Podcast 80 Transcript
To hear the audio episode from which this transcript was made, or to comment on this episode, go to the InDesignSecrets Podcast 80 page.
Anne-Marie Conception: Welcome to InDesign Secrets, Episode 80. I’m Anne-Marie Conception and I’m here along with my wonderful co-host, David A. Blatner.
David Blatner: Well, it’s very good to be here today, Anne-Marie.
Anne-Marie: How are you, David?
David: I am very well. How are you?
Anne-Marie: I’m doing great. Our podcast and blog at InDesignSecrets.com are the independent resource for all things InDesign. [echo]
David: Yes indeed. And this episode is sponsored by Recosoft, the makers of PDF2ID plug-in. And it’s a very cool plug-in. Some of you listeners have heard us talk about this before. It lets you open PDF files in InDesign as actual, editable objects. So you can actually edit the text and so on, which is terrific in case of emergency. If, you know, you have a PDF that you absolutely need to get the content out of and edit something, you’re not going to get an exact duplicate of your original InDesign file. But, it is extraordinary at how well it opens files up in InDesign so that you can recover stuff.
Anne-Marie: Oh yeah.
David: In case of emergency.
David: So I think they should have like an icon of an ambulance.
David: That’s my, my thing. It’s basically in an emergency this is it. So I really feel like everyone needs a copy of this around.
David: I just am forever finding myself with these files. It’s like, you know if I only could get that text or this paragraph, or this image, or this whatever, it would be really helpful. So anyway, PDF2ID from Recosoft. Very cool plug-in. And they’re offering a discount. Is there a $20 discount?
Anne-Marie: Twenty bucks off.
David: So check out the URL in the show notes, it’ll take you right there. And you need this plug-in.
Anne-Marie: An essential tool for all InDesign users whoever need, whoever make PDFs.
David: I think so.
Anne-Marie: Or need to extract the content from them.
David: Well or as we mentioned in the previous one, the other major use for it is opening documents that InDesign can’t open, like free-hand documents or, you know, Corel Draw documents.
David: Whatever. Make a PDF, open it in InDesign. It’s really cool. Anyway.
Anne-Marie: OK so coming up on today’s show, David is going to give us a brief recap on how his time was at the InDesign Conference in New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand. And I’m really curious to see if he ate any penguins.
Anne-Marie: I think that he also got a great tip from Mike McHugh down there.
Anne-Marie: About Camera Raw and InDesign. Should be very cool. And we have an answer to last episode’s Quizzler, along with the winner. And we got a bunch of great responses. So we also have a couple of honorable mentions we’ll talk about. Another topic is that it is time to get a grip on GREP.
David: It sure is.
Anne-Marie: We’ve talked about it a few times before.
Anne-Marie: But, we are going to get a little bit more in depth this time and explain maybe why it’s worthwhile to sit down for 15 minutes and figure out some simple GREP expressions.
David: Yeah, yeah it is. It’s time to get a grip. I like that.
Anne-Marie: Yeah, time to get a grip on GREP. You like that?
David: I do, I do.
David: Very clever.
Anne-Marie: Oh and our Obscure InDesign feature of the week [echo] is Fixed Column Width.
David: Fixed Column Width. That’s a good one.
David: That’ll be fun. OK, let’s dive in just really quickly. I just got back from Auckland, New Zealand so I’m not entirely sure which time zone my body is in. But it was a great conference.
Anne-Marie: [overlapping] Is it summer or winter down there?
David: It is winter down there. But the weird part was, is that the weather has been so horrible in Seattle, it was actually warmer there than it was here in Seattle. So that was very strange. And then there are roses out down there. It was beautiful. Auckland is an amazing city.
David: Everyone needs to go check out New Zealand. It really was incredible.
Anne-Marie: Did you see any penguins?
David: [overlapping] And no I did not, I saw penguins. Sandy Cohen and I went to a wonderful, sort of a zoo-aquarium combo deal where they had penguins. I did see penguins; did not eat any penguins.
Anne-Marie: OK. All right.
David: It was very funny. We got into a conversation about this. Sandy was bringing this up. Sandy who is a vegetarian was bringing this up with some New Zealanders from Digital Arena which was one of the sponsors of the show, really great company down there. Anyway, she brought this up, and they were just horrified that anyone would even mention eating a penguin.
