What do you mean by "layouts"? Different page sizes/orientations? Different master pages?
By layouts I mean different arrangements of content. Page size is the same throughout. So lets say I have some pages which are just single column flowing text. Then there's another type of page which shows a product picture, a table of technical data, plus some customer recommendations. And so on. Just different arrangements of text and image frames according to the content.
Then you are talking about creating a Master Page for each arrangement. Once you create the Master Page, it can be applied to as many document pages as you like.
the closest you can get to automation is by using master pages as was previously mentioned. But what will really help you out is using the Primary Textframe feature which was introduced in CS6.
The primary text frame was previously known as the master text frame. Enabling this option at document setup placed a text frame on the master page which was just sitting there, before CS6 came along.
With CS6 and the Primary Textframe however Indesign is able to reflow the content on the page through the primary text frame(s) that are on the master page.
For best results activate the option at document setup. When you create new master pages with for example two column, three column or even multiple threaded frames click the little page icon in the top left corner of the selected textframe. This will tell Indesign that the textframe is a primary text frame and Indesign will be able to reflow the text on the page through the master textframes.
So key things to do or to consider when creating your document are:
- Activate Primary text frame at document creation
- Work with threaded text across the whole document or for each section. So one story for the whole doc or one story/section (don't work with separated text on all the pages).
- Create multiple master pages with different text box layouts (or columns in the text frames) which are set as primary tetxframes.
Also consider working with the "based on master" function when you create new master pages. That way you can easily update common design elements across all master pages.
These are all long-document automation features. More info can be found on the following pages:
Primary text frame explained on Lynda.com
Working with master pages
You are most welcome