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Adobe InDesign: Ten Little Tips You Need to Know!

by Barb Binder

Here a few of my favorite tips that most of my Advanced InDesign students don’t know. The first few are general tips, the rest have to do with setting type. How many of these are new to you?

  1. When you want a new default document, just tap Cmd+Opt+N (Windows: Ctrl+Alt+N) to bypass New Document dialog box. (This works in Photoshop & Illustrator, too!)
  2. To save all open documents to their existing locations and filenames, press Cmd+Opt+Sh+S (Windows: Ctrl+Alt+Sh+S).
  3. Double click text with the Selection Tool to switch to the Text tool. Press Esc to return to the Selection Tool.
  4. If you miss Word’s Autocorrect and Dynamic Spelling features when you are typing and editing in InDesign, turn them on in CS4/CS5 under Edit > Spelling. (If Autocorrect isn’t working right away, uncheck/recheck Enable Autocorrect in InDesign > Preferences > Autocorrect (Win: Edit > Preferences > Autocorrect) to populate the table of common misspellings.)
  5. When you want to increase/decrease the type size to fill a specific area, select it and tap Cmd+Sh+> to increase the size and Cmd+Sh+< to decrease it. (Win: Ctrl+Sh+> and Ctrl+Sh+<).
  6. To slightly tighten or loosen the letter spacing, select the text and tap Opt+Right Arrow Key to loosen the letter spacing and Opt+Left Arrow Key to tighten it. (Win: Alt + Left/Right arrows)
  7. When you want to set text flush left and flush right on the same line, set the paragraph to align left. Then click your mouse at the beginning of the section that you want to align right, and choose Type > Insert Special Character > Other > Right Indent Tab.
  8. When you need to keep two words together on the same line, tap Cmd+Opt+X (Win: Ctrl+Alt+X) instead of the spacebar to separate the words with a non-breaking space.
  9. When you want to stop one occurrence of a word from hyphenating, place your text cursor in front of the word and tap Cmd+Sh+– (Win: Ctrl+Sh+–).
  10. To insert a column break at the cursor position, tap the Enter key on the Numeric keypad. (If you don’t have a Numeric keypad because you are on a laptop or have the smaller Mac keyboard, choose Type > Insert Break Character > Column Break.)

Most of us don’t have photographic memories, so either pick one or two of these and try to incorporate them into your workflow, or try my favorite trick. When I’m trying to memorize new shortcuts I write them on a Post-It and stick them to my monitor. My goal is to memorize them before the glue dries up and they fall off.

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10 thoughts on “Adobe InDesign: Ten Little Tips You Need to Know!

  1. Someone new here, thanks! One question: Tip no 5, where can i find this in the shortcut overview? I need to change it… gOv

    1. You can change the keystrokes for tip no. 5 here:
      Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts > Product Area > Text and Tables > Increase/Decrease Point Size


  2. Shift+Tab = OMG. So much time saved! I do playbills for a local theatre company and trying to space out cast lists and musical numbers with endless rows of periods is a killer… this is most helpful.

    1. Hi Lawrence:

      We do this by setting the paragraph alignment to left and adding two tab characters: one in front of the centered text and one in front of the right align text. If this is in running heads, the tab alignments are already in place.

      If this on a body page, you will need to set the tab’s alignment to center and right.