Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics


Lesson Info

Working with Text: Flowing & Linking Text

We're gonna jump in. We're gonna jump in with text. In the Intro course I know we left it till the end, and so now we're gonna actually jump in with text and really get into the meat of working with text. And we're gonna jump back to text throughout the day, because a lot of people are working on just text documents. So, and some people are working on ones that are more image-heavy, so we'll have a good mix today, and like I said, we're gonna really focus on automating and getting into a lot of the different settings that are in certain panels, certain dialogue boxes, things like that. What do all these numbers do? What do these little buttons do? And try and demystify some of these panels that are up here. Sometimes it's like looking at a foreign language. So, we're gonna decipher all those today as well. But, like I said, I wanna to start with text. And we're gonna talk about flowing and linking text. And in the Intro course, I touched on it briefly, but I really wanna show all the d...

ifferent options that are there. So, if you're dealing with text, and this can be text that someone else is supplying to you, so maybe you're working in more of an editorial workflow, and you're doing the design and somebody else is providing all the editorial for you. We have to deal with that a lot. I know most people deal with getting Word files, and they tend to not be perfect, or even, sometimes, usable, but as far as the text, it's there, but sometimes I take it back to a basic and we strip everything out and add it back in InDesign and use those tools as well. And that's hard, when you're working with other people that are not necessarily in your workflow. They might not be part of your team, but you're doing something for a client and their editorial staff has written something and it's something that works for their workflow. We need to make it work for our workflow. And the great thing is, InDesign plays well with all those files, and has that control. So, we're gonna bring in some text. I'm gonna start a new document, just gonna do command or ctrl-N to bring up the New Document dialog box. We're just gonna go ahead and use our default that's there, just the letter-size that's here. And when I bring in text, I can link it together and flow it together, or I can do this before the fact. I can set up these frames ahead of time without any text. So I'm gonna set up a frame or two, just to show you what I'm trying to accomplish. Then we'll bring in some text and actually show the different ways to flow it, whether or not it's into an existing frame or a brand-new frame on your page. So, for me, I'm gonna go ahead and grab the Type tool, and I'm just gonna draw out a text frame, just randomly on the page. So, I'm gonna go ahead and do that. I'm also gonna turn on, make sure that my frame edges are turned on so we can see that. And when I select that text frame, I can see that this is a text frame, I've got my inflow and my outflow boxes there, telling me that's a text frame. Well, right now it's a standalone text frame, or a story. That's what we call it, even though the frame itself is called a text frame. Anything that flows into this is a story, and when we create multiple text frames, even though they're in different frames, that's still one story if they're linked together. So, a story is the entire chain of text that's connected. So just keep that in mind, you'll see the term story pop up in a lot of the dialog boxes. So, I've got a frame here, and I wanna create another frame. Now, I can either immediately link this frame to another frame, or maybe I have two separate frames that I need to then link after I've already created them. So, right now I'll take this frame that's here, and I'm just gonna click in the outflow text box, just click once. I'm using my selection tool, so the solid tool. And I know it's text, so it seems weird, but at this point, we're working with the structure of the frame, and if you remember, that's what the solid tool, or the Selection tool is for. Working with the container. So I'm gonna go ahead and click once in there, and if you notice, I get this little placed icon. It's a little loaded icon, says it's loaded with text, and I'm gonna go ahead and just draw out another frame. And I also want to turn on, under my Extras menu, I wanna say Show Text Threads, because that way, I can actually see where those two frames are linked. So it's great, because if I click off of it, that link goes away, so I don't see it, it's not in my way. But when I select either text frame, that link shows up. This is really great if we have multiple pages, or if I've got it off to the side, I can actually see where that link ends up. And sometimes if you're jumping, say, from page one to page eight, that line's gonna go through all your pages. You've gotta, like, scroll down and scroll down until you find out where it links to. I'm gonna shorten this frame up. And let's say we had another frame. It's not linked at the moment. It's just a standalone frame, and I can double check that by clicking on it, and I see it's not connected to anything. These two are connected and this one isn't. Well, I need to bring this one into the chain. So, I'm gonna select the second frame and I'm gonna go to the outflow text box on the lower right, not the very lower one, the one just above that, little bit larger, and click on that and I get that loaded text cursor again. Now, when I roll over an existing text frame, the icon changes to a link, a chain link, and that tells me that's going to be part of that text chain, so I click on that. Now, I have three text frames. You think, "That's great, what does that do for me?" Well, when I fill it with text in a second, it's gonna fill through all those frames that are there. So I'm just gonna double-click in the first one, and I'm gonna use my Fill with Placeholder Text. I have a keyboard shortcut for it, but it's under the Type menu, Fill with Placeholder Text. When I do that, it fills it out, and the nice thing about these linked files is that if something deletes, if I delete something from here, everything moves backwards. So it just keeps flowing from one frame to the other. And because these are chains, they're like links in a chain, it keeps track of everything, so the nice thing is, I can take this center frame that's here and hit delete. And when I do that, I don't lose the rest of my story, it just says, Oh, you must've wanted to jump from here to here. So it just took out that link, so you can do this on the fly. Like, maybe you laid this out, and you thought, that looks great. And you realize you'd really like one more text frame right in the middle. We can even add links back into the middle. It's smart enough to know, it continues the flow that it had, but it will add and subtract as necessary. So, I'm gonna use my Type tool. I'm gonna draw a new text frame, go back to my Selection tool. I'm