ACE InDesign and a Few Tips I Picked Up Along the Way

By LaurenMarie

Do you want to be an ACE? I do! And that’s why I’m studying to take the Adobe Certified Expert exam for InDesign.

There is so much to this program that I never knew! I’ve been using it fairly regularly for at least a year and I thought I had a pretty firm grasp of it. There are so many little ways that InDesign can help you out by automating layout elements. Let me share a few I’ve learned this week.

Manage Default Settings for New Documents

So maybe this is pretty simple, but it’s something that I just found out. Do you have document settings that you use regularly? Like maybe for 80% of your projects you set up an 8.5 x 11 sheet with 1” margins and a quarter inch bleed. How can you tell InDesign to make that the default setting? Easy! You just have to know how.

InDesign Document Setup Dialog

With NO documents open:

  1. Go to File>Document Setup
  2. Set the page size
  3. Click the More Options Button
  4. Set bleed
  5. Click OK

You can also set default margins and columns, ruler guides and layout adjustment options from the Layout menu. There are quite a few other options that you can change so they will be set for all new documents—like a default dictionary for spell checker—but the document size, bleed and margins were the big ones for me.

Oh! And you can change the default Basic Paragraph style, too! No more nasty 12 pt Times New Roman! Again, just adjust the settings with NO documents open. You can add new styles, too, but Adobe recommends you don’t do that to avoid multiple instances of the same style in previously created documents.

Working with Sections

Sections are the way to control meta content for your document—by that I mean the information in the headers and footers like page numbers, chapter numbers, section prefix (handy for legal documents and manuals) and the page and chapter numbering styles (1, I, A, i, etc.).

InDesign Numbering & Section Options

If you don’t want the new sections to restart numbering, just leave the radio button selection on Automatic Page Numbering.

I thought the coolest part of this whole window was the Section Marker field. This is where you can name your sections! Then in the Master Page, create a text box and right click in it, navigate Insert Special Characters>Markers>Section Marker. Now you don’t have to worry about changing your section titles when you add or delete pages! InDesign does it for you!

InDesign Section Marker

Another quick tip I learned is that you can double click on the black arrow above a page in the Pages panel (which indicates the start of a new section) to access the Numbering and Section Options dialog.

Autoflow Master Page Text Boxes

I discovered this tip completely by accident.

Create two text frames on the Master Page spread. Click in the outflow box (blue box in the lower right corner-ish) and then click in the other text frame. Now the frames are linked so the text will flow from one to the other.

InDesign Autoflow CursorOn your layout page, DON’T override the text frame. Instead, import text using Ctrl/Cmd + D and choose a Word or another text file and click in the text box. Now, (for the COOLEST part yet!) hold down Shift (notice the cursor change) and click in the text frame (that you didn’t override).


InDesign automatically added the proper number of pages to accommodate all the text from your document AND if you adjust the text boxes on the Master Page, they will adjust in the layout pages too! Now you don’t have to worry about having to adjust text boxes in the layout down the road because they are all still connected to your Master Page!

Learning InDesign—Resources

Along my travels through studying for the ACE InDesign test, I’ve found a few very helpful resources.

Adobe provides a Video Workshop on their site, which hosts a number of Adobe product video tutorials, including some from is a great resource and at $25 per month for unlimited access to video tutorials, how can you not sign up?! Most of the InDesign tutorials are recorded by none other than our friends from InDesign Secrets, Anne-Marie Concepción and David Blatner. And kindly allows a sort of trial—you don’t even need to set up an account—in the way of a few beginner videos for each set of tutorials. And trust me, even if you think you know everything there is to know about a topic (even something as simple as InDesign workflow) watch the video for it; I’m positive you’ll pick up at least one new trick. I did!

ACE InDesign Advice

Have any of you taken the ACE InDesign test? How did you study? Are there any exam aids or study guides that you would recommend?

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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