InCopy Packaging Pitfalls

Several posts ago, I described the remote InCopy workflow that allows remote InCopy users to check out stories, make edits and check them back in without ever having to step foot in the office. It’s a powerful workflow but at a recent engagement with a client I was reminded of a few pitfalls with this workflow that can really wreak havoc and potentially cause lost time and work. So in this post I’d like to describe some of these pitfalls and how you can avoid them when working in a remote workflow.

Remote Workflow Process

In a remote workflow, an InDesign user can use the Package for InCopy or Package for InCopy and Email commands to generate a package file (see figure below) that when sent to an InCopy user allows them to check out, edit, check back in, and return content to the designer. For remote editors and writers, this is an amazingly powerful feature.


The Pitfall

The package workflow works perfectly if you double click on the package (an .icap file), make your edits and immediately use the Return for InDesign or Return for InDesign and Email commands. The problem occurs if you don’t make all of your edits in one sitting and close the file to make more edits later. Upon opening the package again, you receive the error message in the figure below.


It doesn’t matter if you open the package from the attachment in an e-mail or if you open it from a saved location on your hard drive, this message rears its ugly head. The message is confusing and leaves InCopy users wondering why they are receiving the message and unsure which option to choose.

To understand the message you need to understand that when you open a package, you’re really not opening the package at all. You’re merely decompressing it to a default location on your hard drive. Where is that default location? It’s stored in a folder within your Documents folder called InCopy Assignments. Within that folder is a folder for each package that you expand by opening or double-clicking on a package file and that folder contains the assignment and any stories contained within that assignment along with some other pertinent files. All of this is transparent to the user initially. When you first open a package, it is decompressed and the assignment is opened in InCopy, ready to be worked on.


The problem occurs when a user doesn’t complete all edits in one sitting and closes the assignment. When the InCopy user comes back to the project to perform the remaining edits, they instinctively go back to the package file and re-open it. What they are really doing is decompressing the package file and re-expanding it’s components to the Documents/InCopy Assignments folder. If that folder already exists, they get the error message above telling them that one or more stories already exist. If they choose yes, they are overwriting the newer story with the story contained in the package file and thus will lose any edits previously made to that story (not good). The correct choice would be to choose no in which case the newer story (i.e. the one that they previously made edits to) will not be replaced and will be opened in InCopy with the previous edits intact.

Possible Solutions

To avoid the confusion of the displayed error message, you can directly open the assignment file from the Documents/InCopy Assignments folder. Because you are accessing the assignment and stories directly, there is no error message displayed. Conversely, if it’s inconvenient to remember when edits have been made to a story after launching the package file, simply instruct users to choose no if they receive an error message when re-opening the package file. Doing so will avoid lost edits in the workflow.

Despite these inconveniences in the workflow, the Package for InCopy feature is one that remote users just can’t live without. With a little education, your team can easily avoid the pitfalls of the remote InCopy workflow.

Easy font activation using Document Fonts

One of the challenges of the InCopy workflow can be making sure that all users participating in the workflow have access to all of the fonts used in the InDesign document(s). Many companies have a set of standard fonts that are used for projects within an organization and will load those fonts onto everyone’s computer so that they are available for use in InCopy. In some workflows however, this consistency doesn’t exist and fonts change on a regular basis or there’s a feature in a publication that uses a font that is different from the norm. This can create a lot of frustration because in order to edit content that uses one of these fonts with copyfit accuracy, the font needs to be loaded so it’s available to InCopy. This often requires a call to IT which often takes more time than most of us have to spare.

InDesign document with pink highlighting indicating missing fonts.

The dreaded pink highlighting of missing fonts.

Document Fonts

The Document Fonts feature in InDesign is a great way to activate fonts without having to activate them using a font management program or having to install them on your system. What many people forget or are unaware of is that Document Fonts can be a great benefit to InCopy users as well. Here’s how the feature works. If you put fonts into a folder called Document Fonts (spelling is important) and that Document Fonts folder lives in the same folder as the InDesign file, InDesign will automatically activate those fonts when the InDesign document is opened. Now the same thing works for InCopy in a layout based workflow. If you open the InDesign document using InCopy, the fonts will be automatically activated when the file is opened.

