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A relative Indesign newbie here, trying to learn the package by working on a long document. I have some experience in Framemaker, so learning Indesign’s book features was relatively easy.
To learn Indesign, I convert a large Excel table into a book. This is my first real project – of gargantuan size!
My Indesign book contains:
My 10 year old computer’s specs:
Observations and problems:
Need your suggestions:
I have worked on this project for the last 3 months and not being able to produce the complete book with all the designed features is confusing and unsettling.
Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.
I am willing to share/show my files with anyone who has the kindness to help me with the above issues.
Before plunging into your masterwork, I suggest you create a couple of practice documents first, otherwise, you may set your book up with some problems. LinkedIn Learning www.linkedin.com/ have some great introductory InDesign step-by-step video courses. (You can get 30-days free access.)
But come back to this friendly forum with specific questions of course.
Thanks for your kind reply. Having previously authored several 2000 + page technical manuals in Framemaker, I did not think making a 1000+ page book in Indesign could be so much of trouble. In any case, I did proceed logically, with smaller documents, and got success, before investing time into the large job.
The good news is that the project got completed and the 1156 page Indesign book is ready. However, I had to split the index in 4 parts, covering the 4 sections, as my computer is too feeble to handle the 20000 index entries in one file.
The experience has taught me a lot, including the hard disk running out of 120 GB of free space due to Indesign's temporary files.
How are you "updating" your index?
If you're checking the Replace Existing Index option in the Generate Index dialog box, and hoping to replace a huge existing index with a huge, updated index, that's going to be problematic. It's a false conomy.
I'd suggest you first try to generate a new, second index report by first un-checking the Replace Existing Index option, then creating the second index text without replacing the existing one. It may take a while for your system to chug along and generate the second index, and you'll have to re-apply any custom text formatting you did to make your existing index text look right, but this often fixes issues like you're experiencing right now.
Which brings up another question: Did you create your index entries by hand within InDesign? Or are you trying to translate your index from MSWord into InDesign, then convert that into PDF bookmarks? Because that's fraught with peril. PDF bookmarks relate, with InDesign terms, to Table of Contents entries. Which are a whole 'nother thing.
Please try first creating a second, discrete Index text, and place it separately, to see if that will work for you. You're really pushing the capabilities of the software and especially your hardware to churn out a job like this. InDesign files are much larger — and more complex — because they account for page geometry, typographic capabilities and element placement which is more capable and more complex than simple word processing files, which offer more rudimentary tools to do essentially the same thing not as well.
Hope this helps,
Thank you for a detailed and helpful reply. I appreciate your tip about not replacing the existing index with the new one, instead creating a new index first. Happily, the 1156 page Indesign book is complete, although the index is split in 4 parts due to the limitation of my computer's capabilities. After much consideration, having a single volume with a unified table of content but 4 different indices was a better option than having 4 separate volumes. This is due to the large number of cross-references that will break if the linked data was on another volume.
My large book in Indesign takes in data from a detailed Excel file. This is a railway guide containing thousands of station names over hundreds of routers. I separated the Excel file data into separate logical chapters and used the paragraph styles to generate the table of content. I used the text anchor to link cross-references and added index markers by hand to individual station names - around 20000 entries.
I would be happy to discuss my experience of working on a large book, including the numerous mistakes and errors made by yours truly.
First, congratulations on pulling your big job off. You're certainly describing a massive undertaking, and you're to be commended for bringing it across the line.
St. Thomas Aquinas once said "the obstacle strengthens the will."
You, my friend, have proven you have quite strong will.
Adobe Systems stated specifications for InDesign are targeted for running the program efficiently while creating "typical documents." Your jobs are far more demanding than said typical documents. So all I can offer is a nominally informed opinion about what may make your jobs run more smoothly.
There will be areas where improving hardware performance will make your job easier. There may also be areas where no matter what hardware you have, you will be limited by the capabilities of your software. And quite possibly, exceed the capabilities of both your hardware and software. So please take my recommendations with about a pillar's worth of salt.
Yes, your current system is woefully inadequate for the job. If you're really going to be crunching data like this job, even one more time, you need to specify a powerful system from ground (system board, really) up.
These will get you the kind of system that can best serve your demanding duties. But as I mentioned above, hardware may not be your only limitation here. You're pushing the envelope here, in test pilot terms. And the best hardware setup on Earth may not get you everything you need. Because you're pushing the boundaries of what your software can do, too. I've done a lot of long documentation, and I've done some serious data-intensive publishing. Truthfully, you're pushing the boundaries of Adobe InDesign past anything I've ever done with it.
As to whether InDesign is the best tool for doing this? I don't know. If you find InDesign is your preferred tool to do this, and you can work your way around the limitations, I'd say you know you can do this, and an improved spec for your computer will make doing this much easier. Certainly there are solutions tailored for doing this type of work, with FrameMaker as a prime example, which could make your task easier. How much easier, I can't say. You'd have to be the judge of that.
Regarding your dead cross-references, I can't offer you a perfect solution. It could be software related, it could be hardware limitations, or it could be a workflow issue. And again, since you're pushing the system so hard it's going to be hard to find someone else who may be experiencing the problem, much less able to offer you a solution. If you know you're doing it right, and you're still experiencing the issue on an relatively rare and random basis, I think you may have to chalk it up as another obstacle you have to overcome. One, fortunately, you have the skill — and the will — to conquer.
Hope I haven't bored you with this little novella. But this is the best I can offer you based on the information you've shared.
Thank you Randy, I will use your recommendation for the new computer that I wish to have. Didn't know about the performance benefits of blade type SSDs, until your reply.
Future sees - a lot of serious expenses...