19 Replies Latest reply on Nov 16, 2011 6:55 AM by John Hawkinson

    smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?

    k-swivvels Level 1

      Hi

       

      I am creating ID cards at work, for 650 employees. I had used the smart text reflow before on other jobs and i didn't foresee any issues with using it for this project. To explain my problem:

       

      I am trying to make a template file with a test run of ten employees. The design on each card there is a name and a unique employee code. The name is 18pt and the code is 10pt.

       

      On my master page i have a text frame for the name, and a text frame for the employee code. The text frames are as wide as the artboard but only high enough to fit one name per frame at the relevant point size.

       

      On the first page of my document, i select 'place' then select the text file with all the names, i get the cursor change to the text graphic, i hold shift for the flow option and click on my name text box. InDesign automatically creates 9 new pages, and i now have a 10 page document. So far, perfect.

       

      I select 'place' again, choose the employee code text file, and click on my employee code text frame on the first page and repeat same process as above.

       

      My problem begins - i want the employee codes to just flow through the ten pages like the names did, but when i place the codes file and select the relevant text box on the first page, inDesign creates 10 new pages after the tenth page. So i end up with 20 pages - the first ten pages with names and nothing in the codes text boxes and the final ten pages with codes but nothing in the names text boxes.

       

      I am at a loss as to why it is doing this. I have been fiddling with the settings in preferences but nothing changes. I have tried to select both text files at once and import at the same time.

       

      How do you work with multiple text boxes and multiple text file imports on one doicument? There are no extra spaces or anything like that in my text files.

       

      I really don't want to have to link all the text frames - that will take forever but right now its the only way i can get it to do what i want.

       

      Also, is there anyway to specify the font and size that the text imports as? Because it keeps importing as minion pro even though the text boxes on the master are set to the correct font & size. Not a big deal though.

       

      Please help!! Any help is appreciated, thanks in advance!!

        • 1. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
          k-swivvels Level 1

          i meant to add also that i have watched a few tutorials around the place and searched specifically for this problem but can't find anything. It seems no one addresses the situation of using multiple text frames on the master with multiople text files..

          • 2. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
            Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

            This has nothig to do with smart text reflow, fortunately. What you are describing is called Auto-flow and is how you place all of the content of an external text file, making new pages as necessary. Smart Text Reflow adds and removes pages as you type.

             

            The first thing I would suggest is that you look at setting this up as a Data Merge project, but that might require you to modify how your data is stored.

             

            To continue doing what you are doing, the following SHOULD work:

             

            Create a new non-facing page document with one page. On the master page, create a frame to hold you name, and a frame to hold the number. I'd then use step and repeat to duplicate them down the page.

             

            Now you need to thread these frames in two separate threads -- names to names and numbers to numbers. Click the outport of the first name frame then iinside the second name frame, then the outport of that frame and inside the third frame and so on. Repeat for the number frames. DO NOT THREAD THE LAST NAME FRAME TO ANYTHING, nor the last number frame. You need two totally independent frames.

             

            Now it's time to place your two files. DO NOT OVERRIDE the frames on the document page before placing, just select the files and hold the shift key while clicking inside the first frame. Text will flow through the thread and add pages. On the seond file, go back to page 1 and click in the first empty frame.

             

            You can pre-apply a paragraph style to the frames on the master page that defines the text attributes. Also include a Keep Option set to start in next frame. Just click in the first frame in each thread on the master page with the text tool and select the style (which you should have pre-defined, or select new style and define it then). Make if you do this, make sure when you place the text that you show import options and do NOT preserve styles or formatting so that the imported text takes onthe attributes of the predefined styles.

            • 3. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
              k-swivvels Level 1

              Hi Peter

               

              Thank you, i really really appreciate the reply.

               

              I have some questions however as i am a little confused about what is happening where.... i really tried to follow your steps but i get stuck at the step and repeat and threading part, not sure where i'm supposed to be threading. I want to follow your steps but need a little clarification first.

               

              You say "On the master page, create a frame to hold you name, and a frame to hold the number. I'd then use step and repeat to duplicate them down the page." -- Yes i have made the two text frames on the master, but i'm not sure what you mean with step and repeat. I only need one name text frame per page and one code text frame per page and you can't step and repeat onto a second page... so where is the step & repeat repeating to, since there is only one master page? I can 'paste in place' onto a second master page but i dont think this is what you mean.

               

              In the immediately following paragraph, beginning with "Now you need to..." -- Am I on the master here or the first page?

              Also, you say "Click the outport of the first name frame then iinside the second name frame, then the outport of that frame and inside the third frame and so on. Repeat for the number frames." -- I am unclear here too, do i need to do this for all ten name/code text frames? Because i thought InDesign was going to automatically add the pages once i place the text file? Or am i on the master page? If so, I dont know how to thread text to a second text frame as there is only one master page and one name/code frame per page.

