Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to Make Lumberjack Plaid

How do you think this plaid was created? Squares: stepped and repeated? Or perhaps using a plugin? Or maybe a table? Learn how by reading this article over at InDesign Secrets.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pointer Lines for Technical Writers: Part 2

Five years ago, I began using a workflow which involved using pointer line to call out objects on technical photographs. Part 1 shows you how to make a basic pointer line. Part 2 shows you how to make an inverted pointer line.

Read the entire article at InDesign Secrets.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Replace Pages in a PDF using Acrobat's Pages Panel

If you've been working with PDFs in Acrobat for awhile, you've more than likely needed at some point in time to replace pages in a PDF. So how do you normally go about that? Either using Tools > Pages > Replace

or Page Thumbnails > Options > Replace Pages...

But I wondered if there was a more graphical way to go about replacing pages. What I mean is this: we can drag the page thumbnails around in the pages pane and rearrange pages. We can even open up two PDFs and drag a thumbnail from one to another a source PDF to a target PDF to add a page. But what about replacing pages?

After a bit of experimenting, I finally figured it out. If you've ever used symbols or patterns in Illustrator, you're familiar with the idea of holding down modifier keys while you drag new artwork over the symbol or swatches icons in the respective palettes. The same idea holds true here, only it is much less obvious.

 I think the reason this feature is not known is because of the ridiculously small icons Acrobat uses during the move maneuver. They are so small, they are practically indistinguishable, and look like no more than specs of dust on the screen. But I digress.

Insert a Page from Another PDF

Select a thumbnail of the source PDF and drag it to the thumbnails pane of the target PDF. The page is inserted wherever the blue line appears. (Click on the graphics to enlarge them.)

Drag to Insert a Page
Inserted Page
INSERT Page Icon: A tiny little plus sign

Move a Page from Another PDF

To move a page from one document to another: hold down the Cmd key when dragging. This will move (or remove, if you prefer) the page from the source document and add it to the target document. The page will be added wherever the blue line appears. Note: The source document must contain at least two pages, or you will get a "Bad Parameter" error. And then Acrobat will probably crash...

Move Pages

Obligatory "Are You Sure" Disclaimer

Page 1 has been removed from the source PDF and moved to the target PDF
MOVE Page Icon: Dog-eared Paper

Replace Page using one from Another PDF

To replace a page in one PDF, using a page from another PDF, drag from the source PDF to the recipient PDF, while holding Ctrl + Option + Cmd. A blue border appears around the entire page thumbnail. Once you click through the "Are You Sure" warning, the page will be replaced in the target document, and still remain in the source document.

Replace Pages

Obligatory "Are You Sure" Disclaimer
REPLACE Pages Icon: Checkerboard Pattern and Big Blue Border
Pages replaced in PDF. Original source PDF remains intact.

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.