5. Flowing Text

Lesson overview

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to do the following:

  • Import and flow text into existing text frames.

  • Resize text frames automatically.

  • Link text frames to flow text across columns and pages.

  • Create linked frames automatically.

  • Add pages and linked frames automatically while flowing text.

  • Apply paragraph styles to text.

  • Control column breaks.

  • Align text to the baseline grid.

  • Make a jump line to indicate where an article continues.

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This lesson will take about 60 minutes to complete. To get the lesson files used in this chapter, download them from the web page for this book at www.adobepress.com/InDesignCIB2020. For more information, see “Accessing the lesson files and Web Edition” in the Getting Started section at the beginning of this book.

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Adobe InDesign provides methods for flowing text into existing text frames, creating frames while flowing text, and adding frames and pages while flowing text. This makes it easy to flow copy for anything from a catalog to a magazine article to an ebook.

Getting started

In this lesson, you’ll work on a booklet in progress. The design of the opening spread of the article is almost finished, and several pages are ready for text. While working on this article, you will experiment with various text-flow methods and create a “jump line” to indicate the page on which an article continues.

Image Note

If you have not already downloaded the project files for this lesson to your computer from your Account page, make sure to do so now. See “Getting Started” at the beginning of the book.

  1. To ensure that the preferences and default settings of your InDesign program match those used in this lesson, move the InDesign Defaults file to a different folder following the procedure in “Saving and restoring the InDesign Defaults file” on pages 45.

  2. Start InDesign.

  3. The InDesign Home screen displays. Click Open at left. (If the Home screen does not display, choose File > Open from the InDesign menu bar.)

  4. Open the 05_Start.indd file in the Lesson05 folder, located inside the Lessons folder within the InDesignCIB folder on your hard disk.

  5. If an alert informs you that the document contains links to sources that have been modified, click Update Modified Links.

  6. Choose File > Save As, rename the file 05_FlowText.indd, and save it in the Lesson05 folder.

  7. To ensure that the panels and menu commands match those used in this lesson, choose Window > Workspace > [Advanced], and then choose Window > Workspace > Reset Advanced.

    Image Note

    The screen captures in this book show the Medium Light interface. Interface elements such as panels and dialog boxes will be darker on your screen if you are using the default interface.

  8. To display the document at a higher resolution, choose View > Display Performance > High Quality Display (if it’s not already enabled).

  9. If you want to see what the finished document looks like, open the 05_End.indd file in the same folder. You can leave this document open to act as a guide as you work.

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  10. When you’re ready to resume working on the lesson document, display it by clicking its tab in the upper-left corner of the document window.

Flowing text into an existing frame

When you import text, you can flow it into a new frame or an existing frame. If the frame is empty, you can click the loaded text icon in the frame to flow the text. On the left page of the opening spread of this booklet, an empty sidebar box is ready for text to be inserted. You will import a Microsoft Word document into this frame, apply a paragraph style, and automatically adjust the height of the text frame.

Image Tip

InDesign provides many features for automatically and manually controlling how text flows through columns and frames. These include the paragraph Keep Options (Keep With Previous, Keep With Next, and Keep Lines Together), along with Column Break and Frame Break characters (Type > Insert Break Character).

Importing text into an existing text frame

  1. Choose Type > Show Hidden Characters to see paragraph returns, spaces, tabs, and other hidden characters onscreen. This helps you place and format text.

  2. Zoom in to comfortably view the sidebar text frame on the left page of the opening spread. The frame is about 1 inch wide and has a stroke.

  3. Make sure no objects are selected.

  4. Choose File > Place. At the bottom of the Place dialog box, make sure the three options are deselected: Show Import Options, Replace Selected Item, and Create Static Captions. (If necessary, click Options on macOS to see the options.)

    Image Tip

    You edit text with the Type tool and thread (link) text frames with the Selection tool, but it does not matter what tool is selected when you import text.

  5. Locate 05_Highlights.docx, in the Lesson05 folder, and then double-click it.

    The pointer becomes a loaded text icon (), previewing the first few lines of text in the article you are placing. When you move the loaded text icon over an empty text frame, parentheses enclose the icon .

