Los Angeles InDesign User Group

10th Anniversary Meeting

10 Years of InDesign: Blatner's Favorite Tips

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Golden Age Theater, 7051 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90028

See the Photos

Original Event Page



By Alvin Takamori


It was September 17, 2015. The patience of the crowd was much appreciated, as they filed into the L. Ron Hubbard Theatre in Hollywood. In a land of fantasy, where costumed characters roamed the street outside, we sat in a nice room seated by small, round tables with pinwheel sandwiches, salad and snacks and sodas that were free for the taking. We faced an elevated stage framed by wood molding. There was a nice, big screen and great lighting and audio. Were we in the right place? DeShawn was Master of Ceremonies. This was normal…but somehow he seemed better than usual. Then Alan Bell, the manager of the Los Angeles InDesign User Group does a terrific, heartfelt introduction of the guest presenter. Could it be… the author of Real World InDesign, InDesign Breakthroughs, Real World Photoshop and a dozen other books, David Blatner!  Nah! Must be one of those Hollywood impersonaters like fake Elvis or something.


Then again, this was no ordinary meeting of the Los Angeles InDesign User Group. It was the 10-Year Anniversary! Apparently, the unassuming Mr. Bell has the connections of a Hollywood celebrity. Checkout the acknowledgements of the LAIDUG anniversary from Mark Ridley Thomas, Supervisor of the 2nd District for the County of Los Angeles, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, representing California’s 54th Assembly District, Holly Mitchell, representing California’s 30th State Senate District, and Karen Bass, representing the U.S. House of Representative’s 37th District. How did Alan pull this off? Maybe it’s more Hollywood fakery and Alan’s been honing his Photoshop skills. However, he did persuade Nigel French to design the LAIDUG 10th Anniversary logo. So maybe Alan has the clout to get David Blatner…


From the beginning, we were instantly mesmerized by the first InDesign trick demonstrated. Three clicks on a keyboard and an entire page of plain type was transformed into a neatly organized design with titles, columns and font styles. What magic was this? I guess it really is Blatner. A key was to utilize the InDesign feature Next Style. I hesitate to try to explain it in any detail, because it would fail in comparison to the clear, concise explanation of the speaker, but it’s all about planning ahead and taking a few minutes to set up Character Styles, Paragraph Styles, and Object Styles.


The theme of the day was how to work smarter and faster. Next, another feature that could help to expedite workflow was highlighted. You’ve got a long list of styles that you created. Instead of pulling up the Style palette and scrolling through that list each time you want to apply one, hit Command-Return to pull up the Quick Apply feature, which brings up a window of all your styles. Type in a few letters of the style you want and it jumps to it. Hit Return and your style is applied to the selected type.


Want text at an angle, but with each line starting from the same baseline? Create a text frame and fill it with the text you want then switch to the direct selection tool. Skew it at a negative angle, for instance –30 degrees. Add 90 degrees to that, in this example that would be 60 degrees. Switch back to the Selection tool and rotate the entire text box by that amount.


Need a bullet on the right side of your text? Fill with Placeholder Text then choose a language like Hebrew or Arabic that goes from right to left.


Before the break, Andrew Keith Strauss, a founding member of LAIDUG, provided a couple of valuable tips.  This has come up before, but it bears repeating. Before installing 2015 Creative Cloud, go to the advanced options and check Do Not Uninstall Old Versions, unless you want to lose previous versions of your programs. Also, backup your old fonts because going forward Adobe is dropping many fonts that used to come with its programs. For instance, Adobe will only provide Minion Pro Regular. You’ll have to get Bold and Italic somewhere else.


On the occasion of LAIDUG’s 10th Anniversary there were so many raffle prizes, the first of two sets of drawings was conducted at the end of the break. Congratulations to all the lucky winners.


But, let’s go back to the presentation. The next magic InDesign trick performed was how to interlock two shapes, like the links on a chain. Create the two doughnut shapes with one overlapping the other. Select the one underneath and copy it, then drag a frame over the intersection where you want the bottom shape to appear to rise over the top of the other link. Use Paste Into to copy the bottom object into the new frame and the illusion is complete.


On the rare occasion that you encounter a printer who still requires fonts converted to outlines, there’s a better way to do it than to use the Convert Text to Outline feature, which loses any kerning among other issues. Create a transparent object on the page you need to convert. It could be 1%, so that it doesn’t show. Then use InDesign’s Flatten Transparency feature, which only comes up if you make the file compatible to Acrobat 4. Later versions don’t require transparency to be flattened. On a long document, you’ll want to place the transparent object on a master page to convert the text on every page. If you have a graphic that uses fonts, you need to add a transparent object on the graphic to convert that type.


The next topic that was presented was useful scripts and plug-ins. In InDesign under the Window menu, you can scroll down to Utilities and pull out Scripts and then a folder called Javascript to find a script that creates crop marks among other things. The script automatically places the crop marks in a separate layer, so it’s easy to delete and start over, if you don’t like them. Another script in that folder is Make Grid. It allows you to take a text box and replicate it in a grid pattern.


Speaking of grids, if you need to change the spacing between a grid of photos, don’t use the Gap Tool. Instead, hold the Space Bar as you move your photos, this way you don’t alter the size of the images.


