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A Bundle of InDesign Secrets and Hidden Gems

written by: Amy Carson•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/22/2010

Want to learn more about the unique and sometimes hard-to-find features of InDesign? This article rounds up 10 sources of great InDesign secrets, tips, and tricks. It's your one stop, all-access pass to the best articles on InDesign we have to offer.

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    Getting More Out of InDesign

    Armed with these graphics, type, and nuts and bolts secrets, you'll soon find yourself an unstoppable InDesign powerhouse. Be sure to check out all links, as they're chock full of screenshots and easy-to-understand, step-by-step instructions. With these InDesign secrets, you'll be wowing clients and yourself in no time.

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    Graphics Secrets

    Did you know you can create vector graphics in InDesign? Or that you can drag or copy and paste vector art directly from Illustrator into InDesign, making it InDesign native? Creating Graphics With InDesign reveals these secrets and even better, it tells you how to do them. Learn how to use the various drawing tools provided in InDesign, from the pen, which you can use to draw Bézier curves, to geometric shapes and more.

    Did you know you can do Photoshop-style special effects in InDesign? If the graphics you need to create or manipulate tend towards the raster end of things, go to Best Special Effects for InDesign to learn many special effects for raster art such as transparency and bevel effects. Basically, many of the most common Photoshop filters are doable within InDesign itself. Both of these articles point out how easy it is to create graphics and effects that you once had to go to an outside program to do. Instead, with today's InDesign, it's possible to draw vector images and edit raster images without ever leaving InDesign.

    Sometimes you need to repurpose a color design into 1-color or grayscale. Check out converting InDesign documents to grayscale if you need to learn how to do this.

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    Nuts and Bolts Secrets

    Working with graphics is fun, but the real power of knowing InDesign like the back of your hand is in the nuts and bolts. Knowing secrets like these speed up productivity and let you concentrate on design rather than, say, trying to figure out how to convert picas to millimeters.

    One of the most effective ways to speed up page layout productivity is to use keyboard shortcuts. A Guide to InDesign Keyboard Shortcuts for New and Advanced Users is a resource for several InDesign keyboard shortcuts. As a bonus, it includes a downloadable complete keyboard shortcut reference that you can print out and tape up on your computer tower or any handy viewable place in your workspace.

    The two-part series on using measurements and rulers in InDesign might sound like a pedestrian topic, but in it you learn secrets like how to make InDesign do math for you (ever tried to add 3/16" and 2cm together?) and how to set InDesign up to use unusual schemes like ciceros or agates in Setting Measurement Units and Using Rulers in InDesign.

    Sometimes a secret is a solution to an annoying problem. One problem some designers have encountered is getting swatches to delete from the Swatches palette. If you're having this kind of trouble, check out Can't Delete Swatches in InDesign? Try These Troubleshooting Tips.

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    Type Secrets

    Typesetting is a precise art, and the type secrets of whatever program you're designing in must be less an opaque mystery and rather a tool of good design. Designers or page layout artists who don't know how to find special punctuation characters in InDesign are not merely missing out on a fantastic tip, they're missing out on a critical job skill. The same goes for designers who don't know how to use InDesign's text wrap settings to create the text flow effect they need. You might know the basic settings for text wrap, or the most common punctuation characters, but when you need a discretionary hyphen or if you need to flow text exactly 12 points from the edges of a graphics frame, these articles deliver with the information you need.

    Creating paragraph styles in InDesign is another essential secret for designers to know, so essential it should be considered rightly a basic layout skill. Any time you're working with large volumes of text, paragraph styles (and character styles) are an incredible time-saver because they are used to quickly format headlines, subheads, body copy, etc.

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    The best InDesign secrets are tips and tricks that make working with InDesign even more productive and easy. We have loads of expert articles to share with you that divulge these secrets. This article brings everything together, talking about the secrets, like using text wrap options or creating vector art in InDesign, and including links to the articles that go into them in great detail.

    To make best use of this article, you may want to bookmark it and refer back to it whenever you're ready to pick up a new secret.