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Tip of the Week: Use the Story Editor When Designing With Text

This InDesign tip on using the Story Editor when designing with text was sent to Tip of the Week email subscribers on April 20, 2017.

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If you’re familiar at all with InDesign’s Story Editor, I know what you’re thinking: this tip’s title makes no sense. The whole point of the Story Editor is to present text content in a way that’s free of formatting. So how could you use it to design text? The key is that the Story Editor resides in a separate window, and the text you select in the Story Editor does not appear to be selected in the layout.

Normally, if you’re experimenting with different colors, you have to select the text (which makes it appear inverted), apply a color, then deselect to actually see if it’s the color you want.

selected text inverted in layout view

Instead, select the text frame with the Selection tool (or just park your cursor somewhere in the frame). Then open the Story Editor (Ctrl+Y/Command+Y). Now you can make your text selection in the Story Editor, and apply the color, change font, size, etc. and immediately judge the new look of the text.

selected text in story editor appears normal in layout view



Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of LinkedIn Learning courses on InDesign, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, and Adobe Dimension.
Mike Rankin

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3 Comments on “Tip of the Week: Use the Story Editor When Designing With Text

  1. Speaking of the story editor, I once asked someone on the Adobe ID team why it looked so ugly.

    He explained that it had been added to please those who’d learned computerized layout in the early to mid-1980s with apps that looked that way. That meant a screen that looked like a computer terminal, no WYSIWYG, no on-screen formatting, and visible codes. We’re still living with that.
    It’s about newspapers rather than books, but there is a fascinating film about the last day the New York Times was created on Linotype machines—July 2, 1978. You may be amazed at how manual and complex the process was. We have it much easier today. And we don’t have to proof text that’s a mirror image and upside down.

  2. It’s interesting symmetry that Ctrl-Y in both InDesign and Illustrator both more or less expose the workings behind the curtain.

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