  6. Position the loaded text icon over the placeholder text frame.

    Image
  7. Click to place the text.

  8. Choose File > Save.

The text does not fit in the text frame and is considered “overset.” Overset text is indicated by a red plus sign (+) in the out port, which is in the lower-right corner of the text frame. You will resolve the overset text later in this exercise.

Applying a paragraph style

Now you will apply a paragraph style to the sidebar text. The paragraph style includes a nested style that automatically applies bold to the beginning of a paragraph until InDesign encounters the first colon.

  1. Using the Type tool (), click in the sidebar text frame so you can format the text. Choose Edit > Select All to select all the text in the frame (even the text you cannot see).

  2. Choose Type > Paragraph Styles to open the Paragraph Styles panel.

  3. Click the triangle to the left of the Body Text style group to open it.

    Image Tip

    Style groups help you organize styles in panels such as the Paragraph Styles and Swatches panels. When the group is expanded, you can select options in the group.

  4. Click the paragraph style Sidebar Text.

  5. Click in the text to deselect it. Choose File > Save.

    Image

Resizing text frames automatically

While adding, deleting, and editing text, you often end up resizing text frames. With the Auto-Size feature, you can specify that a text frame resize itself automatically according to your specifications. You will now use the Auto-Size feature to automatically adjust the height of the sidebar text frame based on the length of the text.

  1. Using the Type tool (), click in the sidebar immediately before the word “Plant.”

  2. Press the Caps Lock key on your keyboard, and then type PEAS, PLEASE and press Enter (Windows) or Return (macOS). After adding the heading, the sidebar text is now overset.

  3. Using the Selection tool (), click the text frame containing the sidebar text now starting with “PEAS.”

  4. Choose Object > Text Frame Options. In the Text Frame Options dialog box, click Auto-Size in the list at left.

    Image Tip

    The Auto-Size feature is ideal for text frames with a stroke and/or fill providing a boundary for the text (for example, a sidebar or coupon). If the text is shortened, the frame becomes smaller as well. If the text is lengthened, the frame becomes bigger so text is not overset. Note that Auto-Size only works on an individual text frame of the last frame in a series of threaded text frames.

  5. Select Preview in the lower-left corner to see changes as you make them.

  6. Choose Height Only from the Auto-Sizing menu.

  7. If necessary, click the center icon in the top row () to indicate that you want the text frame to “grow down” as if you were manually dragging the bottom handle of the text frame down.

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  8. Click OK.

  9. Click the pasteboard to deselect objects on the page, and then choose View > Screen Mode > Preview to see how the sidebar looks.

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  10. Choose View > Screen Mode > Normal to restore the layout aids, such as guides and hidden characters.

  11. Choose File > Save.

Flowing text manually

The process of taking an imported text file and flowing it across several connected text frames is called threading text. InDesign lets you flow text manually for greater control, flow text automatically to save time, and flow text while automatically adding enough pages to hold all the text.

Image Tip

You can create columns by threading individual text frames or by dividing text frames into multiple columns using the General tab of the Text Frame Options dialog box (Object menu). Some designers prefer separate text frames for more layout flexibility.

In this exercise, you will flow the feature article text into the two columns on the right-hand page. First, you will select a Word file to import into the existing text frame in the first column. Second, you will thread the first text frame to the second text frame. Finally, you will create new text frames on the third page of the document to contain more text.

  1. Choose View > Fit Spread In Window to locate the two text frames at the right under the “How to grow peas, please!” headline.

  2. Zoom in as necessary to view these text frames.

    Image Tip

    To prepare to import text, you can pre-thread empty text frames. Using the Selection tool, click a frame’s out port, and then click anywhere in the next frame. Repeat this process until all the frames are threaded.

  3. Using the Type tool (), click in the text frame at the left as shown here.

    Image
  4. Choose File > Place.

  5. Locate and select 05_Peas.docx in the Lesson05 folder.

  6. Select Replace Selected Item at the bottom of the Place dialog box. (If necessary, click Options on macOS to see this option.) Click Open.

