Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Smooth Flows

When it comes to overset text, most InDesign users are probably aware of how to manually thread text frames together in order to flow text. But there is also a simple way to flow text and automatically add as many pages as necessary. This rather excellent feature goes by the name of Smart Text Reflow.

What's your preference?
Your first port of call should be the Type Preferences panel. This can be found via the Edit>Preferences>Type on Windows or Indesign>Preferences>Type on Mac OS. Once there, ensure that Smart Text Reflow is enabled and once ticked, the settings will magically become accessible. Briefly, they are:
  • Add Pages To: Choose from the drop down menu exactly where the pages are to be added.
  • Limit To Master Text Frames: When enabled you must have a text frame on the master of your document for the reflow to work. If disabled, you will need to manually thread two frames across two pages together before the text will flow.
  • Preserve facing-page spreads: This setting determines whether or not to add single page or double-page spreads when adding pages. If your document does not contain facing pages, this option will be dimmed.
  • Delete Empty pages: Enable this to automatically remove pages when the text is altered in such a way that it reflows differently, leaving you with excess pages. However, this will only remove pages that just contain the now empty text frame.

The Type Preferences panel in all its magnificent glory

Flow on this
I have set the settings and created a new document (with a master text frame! I am using the settings shown above). I have also loaded up my clipboard with plenty of Lorum ipsum. I am ready to flow some text.

On page 1 command/ctrl+shift+left click the frame to make it selectable, then import or paste your text. Brace yourself as the magic is about to happen...

Impressed? No, oh OK. Well lets go the other way. Highlight a chunk of text and hit delete. See! The pages - they were there and now they are gone!

Smart Text Reflow is so easy to set up and use that it almost doesn't count as using it. Its certainly worth a look on those pesky long form text documents.

Smart Text Reflow loses some of its wow factor when shown as tiny screen grabs
Keeping things hands on
Finally, for those moments when you prefer to have a little more control over how and where your text flows, here's a handy list of options for a loaded cursor.
  • Manual Text Flow: Click in the next frame or drag out a new frame to thread the frames and reflow the text. You will need to reload the cursor each time.
  • Semi-Autoflow: Option/Alt+click in the next frame or drag out a new frame. This time the text will fill the new frame and the excess text will be automatically loaded onto the cursor for the next frame in the sequence.
  • Autoflow: Shift+click to add pages and frames as needed throughout the document until all the text has been flowed.
  • Fixed Page Autoflow: Option/Alt+Shift+click to add frames to the current page. It will not add pages and any excess text will be overset.

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