InDesign Project — Working with Text and Images

By LaurenMarie

I should’ve said something about shortcuts at the very beginning of this series. Shortcuts are so invaluable to me and once you get used to them, they will speed up your workflow quite a bit. I’m not going to publish all the InDesign shortcuts I use because I’ve already done that!

Now comes the fun part! All the setup details are out of the way and it’s time to start compiling everything and watch the final document take shape.

Placing and Working with Images

With the default settings for InDesign, placing images only creates a preview of the image for your layout and a link to the image file. This is why it is so important to set up your project files before you start working. If you move the image file InDesign will not be able to export a high quality version of it for print. If you neglect the project file, you can gather everything together by going to File>Package. This will make copies of the all the project files in a project folder and also gather the fonts you’ve used, which is useful.

This step is quite different from Quark because you don’t need to draw a content box first. A clipping mask is automatically created when you import an image into InDesign.

Place images with Ctrl/Cmd+D. A browser window will come up to allow you to navigate to and select your images. Generally you’ll want to uncheck the box that says Replace Selected Item. I usually keep this option off because too often I replace things I don’t mean to. This option is good for swapping graphics that you need to remain the same size because it keeps the current position and clipping mask.

Remember that you can also place repeating graphics like header or footer images on Master Pages. In CS3, you can select multiple files to import all at once (I don’t remember if you could do this with previous versions). After you’ve selected the files click ok and your cursor will change to show the files waiting to be placed. If you’ve selected multiple files, a number with the remaining files to be placed will also appear next to the cursor. Click anywhere to place a file; you can always move it later.

I’ve mentioned the clipping mask a couple of times so it’s best to explain exactly what that does. If you’ve used Illustrator, it’s the same thing you’re used to. For Photoshop users, it’s basically a vector mask. You can use the Pen Tool (P) to manipulate it, and the same shortcut toggles work for the Direct Selection Tool (toggle with Ctrl/Cmd while in the Pen Tool) and the Convert Direction Point Tool (toggle with Alt/Opt while in the Pen Tool).

InDesign - Clipping Mask

To position the picture itself apart from the clipping mask, use the Direct Selection Tool (A). Click on the picture and the bounding box will change from the layer color (blue in the example) to a brownish color indicating you only have the image selected. The clipping mask allows you to hide part of the picture without having to cut it or resize it in Photoshop or another image manipulation program.

Importing and Working with Text

I mentioned ways to import text in the second article of this series, Setting Up Master Pages and Styles.

Basically there are two ways to bring text in: copy and paste or import it (Ctrl/Cmd+D and select the text file). Unfortunately, although this import looks like the same way you import images, the text in InDesign will not update if the file the text is imported from is updated.

Edit: I’ve found out how to link text so that updates in the original text file propigate in InDesign. It’s an option in the preferences. Go to Edit>Preferences>Type (for Windows) or InDesign>Preferences>Type (for Mac OS) and check the box in the Links section that says Create Links When Placing Text And Spreadsheet Files. Thank you Adobe Live Docs!!

There’s the InCopy workflow, too, but I don’t know much about it so I can’t really be of any help. If you’re interested, check out, a sister site to

Special Characters

Sometimes special characters do not translate properly from the common word processors to InDesign. Special characters like the Registered Trademark ®, Trademark TM and Copyright © can be quickly added in via shortcuts or by right clicking (bring up contextual menu) with the cursor where you want the symbol to appear and selecting Insert Special Characters>Symbols and choosing the proper symbol.

InDesign - Symbols

The shortcuts for these symbols are as follows (though there are a lot of special characters that have shortcuts and memorizing them all my get confusing!):

  • Copyright: Alt+G
  • Registered Trademark: Alt+R
  • Trademark: Alt+2

InDesign - Dashes

Em and en dashes can be added similarly. Right click and go to Insert Special Characters>Hyphens and Dashes.

  • Em Dash: Alt+Shift+- (dash)
  • En Dash: Alt+- (dash)

Text Wrap

Text wrap is simple enough to use in InDesign. The option can be found in the panels on the left side (default layout) under the Text Wrap palette. If you don’t see it there, just go to Window>Text Wrap or hit Alt/Opt+Ctrl/Cmd+W.

After applying a text wrap, you can adjust the offset (padding around object) with the numeric fields in the same palette. Use the link icon in the middle to make all offsets the same.

Also, you can manually adjust the shape of the run around by using the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow, shortcut A) and clicking on the anchor points just like you would for a path in Illustrator or Photoshop. You can also use the Pen Tool (P) to add more anchor points to the path.

Anchored Objects

In an article a while ago, I presented a rather complicated way to apply Anchored Objects. I realized now I made it more difficult than it needed to be and the only steps you really need to make an anchored object are these:

  1. Click within the text box where you want the anchored object to be
  2. Import your object
  3. With the image selected, go to Object>Anchored Object>Options…This menu item will be greyed out if you have an image selected that is not an inline item. If this happens, cut the object (Ctrl/Cmd + X) click within the text box where you want the anchored object to be and paste the image (Ctrl/Cmd + V)
  4. From the drop down menu at the top, choose Custom
  5. Click Ok
  6. Now position the object where you want it to be. You can also add text wrap if you need it.
  7. To avoid accidentally moving the object once it is in its correct position, go back to Object>Anchored Object>Options… and check the box that says Prevent Manual Positioning.

InDesign - Anchored Objects

You may also find Non-Rectangular Text Wrap Around Drop Caps useful.

Remember that you can also create an object style for these settings, too:

  1. Select the object
  2. Go to the Object Styles palette in the panels on the left-hand side of the program
  3. Hold Alt while clicking on the New Style button to name the style and (for CS3) to check the box that says Apply Style to Selection

Object Styles are handy because you can quickly and easily apply them to any other objects you have in your document that need the same settings. As always, styles make changes a snap, too.

Do you need more help with InDesign? Feel free to leave a comment below, contact me or head over to and sign up for their InDesign Tutorials. It’s only $25/mo for unlimited access! This is a resource I use myself and I highly recommend it. You can get a free 7 day pass to, now too! Just follow that link.

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