Friday, April 29, 2011

Remove Trailing Whitespace Gotcha! Underline Tab Stops Disappear

As a book designer, I often design study guides. They're small little workbooks that are used in a roundtable discussion group. The workbook is designed to be written in. And of course, like every book designed to be written in, there are handy little lines on which to write. I have set up a paragraph style to format these lines. (Click on the images below to see a larger version of them.)

To format my line in InDesign, I have set up my document with a right-aligned tab stop, with an underscore leader, and then adjusted the tracking to tighten it up a bit.

Some people instead like to make underlines by creating an underlined tab (rather than a tab with an underscore leader), and then adjusting the thickness of the underline in the underline Option sections of the Paragraph Styles dialog box. Either way works fine.

But I discovered something yesterday that I feel compelled to share. I often use InDesign's built-in GREP find/change to clean up formatting. My favorites are "Multiple Return to Single Return", Multiple Space to Single Space", and "Remove Trailing Whitespace."


While wrapping up a project yesterday, I ran these GREP find-changes, clicked "OK," and then was about to scroll back through my document to give it a final look before making a PDF. But what did that dialog box just say?

Well, hang on a minute! I know that I had some extra space at the end of paragraphs, but 465 replacements seems a bit excessive. Remember how I had all those nicely formatted lines for writing on? Now they are all gone!

Apparently, InDesign's default GREP expression for "Remove Trailing Whitespace" also removes tabs at the end of a paragraph. But my tabs served a very important function: they provided the lines on which to write.

So, if you use InDesign's default "Remove Trailing Whitespace" GREP Find/Change expression, be aware that it can affect much more formatting than just the few extra spaces at the end of your paragraphs.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Extract Vector Logos from PDFs

So it may seem like awhile since I've done a blog post. The truth is, I've been busier than ever writing new articles. However, the reason I haven't been posting here is because I'm actually started to work with an editor to get my articles posted on another popular blog. So, please take a moment and visit, and check out my latest blog article there. You'll learn how to extract a vector logo from a PDF, using only Acrobat.

Creative Pro Article: Extract Vector Logos from PDFs

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How To Remove Reader Enablement in Acrobat

Today I am filling out a W-9 form. The IRS usually does a pretty good job making their forms fillable. I was successfully inputting my data and got about halfway down the page, when I came to the signature line.

I couldn't sign it.

Normally,when a form is properly setup, the signature field looks like this. See the little red "Sign Here" arrow?

With most PDFs, when I need to sign a document and there is no signature field, I can just make one. But with this PDF, that option is grayed out.

So I did a little research online and it turns out that this document had Reader Usage Rights enabled. Which is great for most people, because they can fill out the form on their computer, then print it and scan it back in.

But, I am not most people. I will go out of my way for an hour (or more) to avoid printing out a form and filling it out by hand. My husband asked me this morning, "Wouldn't it just be easier to fill out that form by hand?" To which I replied, "But Honey, what would blog about if I did that?"

So I tried following the instructions for removing the Reader Usage Rights. According the the dialog box, and several very popular forums, all I had to do was Save a Copy. Easy!

But despite three attempts at saving a copy of this file, I still couldn't make a signature field. So I decided to try a workaround. If you've read my other posts about Acrobat, you may know that it doesn't always do what I need it to do. And I have found a great solution for making PDFs...more accessible. ;)

That solution is Mac Preview. It's the free little application that comes on every mac (sorry Windows users), and is the default image viewer on a mac. Of course, as graphic designers, the first thing we do is change the default image viewer to Photoshop, and leave poor Preview to collect dust in the back of the Applications folder. But bring it out and have some fun! You'd be surprised what it can do. Check out my other articles about Mac Preview.

So I opened the file in Preview, saved a copy, and then reopened the file in Acrobat. And now I could make a signature field!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Adventures in Exporting: A Lesson in Patience

Today, I had a problem with Exporting a PDF file from InDesign CS5. I'm working on a 8-page newsletter, with lots of photos, illustrations, transparency, and such. I've been designing this quarterly newsletter for several years, without much complication.

Yesterday, I got the Dreaded "Failed to Export PDF" message. Apparently, this happens to many other designer around the world, but it has never happened to me before. I was able to track down the offending file and finally make a PDF. But it took 2 days and at least 30 or 40 attempts.

The source of the troublesome file was a word doc with charts in it. Call me stubborn, but I'm a die-hard mac user. I don't own any Microsoft products. Maybe I should break down and buy MS Office, but thus far, I've come up with workarounds to allow me to successfully view and extract data from Office documents. So, I'm still holding my ground as an all-mac office. But sometimes I need to come up with creative solutions to view certain file types. Normally it works pretty well. Today...not so much.

To designers around the world who have ever had a rough day and seemingly got nothing accomplished: I dedicate this post to you.

  1. Open the word doc in Preview. Charts don't show up.
  2. Upload the word doc to
  3. Save it as a PDF.
  4. Open PDF in Illustrator.
  5. Redraw/fix all graph artwork from Word. Use 3D, graphic styles, nice typography, etc.)
  6. Since there are multiple graphs, repeat Step 5 several times.
  7. Save as an AI file.
  8. Place into InDesign.
  9. Export PDF. Fail!
  10. Grumble.
  11. Try different PDF export settings. Fail!
  12. Grumble again.
  13. Export INDD file as IDML file.
  14. Open IDML file and repeat steps 11 and 12 for an hour. 
  15. Repair disk permissions.
  16. Give up and go to sleep.
  17. Wake up.
  18. Restart computer.
  19. Repeat step 11 and 12 a few more times.
  20. Surf the web looking for solutions.
  21. Quit all programs and relaunch InDesign. Export the PDF with no other programs open, and without paging through the document. Fail!
  22. Try saving the AI file as an EPS file. Relink the file in InDesign.
  23. Repeat steps 11 and 12.
  24. Search again for more help on forums and websites.
  25. Read a forum where the designers tell you to outline all your fonts in order to fix the problem.
  26. Gasp in horror.
  27. Find a different website with an alternate solution.
  28. Try creating a postscript file and distilling. Fail!
  29. Remove graph images.
  30. Export PDF. Success!
  31. Place offending graph images in their own InDesign document and Export a PDF. Success!
  32. Place resulting PDF into original InDesign.
  33. Export PDF. Success!
  34. Export another PDF with different DPI setting (just to verify that it actually works). Success!
  35. Take a lunch break.
  36. Confidently make change/edits to the graph illustration.
  37. Update file in workaround-INDD document.
  38. Export a PDF.
  39. Update linked PDF in original newsletter layout.
  40. Export a PDF. Fail!
  41. Repeat steps 11 through 12 a few times.
  42. Try creating creating and distilling a postscript file. Fail!
  43. Export a flattened PDF. Success!
  44. Export another flattened PDF, this time for the Spanish version, which has different layers. Success!
So when I send this file to press later this week, I'm thinking about including a letter of apology. What do you think?

And oh, by the way, I wanted to include a screenshot of the "Failed to Export PDF" error message, but of course, now I can't get the error message to show up. Seriously?!