Thursday, 31 May 2012

New bits in CS6 part four: Primary Text Frames

As mentioned previously, the Master Text Frame check box in the new document dialogue window has been renamed. Its now called Primary Text Frame. Is it just a name change? How does it differ? What does it do? All these questions and no more will be answered in this quick look at this new CS6 feature.

Is it just a name change?
The quick answer is no, this is a whole new type of text frame. You can still have traditional Master Text Frames on your Master Spreads. It's just that now you have to create them manually. When creating a new document, the Primary Text Frame option is enabled, by default, for Web and Digital Publishing Intents but not for Print. That seems like a strange choice as it works pretty well for all! So go ahead, make a new document and enable it.

How does it differ?
Before we do anything else, jump to the current master page (Ctrl/Command+J and then to get to Master Spread A, type A!). If you select the Primary Text Frame you should notice a new icon attached to it. Create a normal text frame on the master, this is now the more familiar Master Text Frame. Select this new frame, notice the different icon. By clicking on either icon you can change the nature of that frame, ie. a standard Master Text Frame can become a Primary Text Frame and so on. This brings us to the first difference. You can only have one Primary Text Frame per Master Spread, whereas you can have as many Master Text Frames as you like. Re-size the frames so you can easily see both and then jump over to page one.

To see the next big difference, type in the Primary Text Frame. Unlike the Master Text Frame you don't have to Override it. To prove this you can see an outline for the Master Text Frame, it's still dashed. You are unable to select it without first overriding the frame (Ctrl/Command+Shift+left click on the frame).

What does it do?
You may be limited to one Primary Text Frame per Master Spread, but you are not limited to one Master Spread! You can directly apply a Primary Text Frame from one Master to an existing page with very little effort.

To demonstrate this I will need a document with three Master Pages. Master A has a Primary Text Frame that covers the space between the margins. Master B has a Master Text Frame that is half the height of the frame on Master A. Finally on Master C I have another Primary Text Frame with the same dimensions as the frame on Master B. To make it even clearer, I have applied a stroke to each, A – Red, B – Green, C – Blue. Got all that? Great.

By default page 1 will be set to Master Spread A. I have set some text into the frame. Remember, I don't have to override it.

Now I will apply the Master Page B to the page by dragging it from the masters section of the Pages panel and dropping it over the top of the page. I now have the Master Text Frame, locked, on the page behind the existing text frame. What was a Primary Text Frame is now just a normal text frame on the page.

A quick undo later, now apply Master Spread C to the page. The Primary Text Frame on the page alters to size and stroke colour of the new Primary Text Frame on Master C. I can easily change it back again by re-applying Master A. You can even adjust the position of the and size of the frame on the page and it will still adjust to the Primary Text Frame when you apply a new master.

And that is it! Nice and short to explain and its yet another fantastic new addition to InDesign.

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