InDesignSecrets Podcast 042

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(12 MB, 25:16 minutes)
or read the transcript of this podcast.

  • Solutions for placing multiple-page PDFs
  • The Clear Overrides button: Sweet feature, often overlooked
  • Most Useless InDesign Palette Award/Contest
    • Anne-Marie’s nomination: the Color palette
    • David’s torn between the Transform and the Navigator palette
    • Enter the contest by leaving a comment here! (Details below)
  • Obscure InDesign Feature of the Week: Align Based on Size

Links mentioned in the podcast:


The Most Useless InDesign Palette Award/Contest
You’ve heard David and Anne-Marie’s nominations, do you agree? Or maybe you depend on the Navigator or Color palette for some task integral to your workflow? Perhaps you have a different palette you’d like to nominate? Add your thoughts, votes, rants, or staunch defense to the discussion by adding a comment below. Just before the next podcast rolls around (a week or two), we’ll randomly choose one of the comments and award that author an InDesign CS2 Keyboard Shortcuts poster!

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49 Comments on “InDesignSecrets Podcast 042

  1. I think that the most useless palette would be the gradient palette. Everything that you can do with the gradient palette can be done with the swatches palette.

  2. So now you’ve got me playing with align based on size and I am completely baffled by the behavior. I reduced the based on size all the way down to 0.1 points and the hyphens in the right margin didn’t budge. So I went to the other extreme and made it 48 points, and the hyphen moved into the column. So it seems more like “align based on inverse size”. But what do I know?


    PS: Fritz, the one thing you can’t so in the swatched palette with a gradient is give it an angle — more’s the pity.

  3. Navigator palette is the least useful of all is all programs. Paragraph and Character are weak, too, but I call them sometimes because they let you apply formatting to an entire frame (or frames) without switching to the text tool. Can’t do that with the Control palette.

  4. Oh, almost forgot about the palettes…

    I’m going to fight for the survival of the Color palette. Why? Because it’s wonderful for color exploration. Rather than go through the steps of creating a swatch, I’m often experimenting with different colors. Then, once I’ve decided on a color, I’ll turn that color into a Swatch.

    I was going to add my vote for Navigator as well, but being that I always have to be different, I’m going to say…. the Layers palette. Yes, I know I will get flak for this, but in ALL my years of using InDesign, I have NEVER once used the Layers palette. Don’t get me wrong, I understand its value, and I teach folks how to use it — but the Layers palette is my own personal most unuseful palette in ID.

  5. Dave,

    Yes it is true that I can’t give a gradient an angle with the swatches palette, but that is why I use the gradient tool for. I just think that the gradient palette gets in my way and confuses people when they try and make a new gradient.

  6. Ah, I get it: the larger a font is, the larger its side-bearings, so the effect of increasing the size is to reduce the amount of hanging the punctuation does.

    Well, there’s something I never understood until today.

    As for least useful palette, your podcast made me realize I never use the Color palette; I also have long since dumped the Navigator palette.

    To me, though, the most disappointing palette is the Story palette. There are so many times I want to do thing to all the text frames of a story (or perhaps all but the first or last) but the only way is by a script.


  7. Scott F (comment #4): You can apply Character and Paragraph formatting to a selected text frame(s) from the Control palette. I do this a lot. After you select the frame(s) with the Selection tool, switch to the Type tool. The frames remain selected but the Control palette goes into text formatting mode. Changes you make to the palette fields are applied to the selected frames.

  8. Dave, the Optical Margin Alignment setting in ID is a frame based attribute — not a paragraph based one. And the reason why it’s in the Story palette is because it’s a setting that applied to an entire story — or an entire thread of text. To apply Optical Margin Alignment to every frame in a story (say, if you have a 300 page book) — all you have to do is select one frame in the thread and apply the setting – it will apply to all the frames in that thread.

    Also, if you want to make global changes to frames within a story, it would probably be easier to use Object styles, no? Then again, a script maven as yourself may find it easier to write a script :)

  9. Mordy,

    It’s a Story-based property. That’s why it’s in the Story palette. If it were Frame based, it would be in the Text Frame Options dialog.

    And, you’d think that using Object Styles would do it, wouldn’t you, but it doesn’t. Actually, what I’d like to see in the Story palette is three Object Style drop-downs labeled:

    First Frame:
    Middle Frames:
    Last frame:

    The problem in CS2 is that when you place a story, the frames that are created by Place don’t use the default object style for text frames, so while you are right that using object styles would get the job done, InDesign bends over backwards to frustrate you.

    So, writing the script (or using the one I wrote three or four years ago) is a lot easier. :-)

  10. I agree with David. The least useful palette is the Navigator palette. There’s so many ways to move throughout a document in InDesign that it’s really not necessary.

  11. The Index pallete!!!!!!

    Sorry, this is THE most unuseful pallete.

    Unless of course you want to make topics that won’t be included in the index anyway. It’s very useful for making topics that will just be deleted when you generate your index because they don’t have any reference.

    I don’t want to bore everyone that doesn’t make indexes, but most of the features that are in the index pallete should be in the generate index dialog box, and just get rid of the index pallete.

