New bike tag:
Recently, I was out with a group of InDesign geek friends (yes, we travel in packs) having drinks after a day-long seminar. Mind you, this is a group of some of the brightest — and funniest — guys I know. We’d had a few rounds of debilitating laughter already, so we were primed to laugh easily. As we were sharing keyboard shortcuts (or something like that), a woman from a nearby table came over and struck up a conversation with one of the guys. Soon, she began handing out her business cards. In the dim light, we each looked down at the card she’d handed us, and apparently all had the same thought simultaneously, finally voiced by one of the guys: “Uh, I can’t pronounce your last name.” Loosened up by earlier laughing fits, we all started chuckling. Finally, someone said it aloud: “Well, I think she’s Polish. Or maybe Czech.” That was the last straw, and we dissolved in the final laughing fit of the evening (well, maybe you had to be there…) Let me explain. Here’s a recreation of the card, with the name and company changed to protect the kerning-impaired. Squint to replicate looking at it under subdued lighting.
The professional abbreviation, CITP.CPA, is so tightly set, and so close to the name, that a casual reader reads it all as one unit, seeing “CITPCPA” as the last name. Of course, a careful re-reading decodes it correctly. But after a couple of Bailey’s, it’s fairly hilarious.
Here, I’ve reworked the name and title to prevent such hilarity. The dual professional designations are separated by a slash, and generous kerning before and after the slash makes it unambiguous. See? Good kerning isn’t just a nicety—it’s a must.
Disclaimer: Any resemblance to the business card of a real person, living, dead, or undead, is purely coincidental. Professional driver on closed course. Your kerning values may vary. No offense is intended to Polish or Czech individuals, or any other vowel-limited group.
This was brought to my attention by a friend at EBSCO Media.
The scenario: You’ve created a dieline in Adobe Illustrator, which uses the manually created global spot color “Dieline.” It’s set to, say, a fluorescent green for easy identification.
Place the AI file in InDesign; the dieline spot color is added to the Swatches panel. So far, so good.
Select the dieline art and choose Edit Original.
In Illustrator, change the spec for the dieline spot color to, say, red, and save the file.
Return to InDesign. Although the Links panel shows that the link is updated, the swatch appearance and the artwork appearance have not changed.
The only way to fix this is to delete the artwork, then delete the swatch and and re-import the artwork.
NOTE: Sometimes it DOES work as it should (i.e., updating the link DOES change the appearance of the artwork and swatch.) But most of the time, it doesn’t.
And…If you use a genuine PANTONE spot color from one of the sanctioned color books, it behaves as it should: change to another PANTONE color in Illustrator, and InDesign will update the swatch and the placed artwork.
Since you’d probably be using the homegrown-spot approach only when you’re creating components such as dielines and varnish plates, the actual color really isn’t important: It’s only important that a plate is generated. But it’s still odd that either InDesign ignores the change, or Illustrator doesn’t successfully communicate it. Guess it’s Just One of Those Things.
You may not have considered this, but software has to be regionalized to accommodate multiple languages. As you might expect, translating technical terms and interface components can be a challenge. But it’s important to make it easy for end-users to interact with the software.
In that spirit, I propose this change to the Buttons panel in InDesign, to be deployed in the Southeast U.S., where I live:
Apple’s iPad paved the way, and competing tablets are inevitable. An intriguing post on the Adobe site hints at future tools for creating engaging content for multiple platforms. Watch Colin Fleming’s video here.
Can the Star Trek TriCorder™ be far behind?
In the olden days (pre-CS5), I’d build a book cover in one page, based on the dimensions of the front and back covers, plus the width of the spine. That approach was fine — unless the spine width changed. But now, using the spiffy new Multiple Page Size feature in InDesign CS5, it’s much easier to deal with changing spines. Here’s how: Continue reading →
A student brought her MacBook to class and asked me to troubleshoot her new install of CS5. It would lock up when starting up, with the SBBD (Spinning Beach Ball of Death). I tried resetting preferences, to no avail. She had no third-party plug-ins, no font auto-activation — none of the common culprits. It was a clean install.
Poking through the Adobe forums, though, I came across a thread on the same problem. One poster found that deleting the SING.InDesignPlugin cured the problem.