               

              I really appreciate your time on this - i feel like a noob!!!

               

              thanks!!!

              • 4. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                First off, do you know how to use Step and Repeat? It's a little function inside ID (Edit > Step and Repeat...) that allows to make copies of selected objects at precise spacing positions, and is the fastest way to duplicate your frames on the master page before you thread them together.

                 

                Since the frames are onthe master page, that's where you need to be to thread them together, and to apply your styles before placing the text, if you want to do that (I would, it's a big time saver). You switch to the document page when it's time to do the actual import (Placing) of the text.

                 

                InDesign is going to add pages for you automatically, but if you don't thread the frames correctly on the master page first only the frame position that you click into will get used and you'll wind up with one badge one each page, and a bunch of empty frames waiting for you to place new text. In that case the frames in each position on the page will be threaded to the frames inthe same positon on the following pages, but not to other frames on the same page. So yes, you do need to make a complete chain of the name frames and another of the numbers frames on the master page before you import the text so your lists will fill each page before a new one is created.

                 

                Here's a screen shot of how the frames should be threaded on the master page (you can see the threading if you turn on View > Extras > Show Text Threads, but for general layout it's pretty confusing so you probably only want to use it to verify you've done things right). This is only an example and might not match waht you've actually laid out, but if it isn't too confusing you should be able to see that all the name frames are threaded from top to bottom, and all of the number frames are also threaded from top to bottom, but the two threads are completely separate.

                Untitled-1.png

                • 5. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                  k-swivvels Level 1

                  Hi Peter,

                   

                  Again, thanks for your concise reply, it is much appreciated.

                   

                  Yes, i'm certainly well versed in step and repeat!

                   

                  I totally see what you're getting at here - my problem though, is that i only have ONE name frame and ONE number frame on the master as the design is for an ID card there only needs to be one person per page/artboard. so how do i thread to one name frame to another name frame if there is only one name frame on the master??

                   

                  aaaargh!!

                  • 6. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                    Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                    Ah, I think I misunderstood your initial post and thought you wanted to make ten badges per page. If it's only one, you need only one set of frames. Same procedure for placing, but you don't need to thread anything or use step and repaet to make copies.

                     

                    Place the name file in the name frames and ID will add pages, then go back to the first page and place the numbers. Just remember to put the loade cursor into the space where the frame is located, and stay away from any guides (if you click on a guide, ID will ignore the master frames), and hold the shift key when you click.

                    • 7. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                      k-swivvels Level 1

                      OK, bizarre. Basically what you're saying is the exact way i thought it should work in the first place. So i decided to just test it with a brand new document using CS3 on my imac, and it works perfectly. Started over in CS5 on my laptop to test and again, works perfectly. Relief.

                       

                      Went back to my ID card document that i'm having trouble with, and once again having this unusual problem as stated in my first post.

                       

                      I will just start a brand new template i believe there is something funny going on in my orignal file.

                       

                      The weird thing is i tried making brand new files to test before i posted my question, and i couldn't get it to work. Now it seems it is working fine. I must have been missing something. Coffee probably, as i just had one and now everything is working.

                       

                      Thanks Peter!!!

                      • 8. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                        k-swivvels Level 1

                        Just an update - I have finally created a new working master template to create the actual artwork.

                         

                        I still had problems with InDesign adding pages in the wrong places though - it seems to work correctly only if i import the text files with no pre-applied paragraph styles, and if the text boxes on the master are all big enough to accomodate the type size that is generically applied.

                         

                        So i've set up the text frames in position, and big enough to accomodate the generic type size that is imported, before i had them only large enough to accomodate the type size that i wanted to end up with - eg. for the last names the frame height was quite small because the last names are 10pt on the final design.

                         

                        So now if I import the text files into the larger frames, it all comes in perfectly. I then have to select all and click on my paragraph styles to apply the relevant styles, and indesign no longer adds too many pages in the wrong positions - i'm questioning whether it is a bug that perhaps i have not downloaded an update for... regardless i'm finished now and i can create my files as i wanted to originally - albeit a rather convoluted way to go about things to get it to work, but it works now and i'm happy.

                         

                        thank you so much for all your time and explanations - really helped!!

                        • 9. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                          M Blackburn Level 3

                          I've tried to follow what I think is the procedure you describe and I ddn't have any problems : two text frames on the master page ; auto flow the names into the name frame on the first page  generates ten pages ; go back to page one and auto flow the numbers into the code text frame and they flow into the same ten pages.

                           

                          I don't see why you should be having any problems caused by styles. I don't see how that would affect that behaviour. But I did have to import the with the formatting removed or it would override the styles I set up in InDesign, so if your imported text had fitting issues because it kept the formatting, that may be the problem.