Anne-Marie: [overlapping laughter]
David: It was like, WHAT? You can’t eat a penguin. So then she looks at them. She says, “Well what about kiwis, does anyone eat them?” And the looks on their faces were just priceless. They were just so shocked. You know, kiwi is actually a bird. It’s a small flightless bird, but it’s also the name that a lot of people call New Zealanders, kiwis.
David: So people, people down in New Zealand, they’re all kiwis. So she just said, “Well what about kiwis, does anyone eat them?”
David: And they just took it so personally. [laughter]
Anne-Marie: [laughter] I guess it would be like if somebody from New Zealand came here and said “Mmm, eagles, we love eating eagles.”
Anne-Marie: In our country.
David: I guess that’s true.
Anne-Marie: Did you ever try em barbecued, barbecued eagle? [laughter] It would be like, mm boy.
David: [laughter] It was classic.
Anne-Marie: Out, Out!
David: So no, I did not eat anything like that.
Anne-Marie: All right.
David: But it was a great conference. We had about 120 people from around the area. And we did lots of great tips and had great speakers: Michael Stoddard talking about transparency and printing things and Mike McHugh talking about just all kinds of wonderful things. And again as you mentioned, we’re going to hear from him in just a minute. But, in fact, why don’t we just dive in?
David: Do this. He did this tip and I just have to admit I blogged about it immediately. So the people who’ve been reading the blog religiously already have read about this. But for those of you who are more listeners than readers, you’ve got to hear this one. I really like it.
[recording and ambient sounds]
David: So I’m here at Eden Park Rugby Stadium. Do you say Rugby Stadium; is it a stadium?
Mike McHugh: I think it’s a stadium.
David: And we’re at Rugby Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. And I’m here with the world famous Mike McHugh from CreativeSweetTV and Adobe Systems. And he’s going to share a tip with us. I’m very excited to be here. It’s a beautiful day here in Auckland, and it’s a beautiful day to be hearing from Mike.
Mike: It is? Well, thanks for having me on the podcast, David. It’s very exciting for me, very exciting indeed. And hello to everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the podcast so far tonight. I think I’ve got a good tip for you.
David: We’d love to hear it.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. So we’re talking at the InDesign Conference here in Auckland. And I was doing a session on Images, In and Out and I like to, when I’m putting my files in–I don’t know about you Dave–but I like to keep everything editable whether it’s InDesign or Photoshop. So I’ve come up with a way of bringing a Camera Raw image into InDesign.
David: Ah, yes, yes.
Mike: Part of a layout.
David: Yes, I saw you do this in a session. It was mind blowing. This is great.
Mike: It’s a fairly simple process that anyone can try and for those of you that don’t know what a Camera Raw image is, it’s like a digital negative, I suppose. It can be a DNG or, in my case, a NEF file, which is a Nikon format. But a lot of the camera manufacturers have them so we open the file from Adobe Bridge just in your standard double click file, bring up Camera Raw 4. We’re up to 4.1.something.
David: [laughter] Something like that.
Mike: OK. [laughter]. We’re going to make some adjustments. There are some great little adjustments there.
David: That’s sort of an understatement there, an incredible adjustment ability. Camera Raw is one of the best ways to be making edits to images. Even now you can do that with JPEG and TIF images.
David: But with Raw files you have…
Mike: A lot more flexibility.
David: A lot more flexibility.
Mike: So that’s for another day. Yeah. But once we’ve made those adjustments, and you don’t need to be too concerned about it beause we are going to be able to get back into the Camera Raw dialogue.
David: Mm, hmm.
Mike: Because what we do before, instead of just opening the file into Photoshop, hold down the Shift key as Mac or PC, and the Open image turns to Open object.
David: Ah, yes.
Mike: And what that means is the resulting Photoshop file that we get is going to have a smart object layer in it. And that smart object layer will be the Camera Raw file. So from there it’s all plain sailing. We shift key down, Open object and then Save the resulting Photoshop file. And of course we can place the Photoshop file directly onto the page in InDesign.
David: You can scale it, rotate it. You can do whatever you want to do with it.