gonna select the first item that's here, and I wanna select that outflow. Even though it's already linked somewhere else, I'm gonna grab it anyway. When I do that, if you can see, it looks like a broken link. It thinks I'm ready to break a link. I don't wanna break a link. What I wanna do is link it to this text frame here. So when I do, it links it to the second frame and then it picks it back up. So it just assumes, oh, you just wanted to wedge that in the middle, that's great. And the reason I don't have any text is that it just ran out of text. I'm gonna Fill with Placeholder Text again, just to finish filling that out. All right, so we can see how we can link those together. Now, I can link those ahead of time and be ready to flow text into there when I bring that in. So we're gonna do that really quickly. I'm gonna go up under the File menu and choose Place, so no matter what we're placing, placing images, PDFs, or text, we use the Place command. So, say Place, and I'm gonna come in here and we will choose, let's go ahead and choose the same Time Machine text. And I'm gonna go ahead and say Show Import Options. If I don't, it will automatically use whatever the last options were that I set, and I don't remember what those are, so I wanna make sure that I have control over that. This is one of the times that I actually have that selected. I'm gonna say, open that up, and because this is just Plain Text, I don't have nearly as many options. When we place the Word file in a minute, you'll see that we have more options available to us. So, I'm just gonna use everything that's there. I'm not gonna make any changes. And I'm gonna bring that in, if you notice, my cursor was already in here, so it went ahead and placed that text. All right, so I have that text ready to go. It flowed in exactly as necessary. So, if you were setting up, say, a template, and you were using, say, maybe it's a newsletter, you're gonna do it every month, you've got your text frames where they need to be, and somebody's supplying you the stories, you can have those frames there and linked, you know, you always want story on page one to jump to the rest of it on page three, you've already set that up with your links. You don't have to do that every time. It's in your template, it's there and ready to go. The new story comes in, we place it in, we flow it, we shrink it if we need to, we do whatever we need to do to make it fit editorially, and then we go on, and then the next month, we open up the template, it's blank again, but we've already got our text frames sitting in there, ready to flow story into. So, again, you don't have to do this every time. I'm gonna create a new page, just do command or ctrl-shift and P, create a new page, because on this page, what I wanna do is I wanna create those text frames on the fly. I've got the text in a format. I don't know how I want it laid out on the page yet. In fact, I kind of wanna do it on the fly and kind of see how it feels with the story itself. So, I'm actually gonna grab the entire story, and I've said before that everything has to be inside a frame in InDesign, and you'll hear that a lot, so there has to be a text frame, but the nice thing is, when I bring in text, it's smart enough to create that frame for me as it's putting it on the page. So I don't necessarily have to draw out a text frame beforehand. I'm gonna do that as we place it. So, again, up to the File menu, File Place, and I'm gonna go out and I'm gonna grab this item instead. This is an RTF file. I'm sorry. Do I want the RTF file? Yes, let's do the RTF file, Show Import Options, and it's gonna come up with RTF Import, which looks exactly like the Word Import as well, because it may or may not have actually come from Word, but if it is a DOC file or a DOCX file, it will say Microsoft Word Import Options. All right, so this case, this is just a Rich Text file. I can create everything in here, and when I'm done, I can even save it as a preset. So, again, entering all this information might seem like it's taking a while, but I can bring this in, and if I know that same person is going to be supplying me text, they probably have done it in the same way, so I can save that preset and not have to worry about all this information again. We're gonna make it really easy this time around, though. I'm gonna leave everything checked that's there by default, and we're gonna choose this option. Remove Styles and Formatting from Text and Tables. I like to do that because it just kind of strikes out anything that's in there. Because for me, and I've met a couple people that do get beautifully formatted Word files, I do not know many people that do this, they'll get ones that have some formatting in them but they're not very consistent with that formatting. So, what I wanna do is say, great. You may have used styles in your Word document, I'm gonna ignore those styles, unless you know for a fact that they're styled well. And we're gonna talk about mapping styles after we get done with paragraph and character styles later in the course. So right now, though, remove those styles and the formatting. Just strip it out. I don't even want any of that. All right, so I'm gonna remove that, and I'm gonna say okay, because all we wanna do right now is just look at how we link text together. So, I get this loaded cursor, right? Loaded text cursor, it's ready to go. And I have several different options. The first thing I can do is I can click and drag to the size of the frame that I want. Maybe I have guides on the page, maybe I'm just eyeballing it for right now. I can just click and drag and let go, and when I do, it will place as much of the story as it can, until it gets to the end of the story. And it'll say, there's more to that story. So I'll have to do something with that in a second. I'm gonna undo that, take one step backwards. The other option I can do is simply click at the upper left of my margin, and it fills to my margins. Gonna undo that again. Anywhere I click, it will automatically fill out to the right and the bottom margin. So, I started here, it's gonna automatically fill that out. But, again, it's only filling as much as it can till the end of that frame, and stopping, and saying, now we need to do something else with that. So, again, I'm gonna undo that. still got my full story loaded in the cursor. I'm gonna click and drag and let go, and now I need to pick up the rest of that story. And I'm gonna go ahead and just click, and again, once I've placed that, even though I started with the Place tool and I'm working with text, it stays with this tool, the selection tool, because we're still working with the frame. So, just keep that in mind, don't switch to the Type tool because you won't be able to grab what you need. So, I'm gonna go ahead and click in the little plus, so this is the same thing we did when we clicked in it when it had an arrow. Now it does because now it says, oh, it's flowing out somewhere. It doesn't know where yet. We haven't put it there