Unexpected Uses for Conditional Text
InDesign’s conditional text feature is great for creating multiple versions of text, such as different languages, or switching between US and European prices in a catalog. But even if you don’t create documents that are released as multiple versions, there are other ways that conditional text can be very useful during production.
If you’ve ever had a filename like “2014_Catalog.FINAL.FINAL.FINAL_r3a_mm_cb_11.13.15.indd”, you actually DO work on multi-version documents. And conditional text can be very handy during the early stages of a project for inserting production notes into the text. You can place them right where you want them in the flowing text, make them stand out so they are easily spotted, and best of all, you can click one button to turn them all off and work on the layout as if they weren’t there. Here are a couple unexpected uses for Conditional Text.
Figure References in Text
Editors often include notes in a manuscript that tell us where to place images. It can be a chart placement, an image number, or any kind of instruction to the designer. Instead of deleting all of these, and then having to refer back to the Word file to remember where they were, you can apply a condition to them:
Simply turning off the condition allows you to adjust the line breaks without losing the information. The marker shows where there is hidden conditional text.
Image Names in Captions
I also use conditional text for image filenames in captions. When doing Class Notes for college alumni magazines, I find it’s important to place the image near the appropriate year, but anchoring them in the text is too restrictive. The image filename contains the year, so keeping this info in the caption during production makes it a lot easier to remember what year the photo goes with when everything reflows.
First, I put the conditional text on its own line and use a shift-return to separate it from the live text.
Then I turn off the condition, and use Object>Fitting>Fit Frame to Content to resize the caption frame, so it shows the actual size of the frame without the filename. This allows me to adjust the layout with the text frame taking up the correct amount of space.
If I want to see the image numbers again later, I can turn the condition back on without messing up the sizing of the caption box. The last line of text becomes overset, but that doesn’t matter; I just need to see the image name for now and I’ll turn it off again when I’m done.
Alternatively, you can apply an Object Style to your caption boxes that includes Auto-Sizing in Text Frame Options. If you do this, the caption boxes will resize to show all of the text each time you turn the conditions on and off. But in my example above, I don’t want that; I want the box sized to fit with the condition off.
Another tip: If you make a character style for each type of condition, you can apply it using the Find Change dialog box. You can use GREP to find all the text in <angle brackets>, including the brackets, and apply a condition to them. In fact, you can even use a GREP style to do this automatically, as long as you are diligent about applying paragraph styles to the text.