The waters get a little muddied however in an assignment based workflow because the assignments are stored in a separate folder than the InDesign document by default and therefore will not be able to activate the fonts when the assignment file is opened.

Finder window showing the files used in a project.

Typical organization of files in an InCopy workflow.

Making Document Fonts available to the assignments

The solution is to simply make sure that the Document Fonts folder is available to the assignment file. You don’t want to simply move the folder because then the fonts won’t be available to InDesign although if the designer has all of the fonts loaded on their computer this may not even be an issue. A simple solution is to copy the Document Fonts folder into the Assignments folder or whichever folder you are using to store your assignments. Now when you open the assignment file, the fonts are loaded and the document looks as expected.

With the Document Fonts available, the fonts are loaded and the layout looks as expected.

With the Document Fonts available, the fonts are loaded and the layout looks as expected.

The downside to this method is that if you need to add a font to the Document Fonts folder, you need to add it in two places. I thought that we might be able to solve this problem by creating an alias of the Document Fonts folder and putting it in the Assignments folder but the alias unfortunately didn’t work. If you really want to be efficient and have one folder appear in two places, you’ll need to create a symbolic link. You can do this on both Mac and Windows platforms and it solves the problem of having two separate folders. This last part might be overkill for some users and a savior to others. Either way, Document Fonts takes the headache out of the InCopy workflow allowing users to focus on the task at hand.

Easy Access to InCopy Styles

One of the great benefits of the InCopy workflow, is the ability to apply Paragraph and Character styles to text when working in a story. One of the challenges when applying those styles however is that the list of styles can be quite lengthy especially once the story is assigned (connected) to an InDesign layout. Every style created by the designer also appears in the Character and Paragraph Styles panel.

Floating Paragraph Styles panel

Although the panel can easily display all of the styles, it takes up a fair amount of real estate on your screen. Even in the docked position, it occupies real estate and also requires the user to click the button to expand the panel if it is in the collapsed state.

Taming the Styles Panel

In a previous post, I wrote about taking advantage of the features of the InCopy workspace in order to work more efficiently and to simply stay organized in InCopy. One feature that is often overlooked, is the ability to dock the character and paragraph styles panels at the top or bottom of the InCopy workspace. To do this, simply click on the tab of the panel that you wish to dock, and drag up or down (you choose) until you see a vertical or horizontal blue bar appear. A vertical blue bar indicates that you’re docking next to an existing panel, a horizontal blue bar indicates that you’re creating a new row of panels at the desired location.

Docking a panel in InCopy

Once the panel(s) are docked, they occupy virtually no additional screen real estate and they’re always available. Clicking on the drop-down arrow next to the panel displays a list of all of the styles available in the panel that you can choose from to apply the appropriate style to text in the document.


Save it!

Remember, once you position the panels the way that you like them, save the panel configuration by creating a new workspace so that the panels are easily accessed moving forward. Interestingly enough, none of the default workspaces in InCopy contains any of the styles panels which makes this feature difficult to discover.

Hopefully this little tip provides a fresh way to access and apply styles to text in your workflow!

Using Conditional Text in an Unconventional Way

This past week, I received a message from an InCopy user who wanted to know if there was a way to hide text in an InCopy story instead of deleting it. This is a very common question in editorial/Incopy workflows from writers and editors who are writing to fit a specific area and need to cut some content to make it fit. The problem is that they don’t want to delete the text because if the story gets rerun in a future issue, there’s always the chance that they’ll want to include that text should space allow for it. This is often the case if the story gets rerun on a web site or a tablet app where space is less of an issue.

Track Changes

One option for achieving the desired result is to simply enable Track Changes in the story and delete the text to be cut. This hides the deleted text in layout view, but the text still exists in galley/story view. If you ever wanted to recover the text, you could simply reject the particular change that you want to recover and that text will reappear in layout view. The problem with this approach is that if you truly use the track changes feature, this method will get in your way because the moment you accept a change using track changes, the text will be permanently removed.