Mike: Whatever we want, crop it, add effects to it, whatever we want to do.
David: What if you need to make a change later, if you want to change the color? If you want to change, global edit?
Mike: You get someone else to do that for you.
Mike: We just edit original in InDesign the way we normally would; alt and option key down, then double click or using the links palette, the little pencil. I love that little pencil.
Mike: Click the little pencil and then back into Photoshop. Go to your layers panel and you will notice in the layers in Photoshop an extra little icon on that layer indicating that it is a smart object. We double click that layer. You need to click on the icon–not over to the right hand side where the text is–right on the icon there. And that will launch it back into the Camera Raw plug-in where we have all of the adjustments. The beautiful thing about Camera Raw is that any adjustments we make here are, what we call, non-destructive. So no pixels will be damaged.
David: We like that. We like that. Sometimes, you might want to make very radical changes to an image, so not destroying the image is a good thing.
Mike: Yeah, it is all a creative thing so you can try something that is really way over exposed or under exposed and know that you can always bring it back with Camera Raw. You know if we do that, we can do that on layers to a certain extent in Photoshop, but we don’t have that depth of color that you get in a Camera Raw file. Really, really quite flexible.
I know there are a lot of photographers out there now who use InDesign to put together wedding albums and such. What a great way to keep that flexibility in a layout.
David: I just love the idea that you can save out of Camera Raw. You save the Photoshop file. You come back in InDesign and it just updates on the page immediately.
Mike: Yeah. And of course, the work flow that a lot people use now is a mixed CNYK RJB work flow, and, of course, the image has come in as RJB and that’s cool.
David: That’s fine because InDesign will convert to CNYK on export anyway.
Mike: Yeah, yep yep! So it’s all good!
David: It’s very good. For me the idea of doing that on the InDesign page is especially important because oftentimes you are working Photoshop. You are, maybe, making color corrections but by the time it ends up on the InDesign page you realize that the color is not exactly right. It doesn’t match the rest of my spread. So the idea that you can very quickly go back to Photoshop and make those changes in Camera Raw non-destructively, come back to InDesign and tweak it there. It’s just brilliant – I love that!!
Mike: Yeah. And you could have pages filled with them, couldn’t you?
David: You could. For a photographer you absolutely would! My only problem with it is the file size. You can’t have large file sizes with some of these Camera Raw files.
Mike: Yeah, they can be quite large, and actually, there’s a great trick that you could play on someone in the office. It’s to create one of these files and then down sample it using the image size in Photoshop. So you could make a 25 megabite thumbnail, a 72 dpi thumbnail. But don’t tell anyone and then gradually just raise it up before their eyes. Keep increasing the resolution and eventually you can tell them you have got some special fractal equation built into Photoshop!!!
David: Right! [laughing] And keep going back into Camera Raw and increasing the resolution?
Mike: Right. It really freaks people out!
David: That is excellent! That is a tip right there. That’s a great tip! (still giggling).
Well thank you, Mike, it’s been a pleasure having you on InDesign Secrets. We hope to have you again sometime. Maybe not necessarily in a rugby stadium maybe football or…?
David: There you go. All right.
Mike: Or the footy?
Anne-Marie: Well, that’s incredible.
David: It is. You know, I think it is really clever. It is a clever use of the whole smart object thing. Now, some of the people did mention on the comments when I did do the blog post, that the problem with this tip is that your file sizes get humongous. You know that PSD file is mondo biggo. That is an issue, but it’s all a matter of balance between file size versus flexibility.
Anne-Marie: Right, right, OK.
David: Anyway, thank you Mike for that tip.
Anne-Marie: Muchas gracias, Mike.
David: And again, you all should check out Mike’s video podcast at creativesweet.tv and we will put a link there.
Anne-Marie: It’s creative sweet with s-w-e-e-t.
David: Yes, yes.
Anne-Marie: All right. Let’s go on to the Quizzler, from last episode, which was “What is the hidden pangram in InDesign and InCopy?”
David: The pangram, a phrase that uses all of the characters in the alphabet, is a pangram.
Anne-Marie: In the English alphabet, like “all good boys do fine”. David: No.
