Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Wish List for Notes - Across the Suite

I am a huge fan of PDF Commenting. I love notes for a variety of reasons:
  • For collaboration with editors
  • To help me quickly locate non-searchable text (scanned text, or text in images)
  • To give instructions to printers
  • To keep myself organized
  • For color coding systems and different types of information
  • PDF commenting forces others to organizes their thoughts into something cohesive right on the page (as opposed to emailing general gibberish)
This article is a follow-up to one of my previous articles: My Wish List for Notes in Adobe InDesign.


  • I wish that like in Photoshop or Acrobat, a note could reside independent of a text flow.
  • I wish that I could natively apply notes to objects and they would appear in the Notes panel. (Notes can be applied to objects via the ObjectNotes script, but they can only be navigated to using the NoteNavigator Script.)
  • I wish that notes from InDesign could export to PDF automatically, to either Print PDF or Interactive PDF. (You can include InDesign Notes when exporting to PDF using PDF Stickies.)
  • I wish that I could choose different note colors and icons, right within InDesign.
  • I wish that my username and date would appear as the author of the note within Acrobat (just as they already do for InCopy.)
  • I wish I could automatically import notes back into my InDesign document, from the corresponding Acrobat document. (This functionality is available using DTP Tools Annotations.) I also want the replies to come along with it.
  • I wish that I could import text highlights into InDesign, as non-printing objects, sort of like invisible characters, that they would only appear in Normal Mode, and not in Preview mode. (This functionality is available using DTP Tools Annotations.)
Many of my ideas for InDesign notes can be incorporated right into the existing Notes panel.


  • I wish that I could specify my username, and choose icons, colors, etc.
  • I wish that drawing markups would import.


  • I wish that Illustrator could make notes. Or read notes. Or do anything at all with notes.

In Acrobat

  • I wish that that when I have along list of comments, that the scroll wheel would scroll down through the list, but I have to instead use the scroll bar to scroll down.
  • I wish that Sort Comments by Color would be restored as a feature (it was removed in Acrobat X).

  • I wish for the return of the amazing comment toolbar in Acrobat 9. While I can undock the Comments Pane in Acrobat XI, all the handy tools are missing and I cannot dock the Comments pane to the bottom of my document. 
The Acrobat 9 Comments Pane has lots of many tools

The Acrobat XI Comments Pane (even when undocked) has just a couple difficult-to-use sorting methods, and is missing all the handy tools
Is there anything you would like to see in commenting throughout the suite? Leave your comments below. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Precise Pattern Positioning in Illustrator

Pattern swatches in Illustrator are typically used to cover large areas, and as such, precise placement of the swatch within each object isn't typically a concern. I was recently approached to help solve a pattern dilemma, and the design I came up with is a takeoff on an Object Mosaic Technique that I wrote about here. This article will teach you how to control where your pattern swatch is located with your objects.

Read the entire article at Creative Pro. http://www.creativepro.com/article/precise-pattern-positioning-illustrator

Friday, May 16, 2014

Working with Smart Folders in OS X

A smart folder is a folder in Mac OS whose contents determined by a set of rules that you’ve created. It’s very similar to Smart Collections in Bridge, only on a OS-wide level. You can make smart folders that automatically collect all kinds of documents on your computer together into a single location — but remember that the files just look like they’re in that folder; they aren’t really there.

Read the entire article at InDesign Secrets.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

How to Globally Change Font Size of Text in a PDF Sticky Note

Recently I got a message from someone wanting help with enlarging the text in a PDF sticky note. He referenced this article: How to Edit Font Properties Within a PDF Sticky Note 
"My font in my PDF sticky notes changed when I had some trouble saving the document. It is very small; I can bearly see it. I did what you said but it just works for one note. I have documents with more than 1000 notes and I was wondering if there is some way to change them all at once."

Setting Default Commenting Preferences

Note that the default preferences for PDF sticky notes in Acrobat are set in Preferences > Commenting.

Changing Font Size in a Sticky Note

But in the case of my reader, his sticky note font size had somehow changed later on, and he needed to globally change the size of the font. Now, there is a way to change sticky note font size in Acrobat, but as he discovered, it only works one sticky note at a time. First go to View > Properties > Toolbar Items > Properties Bar (or press Ctrl/Cmd + E).

How to Show Properties
Sticky Note Properties

Now, you may be confused because the Properties Bar doesn't show anything about changing font size. But it's contextual. Click inside your text, and then you'll be able to change the font size.