Conditional Text

The solution that I prefer is to take advantage of the conditional text feature in InCopy. Traditionally, conditional text is used to for elements such as prices where more than one version of a product needs to be produced. For example you need US dollar prices and English pounds or Euros, or you need wholesale prices as well as retail prices. The options are endless but in this case we can use this feature to hide text for use later on.

Start by opening the Conditional Text panel in InCopy by choosing Window > Type & Tables > Conditional Text. By default, all of the text in the story is Unconditional. To create a new condition, click the New Condition button at the bottom of the panel and in the resulting dialog box, give the new condition a logical name. I called mine Hide Text, but you can use any name that you like. Define the appearance of the condition, then click OK.

New Condition dialog box

You’ll now see the new condition appear in the Conditional Text panel. To apply the condition, select the text that you want to hide, and click on the condition in the Conditional Text panel. This applies the condition to the selected text and will show the visual appearance defined in that condition.

Conditional text panel showing the condition applied and the appearance of the text that the condition is applied to.

Now that the condition is applied, you can turn the visibility of the condition off in the Conditional Text panel to hide any text that has that condition applied. At any time, you can turn the visibility back on to see the text that is being hidden or cut and you can add new text to that condition at any time. The text doesn’t have to be contiguous and can appear at various places throughout the story.

Turning conditional text visibility on and off


This technique is very effective and very powerful, but it is a workaround. As with any workaround, there are some things to watch out for. The primary gotcha with this technique is that turning the condition on and off in InCopy doesn’t carry over to InDesign when the story is placed in a layout. The visibility of the conditional text seems to be applied at the program level and not at the story level. So it will simply be a matter of making sure that the condition is hidden in whichever program you use. In the case of the designer using InDesign, it will most likely be transparent to them as long as they always have the hidden text condition hidden.

We’d love to hear what you think of this technique. Or if you have a technique of your own for hiding text without removing it from the story, let us know about it in the comments section below!

InCopy 2015 is here!

Last week, Adobe announced the next major release of Creative Cloud, referred to as Creative Cloud 2015. With this update comes new versions of all of the major Creative Cloud applications including InCopy. The 2015 release of InCopy marks the eleventh version of InCopy and provides some new features to take advantage of.

Updating to InCopy 2015

Updating to the new version is as simple as clicking the update button from the Creative Cloud application.

Creative Cloud panel

Be forewarned that the default behavior during updating is to remove previous versions of InCopy. Yikes! Fortunately since CC 2015 was initially released, Adobe has added a notification window prior to installation letting you know that this is the case and provides a check box in the advanced options section that allows you to keep the previously installed versions of InCopy intact. This applies to the other CC 2015 applications as well. So if you don’t want to remove the previous versions of InCopy when you install InCopy 2015, uncheck this check box (recommended).

InCopy CC 2015 Install dialog.

What’s New?

The InDesign/InCopy workflow hasn’t received much love with the 2015 release. All of the new features are additions to make InCopy CC 2015 compatible with InDesign CC 2015. That’s not to say that these features aren’t valuable, but if you visit the InCopy CC product page, you’ll notice that only one new feature is listed. Let’s take a closer look at what new features you’ll find in InCopy CC 2015.

Paragraph Shading

Paragraph shading is a feature that we’ve been requesting for several versions now. This feature allows you to apply shading behind the text in an entire paragraph of text. Prior to this feature, our only choice was to use paragraph rules to apply shading behind text. The problem with this approach is that your settings were based on a specific number of lines of text. This would often require the creation of several styles for the specific number of lines of text. With paragraph shading, the shading applies at the paragraph level making it extremely flexible for a variety of different text applications. Paragraph shading can be applied in InCopy via the Paragraph panel or via a paragraph style. In the figure below, you can see the new area of the Paragraph panel for applying shading to text. Option/Alt + click on the icon to show additional options. This feature will surely make a lot of people happy and save a considerable amount of time and frustration.