Anne-Marie: What’s the one I’m thinking of? The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
David: That is definitely one, but there’s another one that’s inside of InDesign, a totally different one.
David: It’s hiding, so we asked what is it and where do you find it. And the answer… I can’t remember the answer.
Anne-Marie: The answer is “Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow”.
David: That’s it, that’s it.
Anne-Marie: Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow, is found in preferences in story editor display in InDesign and preferences, story galley display in InCopy. It’s just showing a sample of every letter in the English alphabet so as you futz around with the appearance of story editor, make the text green, make the background yellow, that kind of stuff, it gives you a preview of what the story editor might look like with those settings.
David: Yes. We had a number of people respond and mention that. I think everybody who sent something in was correct, which was terrific. The winner pulled randomly is…do we have a drum roll sound?
Anne-Marie: [drum roll sound]
David: Good, good, good. Scott Kitts. Scott, if you are out there you are the winner. Let us know where we can send you this copy of… It’s a DVD video training of InCopyCS3 plus InDesignCS3 integration. How InCopy and InDesign work together, that Anne-Marie created for Linda.com, it is must see material if you are going to be doing anything with InCopy, for sure.
Anne-Marie: Congratulations, Scott; very good. We had some wonderful honorable mentions because they went on at length about the pangram.
Anne-Marie: Like the guy Steve, who got me. I fell for it, hook line and sinker.
David: [laughing] This was brilliant.
Anne-Marie: He said…
David: Steve Brett Snyder if you are out there…totally laugh out loud when we got your email.
Anne-Marie: Yes, we did. He said he did some research and interestingly the sentence was crafted by the famous Egyptian scribe Amos and first appears as a votive at the end of his 1650 BC papyrus which describes–and David I believe this will be of particular interest to you–which describes a method to calculate Pi.
David: [laughing] It’s true, it’s true.
Anne-Marie: Apparently, this is his hobby, investigating these kinds of things. I was just blown away. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, David is just going to freak when he hears this”.
David: And I did at first because he had all the details right–almost did have. There was a famous Egyptian scribe; he did create this piece of papyrus which was titled “The Directions for Attaining Knowledge of all Dark Things”. Which was wonderful, Steve actually mentioned, hey call me nutty but that sounds like the InDesign Secrets podcasts, the directions for attaining knowledge of all dark things. I love that; that was truly laugh out loud.
So there was enough real information there, and this papyrus does actually offer a way to calculate Pi. It’s actually in the British museum, and I did a replica of that piece of papyrus in my book “The Joy of Pi”. I did a book all about Pi, so I was very primed to believe him.
Anne-Marie: So there’s nothing in there about Sphinxes or black cats?
David: No, not at all. [laughing] There’s nothing in there about Sphinxes or judging vows or anything like that. But it was a brilliant little subterfuge. So you definitely get an honorable mention.
Anne-Marie: An honorable shout out to Steve.
Anne-Marie: And then we got a couple other people who both are using the German version, I guess, of InDesign who said that in the German version in preferences it has a literal translation or as close to literal as can be of that pangram which makes no sense because it is supposed to just be a sentence that it has every letter of the alphabet. So if you translate it to another language, it is just not going to have every letter of that alphabet. So it is basically pointless.
David: But to me the best part of that was not finding out that there was a translation error. It was Anne-Marie’s response to this where Anne-Marie immediately–we get this email and Anne-Marie immediately fires off an email to the product manager at Adobe. It says, “This is a disaster. This has to be changed in the future. I’m like, Oh Geez, Ann-Marie”. It is like the lowest priority thing to send to the product manager. But he almost immediately replies back, “All right we are on it”. Yes. And I am sending off another email that they are going to try and change it in the future versions of InDesign.
Anne-Marie: There you go.
Anne-Marie: You know where to send your requests, ladies and gentlemen. You send it to me.
David: Anne-Marie, happy year and the voice that will change the translation strings in the future versions.
Anne-Marie: Yeah. I said you probably wouldn’t be able to fit a German pangram in there, in that little tiny space.
David: No. Right.
Anne-Marie: But, at least, put the letters of the alphabet in there so that it’s kind of the point.
David: Even better to do it like a Japanese of Chinese pangram where it uses all 30,000 characters of a font.
