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Flowing Text

Lesson 2 from: Adobe InDesign CC Intermediate: Beyond the Basics

Erica Gamet

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Lesson Info

2. Flowing Text

Next Lesson: Linking Text

Lesson Info

Flowing Text

Now I'm going to flow some text to different spots on the same page, and then I'm also going to create a couple pages on the fly. So even though we're going to cover pages later, we are gonna sort of have a sneak peak of it as I flow text around this document. So when I create text I have a couple different options for doing that. I can either go to the Type Menu and choose that, I'm sorry the Type Tool and select that over here in the Toolbox, and if you don't see your tools, up under the Window Menu I can come down and choose Tools. So if it's not here for whatever reason, we can turn that on and choose the Type Tool. And everything in InDesign needs to live in a container and I need to create a text container, I can't just start typing anywhere on the page; I need to create a container for the text to live in. Now I can either do it right now and set something up ahead of time without any text, or I can do it when I'm bringing text in. So in this case, I'm just gonna go ahead and cr...

eate a text frame, and then I'm gonna go ahead and place some text, and when I place text, I use the place command, so Command or Control + D for placing text. So do File + Place and I'm going to go out and find the text that I need. Just have some sample text here and I'm probably going to turn Show Import Options on because this is where I get to choose what I can and can't import from that text, depending on what's coming in; if it's plain text, we might turn that off. In fact, generally speaking, I turn this on once to bring in text and I'll probably turn it off as we import the same text over and over again, because the options that I choose will stay on for the next import that I do. I also generally turn off Replace Selected Item simply because if I have my cursor sitting somewhere it's going to put this text in wherever it's sitting, and it might not be the text frame that I'm hoping the text will go into. In fact, if I have something else selected say a graphic frame or an unassigned frame, it will suddenly turn the frame I have selected to a text frame, and add text in there. So if you've ever gone to import text and you place it in there, and you don't get your place cursor and you're wondering where your text has gone, it may be that you had something selected on your page and it just put text in there. So I'll turn that off and we'll choose a document, and if you notice I have several different text types here. I have RTF which is just a Rich Text Format, I also have a DOC file so a Word file - you might have a DOCX file - and I also have plain TXT as well. So it can handle all those and your options are different depending on which type of file you're importing. So I'm gonna say okay to that. And now here are our choices for that and I can choose what to include, and this text is pretty simple, it's just straight forward text - I have nothing fancy in here - but it does assume that it's coming from Word so it's a DOC file, and so Word has some options available to it. For instance you can have Tables of Contents and you can Footnotes and Endnotes. Now, I'm not gonna cover Endnotes but there are Endnotes now in InDesign, some very new development and it's only in the last couple of versions that this is come out, and so you can now map your Word Endnotes to InDesign Endnotes. You always have been able to take the Footnotes and map those as well. I don't have any of those in this document, I generally just leave those on so that if there is that in a file, it automatically gets mapped. And I keep Use Typographer's Quotes on, those are your curly quotes, so it just gives you those or smart quotes you might have heard them called, so it brings those in. The main thing I wanna make sure is that I remove styles and formatting from my text and any tables that come in because I don't know how this was styled, I don't know who handled it, I wanna make sure that when it comes in, I'm stripping out that styling and I'm going to add in all the styling myself. But we will see sometimes that when we bring in files from Word, sometimes it brings in stuff we weren't expecting to have it come in. For instance the normal paragraphs style that if you were using Word, are familiar with normal, it comes in, it hitches a ride no matter what, so we wanna strip out as much as we can. But I do also wanna make sure that I preserve my local overrides and that means if somebody has italicized or bolded something manually in this file, it will come in because I am going to even though I'm styling it, I don't wanna strip it out completely, I wanna be able to see where they've bolded something or italicized something. So by bringing that in, I can actually use some automation to find that text later on, but I do make sure it comes in. So that's basically it. If I'm not working with styles I use this top function and keep the Preserve Local Overrides on. I can also save this as a preset so that I can use this again and again, so I'll just call this Word Import Preset 1 that's fine, and so that next time, I can come in and just choose this automatically so I don't have to worry about anything that I have or haven't turned on or off. That's really super important once we start bringing in styles from elsewhere. And so if I wanna bring in those styles and remember everything that I've selected, or if I've mapped styles to current styles, I wanna make sure that I save that preset so I don't have to enter that information again. So I'm gonna say okay and now I didn't have replace selected item chosen. If I did, my text would've flowed in here automatically, which in this case probably would've been fine but like I said, it's more of a, just a habit I've gotten into to not have that selected. So now what I have is this loaded place cursor and hopefully you can see that I have this cursor, and I've got the little icon that just looks like a little text frame in the upper-left of that loaded place cursor, if I roll over this existing text frame, the one that's flashing at me saying put text in here, as I roll over it, that icon changes and I hope you can see that it changes from like the square edge to these rounded brackets, and basically it says oh you've got this text frame here, would you like to put this text in there? And I would, so I'm going to do that. I'm going to go ahead and just click inside and it flows that text in there, and we can actually see that there are a few words that are italicized in here, and that's because I told it to maintain those local overrides. So where the person that had done this in Word, italicized words, it came in with those same italics, and that's great because later on when we style this we're gonna make sure that we hold on to those italicized words. So I'm gonna zoom out just so we can see what happened. Now