    1) Include all docs in the book should be in the generate index dialog box (just like TOC’s).

    2) Sort Options… should be in the generate index dialog box.

    The only thing I see that is useful is delete reference which can be done within the document anyway by deleting the index marker.

  12. I do most of my work in Illustrator so that layers pallete is the least usefull to me. With the navigator at least its cool to move around the page with it.

  13. I think a lot of these palettes are useful in specific situations, so it’s hard to say if one is inherently less useful than another when all designers have different projects (in addition to designing differently).

    But as generally not useful for most projects, I’ll say the Tables palette. InDesign dedicated a whole top-level menu for Tables, so it must have been very important to Adobe and designers. Additionally, the palette itself doesn’t give any more options or features than the top-level menu.

  14. I use the navigator palette.
    I edit an 8 page tabloid size newspaper for a monthly publication (yeah, I know, pretty small stuff.) Since I do not do this all at once, I use the navigator page by double clicking the spreads.
    I also work on color brochures and have yet found a need for the color palette!
    I’m too new to this product to comment any further.

  15. A better alternative to the Navigator palette is the Bookmarks palette. You can place anchors in strategic locations of your document, and to reach the anchor you just click on the bookmark…

  16. I’ve never used, even hardly noticed,this Navigator palette, but all your derogatory remarks made me check it out – and lo and behold, I found it quite useful. As the saying goes, all publicity is good publicity, huh…

    My nominee is the “Pagemaker toolbar” (if it counts as a palette). It only serves to remind me of lost documents due to Pagemaker crashes of the past.

  17. I think the PageMaker pallet is the most “why is this still here?” pallet. Personally, I haven’t used PageMaker since InDesign 1 came out. I’m sure there were stragglers but that was a long time ago.
    Love the podcast. I think it is the best one out there.

  18. That’s very funny, Anders. But I know what you mean. “Least useful” is always subjective: What’s terrible for one person is great for another. The Script Label palette is essential for some users but totally useless for most folks.

    I love reading these responses; fascinating! Who would have guessed that Mordy didn’t use the Layers palette? Was he raised by wolves?! ;)

    Here’s another vote for most useless palette: The Tools palette! After all, every feature it contains can be accessed with a keyboard shortcut, so why bother having the Tools palette open at all?

  19. David, lol!

    I wasn’t surprised by Mordy’s comment (and I think there’s another Illustrator user here who said the same thing) because that’s a typical reaction Illy users have when they look at ID’s Layer’s palette … what? it doesn’t create layers automatically for them as they work? They’ve been working for an hour on a layout and there’s still just one default layer? Useless!!!


    As a mainly ID-user who makes occasional forays into Illustrator land, I’m often perplexed why it insists on creating Path layer after Path layer after Path layer, oh and an occasional Group layer … well I know these are sublayers, but still …

    Mordy et. al, InDesign’s Layers palette is far from useless! For most layouts of any complexity/length, savvy designers create at least a few named layers (text, images, guides, notes, etc.) and move objects to those layers just as they would in Illustrator. (In Illustrator you have to manually create “top-level” layers too, no?) Designers go to the trouble for the same reason illustrators do; to take advantage of hiding and locking and for general stacking order problems.

  20. BTW Mordy thanks for the “pilcrow”! Why can’t I remember that one … but “virgule,” which I’ve heard only once in my life, never left my head. (Virgule is the special forward slash used for fractions.)

  21. I think that you’re confusing layers with objects in Illustrator. The Layers palette displays both by default (although you can turn off the objects if you’d like and just show the layers).

    I’m aware of the uses for Layers in ID. My statement was simply that for the kind of work that I do, it’s useless to ME :)

    And THANKS for reminding me about the virgule! I always mention it when showing off OpenType fractions.

    Pardon me, gotta run. I hear the wolves calling…

  22. Im gonna go with the Navigator palette. The first time I saw it in Photoshop, I was like “eh, I got the little hand/space bar to move me around, what do I need this for?” I just got introduced to the Index palette and while I can’t see why thats necessary either I may be doing an academic journal soon.

    Another palette/feature I cant figure what its for is that thing on the left that keeps popping up if you accidentally click on the window border. What is that? It irks, it does.

  23. Talking about names of symbols and shortcuts…anyone know what the symbol is that lets me insert a Column, Page, or frame break? (Under Type>Insert Break Character) Looks like a half of a Pretzel – or maybe I am just hungry :)

  24. Thanks Mordy. I thought as much. I just think its in a bad place. Seems like it should be a palette people choose to open, not one so close to where I keep my tools. no. Im not moving my tools. ;)

    Michelle: mmm, pretzels.

  25. Michelle,

    To answer your question; The easiest, quickest (and most secret) way to insert a page-, column-, or frame-break character is to press Enter in the number pad area instead of Return where you want it to jump. This is on a Mac, I’m pretty sure the same is true on a PC, but I believe they’re both called Enter on a PC.

  26. I have to say that both the Navigator, Transform, and Color pallets are the most useless when based on the duplication of features elsewhere. There are also numerous other pallets I don’t use, but that is more because of my type of workflow.

