Sometimes you have to use Adobe InDesign cheats to get your work done faster. If you are a designer you just want time to design. Adobe InDesign should do the heavy lifting for you and not the other way around.
InDesign’s strength lies in multiple page documents, but I use it for almost everything. InDesign’s ability to automate tasks makes it stand out. These are advanced techniques and I don’t recommend trying these things if you’re just starting out. If you would like to learn more about the basics of InDesign you can go here.
So here we go:
One. GREP. or how I used Indesign cheats like this to stay sane
GREP stands for globally search a regular expression and print. GREP sounds scary if you’re not a coder, however when you learn to use it, the results can be amazing. Basically, GREP finds patterns of text in InDesign and lets you manipulate it automatically. Now if that sounds a little strange, please bear with me, let me explain using a real world example.
Let’s say, I have a table of numbers in a financial report. All the numbers are either positive numbers or negative numbers. Accountants use “()” to denote a negative number. However when imported into InDesign some apps, like Excel, convert those (numbers) to “-” negative numbers. This can be a pain, so we use InDesign’s “Search using GREP” tab to find all the instances of negative numbers and convert them to brackets. This would have taken a considerable amount of time to find every instance and change it manually. In 5 seconds the job is done. We can move on to the next challenge.
GREP requires knowing the correct code to fire the correct search. This can be a daunting task. However you can find most of the more common ones here. Also if you’d like to find out more about GREP check this vid below:
Two. Searching by style in style
Searching by GREP is powerful but the basic search command can also help you find parts of your document with different character and paragraph styles. This can help you standardise your styles and make sure you haven’t missed any in the document.
You can search for a headline style, for example, and change it to a body text style format across the whole document. Additionally changing the format of all instances of the text “Bold” text to “Italics” and viceversa is simple. This is a big help when dealing with large amounts of text on multiple pages.
You can find out more about using Style’s and Find/Change formats here.
Three. The Liquid Page Rule. InDesign cheats by making the page work for you and not against you
So you’ve created a Facebook post that is 1080px by 1080px (a square) and you need to resize it for the following: Facebook cover (851px by 315px, a rectangle) and website carousel images ranging from 1200px wide to mobile sizes of 800px wide. In the old days you would create a new document or new art-board every single time and either copy and paste the elements and shift them around to fit. How can we save time doing this you wonder?
Say hello to InDesign’s “Liquid Page” rule. This is not really a “tool” but a range of settings that enable you to change the page size and shift all the elements around automatically. Now, a word of warning: this takes practice and in the beginning you run the risk of frustrating yourself if you don’t plan ahead. So follow along this tutorial and try it yourself.
Four. Data Merging or Indesign cheats that really do things for you
Picture this: you have to build over 15 Facebook posts for your client. Each post contains a photo of a unique product and the price. (Let’s not worry about the Facebook 20% text rule in this case, clients always want a price in there). You also have to put the name of the product or a description of the product. “Fifteen posts!?” you gasp. “That will take me a few hours!” Nope. Not if you know a little bit of Excel or Google Sheets. You can automate this by just clicking a few buttons. That’s it. This is called a “Data Merge”.
This video explains the process. Or you could go here and read the step by step process. Basically you are telling InDesign to populate text boxes with text that will pull from a CSV (comma-separated values) file and it will generate a new file and add as many pages based on your Master Page styles. Speaking of Master Pages, if you’re not in the habit of using these, then get into it as soon as possible.
Five. Packaging. Cheat at putting everything away.
So you’ve completed the job and need to archive or send the whole thing to someone else. No fear Packaging is here. Packaging isn’t a new process. Quark had it years before. Basically you choose File-Package… and it gives you options to pull all files (images and fonts) that are used in the document into a single folder. Handy isn’t it? So handy Illustrator has its own “Package” command and it does pretty much the same thing. You can then zip up that folder and send via dropbox to whomever you please.
You might get a warning about copying fonts. That’s ok. you’re not selling them you’re only using this feature to archive. Besides, most of the time your artwork belongs to the client and when they request it, you should send it.
That’s it! Indesign cheats that work
That’s five Adobe InDesign cheats that I’ve found that make my life easier. InDesign is a powerful program and I always advocate using it for single or multipage applications over using Adobe Illustrator. I hope this has helped you make your life easier and if it has let me know in the comments and happy designing!
Ian is the owner and primary content producer for this website. He is a designer but loves technology. Let him help you with your online presence and business. Get in contact here