I’ve just come across something that I haven’t seen before in the years I’ve been using InDesign to typeset books.
I’m currently co-setting a book with two other layouters; the book is three volumes with 800 pages each, and each volume is a single InDesign file, not a Book document. On most pages, has a running header which is a text variable of type Running Header (Character Style) (First on Page). The character style is auto-applied as a nested style in all the relevant paragraph styles to make it automatically appear whenever a header of the right type is encountered, exactly as described on this page.
On most pages, this works fine. Whenever there is a ‘trigger’ (by which I mean a paragraph with one of the qualifying paragraph styles applied, or even text where the character style itself the text variable is based on has been manually applied) on a page, the running header on that and subsequent pages shows whatever text the trigger contains, as it should.
But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes, it ignores that there is one or more triggers present on the page and just continues showing the running header from the previous page(s). Sometimes, it even does a very odd thing where a trigger causes the correct header to appear on one or two pages, but then on the next page it goes back to showing the previous header again. So, with numbered headings on six consecutive pages as an example, the running headers might go 3.2 - 3.2 - 3.2 - 3.3 - 3.2 - 3.2: there’s a heading numbered 3.3 on the fourth page, but then on the fifth page, the running header somehow jumps back to 3.2 again.
Even more bizarrely, if I change the text variable to Last on Page instead of First on Page, this latter category doesn’t seem to occur – rather, it just keeps showing the previous running header throughout (so in the example, it would just show 3.2 the whole way through).
A fair few of the headings in the document are too long for running headers and require shortening. I’ve done this by typing in the shortened form in a text frame, which is placed outside the pasteboard and anchored to the beginning of the paragraph following the heading. For some reason, these shortened headings inside text frames outside the pasteboard are always shown correctly – it’s only when the triggering text is in the main body of text that it sometimes gets ignored.
The main text is not in primary text frames, so it’s not a primary vs non-primary issue. On the other hand, while this phenomenon appears in all three files/volumes in this book, as far as we’ve been able to ascertain/remember, it only started appearing when the workaround with the anchored text frames came into play. To begin with, when long headings just became automatic, unshortened, squished running headers, it didn’t seem to occur, so it seems to be somehow related to anchored objects… maybe.
I’ve tried Googling this issue, but I can’t find anything even remotely relevant or similar to it, and I’ve never seen it myself either. Has anyone come across this before? Is it a known bug? Or perhaps just a good indicator that the document is corrupt?
Edit: Posting here apparently gives better results than Googling. Just found this question and this one, both of which are actually very close to my issue here. Unfortunately, neither seems to be the same: my frames are all correctly threaded, and there are no extraneous frames on any of the pages.
Okay, so it turns out this isn’t random after all – the anchored text frames containing the abbreviated running headers are actually not just part of it, but the cause.
If you have a Running Header-type text variable based on a paragraph or character style and you anchor a frame containing text in that paragraph or character style, InDesign ignores all subsequent instances of the style in the containing story (but not in other anchored frames), using the text from the anchored frame as output for the text variable.
As soon as you remove the anchored frame, the issue goes away, and all text variables output the correct text. If you need the anchored frames (as I do here), it seems you’re just SOL – if you need one anchored frame, you’ll have to add one for every single time the running header should change until the end of the story.
Jumping back into inDesign after two years, ran into this headache when revising an old project.
By "anchored frame" do you mean threaded text? I've heard of anchored images, but not frames.
I too had done the off pasteboard workaround as well, but it wasn't as you've discovered 100% reliable. I tried a few things and discovered it had to do with the physical placement of the text frame. If the frame with my desired source text was just on the top left of the page, bingo.
Thanks in advance for any clarity. How much hair has been lost over this obscure issue I wonder.
thank you very much for investigating and reporting that issue.
Very much appreciated!
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