or that the editors could unpack the packages on the server since they’re all on the network, or that a production manager could create an InDesign package for a subcontracted, off-site designer. None of those work.

When the editor opens the INCP file, can you change where it unzips itself – so it’s unzipped onto a shared drive?

No, that’s built-in to the system. On PCs, the INCP (or ICAP) unzips itself into the user’s My Documents > InCopy Assignments folder; on Macs, into the user’s Documents > InCopy Assignments folder. (The first time an InCopy user opens a package, the software creates the InCopy Assignments folder on its own in those locations.) The contents of the package are copied to a folder named the same as the assignment itself. So if you look at the InCopy Assignments folder, you can see a folder representing every assignment package you ever opened in InCopy. I’m not sure why you’d want to put the contents onto a shared drive automatically, but you could always move the unpacked folder to a shared drive manually.

When we tried the remote workflow, we had a problem with elements from the Master Pages randomly “migrating” onto the layout pages. This caused the layout to be edited to contain a mess of elements that was unusable for the remote editor. Have you encountered this? Is there anyway to prevent it?

Sorry, I’ve never encountered that before. The only things that should be editable in an InCopy package are the stories that the designer associated with the assignment. The packaging step itself has nothing to do with master page items, it’s more like a “copy files and zip them up” operation. So before you package, turn on View > Show Assigned Frames to help identify them in the layout, and make sure you haven’t inadvertently included master page items in the assignment you’re about to package.

How secure is Dropbox?

Dropbox, the virtual server solution I demo’d as an alternative to the remote workflow (or even as an alternative to a local server), is quite secure. All uploads/downloads are done over an encrypted (SSL) channel, and files stored on Dropbox are also encrypted. You can read more details about Dropbox security here.

What was the format of the file you put on dropbox, i.e. was it a .incp?

No, there’s no need to use InCopy packages when you and a remote user are sharing a folder via Dropbox. You just treat the folder on your hard drive as though it was a folder on a local server. In the webinar I just put the full project folder in my Dropbox folder: the InDesign layout file (INDD), the assignment files, the linked InCopy stories, the whole shebang. Remote InCopy users open the layout or assignment from their Dropbox folder and check stories in/out as usual. It’s a miracle, I tell ya! (Except: Remember that Dropbox inexplicably allows two InDesign users to open the same layout file at once. So don’t do that.)

The InCopy Notes feature seems to be glitchy. Sometimes difficult to get the new note icon to light up. Also clicking on the note icon in Layout view does not always bring up the note in the notes panel. Comments?

The Notes feature could stand some improvement, I agree.  I don’t think it’s glitchy, though, just … hmmm … guess I’d call it “high maintenance.” ;-)  First, in order to see the icon for a note in Layout view, you have to remember that it’ll be the same cap height as the text in which it was placed. So the Note icon for 6 pt. photographer’s credit line will be like a flea speck; but the Note icon for a 60 pt. headline will be huge. I seldom bother looking for these visually; just go to the Notes menu (or open the Notes panel from the Window menu) and choose Next Note. InCopy will put the text cursor next to the note and center it onscreen. You can cycle through all the notes in a document by just using the Next/Previous Note commands.

To get the Notes panel to open when you click on the icon, you have to get your cursor hovering over the top half of the Notes icon (the downward pointing triangle), so you might need to zoom in first to see where that is. When it’s hovering in the right spot, the cursor changes to a pointing finger. Now you can click and the Notes panel will open. See? High maintenance.


Hoo-boy! I told you they were great questions, yes? Final part 3 (with questions about master pages, conditional text, and package errors) coming up tomorrow!

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 on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

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4 Comments on “Q&A from the InCopy Tips Webinar, Part 2

  1. Hi,

    just wanted to inform you that we are also experiencing the problem with randomly appearing master page elements (in InCopy cs5 assignments).

    I’ll also drop you an e-mail with more details (screenshot).



  2. Can you explain how notes can made on specific pages that use master page templates? Unless you actually go into the template itself, it doesn’t appear to be possible. It seems to me that a comment tool should be made available much like Acrobat.

  3. I’m having a problem trying to Package for Incopy assignments in InDesign. I’ve done it once already, but all of a sudden, Package for InCopy is grayed out. Ever run into this?

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