There were more scripts that were discussed. There is a script for transposing a table. In other words take all the information in the top row of cells and switch them over to the first column and vice versa. There’s a script to alphabetize a list. There’s also one to update your index if you add pages to the middle of a document. The Adobe Calendar Wizard is a great script for making a calendar.


Then there are some useful plug-ins. DTP Tools has Quality Assurance, a plug-in, which is a handy way to check a document for problems like hidden objects, multiple punctuation or spaces, extra returns between paragraphs, unclosed parenthesis, and more. Teacup Software has a couple of nice plug-ins. One is Pattern Maker, which is a quick, easy way to fill an object with a repeating pattern of dots, circles, spirals, scales, etc. They also have a product called Barcode Maker, which is self-explanatory.


The new Paragraph Shading feature in InDesign not only creates a nice color rectangle to highlight paragraphs, but if you make it really thin and shift it over, you can create a nice color line.


Another handy tool is the Color Theme Tool.  By running the tool over an object or a series of objects on the screen, the tool captures the colors and you can make them into a set of swatches. Under the options dialog box, you can choose if the swatches are RGB or CMYK.


How about a keyboard shortcut? The default shortcut to toggle between Normal view and Preview mode is the W key. Which is fine unless you’re in a text box, in which case you get a typed W. So it might be a good idea to create your own shortcut. Go to the Edit menu and scroll down to Keyboard Shortcuts. In the pop-up menu under Product Area, select Tools and scroll to find Toggle view setting between default and preview and make a New Set with your custom shortcut.


As you can see, there was a lot covered and I probably missed a thing or two. Also these written descriptions aren’t as clear and detailed as what David Blatner presented. Plus you don’t have the visuals and his engaging presentation style, which kept everyone awake, even on a late weeknight. However, you can find a lot of the information David presented and much more if you go to the website InDesignSecrets.com.


At the end of the presentation the audience had the opportunity to ask questions of Mr Blatner. There was also the second round of raffle prizes, which included a one-year subscription to the Creative Cloud. Can’t win if you aren’t there! And speaking of being there, a couple flew in from Hawaii especially for the meeting doubtless assuming they'd win the "farthest attendee" prize. But, as it turned out, a third person had also flown in from Hawaii! Who would have thunk it? We made sure that all three people received "farthest attendee" prizes.


Finally, the evening concluded with the distribution of LAIDUG 10th Anniversary goody bags. The bags themselves make nice shopping bags, thanks to Inmotion Hosting for providing those. For those who didn’t pay for one, there was nothing fancy inside, some commemorative t-shirts and USB drives, a mug, buttons, a gadget grip and a choice of something like a mousepad. Not exactly Hollywood celebrity swag, but after all, you had a free dinner with a great show.



Door Prize Winner


Future Media Concepts. $1500.00 toward any classes—Angela De Leon



Farthest Attendee Prize Winners

(both came to the meeting from Hawaii)


SkillForge. 3 day InDesign CC class—Jack D. Diem

Beats by Dre Studio Wireless Headphones—Leslie Sears



Silent Auction Winner


The InDesign Conference. Pass to Post-Conference Tutorials—Chris English



Raffle Prize Winners


eDocker CREATE! 6 month subscription—Dickson Gee

Adobe Creative Cloud. 12 month subscription—Golleen Gates

Beats by Dre Studio Wireless Headphones—John Doyle

DocsFlow from Em Software—Douglas Wade

WordsFlow from Em Software—Trish Weber Hall

PDF2ID Professional v4.5 from Recosoft—Dan Steinbrocker

Stock Layouts. Full access to Stock Layout template library. 3 month subscription—Alicia Adams

Teacup Software InDesign plug-ins (DataLinker, BarcodeMaker and PatternPack)—Aram Chobanian, Nancy Fox

LinkOptimizer from Zevrix—Greg Saunders

in5 from Ajar Productions—Aram Chobanian

Markzware. Q2ID. 12 month subscription—Nancy Fox

Astute Graphics Illustrator plug-ins (VectorScribe, ColliderScribe and Autosaviour Pro)—William Baughman

Output Factory from Zevrix—Trish Weber Hall

Expo Creative Asset Manager for Mac from Insider Software—Robert Smith

Indiscripts Book Pack (IndexMatic Pro, BookBarcode Pro and HurryCover Pro)—Margaret McGlynn

Font Agent Pro 6 from Insider Software—Nancy Fox

Indiscripts Typography Pack (IndyFont Pro and Wordalizer Pro)—Trish Weber Hall

InMotion Hosting. Web hosting and free domain—Jennifer Rhymes

DTP Tools Cloud for InDesign. 6 month subscription—Jack D. Diem

Interactive InDesign CC from Focal Press—Chris English

Fotolia. 3 month subscription. 5 images per month—John Doyle, Christopher Sullivan, Janice Wismar

O'Reilly Media. Ebook—Nancy Fox

InDesign CC Digital Classroom Book with DVD from American Graphics Institute—Lucy Hawkins

PDFStickies from Kerntiff Publishing Systems—Natalia Naduris-Weissman

SpellProof ID from Kerntiff Publishing Systems—Nick A. Cuccia

Creative Web Design with Adobe Muse from Focal Press—Arlene Cline

InDesign Magazine. 6 month subscription—Colleen Gates

Digital-Tutors. 1 month subscription—Garry Margolis, Aram Chobanian

LA Web Professionals Group meeting ticket—Jennifer Rhymes




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