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There is a relatively easy way to do this, but you may find it limiting when designing your catalog.
You're on the right track by exploring what text anchors can do for you. The trick is to come up with a design that uses anchored objects (what used to be called inline graphics) embedded in the text, then adjusting the placement of the inline graphic/anchored object with the product description. You can read more about placing and adjusting inline graphics here:
So that links the product image(s) to the product description text. Tables are relatively easy, in that they are essentially text elements that you can attach to the product descriptions. So a layout that runs across a text frame like:
Image(s) next to Product description
Table containing product no./price/etc.
Would work, provided you design it to fill the text frame horizontally from edge to edge.
Then it's just a matter of threading text frames through your catalog to place the flow of products throughout the catalog. You can read more about that here:
You'll likely want to set some rules for ending/starting products on the page(s). And you can find details about controlling paragraph breaks and options for keeping your product units together inside the paragraph formatting information here:
This is enough to get you started. If you need additional information on how to make this possible, you can find it here by adding your questions to this message thread.
Hope this helps,
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For an experienced user this is indeed possible. I recently worked on a catalog that was over 100 pages wherein all of the tables and text above and below them were a single text thread that flowed from page to page through linked text frames that had been created on several different master pages that had been applied as left and right hand pages as well as for pages with section tabs created on them. This worked exactly as you described but it is not something that I would recommend for somebody who is not reasonably advanced in using the program. If you are interested in learning the techniques that are necessary such as anchoring, smart text reflow, primary text frames and creating master pages I would find a course such as those offered on Lynda.com in which you can learn about the ways that InDesign can be "automated" for the kind of use that you're looking for.
I appreciate your help with this! I am going to attempt this and see if I can achieve something close to what I'm looking for.
I must say, I'm really disappointed such a simple feature isn't easier to implement on this platform. I use Photoshop just about every day, so I can appreciate the power behind Adobe's tools, but they tend to really miss the mark when it comes to behaviors that competing tools make intuitive.
Still, I worked through things a lot harder than this on Photoshop, so I'll see what I can do here using your suggestions - thanks again!
Edit: Update, I got it to work without much trouble at all. I will say this feels kind of super hacky... but indeed, when I press enter on the text box I can bump everything down page by page.
I'm glad this is working for you.
It's a whole lot harder to explain than it is to do, and it is a bit of a kludgy fix. But it can be made to work, and while the design flexibility is limited, if you can live with that it's pretty easy to implement.
I would strongly recommend against using extra returns to bump product listings from one page to the next though. Especially if you're planning to add products to the thread further down the line. Because while it might work for the current version of your catalog, it means adding a new product will make you adjust everything downstream, page by page, for the next one. Same for the following product you add. And so on, ad infinitum.
A better solution for you, I think, is to incorporate the paragraph break/keep next options outlined in the formatting paragraph links above. With just a little bit of experimentation, I believe you'll come up with a solution that at least precludes you breaking individual products across two pages, or two different page spreads, as you add to the product lines/text threads.