    Image

    The text flows into the existing frame in the left column. Notice that the text frame includes an out port in the lower-right corner. The red plus sign (+) indicates that some of the text you imported is overset, meaning that not all of the text fits into the existing text frame. You will now flow the additional text into another text frame in the second column.

  7. Using the Selection tool (), click in the text frame’s out port to load the text icon. (If necessary, first click the frame to select it, and then click the out port.)

    Image Tip

    As you flow text, the Selection tool’s cursor changes to various loaded text icons.

    Image
  8. Move the loaded cursor over the text frame to the right and click once in the frame as shown.

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  9. The text flows into the second column.

    Image Tip

    If you change your mind and decide you don’t want to flow overset text, you can press Esc or click any tool in the Tools panel to cancel the loaded text icon. No text will be deleted.

    Image

    The out port in the text frame at the right contains a red plus sign (+), indicating that there is still overset text.

  10. Choose File > Save. Leave the page in this position for the next exercise.

Creating text frames while flowing text

Now, you will try two different text flow methods. First, you will use semi-autoflow to place text into a column. Semi-autoflow lets you create threaded text frames one at a time. The pointer becomes a loaded text icon that automatically reloads after each column of text is placed. After that, you will use the loaded text icon to manually create a text frame.

Image Tip

The loaded text icon changes slightly in appearance, depending on whether you are threading text manually or using semi-autoflow or autoflow.

Note that the success of these exercises relies on holding the correct modifier keys on the keyboard and clicking in the correct place. Therefore, it may help to read all the steps in each exercise before you perform them. If anything goes wrong, be sure to choose Edit > Undo, and then repeat the step.

  1. Using the Selection tool (), click the out port of the text frame in the second column on the right page (page 1). This loads the text icon with the overset text.

    Image

    You will create new text frames on page 2 to contain more of the text. Guides indicate where to place the text frames.

  2. Choose Layout > Next Spread to display pages 2 and 3, and then choose View > Fit Spread In Window.

    When the loaded text icon is active, you can still navigate to different document pages or add new pages.

  3. On the page at left, position the loaded text icon () in the upper-left corner where the guides intersect. For proper placement, watch for the black arrow in the loaded text icon to turn white.

    Image Tip

    When the loaded text icon is over an empty text frame, a chain icon indicates that you can thread to that frame. You can also flow overset text into an empty graphics frame; the graphics frame is automatically converted to a text frame.

  4. Hold down the Alt (Windows) or Option (macOS) key and click.

    Image

    The text flows into the first column. Because you held down Alt or Option, the pointer is still a loaded text icon, ready for you to flow text into another frame.

  5. Release the Alt or Option key, and position the loaded text icon () in the second column indicated by the guides.

    Image Tip

    When you create a text frame by clicking with the loaded text icon, InDesign creates the new text frame as wide as the column where you click. Although these frames are placed within the column guides, you can move, resize, and reshape these text frames as necessary.

  6. Click to create a frame within the column guides in the right column.

    Image

    Clicking the loaded text icon creates text frames within the column guides and flows the text.

    Image

    Text remains overset, as indicated by the red plus sign (+) in the lower-right corner of the second text frame. You will fix this later.

  7. Choose File > Save. Leave the page in this position for the next exercise.

Creating threaded frames automatically

To speed up the creation of column-width linked text frames, InDesign provides a shortcut. If you press the right arrow key as you drag the Type tool to create a new text frame, InDesign automatically divides the text frame into multiple threaded frames. For example, if you press the right arrow key once while creating a text frame, the text frame is divided into two text frames of equal width. If you press the right arrow key five times, the text frame is divided five times, resulting in six columns of equal width.

You will now create a two-column text frame on page 3. You can then thread the text frames to help contain the overset text.

  1. Choose View > Fit Spread In Window to center pages 2 and 3 in the window.

  2. Select the Type tool (), and position it in the first column on the page at the right, where the column guide (purple) and margin guide (pink) intersect.

  3. Drag the Type tool down and to the right to create a text frame that spans the width of both columns. As you drag, tap the right arrow key once.