this is a fairly long piece of text and it didn't fit all in this frame. In fact I'm gonna shorten this frame just so we can see it without the margins in the way, but I can look and see that I have this little plus and that plus is just an override, I'm sorry, overset text. It tells me that there's more to this story, we need to do something with it. And I'm gonna tell you a little shortcut on how to see how much text is leftover, cause sometimes you might think oh I only have another sentence or two, and you might pull down your frame, and you just keep pulling it down and realize oh actually I have a lot more text than I thought I did. So there's a way to see all of the text without having to make room for it right now and you just wanna look at it, and it's called the Story Editor. If you do Command or Control + Y, it brings up the Story Editor and basically this is your text without any of the styling, any of the layout applied to it at all, and I can look and see over here I have the text here, and I even have it shows where it's italicized. So it gives you a little bit of the styling but without the distraction of the layout. But what I really want to look at was here. So everything from this point forward where it's red, it says over-text, so, "Have proved", is the last thing that was in that text frame. So I can come in here and I can see all the text that I still have to place. Well obviously, that's a little bit more than just pulling down that text frame right? That's probably two thirds more. So we need to do something with that text frame to make it accommodate all that text. So I'm gonna close that Story Editor and you can work in here. If you wanna work in here without the distraction of whatever font you've chosen in your text, you can do that, you can work right inside the Story Editor. I generally use it as sort of an investigation tool so I can look into it and see what it is that is either causing a problem, or what a little symbol means or something like that, or in this case to see how much text I have left. So what I need to do is I need to continue flowing this text elsewhere. So I'm gonna zoom in a little bit and I'm going to just for the first part, we're just gonna flow it to other places on the same page. So what I need to do is pick up the rest of that text and that's what that little red plus is for. And if you were in my, you've seen my beginner's course, or seen me talk, you know I had explained how a text what a text frame looks like, is that we have a little block up here in the upper-left, not the grab handle, but this sort of bigger square here, and then we've got one in the lower-right, and in this case the lower-right one is filled with this plus, and basically this is where text flows in and where text flows out. So in this case we can look at this frame and see that it's flowing in, this is the beginning because I don't have an arrow or anything in here; there would be a little arrow if there were text coming in from somewhere else. And in this case, it's ready to flow out but I've stopped it, I haven't linked it to anything else, so that's what we're going to do now. So I'm going to click on the little plus and when I do that, I get that loaded place cursor again and in fact you might've noticed it added a word at the end because when I do that, it's now sort of trying to take into account how that's going to flow and it keeps changing how the layout should be, but it might change again when I place the rest of the text, so that's going to be a constant flow back and forth. But what I'm doing is I'm creating a link, I'm picking up this story and going to link it somewhere in a different frame, and before we do I'm gonna look at that outflow and see that I now have that little arrow, and that tells me that there's text flowing out to somewhere. Right now it's just flowing into my cursor that's here; we're ready to do something with it. So I can click and drag, and drag out that story. So I'm creating a whole new text frame and it floated again, and then stopped; it flowed as much as it could into that frame and then stopped. So I can continue to do that. Click that plus, I can create text frames in whatever shape, maybe I have margins, I'm sorry guides already set up that I can put the frames to size there, or I can just do it manually like I am here, picking it up and replacing the rest of text. So what I'm gonna do right now is I'm gonna add a new page and I still have my text in that loaded cursor, and the nice thing is I can choose other things as long as I don't choose another tool, I can go in and do the pages, I can do scroll like you saw me do, I can scroll it, and I still have that loaded text frame that's there, or the text cursor. But what I wanna do is zoom out, I'm gonna do Command or Control + 0, and I'm gonna add a new page, and instead of going to the Pages panel and accidentally clicking on something and losing the text that's here, and having to go pick it up again, I'm going to use a keyboard shortcut for adding a new page, that way I make sure my text stays in that loaded cursor. I'm gonna do Shift + Command or Shift + Control on a PC and the letter P, and that adds a new page, and then what I'm going to do is I'm going to go ahead and just click in the upper-left, and it's going to fill the frame to the right and to the bottom as much as it can, and it would fill as much as the text as it can, and then stop, and then we can see that this is where the story ends. So it ends here and I can tell cause there's nowhere, no more text flowing out of there.

Ratings and Reviews

Marianne Stewart

I've been using InDesign for a decade, and decided to take this class to see what else I could learn. Wow! Erica taught me ways to do repetitive tasks easier, faster, and cleaner. She showed me many, many ways that I wasn't using InDesign to it's fullest potential (and now I am!). Her teaching style is very thorough and in-depth, but also easy to follow and understand. I highly recommend this class!


Great class, but as a former professional typesetter (before InDesign, PageMaker and QuarkXpress), Erica uses the term "Justified Left" incorrectly! (sorry!) There is no such thing. Justified refers only to text that spans the width of it's column from edge to edge. The spacing in-between words will vary. Used primarily in newsprint where the columns widths are narrow. The other proper terms for text alignment are: Flush Left Ragged Right (or) Left-Aligned Flush Right Ragged Left (or) Right-Aligned Centered Justified The oddball is "Justified". It's the only option where word spacing is variable. This is the least desirable because it creates "Rivers and Valleys" of white space that distract the eye. Letter and word spacing can be tightened or tweaked to improve the overall look, but at cost in time.


Great class and very informative. Erica’s a good instructor. Given the volume of information presented I’d like to see class materials included. It makes the course much easier to follow.

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