Pop-Up Text Properties

Changing the Properties of Multiple Comments at Once

There is also a way to change the properties of many sticky notes at once, but sadly, font size is excluded from this. First, select your comments on the Comments pane. Then right click > Properties.

You'll get two tabs here: Appearance and General. While there are many useful things you can change here, font type and size are not among them. Font size, color, and typeface are in the Pop-up Text Properties (as opposed to Sticky Note Properties).

So if we can't globally change sticky note font size in Acrobat, where can we? Your text editor of choice. I like TextWrangler.

The trick is that we need to export the comments out as a separate file and work with them alone. I wrote an article about this idea on Creative Pro: Working With FDFs: Forms Data Files. Take a moment, go read that article and then come back.

Editing the Font Properties in TextWrangler

So now that you know what an FDF file is, export you comments and open them up in TextWrangler. Do a search for some text in one of your comments. Alternatively, you could search for the bit of code: "font-size:" Even though the default point size in Acrobat (according to the Preferences > Commenting) is 12 point, for some reason here in TextWrangler, it's listed as 14 point. Not sure why...

Anyhow, change your point size from the small number to your desired larger number. I changed mine from 10.5 to 14. Now, my example just had two comments, but yours may have more. If you want to be extra sure you're not inadvertently changing the wrong thing, make you find and replace query a bit longer and more specific, like so:

Now save the file and go back to Acrobat.

Meanwhile, back in Acrobat…

In the Comments Pane, select all your Sticky Notes. Now take a deep breath and hit Delete. Now all you have to do is double click your FDF file and Acrobat will import all those comments, like magic! You don't even have to tell it what PDF it's supposed to go with. Neat, huh?

The cool thing about this is that Acrobat has a built-in limitation of around 20 points for maximum font size. But by editing the text size in TextWrangler, you can get around this limitation and make the text as big (or as small) as you'd like.

Now the text is no longer small
If you enjoyed this article, join me at PePcon in Chicago this June, where I'll be speaking on PDF Commenting.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Help! Where is the Marquee Zoom in Acrobat?

In older versions of Acrobat (version 9 and below), we used to be able to click on the handy marquee zoom tool in the toolbar. I think it may have even been up there by default.

Marquee Zoom docked into Toolbar in Acrobat 9

But like so many other tools, the marquee zoom get moved in Acrobat X and XI. My first thought was that it would be in the Tools pane. But nope!

So how about in the Tool Sets? Nope, not there either.

What about View > Tools? Again, no. That just displays the same list of tools as the Tools Pane.

I also thought "Create New Tool Set" might let me dock the marquee zoom, but once again, nope! 

The Tools in this list seem to be more of functions (things you want to accomplish) rather than tools as we designers would normally think of them. They are a duplicate of what tools are listed in the Tools pane.

What about View > Zoom? Well, that shows the tool I want, but I really don't want to have to navigate through the menus every time I need to use the marquee zoom. I'm really just looking for a way to get the marquee zoom docked into my toolbar.

Apparently, the marquee zoom did not get grouped with all the other tools. Rather, it is classified as a "Toolbar Item," whatever that means... And if you want to show it, you have to go digging through four levels of menus. Seriously? No wonder I couldn't find this for over two years.

I have to ask: wouldn't a Toolbar Item also be considered a tool? Apparently not in Acrobat... Nevertheless, I now have my precious and oft-used marquee zoom out in the open where I can actually get to it.

Marquee Zoom docked into Toolbar in Acrobat XI!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Relinking Graphics: Tired of Navigating to the the Original Link Folder? Fix it!

Do you often have to relink images in your InDesign documents, only to have InDesign point you to a folder from an entirely different project or client? Then you have to go navigating through your hard drive, looking for the correct links folder? Well, be frustrated no more!

This article can be found at InDesign Secrets.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Easier Way to Do an 11x17 Foldout Page

Lately, I've been working on training manuals. The manuals are printed on standard 8.x5 x 11" paper, 3-hole drilled, and placed into a binder. But sometimes, there is an 11x17 foldout page. While InDesign allows for mixed page sizes in a single document, it gets complicated (easily messed up) when the content of all the pages flows together in one story. I've come up with a fairly fool proof solution to this problem. It involves creates the entire document as 8.5 x 11 and using Acrobat to attach the 11x17 file.