    Image Note

    If you accidentally press the right arrow key more than once—producing more than two threaded text frames—choose Edit > Undo, and then try again. You can also remove text frames by pressing the left arrow key as you drag.

    InDesign automatically subdivides the text frame into two threaded text frames of equal width.

    Image
  4. Continue to drag down to position the text frame within the column and margin guides. If necessary, use the Selection tool () to adjust the text frames to fit within the guides as shown.

    Image
  5. Using the Selection tool, click the text frame in the second column on page 2. Click the frame’s out port in the lower-right corner to load the text icon with overset text.

    Image Tip

    A thin rule between columns can add style and enhance readability. You can add rules between columns automatically in the Column Rules tab of the Text Frame Options dialog box (Object menu).

  6. Click the loaded text icon () in the new text frame on page 3.

    The text flows through the two columns.

    Image
  7. Choose File > Save. Leave the page in this position for the next exercise.

Flowing text automatically

You will now autoflow the remaining text into the booklet. When you autoflow text, InDesign automatically creates new text frames within column guides on subsequent pages until all of the overset text is placed. This is ideal for longer projects, such as books, but for this project it will end up obscuring some of the images that are already placed. You can fix that easily by deleting the text frames; the text flow is automatically rerouted through the remaining frames in the thread.

  1. Using the Selection tool (), click the out port in the lower-right corner of the text frame in the second column on page 3. This loads the text icon with the overset text. (If necessary, first click the frame to select it, and then click the out port.)

  2. Choose Layout > Next Spread to display pages 4 and 5.

  3. Position the loaded text icon () in the first column on page 4, precisely where the column and margin guides intersect.

  4. Hold down the Shift key and click.

    Image Tip

    Shift-clicking the loaded text icon creates and flows text into automatically created text frames, adding pages as necessary to flow all the text into the document.

    Notice that new text frames are added to the remaining pages in the document, even on top of the photos. This is because you held down the Shift key to autoflow text.

    Image
  5. Using the Selection tool, Shift-click to select the two new text frames added to page 5 (the frame on top of the image of the gardening tools).

  6. Choose Edit > Clear to delete the text frames.

  7. Choose Layout > Next Spread to display pages 6 and 7. As you can see, the text is flowing from page 4 to page 6 to page 7.

  8. Using the Selection tool, Shift-click the two new text frames added to page 7 (the frames on top of the image of peas).

  9. Choose Edit > Clear to delete the text frames.

    Text is still overset on page 8, but you will resolve that with formatting in the next exercise.

  10. Choose File > Save. Leave the page in this position for the next exercise.

Applying paragraph styles to text

Now that all the threaded text frames are in place and the text is flowing through them, you can format the text. This gives you a clear view of how the text fits and how it looks with the layout. Here, you will format the entire article with the Body Paragraphs style, and then you will format the opening paragraph and subheads.

  1. Using the Type tool (), click in any text frame containing the main article you just imported.

  2. Choose Edit > Select All to select all the text in the story (the text in the series of linked frames).

  3. Choose Type > Paragraph Styles to open the Paragraph Styles panel.

  4. Click the paragraph style Body Paragraphs. (If necessary, open the Body Text style group folder and scroll to locate the style.)

    Image
  5. Choose Layout > Go To Page. Enter 1 in the Page field, and click OK.

  6. On page 1, click in the first paragraph of the article, starting with “Peas grow well in heavy.”

  7. Click the Drop Cap paragraph style in the Paragraph Styles panel.

    Image

    Now you will format the six subheads in the article.

  8. Choose View > Fit Spread In Window.

  9. Using the Type tool, click in the subhead that reads “Fertilizing” in the left column of page 1. This targets the paragraph for paragraph formatting.

  10. Click the Body Head paragraph style in the Paragraph Styles panel.

  11. Click in the next paragraph, starting with “When dairy dressing,” and then click the Body Paragraphs No Indent paragraph style in the Paragraphs Styles panel.

    Image
  12. Follow steps 9–11 to apply the Body Head paragraph style to the remaining subheads in the story. Apply Body Paragraphs No Indent to the paragraph following each subhead as well.