                          1 person found this helpful
                          • 10. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                            k-swivvels Level 1

                            "I don't see why you should be having any problems caused by styles. I don't see how that would affect that behaviour"

                             

                            exactly.

                             

                            I've been using inDesign ever since it came out and have been in graphic design long enough to know i wasn't doing anything incorrectly - one of the reasons i became so perplexed that i actually had to turn to a forum for help, something i've never had to do. i'm not exactly sure what the problem was but it seems that if the text frame on the master page was too small for the imported text, then inDesign would flip out and create too many pages in the document and randomly shuffle the imported text across different pages and frames (instead of ending up with 10 pages i would end up with 19).

                             

                            and yes i agree with you, i believe the imported text had fitting issues that caused indesign to behave erratically. however i'm still unsure why it doesn't just 'work' with pre-applied paragraph styles though, and that i have to use a workaround to achieve what i want.

                             

                            like i said though, it could be a bug that an update has since addressed - its a new laptop and a fresh install of CS5 so i will check for an update.

                             

                            thanks!!

                            • 11. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                              Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                              The current level for CS5 is 7.0.4, so you definitely should update if you haven't.

                               

                              Are these Word files with formatting applied? Check to see if "Allow Fast Saves" is enabled in Word -- that can cause all sorts of trouble for importing. For best results, you should always use a file that has had all changes accepted or rejected, and then a Save As.

                               

                              But I'll go back to the very first thing I said in my first response, which was this is really a job for Data Merge.

                              • 12. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                                k-swivvels Level 1

                                Hi Peter,

                                 

                                I can't believe i didnt ask this at the time - but as with flowing the text files through the pages, i need to add 1 photo per page. The master has an empty picture frame in position.

                                 

                                Can i also just 'place' a multiple selection of images and have them automatically added to each page's picture frame (like i did with the text)?

                                 

                                I get the loaded cursor with the 10 images, but i can't seem to find an option to allow indesign to flow them into each page's picture frame.

                                 

                                Obviously if it were ten i wouldnt ask but some regions have over 100 ID cards in a set.

                                 

                                thanks!

                                • 13. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                                  John Hawkinson Level 5

                                  You kind of lose.

                                  Smart Text reflow does not work on pictures, no.

                                   

                                  You could conceivably produce an XML document with links to the images as anchored frames and flow them through the threaded text boxes on each page, but XML is not terribly friendly. Easier to do it by hand for just 100.

                                   

                                  Try zooming out to 25% or 12% or so to make it go faster?

                                  • 14. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                                    k-swivvels Level 1

                                    thanks for confirming.... now that i'm doing it, it seems silly that indesign can't do it with images and pictures frames too!!

                                     

                                    oh well just a manual task now.

                                     

                                    thanks!

                                    • 15. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                                      Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                      Once again, read my lips: DATA MERGE.

                                       

                                      This could be fully automated if you spend the time to set up a text file with the name, number, and a path statement for the image. This is normally done by setting up a spread sheet, then exporting either tab-delimited or .csv text files.

                                      • 16. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                                        k-swivvels Level 1

                                        Hi Peter

                                         

                                        OK so what you're saying is 'yes' - its possible. But it's DATA MERGE.

                                         

                                        Just a bit of background on myself, i'm primarily a print based graphic designer, this is a type of job that i've never had to do anything like before. I've worked countless times with threaded text frames and flowing text through a document.

                                         

                                        I know initially you mentioned DATA MERGE however at that point in time i wasn't too concerned with the images mostly just the text. My latest images question was an afterthought that sprung to mind as i merely pondered why on earth indesign wouldn't allow you to do the same for images. Just a harmless question that i was only too happy to get a big fat 'no' as an reply, because once this is done i'll likely never have to do anything that requires a DATA MERGE ever again. At worst i lose an hour or two placing each image file, which i'm being paid for anyway, but surely longer figuring out how to even create a DATA MERGE.

                                         

                                        I'm not sure what your background is but obviously you've an amazing amount of indesign knowledge and have spend a considerable amount of time in the nether regions of indesign's functionality, which (for your future reference) is in an area someone in my profession seldom treads. Even a large magazine doesn't require this type of repetitive picture placement and text placement.

                                         

                                        I say this because, respectfully - you may have spent so much time working, for whatever reason, in these seldom-used-by-the-average-designer far reaching corners of indesign, and to a lesser degree on this forum answering what i imagine to be the same types of questions year after year - that you may just forget that even for people like myself, a professional working exclusively in print design, and even worse, the average user who would frequent the forums moreso, would rightfully  have no idea about how to set up a DATA MERGE or even for that matter what the hell tab-delimited or .csv text files are. So, just FYI for next time, the average person doesn't know what that is. I work with pretty colours and shapes, maths and coding confuses the delicate print designer.

