Thursday, September 23, 2010

A new use for InDesign Notes: Sub Conditional Text!

For awhile now, I've been wanting a way to have multiple levels of conditional text. Let's say that when the main option is Option 1, I also have two color choices available: Blue triangle and yellow triangle. But neither Blue triangle nor Yellow Triangle is available for Option 2.

I have been using conditional text to turn on and off the appropriate main options. But for the additional sub-options, I have run into problems trying to find the best way to have them available within the text flow. Usually, I just put the extra graphic off to the side somewhere on the pasteboard. The problem with that is when the text reflows, that pasteboard graphic might be somewhere else, on another page's pasteboard, and I have to go looking for it.

So I thought about using a layered PSD file, and using Object  Layer Options to turn on and off the appropriate layers for Blue Triangle or Yellow Triangle. But I don't want to do that. I want an inline visual indicator (and layered PSDs don't offer that).

Today I figured out that by converting inline graphics to Notes, you can create your own quasi-sub-conditional text. InDesign conditional text only allows for either visible or invisible (not if/then). So if I have conditions (blue triangle and yellow triangle) that are dependent upon other conditions (Option 1) being visible, I need to be able to choose which one is showing when I make Option 1 visible in the Conditional Text panel.

Enter "Convert to Note." I've honestly never found this feature useful. But for this purpose, it will be quite handy. I can turn on the main conditional text, and then using "Convert to Note", I can keep both sub-options (Blue Triangle and Yellow Triangle) available as independent objects within the text flow. But they will only be available when Option 1 is visible.

For another great article about InDesign Notes, check out this one at InDesign Secrets.

Author edit: 9-14-13: The amazing team over at Rorohiko took on the challenge of subconditional text and developed a plugin specifically for this purpose. I wrote an article about it at InDesign Secrets: Finally! Improved Conditional Text