Los Angeles InDesign User Group

Building Books and Other Long Documents

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys, California

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Original Event Page



By Alvin Takamori


In a continuing effort to spread knowledge about InDesign to all corners of Los Angeles County, on June 18, the Los Angeles InDesign User Group  met at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys. It was a long trek through rush hour traffic for some, but a convenience for anyone who lives in the Valley.


Wherever you came from, no one traveled as far as our guest speaker Nigel French, a graphic designer, artist author and trainer from the UK. He wrote InDesign Type: Professional Typography with Adobe InDesign. He also writes about type in a column for InDesign Magazine and contributes to the training library of lynda.com.

A full room saw Nigel explain some of his techniques to work efficiently in InDesign to produce books and long documents. An important step he described is to take the time to plan and setup your InDesign document. Create a flexible master page with grid lines for the margins, columns and rows. Nigel used guides to divide the page into 12 columns. He could then overlay separate layers with 2, 3, 4 and 6 columns using the 12 column master page as a guide.


Similarly, he divided the page horizontally, line by line with a number gauge in another layer on the side. This allows him to find a specific element on any page by referring to the exact line where it is located. Turn on Align Text to Grid and the grid values will override the type leading. For instance, if you created a grid of lines separated by 12 points, text with 13 point leading would jump to 24 points.


Another way to keep a document organized is to maintain order using layers. Nigel creates one layer for text and another for pictures. Those might be subdivided into more layers depending on the content. A repeating element like a logo should be made into a Library Item and to keep track of it, regardless of which layer you paste it into, make sure you have Paste Remembers Layers checked.


Another organizational feature to use is Section Markers under Layout, Numbering & Section Options. Typically, you might place a section marker at the beginning of each chapter in a book. Also, the opening page of each chapter usually looks different from other pages, so you could set up a Paragraph Style for that.


After establishing a basic setup Nigel pointed out some shortcuts that can be used to save time. First, organize fonts. Nigel uses Typekit to manage his font library. He recommends designating the most commonly used fonts as favorites, so that you aren’t wasting time searching for them. You’ll also want to do the same for the glyphs that you use the most.


Nigel likes using scripts for shortcuts. There is a script that takes the columns from a single text frame and breaks them up into separate frames or takes separate frames and joins them into one with multiple columns. There are also scripts to take threaded (connected) text frames and break them into independent frames or to join individual frames together. You could also use a script to break a thread to one text frame and skip to the next frame.


Nigel demonstrated a lot during his brief presentation. He provided tips using the Story Editor, Paragraph Styles, Character Styles, Style Sequences, Nested Styles, the Find and Change feature, Mapping Word Styles and GREP Styles.


Text frames in Object Styles can have Paragraph Styles imbedded in sequence so that you can instruct it to apply one style then the next one. Graphic Frames in Object Styles should have the Frame Fitting option set. If you choose Auto-Fit and same gutters, placing the cursor in the gap between graphic frames you can live-adjust the spacing and the images automatically adjust to the change in frame size.


In summary, there are seven features of InDesign that Nigel French uses to work efficiently in a book or long document. First, he sets up Master Pages and grids. Second, he organizes Layers. Third, he creates Paragraph Styles. Fourth, he creates Character Styles, which should be kept to a minimum, because whenever possible it’s better to place rules in Paragraph Styles. Fifth, he creates Object Styles. Sixth, he creates and names swatches. Seventh, he uses Library Items. In CC a Paragraph Style can be stored in the Library, which is easier to share with other documents.


Our gratitude to Nigel for sharing some of his expertise. He covered a lot of information, more than this summary can cover. To capture the details of the steps Nigel took to do things in InDesign, you really needed to be at the meeting, even if it was in the Valley.





PDF listing scripts, plug-ins, articles and movies related to long documents graciously provided by Nigel French



Farthest Attendee Prize Winner


Expo Creative Asset Manager for Mac from Insider Software—Alonna Farrar



Raffle Prize Winners


eDocker CREATE! 6 month subscription—Daniel Carmin

Adobe Creative Cloud. 12 month subscription—Rupert Reyneke

Stock Layouts. Full access to Stock Layout template library. 3 month subscription—Param Sharma

Markzware. Any single product. 12 month subscription—Heidi Okuhara

Font Agent Pro 6 from Insider Software—Rupert Reyneke

InMotion Hosting. Web hosting and free domain—Alan Gilbertson

Fotolia. 3 month subscription. 5 images per month—Saul Miller

O'Reilly Media. Ebook—Heidi Okuhara

TypeDNA. Font management software—Rupert Reyneke

Digital-Tutors. 1 month subscription—Param Sharma, Jasper Johal

LA Web Professionals meeting tickets—Alvin Takamori, Dallas Dorsett Mathers, Rupert Reyneke, Pat Cates



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