Sure enough, that did the trick! She is now SBBD-free, and InDesign launches and runs with no problem. I didn’t have this problem on either my desktop Mac or my laptop, so I don’t know why it affects some folks but not others. But I’m passing it on in hopes it will help others.
The plug-in is here:
Applications> Adobe> InDesign CS5> Plug-Ins> Text> SING.InDesignPlugin
The forum thread is here (search for the poster “lipstickdesign”):
A number of my clients are construction-related groups who are planning to use InDesign for proposals and other company materials. Previously, they’ve used Microsoft Word and Publisher, and found it frustrating to be creative. If you’ve ever tried been forced to do page layout in Word, I’m sure you can sympathize!
Most of these clients want to keep the “look” of their new InDesign documents in keeping with previous materials. But it’s tough to create templates when you’re still learning the program, so many of these companies have contracted with experienced designers to create the templates for them.
Since I like to see typical client files before training (so I have an idea of what they need to know), I often have the opportunity to deconstruct these supplied template files before the client starts using them. And it’s a good thing I do. With only one exception, I’ve found that the designers are not giving my clients a very good start! Clearly, they need to be asking more questions before cranking up InDesign.
Some considerations when building templates for a client: Continue reading →
InDesign allows you to create custom stroke styles. If you’re tasteful, you can create interesting dashed effects or multiple-stripe borders. If you’re willing to be tacky, you can use some of InDesign’s hidden Easter eggs to take it even farther.
To get started, choose Stroke Styles from the Stroke panel menu (or the Control Panel menu). Choose the Dash option (this won’t work with the Dotted or Stripe options). The settings don’t matter — what’s important is the name. Name your new custom style “Lights,” and click OK. Now you’ll see a little strand of Christmas lights at the bottom of your list of strokes. Whee!
Click OK again to exit the custom stroke style dialog. Now you can apply your festive new string of lights to a frame. While you can only apply a simple solid stroke to text, if you convert text to outlines, that restriction is lifted. Mwah-ha-ha.
Create some text (preferably bold enough to give your lights some elbow room), then select the text frame and choose Type > Create Outlines. Choose the Lights stroke style from the Stroke pull-down in the Control panel, and set the weight of the stroke sufficiently high to make the lights visible (probably somewhere in the 5-10 point range). You can apply a fill color, but your choice of stroke color will be ignored. If you choose a Gap color, it will appear behind the lights, filling the width of the stroke weight you chose.
I’m not saying it’s right. This may fall into the JBYCDMYS category (Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should), but that just adds to the fun. All we need now is Debbie Gibson Boone singing “You Light Up My Type.” 🙂
You can’t select bulbs and change their color in InDesign, but you can select the art and copy/paste into Illustrator and modify it there. Then just paste back into InDesign.
By the way, there are others: try creating stroke styles named Feet, Woof, and Happy.
When you package a document in InDesign CS5, the fonts are stored in a folder named “Document Fonts.” And there’s a special significance to that folder name. Open an InDesign file, and it looks around its current directory for that folder. If it finds it, whoopee, it automatically activates the fonts in the folder, without invoking a font manager. The fonts are active only for InDesign, only for that document, and only as long as that file is open. Those fonts are not available to other applications, or other documents (even if the “sanctioned” file is currently open). It’s a very personal relationship.
This feature ensures that the correct fonts are used when you package the job and send it to a commercial printer. But what if the printer has an established way of organizing customer files that breaks up the set? Many prepress departments have standardized directories similar to this:
—-Page Layout Files (working)
—-Original Customer Files
In this arrangement, the original InDesign file is inside the “Original Customer Files” folder, and its little friends the fonts are in the Fonts folder. And a modified InDesign file (altered to fix any problems or refine the file for the printer’s workflow) is in the “Page Layout Files (working)” folder. There’s no line of communication between this second-generation working InDesign file and the fonts folder. When you open the file, it assumes it’s fontless, and you get the “Missing Fonts” message and the dreaded Pepto-Bismol® highlighting.
But there’s a workaround: Place an alias (or shortcut) to the fonts folder in the same directory as the working InDesign file. Just make sure the stunt-double folder is named Document Fonts (not “Document Fonts alias” or “Shortcut to Document Fonts”) — the name of the original folder doesn’t matter. The InDesign file is happy again, you get to keep your folder structure, and all is well in Fontworld.
(Thanks to Rick @ Garner Printing for asking about this.)