                                         

                                        So look, i've asked the IT guys if they know what tab-delimited or .csv text files are and they are going to help me try set something up, if only because i've never met a problem in any adobe software i couldn't defeat and i'd like to have a try.

                                         

                                        So can we just dial the rancor down a touch, and come down to speak with the poor children at face height please? Is there perhaps a link you can offer that explains how to set up a DATA MERGE?

                                        • 17. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                                          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                          Up until about 1999 I made jewelry or built houses for a living, but around then I decided I was too old for the physical stress (and the jewelry is probably what killed my shoulders) and eyestrain, so I took some classes at my local community college and learned Quark, Pagemaker and Photoshop and found a job in a little print shop doing design and pre-press, and got a LOT of on the job training. In pre-press you get to see what everyone else has done badly so it's a great education.

                                           

                                          When InDesign was released I took advantage of the deep discount on version 1 for Pagemaker users, but didn't do much with it until version 2 was released, by which time I was freelancing and I switched all my production work from Quark to ID (and haven't looked back). A LOT of what I know about ID comes from spending hours and hours on this forum over the last ten years, first asking question, then later reading every question asked to see if I knew the answer and trying to discover it if I didn't (and learning a tremendous amount along the way from the answers provided by froum hosts Bob Levine and Dave Saunders, and from a large crop of regular participants, many of whom have sadly now moved on to other things). This forum is without doubt the largest repository of real world InDesign advice you will ever find.

                                           

                                          In any case, I keep stressing data merge for this because it can do it for you very quickly if you are set up properly, and there is no other way that I know to automate the entire job other than using some third party plugin. I learned about using images in a Data Merge project about three years ago when my wife was organizing a show of local potters at our regional art museum. Propective artists were required to submit images and descriptions of up to 5 pieces that were then sent out to a jury for anonymous review. Each potter recieved an identification number and the images were all renamed with that number and a sequence number (though that isn't strictly required), and I received a folder with all of the images, plus a spread sheet with a line for each image with an identity number, a description of the image, and the name of the image. I had to add the new path information to each image name (easy in Excel using a function), then export a text file to use as the source.

                                           

                                          I used this to generate a "Slide Show" with one image per page exported as a PDF, and a printed catalog with a thumbnail and description of each work, along with a rating space for the jurors. The real work in a data merge project is in setting up the spreadsheet, especially the first time, but once done you can maintain the spreadsheet very easily if there are changes (I converted our local Antique Dealers' association directory to a data merge project two years ago and improved both speed and accuracy in production (and saved them some money while still being able to add new features). I just update the spreadsheet with the little changes and run the merge again each year to build the bulk of their booklet, which lets me concentrate my real efforts on display ads, which are a lot more fun.

                                           

                                          The potters project was very similar, I think, to your badges. There was probably two or three hours spent initially entering the data into the spreadsheet for around 500 entries (perhaps more time -- I didn't have to do that part). I spent another hour or so setting up and tweaking my merge templates, and then I just let it run. My recollection is that the project took under 5 minutes to actually run the merge once set up. Yes, that was a lot of time in preparation for a one-off project (but I was able to leverage it for two versions), and it was certainly no more work than setting up independent Word files and then manually placing 500 images (and there were no mistakes of the sort you might get putting in images manually when you don't have an absolute knowledge of which image belongs where by looking at the thumbnail in the place gun). If the project is likely to be reprinted with changes in the future, I think it ultimately is a big time saver.

                                          • 18. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                                            Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                            k-swivvels wrote:

                                            So can we just dial the rancor down a touch, and come down to speak with the poor children at face height please? Is there perhaps a link you can offer that explains how to set up a DATA MERGE?

                                            I didn't mean anything hostile at all with my comment, by the way. I was just trying to push you to read about Data Merge so you dould see it really is the more appropriate technique for this sort of project, and you'd spend the time now to get ti set up insted of having to go back and start over.

                                             

                                            As far as tutorials, I would start withthe help files, then search here for Data Merge and see what pops up. I believe one of our regulars (cdflash?) has a blog in which he frequently talks about advanced techniques using data merge (my aplogies to whomever the real blogger is, if I got that wrong).

                                            • 19. Re: smart txt reflow - how do u work with multiple text boxes?
                                              John Hawkinson Level 5

                                              So can we just dial the rancor down a touch, and come down to speak with the poor children at face height please? Is there perhaps a link you can offer that explains how to set up a DATA MERGE?

                                              To put Peter's comments slightly differently, and please note that while I'm being quite snarky here, I'm not trying to be rancorous, please try: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=indesign+cs5+help+%22data+merge%22&l=1

                                               

                                              That is, asking for a link is quite silly if you don't take a moment to look for it yourself! Demonstrating that you're actually listening and putting a bit of effort into your side of the bargain makes it much easier for others to volunteer to help you.