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Transpose it!

InCopy contains a slew of hidden features that are often overlooked by users who use InCopy every day. I was reminded of this recently while working on a project where a user had copied numeric data from an excel spreadsheet that contained incorrect data. It turns out that the data supplied to them, had the decimal shifted one decimal place to the right which created a very wrong value. Fortunately the problem was caught in time but as I watched the user meticulously highlight the number and re-type it, I was reminded of a cool feature in InCopy that I had forgotten about—The Transpose command.

The Transpose command is perfect for situations where you’re fingers are faster than your brain, or in cases where you consistently misspell a word and need to go back and transpose two characters. The Transpose command can be found lurking in the Edit menu. To use it, simply insert your cursor between two characters that you want to transpose, and choose Edit Transpose. Magically, the two characters are swapped allowing you to efficiently proceed with your editing duties.

InCopy Transpose BeforeInCopy Transpose After

Positioning the cursor between the two characters that need to be transposed (left). After applying the Transpose command (right).

For maximum efficiency you’ll want to assign a keyboard shortcut to the Transpose command as one is not assigned by default. I use Ctrl+Option+Cmd+X but you can obviously pick any keyboard shortcut that you wish. I’ve found the ability to navigate through the text of a document using the arrow keys and using a keyboard shortcut to transpose characters to be quite efficient.

A few limitations that I’ve discovered about the Transpose command is that it doesn’t work with space characters. If you insert your cursor between a character and a space character, the Transpose command is grayed out. Also, one of the obvious areas where the transpose command could be used is when a period is placed outside of closing quotes in a sentence. Unfortunately, this seems to be another limitation of the Transpose command.

Shortly after working on the above project, I found myself working on a different project in InDesign but with the same problem where I needed to transpose some characters in the text I was working in. Naturally I went to the edit menu only to find the Transpose command missing. Systematically, I searched through each and every menu in InDesign thinking that although I’ve been using InDesign for 15 years, maybe I’ve overlooked it. Not so. InDesign simply doesn’t have this feature. Fortunately all is not lost. My good friend Keith Gilbert wrote a post over at InDesignSecrets describing a free script that he wrote that adds the transpose functionality to InDesign as well.

We’d love to hear about creative ways you’ve found to use the Transpose command! Please tell us about them in the comments section below.

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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