The Smart Text Reflow feature in InDesign is quite useful: if you add more text to a multi-page story, new pages are generated at the end of the story, avoiding overset text. It’s on by default: you can turn it off, or you can modify the preferences so that Smart Text Reflow applies not just to master text frames. It can be a runaway train, but usually it’s an asset.
However, I’ve discovered an odd (and rare) bug with Smart Text Reflow. You’ll only encounter it under specific circumstances, if you perform the steps in a particular order. It happened to me while teaching an InDesign class, and it took some time to figure out that Smart Text Reflow was the culprit. I thought I’d spare you the aggravation by describing the problem so you can avoid it:
- Create a facing-page document.
- On the master spread, create a placeholder graphic frame on right page.
- Create a text frame on left page of the master, create another text frame on the right page of master, and thread the frames from left to right.
- Go to a right-hand document page in a spread—not page 1 (say, page 3), and place an image in the placeholder graphic frame.
- Go to the left page of the same spread, and place at least enough text to flow into both threaded text frames on the spread. Don’t hold down Shift; just allow the text to flow according to the default Smart Text Reflow action.
- Result: Graphic frame disappears, “flushed” to the next document page after the end of text flow. Doesn’t matter if the graphic frame is above or below the text frame, or even if it touches the master page text frame. The graphic frame may or may not have text wrap applied.
This behavior does not occur if:
- You place the text before placing the graphic.
- You shift-click to Autoflow the text (even though it’s going to flow anyway).
- The graphic frame is on the left-hand page.
- You start flowing text on page 1 or any other right-hand page.
What’s happening? Apparently Smart Text Reflow completely takes over: “The text must live! All other frames, get out of the way!” Keep in mind that the circumstances are specific and rare, and you may never encounter it. (If you teach from the Classroom in a Book, step carefully in Lesson 3.)