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Can someone help demystify how primary text frames actually work?

Community Beginner ,
Feb 11, 2017

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Here's the scenario: I have a document that's set up to use facing pages with a primary text frame, and in that document I have multiple facing page masters, each of which is a mirrored layout: for example, the master named "Object Above" would have a text frame on the bottom and an empty graphic frame on the top of the left and right pages. The text frame on the left page is marked as a primary text frame and threaded to the one on the right. This pattern is repeated through all the masters in the document.

Now, let's say I set up a document with multiple pages based on different masters. While the masters are set up as facing pages, they are often applied to single pages in the document-- so a left page "Object Above" could be next to a right page "Object Outside". My expectation is that because all of the masters use primary text frames, when I paste content into Page 1 it will automatically flow into all of the existing primary text frames on the other pages. What happens instead is either nothing (if I have smart reflow turned off) or the document creates multiple new pages based on whatever master page one is (if I have smart reflow turned on).

In order to text to flow as I expect, I still have to manually thread all of the text frames in the document. But I thought the whole point of primary text frames was that you didn't have to do that-- InDesign would just know that any text should flow to the master frame of the next page.

Am I using the feature incorrectly, or just misunderstanding how it works? I've done a lot of digging on this topic but haven't been able to find any answers. If anyone can shed light on why I'm having this issue, I'd be grateful.

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Correct answer by rob day | Adobe Community Professional

Am I using the feature incorrectly, or just misunderstanding how it works?

I was checking my post and you can do this which might be close to what you are looking for:

Here I've set up a 12 page doc with all A-master pages that have primary text frames and they are threaded.

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.26.52 PM.png

If I add text to the primary thread it flows as expected:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.27.18 PM.png

Then drag and drop B-masters (which also have primary text frames) on to 2-3 and 6-7, the primary frames from the two masters are smart enough to re-thread themselves:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.27.38 PM.png

Then the B-master pages respond to a master page change:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.38.34 PM.png

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Can someone help demystify how primary text frames actually work?

Community Beginner ,
Feb 11, 2017

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Here's the scenario: I have a document that's set up to use facing pages with a primary text frame, and in that document I have multiple facing page masters, each of which is a mirrored layout: for example, the master named "Object Above" would have a text frame on the bottom and an empty graphic frame on the top of the left and right pages. The text frame on the left page is marked as a primary text frame and threaded to the one on the right. This pattern is repeated through all the masters in the document.

Now, let's say I set up a document with multiple pages based on different masters. While the masters are set up as facing pages, they are often applied to single pages in the document-- so a left page "Object Above" could be next to a right page "Object Outside". My expectation is that because all of the masters use primary text frames, when I paste content into Page 1 it will automatically flow into all of the existing primary text frames on the other pages. What happens instead is either nothing (if I have smart reflow turned off) or the document creates multiple new pages based on whatever master page one is (if I have smart reflow turned on).

In order to text to flow as I expect, I still have to manually thread all of the text frames in the document. But I thought the whole point of primary text frames was that you didn't have to do that-- InDesign would just know that any text should flow to the master frame of the next page.

Am I using the feature incorrectly, or just misunderstanding how it works? I've done a lot of digging on this topic but haven't been able to find any answers. If anyone can shed light on why I'm having this issue, I'd be grateful.

Adobe Community Professional
Correct answer by rob day | Adobe Community Professional

Am I using the feature incorrectly, or just misunderstanding how it works?

I was checking my post and you can do this which might be close to what you are looking for:

Here I've set up a 12 page doc with all A-master pages that have primary text frames and they are threaded.

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.26.52 PM.png

If I add text to the primary thread it flows as expected:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.27.18 PM.png

Then drag and drop B-masters (which also have primary text frames) on to 2-3 and 6-7, the primary frames from the two masters are smart enough to re-thread themselves:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.27.38 PM.png

Then the B-master pages respond to a master page change:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.38.34 PM.png

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Feb 11, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 11, 2017

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Are you inserting a new page one? If so, look at the frame with the selection tool and you will see empty ports, meaning it is not linked.