Graphic Table Cells

We’ve always been able to insert an image into a table cell, but in the past it was inserted as an inline graphic within a text cell. Not to confuse anyone because prior to this version, every cell was a text cell. Now when you place an image into a table cell, the cell is treated as a graphic cell. What this means is that the entire cell contains the graphic allowing you to apply fitting options to the cell alleviating the painful process of fitting a graphic frame into a text cell that was required in previous versions of InDesign.

InCopy graphic cells

Miscellaneous Updates

There are several additional updates that were added to InDesign that you can review on the InDesign New Features Summary page. Aside from the new features outlined above, none of the other features made it into InCopy because they really don’t affect the interoperability between the two applications. One feature that I feel has been overlooked is the ability to adjust the viewing options in an exported PDF file. I feel like this could benefit InCopy users just as much as InDesign users, but alas it was not to be in this version. Hopefully we’ll see it added in an future update.

Should You Upgrade?

As has always been the case, you should match InDesign and InCopy versions to ensure compatibility between the two applications. We’ve seen problems with mismatched versions in the past and obviously new features used in the latest version of either program will not be available in older versions of InDesign or InCopy.


There are tons of other features that I would have liked to see added to InCopy as well as InDesign for that matter, but I am happy to see some additions that could really benefit users in an everyday workflow. We’d like to know what you think about this new version of InCopy, so let us know by using the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Find Characters Using the Glyphs Panel

I’m sure you’ve been in the position more than once where you needed a specific character but couldn’t figure out how to insert it into your text story. Whether it’s a degree symbol for a temperature reading, an accent for a word in French or Spanish, or a copyright symbol that needs to appear next to the copyright statement. More than likely, you encounter this situation on a regular basis. On a Mac, there are some fairly intuitive shortcuts for some of these commonly used characters compared to the more obscure key combinations required on Windows machines but regardless, who wants to memorize all of those shortcuts? InCopy as well as InDesign have a fabulous panel for accessing virtually every character within a given font in a visual way called the Glyphs panel. If you haven’t discovered this panel yet, you’re missing out and even if you have, there are some great features that the Glyphs panel offers that makes it quick and easy to access commonly used glyphs when you need them.

What’s a Glyph?

When you’re looking for a specific element within text, you typically think of that element as a character and more often than not it is. But the Glyphs panel gets its name because most fonts contain more than just characters. A glyph by definition is the shape given in a particular typeface to a specific grapheme or symbol. Usually these are letters or numerals, but they can also contain punctuation marks, symbols, and shapes. Think of a font such as Wingdings or Zapf Dingbats which contains almost entirely symbols and no letters or numbers. If you’d like to read more information about glyphs, there’s a great page on the I Love Typography website that discusses glyphs in more detail.

The Glyphs panel

The Glyphs panel can be accessed by choosing Window > Type and Tables > Glyphs or Type > Glyphs. The Glyphs panel shows recently used glyphs at the top of the panel. As you insert glyphs using the Glyphs panel, they’ll appear at the top in the recently used glyphs. The main area of the Glyphs panel shows every single glyph available in the active font and this font can be changed at any time using the font menu at the bottom of the Glyphs panel.

InCopy Glyphs panel

Using the glyphs panel is as simple as inserting your cursor within text where you’d like to insert the desired glyph, then double clicking on the glyph within the Glyphs panel.

Finding the Glyph That You Need

One of the challenges of the Glyphs panel is that some fonts have quite a few glyphs. This makes finding the glyph that you need a bit difficult because you have to scroll through a seemingly endless list of glyphs to find the one that you need, making it feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, you can filter the displayed glyphs into categories to make those glyphs easier to find. In the figure below, I needed to add the letter e with an acute above it for the word sautée. By clicking on the Show drop-down menu in the glyphs panel, you can filter by any number of categories depending on the active font. I chose the Basic Latin and Latin 1 option which quickly filtered the displayed glyphs and the glyph that I needed was easily accessible.

