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Taking control when control is needed

The InCopy workflow brings a lot of great benefits to the table including the ability to edit copy to fit a given area, viewing the final design of a project in InCopy as you work, and the ability to edit content in a layout while the designer is making adjustments to that layout just to name a few. This last capability can be a bit treacherous at times though. When a project is still in its infancy designers will often be making formatting adjustments to a layout to achieve the desired visual look of the project. In these cases, the designers need complete control to ensure that all of the changes are implemented into all of the linked stories and into the layout and any assignments that are being used.

When the designer needs complete control over formatting changes, the solution is actually pretty simple. I encourage designers to check out all stories in a layout when complete editing control is required. This solves a couple of potential problems.

  1. Nobody can check out any content while formatting adjustments are being made, ensuring that all content is updated the next time an editor checks out a story.
  2. The designer has complete control during this stage so they can make any and all necessary changes (formatting or otherwise) to the layout.

How is this accomplished?

To do this, check out all of the stories in the layout first, preventing anyone else from editing them.  To quickly check out all the stories at once, open the Assignments panel in InDesign. Click on the first story, then shift+click on the last story and click the checkout button.



Now in the figure above, we’re using a layout-based workflow so all of the stories are in one convenient location. However in a more complex assignment-based workflow, you will have to open up each assignment and check out all of the stories in each assignment. Slightly more time consuming but not too bad.

Although I truly feel that the omission of a “check out all” command is needed in InDesign’s Assignments panel, Adobe did provide users with a “check in all” command to wrap up this process. Simply choose “Check In All” from the panel menu in the Assignments panel and poof! All of your stories are checked back in. Give this method a try with your own workflow and I think you’ll agree that it’s a great way to ensure that the designer has complete control when formatting changes need to be made.

Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius is an Adobe Certified Instructor, Author, and Consultant in the Philadelphia area and works with clients to improve their creative workflows using Adobe products. He's also the author of several courses on He specializes in PDF accessibility using Adobe InDesign and is a regular speaker at The InDesign Conference and PePcon.
Chad Chelius

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3 Comments on “Taking control when control is needed

  1. There’s an alternate way that saves one click from the above method, but if you’re working on a bunch of files it’s helpful – Select the assignment (instead of shift-clicking all stories in the assignment), right-click and choose Check Out.
    A script could also be used. I’ll post an AppleScript for Mac users when I have more time.

  2. What an awesome tip David! That’s what makes this community so awesome! Thanks for sharing this with all of us. And to add to your tip, even if you aren’t using assignments, you can select Unassigned InCopy Content (essentially an assignment) and click the Check Out Selection button or right click and choose Check Out Selection.

  3. For Mac users, the AppleScript below will check out all stories that are not currently checked out. It’s a very simple script that does not provide any feedback, even if there are no stories available for checkout. To use it, copy the text of the script, open the AppleScript Editor application (on older Macs it’s named Script Editor) and paste into the AppleScript Editor window. Save the file in the following location: YourHomeFolder/Library/Preferences/Adobe InCopy/Version 9.0/en_US/Scripts/Scripts Panel/ (this is for InCopy CC – for other versions, choose the appropriate path). Even with InCopy still running, the script will be available. In InCopy, open the scripts panel by choosing Window>Utilities>Scripts. Click on the User arrow, and you should see the script. Double-click to run it. You can also run it by using Quick Apply. Make sure that Include Scripts is checked in the Quick Apply popup menu, then type “s:” followed by the first few letters of your script name and hit return.

    tell application id “com.adobe.InCopy”
    set theDoc to document 1
    tell theDoc
    set allStories to stories
    check out allStories
    end tell
    end tell

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