5 Features in InDesign You May Not Know Existed (Or Forgot About)

Jan 28, 2014 | Education, Graphic Design, Technology

Are you new to Adobe InDesign? Are you still on CS3? In this blog I’m going talk about five things are important, yet may tend to get overlooked in InDesign.

1. Liquid Layout (aka Layout Adjustment…perhaps)

Liquid Layout is a great feature that can save you many hours, taking only a little time to learn. You can take a horizontal or vertical layout and switch it to the opposite, making something much more workable with text and images. Previously in CS5, Liquid Layout was basically known as Layout Adjustment. Layout Adjustment, however, couldn’t always guarantee a great result. Not familiar with this? Check out this how-to video on Adobe TV.

Liquid Layout is especially helpful with changing layouts for different platforms.

With this feature, you can save many hours of reworking. Take a look at my example below. The original layout is on the left, and what Liquid Layout gave me is on the right. While not perfect, it is very close. All I have to do is a little tweaking.

Vertical liquid layout Horizontal liquid layout


2. Alternate Layout

In unison with Liquid Layout, I would like to talk about Alternate Layout. This enables you to create different sizes of pages, while also keeping your original pages in a side-by-side comparison. In your pages palette, you can create an alternate layout of pages with the ability to use Liquid Layout to change the orientation.

Take a look at this image:

Alternate layout

As you can see I have created an alternate horizontal layout of the vertical layout. With your file opened, you may go to Layout > Create Alternate Layout (or by selecting the little down arrow above your first page). This provides an easy way to create new pages while keeping the original ones for reference. I encourage you to check out Liquid Pages and Alternate Layouts in your design process to experience everything these features have to offer.

3. Create Guides

If you’re familiar with InDesign or Illustrator, you most likely know that showing your rulers lets you drag guides down vertically and horizontally. What should you do if you don’t want to drag each guide? You can simply set up your guides and dictate where you want all of them to be at once.

Layout > Create Guides

In this menu you can choose how you want your guides to be set up. Pretty simple.

Create guides

4. Fit Frame to Content (in TEXT boxes—yes, you can really do that too).

This is a passion of mine. I have encountered many designs which have not utilized this feature with text. Yes, it is widely used for imagery. But it is just as important to use with text boxes. Justification can be quite difficult when there is a text box that is twice the size of the actual text itself.

Text content not fit to frame

Text content fit to frame

So how do you do this amazing feature?

Object > Fitting > Fit Frame to Content. I do, however, love my keyboard shortcuts.

Windows: control + alt + c
Mac: option + command + c

5. Content Collector

Last but not least is Content Collector. This is a newer feature that enables you to grab text and images into a clipboard-like box. You can load them to place on multiple pages and documents. There are two buttons.

Content collector icon
Content Collector

Content placer icon
Content Placer

The collector pulls from your original page, and the placer puts it on the new page. Below is my loaded box.

Content collector box


I can now put these items on another page in my document or on another document entirely, whenever I feel like it. You can also pull grouped items, shovel through the hierarchy of your groups, and place the whole group or single items.

Check out a short video on this.

InDesign offers many great features and tools that I encourage you to explore. Have you used the features I covered in this article? What InDesign functions do you think get overlooked?

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