Accessing a glyph using the Glyphs panel

Another good example is when you need a fraction. OpenType fonts typically contain commonly used fractions with actual numerator and denominator positioning. From the Show drop-down menu, you can choose Numbers to show all of the numeric glyphs available within the active font including fractions. A simple double-click inserts the fraction at the current position of your cursor.

Accessing a fraction from the Glyphs panel

You’ll be surprised how useful this panel is once you start to use it. There’s a lot more magic found inside of this little panel but we’ll save that for another post. In the mean time, give the Glyphs panel a try and post your questions and comments below!

Text Editing Efficiencies – Part 2

Last week in part 1, I discussed the benefits of using the keyboard when working with text in InCopy. I focused mostly on navigating through text stories in InCopy quickly using a variety of useful keyboard shortcuts. This week I’d like to expand on those efficiencies by providing some useful keyboard shortcuts for selecting text in InCopy.

Selecting text using the keyboard

There are many similarities between navigating text and selecting text using the keyboard. With your cursor inserted somewhere within a text story, you can combine the shift key and the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to select one character at a time left and right or the up and down arrow keys to select one line at a time up or down from the location of your cursor. Note that selecting one line up or down selects an entire line from the current location of your cursor. For even more control, add the Command key (Mac) or the Control key (Windows) along with the shift key to those same arrow keys. This increases the amount of text that you can select considerably. Using the Cmd/Ctrl + shift keys in conjunction with the left and right arrow keys selects one word at a time and using the up and down arrow keys selects one paragraph at a time. Keep in mind that the first use of this shortcut selects to the beginning/end of the current word or paragraph. Successive use of these shortcuts selects the next word or paragraph. Finally, using the Shift + Cmd/Ctrl key in conjunction with the home and end keys on your keyboard will select to the beginning and end of a story respectively. If you’re working on a smaller sized keyboard without home and end keys, you can still achieve this result by combining the Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + fn (function) keys along with the left arrow (home) and the right arrow (end) on the keyboard. I like to use this shortcut when working in layout view to select all of the text that is overset in a frame. It can be a little bit of keyboard twister but the rewards are well worth it!

I’ve added a table of the keyboard shortcuts discussed in this post below for easy access later on. If you missed last week’s post, be sure to check it out and you’ll find a table of shortcuts for navigating text there as well. Did I miss a useful keyboard shortcut for navigating and selecting text that you’d like to share? Please post it in the comments section below. We’d love to learn more!

Description Mac Shortcut Windows Shortcut
Select one character left Shift + Left Arrow Shift + Left Arrow
Select one character right Shift + Right Arrow Shift + Right Arrow
Select an entire line up Shift + Up Arrow Shift + Up Arrow
Select an entire line down Shift + Down Arrow Shift + Down Arrow
Select one word left Shift + Cmd + Left Arrow Shift + Ctrl + Left Arrow
Select one word right Shift + Cmd + Right Arrow Shift + Ctrl + Right Arrow
Select one paragraph up Shift + Cmd + Up Arrow Shift + Ctrl + Up Arrow
Select one paragraph down Shift + Cmd + Down Arrow Shift + Ctrl + Down Arrow
Select to beginning of story Shift + Cmd + Home Shift + Ctrl + Home
Select to beginning of story (min keyboard) fn + Shift + Cmd + Left Arrow fn + Shift + Ctrl + Left Arrow
Select to end of story Shift + Cmd + End Shift + Ctrl + End
Select to end of story (min keyboard) fn + Shift + Cmd + Right Arrow fn + Shift + Ctrl + Right Arrow

Text Editing Efficiencies – Part 1

Normally when I’m teaching the InCopy workflow to a new group of users, I focus on the overall workflow as well has the features and functionality that InCopy provides to make the job of design and editorial easier. I assume that the users are already efficient computer users and breeze over a lot of the more mundane details of editing text. After all, most of the users have been doing this for years if not decades.