Instead, create the page 1 with a page break and it will be part of the thread.

It's okay to have multiple masters with a primary text frame.

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Feb 11, 2017 1
Community Beginner ,
Feb 11, 2017

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Depends on what you mean by inserting a new page one. What I typically do is set up, most of the pages I think I'll need in advance-- so I'll add a cover, a few spreads with each page set to a different master, then a back cover. I'd then click the text frame of page one and paste the content into it. The result is that the text overflows in that frame rather than automatically flowing into the master text frames on all the other pages. I then have to manually link the text frame to the other pages just as I would if I was working with a normal text frame.

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Feb 11, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 12, 2017

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Feb 12, 2017 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 12, 2017

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There are several ways to "Insert" pages into InDesign, and all of these will create the problem you are seeing.

Pages panel menu

Drag master to create a new page

Click the New button

Layout menu

Right Click

Try this for an experiment. Create a new document with multiple pages and a primary text frame.

From the Type menu, fill with placeholder text. Every page will be filled, because all pages are linked. Adding content creates new pages.

Create a second master and apply it to some of the pages. The text flows.

Then Right-click and Insert a page. This new page is not connected to the other pages. The inport and outport are both empty.

If you want to add new content, click with your type tool and just add it. Use page breaks or frame breaks from the Type menu, or better use Paragraph styles > Keep Options and set them there.

Your mistake has been to create all the pages first (manually) and they are separate, but can be flow unto themselves.

Does this make sense?

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Feb 12, 2017 1
Community Beginner ,
Feb 13, 2017

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I think I got it. So basically InDesign will only auto-flow to new pages created via smart reflow. Otherwise, new pages created manually are regarded as independent entities and must be threaded like normal text frames. Hm. Well, that seems like an odd way to implement that particular feature, but it's hardly the first quirk of InDesign I've encountered over the years. I'll re-think the way I have my template set up with this in mind. Thanks!

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Feb 13, 2017 0
jane-e LATEST
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 13, 2017

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Now that you've got it, Ashley, there's one more thing:

go to Preferences > Type and check Delete Empty Pages.

Otherwise you have to delete them yourself.

Again, in the scenario I gave you, select all and double the leading.

The page count doubles. Undo.

Repeat with Delete Empty Pages. The empty pages disappear.

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Feb 13, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 12, 2017

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In order to text to flow as I expect, I still have to manually thread all of the text frames in the document. But I thought the whole point of primary text frames was that you didn't have to do that-- InDesign would just know that any text should flow to the master frame of the next page.

A primary text frame is simply a designated master page item that is automatically overridden when a page is created from that master, so autoflowing text wouldn't automatically go from A to some other master. The page's overridden primary text frame remains linked to its master and continues to act like a master page item.

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Feb 12, 2017 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 12, 2017

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Am I using the feature incorrectly, or just misunderstanding how it works?

I was checking my post and you can do this which might be close to what you are looking for:

Here I've set up a 12 page doc with all A-master pages that have primary text frames and they are threaded.

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.26.52 PM.png

If I add text to the primary thread it flows as expected:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.27.18 PM.png

Then drag and drop B-masters (which also have primary text frames) on to 2-3 and 6-7, the primary frames from the two masters are smart enough to re-thread themselves:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.27.38 PM.png

Then the B-master pages respond to a master page change:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 12.38.34 PM.png

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Feb 12, 2017 3
Community Beginner ,
Feb 13, 2017

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This is exactly what I wanted! Between your post and Jane-E's I realized that my understanding of how primary text frames work was incorrect (though I think the correct implementation is unintuitive). I'll drag masters onto existing pages rather than inserting pages based on the desired master in order to achieve the setup I'm after. Thanks!

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Feb 13, 2017 1