Anne-Marie: [laughs] One long scrolling, one inch by one inch square.
David: I like that idea.
Anne-Marie: That would be good.
David: That would be good.
Anne-Marie: All right. So in honor of all this, it is not actually in honor of this contest but we came up with this idea during… When was that, David? It was at the Miami show during the live InDesign podcast. We thought it would be really cool to have a T-shirt with this saying on it, sphinx of my black quartz cat thing.
David: I can’t remember. Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.
Anne-Marie: So by the time you hear this I will have written a post and put a little screenshot of the t-shirt design on the blog. But in the meantime, you can just go to cafepress.com/indesignsecrets, one word, and you would see that saying on a bunch of different T-shirts that you can order right from there. So you will walk around with this pangram on your chest and people in the know will realize: a) it is a pangram and b) you must be a real InDesign guru.
David: Totally. Definitely pick up a T-shirt which also supports InDesign secrets so that is a double bonus.
Anne-Marie: Yeah, a couple of bucks a T-shirt.
David: OK. Now then, that is very cool. We better talk about GREP here for a second. A GREP, as we mentioned before, is a regular expression ‘persing dealy bopper’ which basically means, whenever you are looking for text that has a pattern then you can find it with GREP. So it is easy to find the word “cat”, but what if you want to find words that are three letters. Find all the words that are three letters. Or find all the words that look like telephone numbers. Or find all the words that are inside parentheses or just find all the digits. Those are the sorts of things that there is a pattern there that humans can understand, but a computer, you can’t just type it into the find-what field. Unless you go to the GREP tab of the find-change dialogue box.
Anne-Marie: That scary GREP tab; yes, go on.
David: So inside the GREP tab you can then type in special codes, GREP codes, that will let you find these kind of patterns. And we have talked about GREP a little before in the past. We have a number of really cool posts on InDesign Secrets blog about GREP. I keep finding people who are like, “GREP what?” or you say “GREP” and oh excuse [mumble] or you’re excused.
Anne-Marie: They say gesundheit.
David: Gesundheit. [laughter] I really want to keep pushing GREP. I feel it’s an incredibly powerful feature that not enough people use, or they might know about it but they just don’t know how to start using it.
The answer is start small, start with little tiny expressions and work your way up. In order to learn those codes don’t forget about the little fly out menu to the right of the Find What Field. Open Find/ Change in any of your documents, just open Find/Change, click on the GREP tab. Then in the Find What Field, there’s a little fly out menu that looks like an at sign, with a little arrow next to it. When you click on that you can choose from a number of special characters. It will say Tab or Force Line Break, Symbols, Markers, et cetera.
Anne-Marie: Or any digit, any letter, that kind of stuff.
David: Right, especially when you go down to Wildcards. That’s where it gets really cool. Let’s say you want to find any digit. You just go down to Wildcards and then choose any Digit, and it will type the code, which is backslash d. You don’t have to remember backslash d, you just pull it out of the Fly out Menu; it will type it for you in that field.
Now, if you want to find more than one digit; that was to find a single digit. If you want to find, let’s say, one of more digits, you need another code that says Find one or more of that previous character. You can do that by going to the Fly out Menu, going down to the Repeat Sub Menu and choosing one or more times. If you choose one or more times it will give you the code for that which is a plus symbol; so backslash d plus is the code for one or more digits. That’s all it takes.
Anne-Marie: One or more times is a really good way for new users to get their heads around what GREP could do because it’s one of the built in queries in the pop up menu at the top of Find/Change.
There are some built in GREP queries and if you choose the one that is multiple return to single return, that uses one of those codes. I think it is something that everyone has needed to do. You get a word file where the person separated every paragraph with an extra return, and some of the paragraphs are separated by two, or three, or four returns. So if you did this with regular text Find/Change you would search for two returns in a row and change them to one return. Right? But then you would have to repeat that over and over again until it said no more matches.
Anne-Marie: First, it would reduce four to three, three to two, and two to one. Instead you could do that one Search and Replace with GREP by saying Find two or more and replace with one.
Anne-Marie: In one Find/Change operation it’s a very simple powerful way to get started with GREP, so those repeat commands are very useful.
