Thursday, August 28, 2014

Making a Checkerboard Pattern With Nested Styles

I love coming up with new and unusual ways to make patterns in InDesign. Awhile back, I came up with a way to make 1950′s inspired floor tiles; basically, a black and white checkerboard pattern. But I recently thought it would be fun to try creating this same effect using text.

Read the entire article at InDesign Secrets.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Improved Sample Buttons and Forms Library Panel

Did you know that InDesign has a built-in library of buttons and forms elements? Not only that, did you know that InDesign library items can be key wording for easy searching? Learn more by reading the entire article at InDesign Secrets.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Adobe InDesign Continues To Define Desktop Publishing

I was recently honored to be asked my opinions of Adobe InDesign for a article in Forbes magazine. InDesign is, in large part, one of the reasons why I am able to have a successful publishing company. My company creates owner's manuals for custom yachts and InDesign is the most efficient, the most capable, and the most flexible means of production.

Read the entire Forbes article here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How to Run Acrobat XI Actions in 1-click Instead of 3

This post is deals with the annoyance of having the click three times to run an action in Acrobat XI. I stumbled across this solution when I noticed that running some of my actions requires three clicks, while others only require one click. I realized that the 1-click actions were ones that I had imported from Acrobat X.

You see, back in Acrobat X, when we ran actions using the Action Wizard, they simply ran when we clicked on the action name. The first time we'd run the action, we'd just have to click once on the "Don't show again for this Action" dialog box. It was so efficient!

The only additional user interaction that was required was an acknowledgment that the action was completed. And I don't even count this as a required click, since I can dismiss the dialog box using my keyboard.

But so several other of my favorite Acrobat features, this one was removed in subsequent versions of Acrobat. I imagine it was part of a greater Acrobat Wizard "enhancement," but if you have older Acrobat actions that you don't need to edit, and just want to run with one click (as they used to), here is the workaround.

1. Go into Acrobat X Action Wizard Pane and select Edit Actions.

2. Select the Action you want to run with 1-click in Acrobat XI. Then chose Export.

3. Save the Action.

4. Go into the Action Wizard in Acrobat XI. You will get the following dialog box:
"The action appears to have been created with Acrobat X or earlier. You will be able to run the action, but it will not take full advantage of the new Action Wizard features in Acrobat XI. Do you still want to import the action?"

5. Click "Import" to import the action. Then Click "Close."

Now the action will run with a single click in Acrobat XI. Of course, you can't edit, rename it, copy it, or export it here in Acrobat XI, but that's fine by me. I just wanted a way to run this action without having to click three times.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Version-Specific Application Icons for InDesign

Before CS6, Adobe had different icons for each version of its applications. So it was relatively easy to tell which version you were using to open a file. Starting with CS6, Adobe stopped changing the icons for each version. So it was easy to get confused as to which version you very using. Today I decided to break down and finally make myself some new version-specific InDesign icons.

Read the entire article at InDesign Secrets.

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.

Like this article? You may also be interested in: My Wish List for Notes in Adobe InDesign.

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.

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!