During a recent engagement I was observing a group of users putting the InCopy workflow into practice, this included designers, editors, writers, and others. What I noticed during my observation was how much time everyone was spending using the mouse to meticulously select text that needed to be modified in their documents. The process went something like this. Grab the mouse, move it to the correct location on the screen, click and drag to select text, delete or edit the text, rinse and repeat. Now I understand fully that everyone works in their own way and has a certain way of doing things, but I couldn’t help but to think that with a little knowledge, and new techniques, that their efficiency could be improved significantly. When it comes to editing text in either InDesign or InCopy, there’s no better way than the keyboard. I thought I’d share some of my favorite methods for navigating through text.

Navigating using the keyboard

Let’s start with the basics, insert your cursor somewhere within some text. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate left to right one character at a time and up and down one line at a time. This shortcut can be somewhat limiting because you can only move a small amount of space at a time. To speed things up, add the Command key (Mac) or the Control key (Windows) to those same arrow keys. This multiplies the amount of space that you can navigate considerably. Using the Cmd/Ctrl key in conjunction with the left and right arrow keys navigates through text one word at a time and using the up and down arrow keys navigates one paragraph at a time. Finally, using the Cmd/Ctrl key in conjunction with the home and end buttons on your keyboard will navigate to the beginning and end of a story respectively. If you’re working on a smaller sized keyboard without home and end keys, you can still achieve this result by combining the Cmd/Ctrl key with the fn (function) key along with the left arrow (home) and the right arrow (end) on the keyboard. This shortcut will take miles off of your mouse each year!

There’s more to show, but I figured that for this post, I’d focus on the navigational aspects of working with text using a keyboard in InDesign and InCopy. I’ve added a table of the keyboard shortcuts discussed in this post below for easy access later on. Practice these shortcuts until next week and then we’ll discuss how to efficiently select text in the same way using InDesign and InCopy.

Description Mac Shortcut Windows Shortcut
Navigate one character left Left Arrow Left Arrow
Navigate one character right Right Arrow Right Arrow
Navigate one line up Up Arrow Up Arrow
Navigate one line down Down Arrow Down Arrow
Navigate one word left Cmd + Left Arrow Ctrl + Left Arrow
Navigate one word right Cmd + Right Arrow Ctrl + Right Arrow
Navigate one paragraph up Cmd + Up Arrow Ctrl + Up Arrow
Navigate one paragraph down Cmd + Down Arrow Ctrl + Down Arrow
Navigate to beginning of story Cmd + Home Ctrl + Home
Navigate to beginning of story (min keyboard) fn + Cmd + Left Arrow fn + Ctrl + Left Arrow
Navigate to end of story Cmd + End Ctrl + End
Navigate to end of story (min keyboard) fn + Cmd + Right Arrow fn + Ctrl + Right Arrow

Sharing Stories Between Multiple InDesign Documents

Sometimes, despite how much you think you know about a product, you fall flat on your face. This happened to me recently while I was helping out on the Adobe forums and someone asked if it was possible to share an InCopy story between more than one InDesign document, but have different styles applied in each InDesign document. I replied matter-of-factly that this was not possible and that when you would make edits to one story, it would update the styles in the InCopy story therefore updating both InDesign documents. Boy was I wrong! Happily I might add! You can read the post here, and I’d like to thank Anne-Marie Concepcion for setting things straight.

How it works

The trick to making this work, is to define paragraph styles in each InDesign document with the same name but different definitions. Then make sure that the style is applied to the text in the linked InCopy story in each InDesign document. Now, whenever the text is edited in either of the InDesign documents or in the InCopy story, the story can be updated in both InDesign documents but the formatting retained.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 7.52.26 AMDual Story Screen Shot

You can open either of the InDesign documents in InCopy to make edits or you can edit the assignments if that is part of your workflow or you can edit the story directly. If you open the story directly in InCopy, the appearance of the text will reflect the InDesign document where the story was last updated. It doesn’t really matter however, as the appearance in each respective InDesign document will be honored, retaining the formatting of the text.

Reap the Rewards!

This functionality can have a big impact in certain workflow solutions. Having text common to more than one document or project is something that is commonplace in many workflows. The ability to link a story to more than one InDesign document with independent formatting can save time and limit errors.