David: I’m really glad that you brought up the saved query thing because typing those codes is really a hassle, and you don’t want to have to remember them all the time. Once you do create a Find/Change GREP query you almost always want to save it. You just click the little save button there, and it saves it to your list and you can recall it later on.
Also, the ones that come with InDesign–you are absolutely right–those are very useful, not just for using them but also for teaching you a little bit about GREP. Definitely look through those and just try and decipher what those codes mean. There’s also a wonderful list of all the GREP codes in Live Docs and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes.
Anne-Marie: Go to the help files, look up GREP, and then scroll down to the bottom and click this page on the web. That is the Live Docs page that David just mentioned. You’ll see that people have added…because on Live Docs you can add comments, and people have added a lot of really good GREP examples that are not in the On Line Help.
To me the very best resource is the Peter Kahrel’s book. [dog barks], Zoey agrees as well, yes.
David: [laughs] Zoey likes GREP. Peter Kahrel’s book is very, very good.
Anne-Marie: GREP in InDesign CS3, it’s called. It is a PDF book, about 40 pages, and the cost is $9.95. We will put a link to that book on our show notes as well. I wrote a post about that book because I did try puzzling over the codes here and got a little bit into it but I really couldn’t understand it that well. You know, Terminal in OS10 and I’m sure the equivalent command line reader in Windows allows you to do GREP things.
Anne-Marie: And I was actually trying to write something in GREP in Terminal to do change a whole bunch of files. Yeah, that’s what I was trying. So I found some web resources about GREP and that little bit of information I learned, I tried to replicate in InDesign and it just didn’t work.
So, Peter Kahrel’s book showed some real world examples: if you want to change this into that, or my example that I use all the time is find anything within parentheses and change it. Like apply a format to it. Make everything in between parentheses bold or italic or apply a character style. How can you actually do that? Like what would be the actual code?
And it’s actually pretty simple. So I wrote a blog post about it and showed how you can quickly swap out the characters for parentheses with things like quotes or m-dashes and I think the title of the post is “Useful Find Between, GREPstria”.
David: We’ll put links to all of those. In fact, if you just go to Indesignsecrets.com/GREP there’s a list there of cool GREP resources. We’ll probably just link directly to that.
But that’s something that you can keep in mind whenever you are playing with GREP. You can always go to Indesignsecrets.com/GREP, and that will take you right to it. Pretty cool, huh.
Anne-Marie: Really. How did that happen?
David: Well, it’s magic. That’s actually been there for a while.
Anne-Marie: Wait a minute.
David: Didn’t know about that, did you? It’s a secret! Ha, ha.
Anne-Marie: Look at that.
David: How about that.
Anne-Marie: When did you add that?
David: Oh, I don’t know, a while back.
Anne-Marie: Really. Useful.
David: Yeah, well, it’s useful for me because I keep forgetting stuff about GREP. You know, it’s all codes. It’s messy code stuff. And so I’m forever needing reminders so that’s…
Anne-Marie: That’s so nice. Look at that, all the links, the stuff that we’ve written about GREP, there it is, there it is right there.
David: Cool. So that’s a good place to go, but even though it is messy, it’s really worth learning a little bit about it because you can do a lot with just a little and that stuff. But one other important thing about GREP: as you mentioned about the Terminal thing, the GREP codes that you do use in one program doesn’t necessarily work in another program.
So InDesign has some of its own codes and does not necessarily match every other program out there. It’s kind of annoying.
Anne-Marie: The general concept though is the same. And a lot of the codes work.
Anne-Marie: When you find sets of stuff and you replace like set one with set two or that kind of thing. But GREP is useful in all sorts of places and there are…. I know Michael Murphy in “The InDesigner” talked a lot before GREP fine change, he used to export files to InDesign Tag Text or INX and then he would open them up in BBEdit or TextEdit or I think on the PC you can use Ultra Edit, and they have very powerful GREP fine changes.
So you could run the fine changes there and then import that file back into InDesign.
David: Yeah. On the Mac, not Text Edit but Text Wrangler. Yeah, it’s a wonderful, free editor from the people who make BBEdit actually, but it’s great. It will do lots of great things.