yet. So, I can continue to draw out text frames and click on that plus. Well, that's kind of time-consuming, you gotta keep clicking on that plus, and if you're not careful, you click on it and think you didn't click it, you can click again and now you've just put a text frame inside another text frame, it's like Inception, it's terrible. We don't wanna do that. So, what I wanna do is actually, I'm gonna draw out this text frame, and I would do this after my first text frame instead of waiting until the third one, and I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna option or alt-click on this, on the document. I'm sorry, I'm gonna click on it, and then I'm gonna create a new page, so I'm gonna go over to the Pages panel, and just click New Page or I can use my keyboard shortcut. So, on this new page, and we're gonna talk about pages later as well. But now when I go to place this, I'm gonna hold down the option or the alt key, and hopefully you can see, and I can't, If I zoom in, it won't make the cursor any bigger. So, hopefully you can see the cursor. It goes from sort of this paragraph-looking icon to this serpentine kind of icon, but it's half-dashed. So, we're gonna see one that's full-dashed. But right now, the first half of it is dashed. And that is semi-autoflow. So what that means is I'm gonna hold down the option or the alt key, drag out the frame, and when I let go, it automatically picked up the rest of the story, so I don't have to keep clicking that red plus and placing it. So, I've picked it up. So, I tend to do this when I'm drawing it. I'm just gonna hold down the option key, and I'm just dragging and creating text frames as necessary. If I click to this other tool, I can see that everything is linked. Goes from page one, so I've got those text frames linked together, all the way through here. And I can kind of see where that text frame is. Now, it can get a little confusing. You've got all these lines going every which way, but again, it kind of gives you that nice visual and lets you know what's connected to where. So, if you decide to change, you could change, like, the text or the number of columns, or whatever. So, in the Intro course, we talked about this. I'm gonna do command or ctrl-B to open up my Text Frame Options. Maybe I decided I want a two-column text frame there, and that's okay, so we can have this different layout. Maybe we want this to come down here, and this one, obviously, we don't like the way that looks, let's just pull up, make this a little bit bigger. But again, I can work with each frame individually but they're linked together. I might do this and link text frames together when I have, say, a row of photos and names underneath. I'm gonna link all those together so that when I get that database of names, I'm gonna flow it in there and they're all connected. And why keep it connected? Well, there's a lot of reasons. For one thing, I can put my cursor in my Type tool, use command or ctrl-A to select all, and all the text gets selected. If I have that in individual text frames and I haven't used styles, maybe I haven't gotten to styles yet, I haven't set them up for this document, I would have to change each thing individually. When I wanna change all the text together and it's linked, I can just do a Select All and change everything together. All right, so let's come back out here, I wanna pick up the rest of that story. We still have more of it. I'm gonna open up the Pages panel so we can see what happens here in a second. The other thing that we can do, we can do this from the beginning, or I'm gonna do it from this point forward, I'm gonna click the little red plus, use my keyboard shortcut to create a new page, command or ctrl-shift-P, and now what I'm going to do is I'm gonna hold down the shift key instead of the option key, and I get that serpentine but it's solid, and that's the autoflow selection. So, when I hold that down, I'm gonna hold down my shift key and click. And it's gonna fill the story to the frame, and it's going to continue to add pages until that entire story is placed. So, if you have this long text and you have your margins set up, you can just come in, do the first page, set to flow, hold down the shift key, and it flows your entire, the entire document into your InDesign document. Adding pages as necessary. When we get to master pages later in the day, we're going to look at how to automate that even further. So, right now, it's just using the margins that are there. So, you can see that flowing that is super, super easy. Again, changing things, I can delete those, I can add them as necessary, if we decide we have another one over here that we need to add, we can link that in at any point. Let's do a little plus, link it in, I could even unlink this. If I wanted to unlink from this point forward, I can do that as well. I need to click in the inflow of the one I wanna unlink at. So, unlink that, and roll over. Let's actually click on that. There we go. And roll over the frame before it, and I get that broken link. So, as I click on that, everything from that point forward disappears. I've still got the frames, but I broke the link. If I deleted the link, it would kind of heal itself and continue on. But I broke the link. I broke, I took the last half of the chain. I just cut the chain and ran off with the second half of the chain, that's what I did. And I left that sitting there. Right? So, instead of just breaking the link off of there. All right? So, we can break links, we can create them, so we may have created stuff that wasn't linked together, and we suddenly decided, oh, I need these two stories to link. I do that often with templates. I might have a text frame on page one and one on page five, and for this turn, I decide, oh, those actually need to be linked. You know, and next time I might break that link, because that's not how I want that story to flow. You can move your frames all around. I prefer to leave them if I've already got them set where I want, and just break and recreate those links. Does that make sense, the linking and flowing the text? Question. I was thinking about applications for this, and what I was thinking that would be most useful is if you had several stories in the same page, and linking, could you do that? Yes, you wanna link your separate stories. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah, so that each one kind of works as it's own little environment. Absolutely, yeah, so if it's like a newsletter layout, something like that, yeah, definitely. You could link them all on the page, but then there's gonna be this other one that has nothing to do with it, it's not linked together, absolutely. So you can mix and match them, and like I said, turning on that Frame Edges is super important because that's the only way, sometimes, you can figure out where things go when you start getting them jumping from page to page and, you know, if I have one on page one and it jumps to page six, I gotta be able to follow that link all the way down.

Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® enables you to create rich documents and layouts that combine graphic elements, images, and text. Advance your design skills with Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics with Erica Gamet.

In this class, Erica will help you tackle complex design projects and share best practice techniques in Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud®

You’ll learn how to:
  • Manage multi-page documents and use master pages
  • Automate your workflow and save time
  • Select character and paragraph styles
You’ll learn about advanced exporting options and she’ll offer tips on taking advantage of the extensive selection of assets in the Creative Cloud® Libraries.

If you’ve mastered the basics are are ready to advance your design skills, don’t miss Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics with Erica Gamet.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Recommended prerequisite: Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® for Beginners

Software Used: Adobe InDesign CC 2015.1



  • As an absolute beginner to InDesign, I purchased both of Erica's classes and man was she helpful. I highly recommend this course to anyone unfamiliar with the software to give them some great footing. Thank you Erica and thank you Creative Live!
  • I am using Erica's videos to supplement my "Classroom in a book series" on Indesign. The beauty of this is that I can go through the sections of the book and when I get to something, like Master Pages, that I can't quite follow I jump to the video. I gain the understanding I need by listening and watching Erica and then go back to the book and finish the project with a lot more under my belt. The book gives me real examples to complete but does not give me that "personal" touch. Thanks Erica for being my personal coach. This has worked perfectly.
  • This was really helpful, although *very* fast paced! But gave me a lot of great ideas to take my InDesign use to another level. Thanks!