Team Leaders: Share your best practices for InDesign!

New Here ,
Jan 26, 2022 Jan 26, 2022

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Hello fellow creatives! I am coming to the group today with my mind wide open, looking for new ideas and recommendations for practices. I have been blessed with a rare opportunity (at least, a first in my career) to build a creative department from scratch. Having inherited several existing teams in the past, I have spent countless hours (OK... years) trying to retool very basic practices like file naming conventions, version counting (internal vs. external, to differentiate billable versions), setting up consistent styles for team-wide use (including hot keys), and so on. So much time has been spent trying to understand how one user set up their document versus another. I can't tell you how many times I've had to search and replace 15 manually-keyed spaces after someone didn't know to use a line break. The "library" feature has always eluded me but I can only assume it must be a great resource when used to its full potential.

 

If you could wave a magic wand and have your whole team follow one best practice, what would it be? Bonus points if you can share a solid way to document those practices so everyone can train to them from the get-go. TIA!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 05, 2022 Mar 05, 2022

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Hi @Lindsay22846759imai It's interesting you haven't had any replies in more than a month. Of course, you are asking the crowd to provide you with their years of InDesign best-practice knowledge for free. I will give you one: Never copy and paste anything into InDesign. Always place or import assets. The way to document this is to create individual, parent project folders with all assets for that project in sub-folders under the same parent, either on local or in-house networked shared drives. Sync to cloud storage as backups separately. Wishing you the best of success with building your procedure manual.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 05, 2022 Mar 05, 2022

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Default settings. Whenever I setup a new installation of InDesign I make sure my default settings are where I want them by making the following changes while no documents are open:

 

Swatches panel: Delete unused swatches. I have never wanted to use the default swatches. I will make swatches for the colours I need in each document.

 

Paragraph Styles panel: Click in the empty area so the default style is None, not Basic Paragraph. I cannot stress enough how important it is to never apply Basic Paragraph to any text, never base any styles on Basic Paragraph, and never ever edit Basic Paragraph.

 

Document Setup: Turn off Facing Pages. I rarely need facing pages.

 

Preferences > General: Turn off Show Home Screen adn turn on Legacy New Document dialogue. I'm old.

 

Preferences > Units & Increments: Set keyboard increments to one point for everything except kerning tracking, which gets 5/1000 em. The defaults are too large, always have been. It's ridiculous that this is a documnet preference, not an application preference.

 

Preferences: Appearance of Black: Display and Output All Blacks Accurately.

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New Here ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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Great stuff, thanks Jeff! You are so right, taking a few moments to set up a document can save so many headaches. I had not thought of several of these. THANK YOU!

 

One thing I eventually learned to do was start a new doc and import standard paragraph styles. Even if you don't use them all, it prevents everyone setting styles up manually and naming them goodness knows what! 

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New Here ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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Correction - thank you Scott (clearly not Jeff)!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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Add a box in the slug area to hold all of the print size, specs and other pertinent information. I work mostly with packaging, and each new change gets its own tracking number. (Such as why this change was made, and who the designer is). We put old and new number in the box. We keep a template of the specs box in a shared library. 

Emphasize the importance of packaging the file as a last step before archiving it on your server. I can't tell you how many times I have pulled down a file to update, and found that it had missing links.

I feel your pain about the line breaks. I have found files in which a series of tabs was used at the end of each line for that purpose. I would have a sheet of typographic best practices, including always using styles (avoiding overiding said styles), never using an extra paragraph return to add space between paragrahs. (or even worse, using wonky leading and/or baseline shift for this.)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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@SJRiegel Good suggestion!

I've used a sign off list for client approval. (Used to rubber stamp every page with similar table in the old Quark days...)

This is where all questions/comments go so they never end up on the page.