Anne-Marie: And the manual that comes with Text Wrangler has a chapter on using GREP fine change in that program.
David: Cool. Oh, I should go check that out. One of the things that you can do with that and your point is very well taken because if you are using CS2 or earlier, and you want to do this GREP fine change, you can export as InDesign Tag Text, do your GREP search and replace some place else and bring it back in. That would work quite well.
But you mentioned INX; I actually just wrote a quick INX thing before the show that would… you export your whole document as INX and then open it in a program like Text Wrangler. Let’s say you want to find every place the stroke… find any stroke, find any stroke in the file, whether it’s a one point stroke or a 10 point stroke or a 100 point stroke. Find any of those and change them all to half point strokes.
That’s the kind of thing that there is just no way to do in fine change within InDesign, because you can do a fine change with object styles or object formatting, but you can’t say “find any stroke”. But in INX you export INX; you could easily write a GREP thing that will just find all your strokes and change all of them to half point. So, pretty easy with GREP and then just open INX file back up in InDesign and it’s done.
So, very, very powerful with a very, very small amount of GREP knowledge.
Anne-Marie: All right, time for the Obscure InDesign Feature of the Week. [playful echo noises]
David: What is this episode’s Obscure InDesign Feature of the Week?
Anne-Marie: Fixed column width. Lots of consonants in there.
Anne-Marie: Fixed column width.
David: And where do you find a fixed column width, Anne-Marie?
Anne-Marie: You find it in the column width panel. [laughter]
David: Or in the fixed width menu [laughs over] that bats fly out.
David: There are a lot of panels in InDesign, but the fixed width panel is not one of them.
Anne-Marie: You select any text frame and then you go to object text frame options or press “command/Control B.” All right, command B or control B on a PC. There you will see a check box for fixed column width in the column section.
David: Which lets you define the column section in general, of course. It just lets you define the number of columns you have in your text frame and the amount of space between that. That’s the gutter and then the width of those columns.
So a lot of people don’t realize that if you want a column width of exactly, let’s say, 13 picas, it’s easy. You don’t have to figure out, OK, I’ve got this amount and this amount. You just type in 13 picas there, and you will get an exactly 13-pica width column. And that will actually change the width of your text frame.
Anne-Marie: So you’re just talking about the width field here. We’re not talking about fixed column width yet.
David: We’re not there yet; just the width field. If you change the width field to an actual measurement, it will change the width of your text frame.
It will actually change your text frame itself, which freaks some people out but it’s really useful. The thing though, if you click OK, and then later you just happen to drag the width of your text frame, you make it some other width, then your column width changes, too.
David: Right. So, that’s kind of a problem. If you are working in a document, let’s say a magazine or a newspaper where you always have to have exactly the same width, that’s a real problem. You don’t want those widths to change.
So enter fixed column width. So, you’ll go back into text stream options and turn on the fixed column width check box.
Anne-Marie: That’s right. And then when you click OK, of course, you want to make sure that it is the width that you want before you turn on fixed column width. Let’s say that it’s 12 picas is how wide you want the columns to be. Turn on fixed column width and click OK and now when you resize the text frame it will only resize to even multiples of that column.
Anne-Marie: And so it will reduce the number of columns. If you make it too small, it becomes three columns. If you make it really wide, it becomes eight columns and so on, which is actually perfect for a lot of publications.
David: Absolutely, it is extremely useful for if you are trying to create a template for somebody to use. You don’t want them to mess around with it and have your columns slightly too wide. That feature is very, very useful because when that’s on you cannot make the half column or a third column or whatever. So, it’s like Snap 2. It’s like a Snap two Guide thing, but it’s Snap two columns.
Anne-Marie: And the tip is to create an empty text frame with fixed column width and however wide you want it to be and then save that as an object style.
David: Yeah. Ooh, good.
Anne-Marie: Right? And then anytime that you can either select the object style before you start dragging out a text frame, or select any existing text frame and click on the name of the object style to make it automatically snap to the exact column width you want with the however many number of columns can fit in that text frame.
David: So, that is fixed column width and that is it for Episode 80, number 80. How could we possibly have made it to 80 already?
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And until we meet again, this is David Blatner and Anne-marie Conception for InDesign Secrets.