Here are a few tips that I’ve found useful when tooling around
Adobe InDesign. There are no big revelations here, but sometimes it’s the little things that make us more efficient:
Of Tables and Tabs
If you create a lot of charts and graphs with InDesign, you’ve probably used tables. And if you have, you’ve probably also noticed that you can’t use the Tab key in a table cell the way you would normally in a text block: when you press the key, it just moves you to the next cell in the table. So what do you do if you want to align a column of numbers (prices, for example) along the decimal point?
It’s simple. Select the text with decimal points in the table—the quickest way is to just click just above the top cell in the column to select all the text in that column. Then type Command-Shift-T (or Window -> Tabs) and select the Decimal Tab Stop in the palette and click in the palette ruler where you want the decimals to be aligned. InDesign should align your column of prices on the decimal, even without you even needing to insert a tab character.
If you want to add an actual tab character wherever you want it, simply use Option-Tab instead. Or do it the “hard way” by choosing Type -> Insert Special Character -> Tab.
When working in Adobe InDesign and you want to move an object a precise amount, you can easily do it by selecting the object and double-clicking on the Selection tool (the solid black arrow tool) which opens the Move dialog box. From there you can enter in both a horizontal and vertical amount that you want to move the object. Entering negative numbers will move the object either to the left and up, while positive numbers will move the object down and to the right.
Also in the Move dialog box is another nifty feature that allows you to duplicate that object by clicking the Copy button, rather than hitting OK. This will allow you duplicated the object and move it at the same time. And finally, you can add a rotation to the object using the Angle input area as well. That’s three tasks in one dialog box. Pretty handy!
Jumping to Pages
If you’re working on a long, text-heavy InDesign document, you probably hate the process of scrolling and jumping to different pages to get to certain points in a text story with linked text boxes that span multiple pages. Even with InDesign CS3’s new page thumbnails feature, it can be a lot of extra clicking and scrolling. Below are a few keyboard shortcuts that will help ease the tension a little:
- Command-Down Arrow moves to the beginning of the next paragraph.
- Command-End moves you to the end of the current text article (or block).
- Command-Shift-End moves your cursor to the end of the article, even if it isn’t showing (usually due to being overset in a short text box).
- Command-Shift-Home moves your cursor to the beginning of the article.
[James Dempsey runs the
blog, which offers tips, tricks and opinion on a variety of design topics.]