 

If a letter size job, I make the slug fit a legal page for printout if using physical prints, however I prefer a PDF workflow. 

image.png

 

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert (since 1995)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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David

We used to  use paper folders and physical signatures, but have now moved to an online proofing sytem. (PageProof) It makes it easier to keep up with where a project is in the workflow, and allows for several people to proof at the same time.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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Yes--there are a few good systems out there. Not knowing the size/budget of the organization, I like to give options. Even $200 per month might be much for some non-profits. 

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert (since 1995)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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You mentioned most of this already...

  • Work out a naming system for everything--file names to styles. Style names should be based on function, not what they look like (this is usually the case with paragraph styles but often skipped with character styles). Name styles with the main category first, then secondary categories. For example, Body_main, Body_Bullet_L1 (L1 stands for level 1), etc. 
  • Build everything using the same methodology--for example, I always start with parent pages (if applicable), move to type styles, then table styles (if applicable), and object styles, etc.
  • I try to use styles and presets for everything--even two-page brochures. Once I'm past the initial page setup, most of my workflow uses the same process. 
  • Keep all names from being too cryptic so others don't have to spend two days figuring everything out if they end up with the job.

 

Work out a good file sharing and archival system, especially if not all users are local.

  • If everyone is in the same building and (nearby) office, sometimes a physical job folder/ticket is still handy--the person who has the folder is the only one who can edit the file.
  • Of course, there are CMS and DAM programs available too that may use electronic job tickets.
  • Don't forget the 1-2-3 backup: 1 live copy (#1), 1 local backup (#2), and on off-site copy such as a cloud storage (#3). This may not be your responsibility but you should work out the details with the IT dept. For example, what happens if the server or internet is down?

 

Get a budget for third-party plugins (and streamline the approval process)--they can be a great time saver. For example, EmSoftware plugins can save hours of edit time. 

 

Review the system periodically so nothing is written in stone. Practically any workflow can be improved upon. (50% of most workflows is based on company politics, not practical production workflow...) That said, users shouldn't just change the system because they want to; remind them there is a process for changing the workflow and that they are professionals.

 

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert (since 1995)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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Paragraph Style Naming

Name all styles the same in every document.

  1. Never name a style according to its appearance. You need to rename it every time you make a change.
  2. All styles should be children or grandchildren from 1 basic style. I name it always p. If I need global changes, like the language or main font settings, I need to make the change here and any other style inherits the changes from its parental ancestor.
  3. Name the style according to its semantic. For me it helps to name basic paragraph styles similar to html, like p, h1, h2, ol, etc.
  4. If all styles are always named I can use presets for many things like Word Styles, TOC Styles, Object Styles with paragraph (and next) style etc.
  5. Name all styles the same way, e.g. with small or capital letter. So you get used to it and it will avoid duplicates with caps or non caps.
  6. I a style is dependend on another style make it class like, e.g. p ist the basic, p.intro is the first paragraph. So I know, when I change the parent style, children will inherit this changes too.
  7. Keep style names short. Some dialog fields are way too small in InDesign. So you have a chance to see the whole style name. E.g. the dialog for cross refences.
  8. If all styles have the name and you work in book files indb, synchronizing will not add no new styles.
  9. For several reasons I need often different style and next style solutions for Object Styles. So I might have a headline h3 which ist never used or have a little difference in the color or something else, but their children are h3.frame, h3.red, h3.blue. I want that they look in other aspects the same. So I need only to edit the parent style (which often happens that it is not used in the document) and the children inherit the changed properties.
  10. You can save several not so often used styles in the CC Library. You can hang it into a document when these styles are based on the documents style.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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Yes--based-on, or derivative, styles are a must! And don't forget Next Style when it makes sense. 

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert (since 1995)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 10, 2022 Mar 10, 2022

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Avoid unwanted repaginating during editing

It happens often that in longer documents editing in a story will push new pages after an article. At the end it will have the length which allows to stay in the same.

I add in the story thread a new frame beside the last page to get overrun text there. I can see how much I need to shorten and very important, this overflow text does not cause temprorary new pages.

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