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Using the Layers panel in InCopy

I know what you’re thinking. A Layers panel in InCopy? Alright, maybe you weren’t thinking that but a lot of the users whom I mention this to have that exact reaction. If you haven’t noticed or discovered this yet, the Layers panel can be found where all of the other panels in InCopy live, in the Window menu. The layers panel isn’t displayed as part of any of the default workspaces that ship with InCopy, but you can choose Window > Layers to display the Layers panel.

The Layers panel can be quite beneficial to an InCopy user as it allows them to control what is visible on screen at a more granular level. Click on the visibility icon to the left of a layer to hide the layer, click it again to make the layer visible again.

Layers panel

Why would you want to do this? As an InDesign document or InCopy Assignment becomes complex in nature, it can be challenging for both a designer in InDesign or an editor in InCopy to select or see particular elements that require editing. It’s also helpful for InCopy users who like to work in Layout view but need to eliminate areas that don’t require focus at the time. The Layers panel is great at doing this. Take a look at the figures below. The top figure is the spread in Layout view with all layers visible. The bottom figure is the spread in layout view with the graphics layer hidden. With the graphics layer hidden, it’s easier to focus on the stories to be edited and as a side benefit, performance is improved because InCopy doesn’t have to render those graphics on screen.

InCopy Layers visible

InCopy Layers hidden

Layers themselves can’t be created or modified in InCopy. Only visibility can be changed, so the designer will need to create them in InDesign. Truth be told, most designers create layers for complex documents automatically so InCopy users will certainly benefit from this. If you have a specific requirement for being able to control layers in InCopy, talk to the creator of the InDesign document so they can structure the document to suit your needs. Taking advantage of layers can be mutually beneficial to both the design and editorial aspects of any workflow. If you’re not using them yet, give them a try and if you are using them, post a comment below and tell us how you are taking advantage of layers in your own workflow!

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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