1. Make a empty page in your InDesign document. It should be part of the threaded story.

Empty Page with a threaded frame

2. Create an 8.5 x 11 graphic frame and make it anchored into this empty frame. Set the Anchored Object settings according to the graphic below.

Graphic Frame Anchored into the Text Frame
Anchored Object Settings for a full page centered graphic

3. Place the 11x17 foldout page as a graphic into the graphic frame you just made.

4. Add a big yellow text frame indicating what this page is for.

Be sure to anchor this text frame into the same place as you anchored the graphic frame. You may need to scoot the graphic frame out of the way for a moment in order to anchor the yellow frame.

5. I also like to add an InDesign Note indicating what is supposed to happen with this page.

I use a plugin called PDF Stickies. It converts my InDesign Notes into PDF sticky notes. I wrote an article about how to use that plugin here. The important thing to do here is to type in the filename of the 11x17 foldout graphic that needs to go here in the final printed piece.

6. Add a blank page after the one you've just made.

Then, using the story editor, copy and paste the contents from the right facing page to the left facing blank page you just added.

7. Change the text to indicate that this is the backside of the 11x17 page. 

This serves to keep your page numbering correct upon final output.

8. Export the PDF.

Note: in order to get the PDF Stickies plugin to export the stickies to a Print PDF, you need to add the InDesign document to a book and then export from there.

9. Open the file in Acrobat and go to the Comments pane. Also open up the Annotations twirl down.

10. In the Comments List, you'll find the name of the 11x17 graphic that the printer will be printing full size and inserting here. Copy that filename.

11. In the Annotations twirl down, click on the little paperclip icon.

Attach File

12. When Acrobat asks you what file to attach, paste the filename you just copied into the search field.

See how it attached the file and made a comment all in one fell swoop?

Attachment Comment in Acrobat

13.  Now you can delete the yellow sticky note comment in the Comments List.

12. Be sure to tell your printer about the 11x17 foldout page and let him know that the page location is referenced in the Comments List, and the 11x17 file to print is in the attachments pane.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Wish List for Notes in Adobe InDesign

This is a post for the Adobe InDesign team, or for any InDesign developer who would like to tackle this project.

I would like to see Notes move seamlessly between Adobe products:
There are two  plugins that address the issue of Notes in InDesign.

The missing link is a solution that will let me export all sorts of annotations to Acrobat in one fell swoop. The reason is because I create technical documents and I often need to get clarification about certain bits of text in a long threaded text frame. I would like a way to tag that text right in InDesign and have that tag appear as a PDF annotation.

I’d like a way to repurpose the XML tagging capabilities of InDesign to allow me to create PDF annotations. Here is how I envision the annotated text to look in the Story Editor.

Story Editor display, with annotated text markup displayed

Here is what I envision the capabilities of the new and improved Notes panel:

  • Blocks of text can be marked for PDF annotation, right in InDesign
  • We should be able to choose annotation type, icon, and color in the InDesign Notes panel (preferably without having to open a second dialog box to do so.
  • A note navigator that lists all the notes at the bottom of the Notes Panel, under a new twirl down.
  • These annotations would be capable of appearing in both Print and Interactive PDFs

Here is an illustration demonstrating what I would like to see the UI look like. The Notes panel will have three new drop downs on the top right: Annotation Type, Icon, and Color. At the bottom of the panel will be a twirl down listing all the notes in the document.

New and Improved Notes Panel

New Drop Downs in the Notes Panel
If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about how notes can make your publishing workflow more efficient, join me at PePcon 2014, where I will be speaking on PDF Annotations.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Understanding Dotted Stroke Styles in InDesign

InDesign’s Stroke Styles, especially the dotted stroke styles, are a mysterious topic; and for good reason. The Adobe InDesign Help File offers just basic instructions on how to create custom stroke styles, but essentially no information on the logic behind how they work. This article is dedicated to demystifying the dotted stroke styles. To access the Stroke Styles dialog box, click on the Stroke panel flyout menu, then choose Stroke Styles.

Read the entire article at Creative Pro.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Working With FDFs: Forms Data Files

If you are a designer, you'll rarely come across an FDF file. In fact, you may have never even heard of FDF, since it's not among the familiar formats that designers know and love. But there's a lot to like about FDFs: their compact nature can simplify your workflow and in some instances, save you a lot of time and effort.

Read the entire article at Creative Pro.