    • Page 2, left column: “Sowing”

    • Page 3, left column: “Thinning Out”

    • Page 3, right column: “Protection from Birds”

    • Page 3, right column: “Caring for the Vines”

    • Page 4, left column: “Picking Peas”

    • Page 4, right column: “Follow Crops”

  13. Choose File > Save. Remain on this page for the next exercise.

Adjusting columns

InDesign provides many methods for adjusting the length of columns of text. You might do this to suit the layout or to keep specific topics together. One way to do this is to resize the text frame with the Selection tool. Another method is to manually “bump” text to the next column with the Column Break character. Here, you will adjust the size of the text frames to suit the layout.

  1. Double-click the page 4 icon on the Pages panel to center page 4 in the document window.

  2. Using the Selection tool (), click the text frame on the left containing the main article.

  3. Drag the bottom of the text frame up so that the height of the frame shows approximately 2.1 in.

    Image Note

    If necessary, type 2.1 in in the Height field on the Control panel and press Enter (Windows) or Return (macOS) to resize the frame.

  4. Select the text frame at right, which contains the second column of text. Drag the bottom of the frame up to match the height of the text frame at left.

    Resizing these text frames keeps the article text from obscuring the shaded sidebar box.

    Image
  5. Choose Layout > Next Spread to see pages 6 and 7. The bottom of page 6 contains a box with a quote from E.M. Forster.

    Image Tip

    To adjust how text flows within frames, you can enter break characters such as Column Break and Frame Break (Type > Insert Break Character).

  6. Using the Selection tool, click the text frame at the left on page 6. Drag the bottom of the text frame up so the height of the frame shows 2.5 in.

  7. Select the text frame at the right, which contains the second column of text. Drag the bottom of the frame up to match the height of the text frame at the left.

    Image
  8. Click the pasteboard to deselect all objects on the page, and choose File > Save.

Using the baseline grid to align text

An aspect of vertical spacing is aligning lines horizontally across columns. You can do this using a baseline grid (also called a leading grid) for the entire document. The baseline grid represents the leading (line spacing) for your document’s body text and is used to align the baseline of type in one column of text with the baseline of type in neighboring columns and pages. First, you set up the grid and then you set a paragraph format that aligns paragraphs to the grid.

Image Tip

You can set up a baseline grid at the text frame level, which is ideal for situations in which different stories have different leading values. Choose Object > Text Frame Options, and then click the Baseline Options tab.

Image

When paragraphs are aligned with the baseline grid, lines of type are aligned across columns.

Before you set up the baseline grid, you need to check the leading value for the body text.

  1. Choose Layout > Go To Page, enter 1 in the field, and click OK.

  2. Select the Type tool () in the Tools panel.

  3. Click to place an insertion point in the first full paragraph of the story, which starts with “Peas grow well.” Look at the leading value () in the Character panel. The leading is set to 11 pt (11 points).

  4. Choose Edit > Preferences > Grids (Windows) or InDesign > Preferences > Grids (macOS) to set the baseline grid options.

  5. In the Baseline Grid section, type 0 in the Start box and select Top Margin from the Relative To menu.

    This option sets the location of the first grid line for the document. If you use the default value of 0.5 in, the first grid line would appear above the top margin.

    Image Tip

    The View Threshold menu sets the minimum zoom level at which you can see the grid onscreen. When this setting is 100%, the grid appears in the document window only at magnifications of 100% or higher.

  6. In the Increment Every box, type 11 pt to match the leading. Leave the View Threshold value at 75%.

    Image
  7. Click OK.

  8. Choose File > Save.

Viewing the baseline grid

Now you’ll make the new grid visible onscreen.

  1. To view the baseline grid in the document window, choose View > Grids & Guides > Show Baseline Grid, and then choose View > Actual Size.

    Image

    You can align one paragraph, selected paragraphs, or all the paragraphs in a story to the baseline grid. (A story is all the text in a series of threaded text frames.) In the following steps, you will use the Paragraph panel to align the main story to the baseline grid.

  2. Using the Type tool (), click to place an insertion point anywhere in the first paragraph on the spread, and then choose Edit > Select All to select all the text in the main story.