    I want to defend the paragraph and character pallets, however. I have to keep them open because when you are working on formatting within Tables (multiple cells), the Control pallet loses a lot of necessary options. I then have to use the paragraph and character pallets for formatting the text inside the table. I know that you could use styles for this, but as much as I love styles, I see no reason to create them for formatting that is only used once in the entire document. I already have too many styles in the pallet, why add more? I also usually manually create formatting and then make it a style. On an aside–wouldn’t style groups or folders be nice to help clean up the sometimes very messy style pallets?

    Other defenses based on other comments: I couldn’t live without the Layers pallet. And as many options as are available on the control panel, both the Table and Align pallets are still necessary for tools that are not included on the control pallet. In regards to the Index tool–I think the whole built in Indexing system is a waste of time. Go buy Sonar Bookends InDex Plugin. You’ll never look back.

  27. For me the most useless palette is the Table’s palette .. I only use the Table menu for all the settings and always forget the palette window is even there.

  28. I don’t have a vote for most useless palette, but, like Diane, I’d like to rise in defense of the Character and Paragraph palettes.
    I work as a graphic designer building marketing collateral for a sales agency, so a lot of my work involves one- and two-page documents like flyers, brochures, and postcards.
    On this sort of project, I have a lot of small text boxes that aren’t linked to others for flow. (As with Diane’s tables, I don’t usually take time to define styles for elements that are used just once.)
    When I’m positioning the elements of my design, I can change the look of an entire text box from the Character or Paragraph palette without switching to the text tool (just using the selection tool).
    I do use the text options on the Control palette when I’m typing, so I’m glad they’ve put them there, but I love the shortcut of using these “outdated” palettes when I’m changing fonts, sizes, alignment, etc. to work out the over-all look of a piece.

  29. Because I hate the bother of switching manually (or even by the using KBS Option-Cmd-7) I like setting the Control palette to Character formatting and then parking the Paragraph palette nearby (or vice-versa). This way I can quickly get to all my type formatting attributes.

    On the subject of useless palettes, the Navigator palette is tops on my list. Although not technically a palette, the Color Picker is definitely useless as far as I’m concerned. Just curious, does anyone use the Color Picker?

    Lastly, I agree with Mordy about keeping the Color palette. Yeah, if it were killed I’d survive, but I find myself using it rather often for mixing colors and playing with tints since tints don’t preview in the Swatch options dialog (don’t know why; this is just dumb).

  30. Navigator…. never used it.
    Index…. never used it.
    Bookmarks…. never used it.
    Hyperlinks…. that’s what Dreamweaver’s for.

    There… that’ll trim off some fat.

  31. I have to say that I agree 50% with you David on the transform palette being completely useless, except for this one VERY useful thing in it’s drop down menu… “Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical”.

    Until these commands get placed somewhere else, I will be forced to have this palette open all the time.;)

  32. I would agree that the Paragraph palette is redundant (not useless) except for the fact that the “Justify with last line aligned right” command is not available anywhere else.

  33. Is there a distinction between ‘palettes I never need to use’, ‘palettes whose functionality can be better accessed elsewhere’ and ‘palettes that have unique features and are poorly implemented’. In the last category I would nominate the Hyperlink palette – it doesn’t behave as you expect it should and it does that badly.
    But then I’m now a slightly guilty use of the Navigator palette – partly because my PowerBook trackpad and button never seem to behave properly with magnification etc/

  34. I love the transform palette. I use it to help me scale and rotate objects. I think it is a wonderful feature that was carried over from Illustrator (which is the greatest vector program ever!). Maybe the most useless is the script label window, just because I don’t know what to do with it. Thanks for letting me comment the your show rocks!

  35. Anyone else think it might be a good idea to kill the Navigator and just absorb any lingering useful Navigator features into the Page palette (especially now since pages can display realistic thumbnails)? This idea came up during one of David’s presentations at the recent NYC ID conference.

    Tom :)

  36. Hello to Dave, Anne-Marie, and everyone else. This is my first time posting or asking a question so I hope I don’t sound too niave . Is there away to include the use of the optical margin alignment into paragraph styles? I love this feature now that I am aware of it (thanks for taking my blinders off), and I’d like to incorporate it more into my workflow (i’m in CS2 because of my work flow… on a PC… I work for very uniformed people – but i have CS3 at home).

    PS. Could you do a podcast on 10 reasons to incorporate InCopy for Idoits, Dummies, and bosses with budget authority?

  37. Max, you can turn on Optical Margin Alignment for a whole story and then turn it OFF (cs3-only feature) per paragraph. But you can’t turn it on in a paragraph style.

    I think we talked about InCopy back in rel=”nofollow”>”>Episode 4. But I don’t recall what we said about it! Anne-Marie has also written about it a couple of times (including a “why you want to use it”) for InDesign Magazine. And, of course, Adobe has their InCopy site here.

  38. Another vote to keep the colour palette! It’s handy if you have it open before you edit a colour node of a gradient in the gradient palette. I find it an easy way to create a custom gradient, while live-previewing the result.

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