  3. If the Paragraph panel isn’t visible, choose Type > Paragraph.

    If necessary, choose Show Options from the Paragraph panel menu to see all the options.

    Image Tip

    As with most other paragraph-formatting controls, the baseline grid controls are also available in the Control panel.

  4. In the Paragraph panel, click Align To Baseline Grid (). The text shifts so that the baselines of the characters rest on the grid lines.

    Image
  5. Choose View > Grids & Guides > Hide Baseline Grid.

  6. Click the pasteboard to deselect the text. Choose File > Save.

Adding a jump line page number

When an article continues across multiple pages, forcing readers to turn pages, it helps to add a jump line, such as “(Continued on page x).” You can create jump lines in InDesign that automatically reflect the number of the next page in the text flow (that is, the next page to which the text frame is linked).

  1. Double-click the page 1 icon in the Pages panel to center the page in the document window. Scroll to the right to view a portion of the pasteboard. Zoom in as necessary to see the text.

  2. Using the Type tool () and working on the pasteboard, drag to create a text frame approximately 1.5 inches by 0.25 inches.

  3. Using the Selection tool (), drag the new text frame to the bottom of the second column on page 1. Be sure the top of the new text frame touches the bottom of the existing text frame.

    Image
  4. Using the Type tool, click to place an insertion point in the new frame. Type Peas continued on followed by a space.

    Image Note

    For the Next Page Number character to work properly, the text frame containing the jump line must touch or overlap the threaded frame.

  5. Right-click to display a context menu, and then choose Insert Special Character > Markers > Next Page Number. The jump line now reads “Peas continued on 2.”

    Image
  6. Choose Type > Paragraph Styles to open the Paragraph Styles panel. With the text insertion point still in the jump line, click the Continued From/To Line paragraph style to format the text according to the template.

    Image
  7. Choose File > Save.

  8. Choose View > Fit Spread In Window.

  9. Choose View > Screen Mode > Preview.

Congratulations, you have finished the lesson.

Exploring on your own

In this lesson, you learned how to create a jump line that indicates the page number on which an article continues. You can also create a jump line that indicates the page number from which a continued article originated.

Image Tip

Experiment with text-flowing options to find out what threading methods work best for you and your projects. For example, if you are creating a template for a catalog, you might thread several small text frames for item descriptions and then flow the text later.

  1. Choose View > Screen Mode > Normal to see the frame edges.

  2. Using the Selection tool (), select the text frame containing the jump line on page 1. Choose Edit > Copy.

  3. Choose Layout > Next Spread, and then choose Edit > Paste to paste the jump line text frame on page 2.

  4. Drag the jump line text frame so that it touches the top of the text frame in the first column. (Drag the top of the main text frame down as necessary so that the jump line isn’t touching the page header.)

  5. Using the Type tool (), change the words in the text frame from “Peas continued on” to “Peas continued from” and delete the number 2.

    At this point, you need to replace the Next Page Number character with the Previous Page Number character.

  6. Choose Type > Insert Special Character > Markers > Previous Page Number.

    The jump line now reads “Peas continued from 1.”

Review questions

1. Which tool lets you thread text frames?

2. How do you load the text icon?

3. What happens when you click the loaded text icon between column guides?

4. Which key do you press to automatically divide a text frame into multiple threaded frames?

5. What is the name of the feature that automatically adds pages and threaded text frames to contain all the text in an imported text file?

6. What feature automatically adjusts the size of a text frame based on the length of the text?

7. What do you need to do to ensure that the Next Page Number and Previous Page Number characters work in a jump line?

Review answers

1. The Selection tool.

2. Choose File > Place and select a text file, or click in an out port that contains overset text. You can also drag text files from the desktop onto a page.

3. InDesign creates a text frame where you click; the frame fits within the vertical column guides.

4. Press the right arrow key as you drag with the Type tool. (You can also press the left arrow key to decrease the number of threaded text frames.)

5. Smart Text Reflow.

6. The Auto-Size feature, found in the Text Frame Options dialog box (Object menu).

7. The text frame containing the jump line must touch or overlap the threaded text frame containing the story.

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