3 Often Overlooked Features in InCopy

I really enjoy recording videos about InCopy, and writing articles about it, because I can luxuriate (yes, luxuriate) with the practically unlimited amount of time and space I have to get across what I want to get across.

But when I’m on-site, training a company’s publication staff in the IC/ID workflow, I’m hyper-aware of the clock. These are busy people I’m training, and our time is limited to the day or two we set aside to work together. So I’m always keeping an eye on the time display on my computer, adjusting the content on the fly, to make sure I cover the material most critical to this particular company’s success with their first projects.

Here are three features that I’m often forced to skip during training. They’re not critical to anyone’s success, but they’re useful nonetheless. (I console myself with the thought that users really can’t appreciate their utility until they have a few InCopy projects under their belt, anyway.)

Number One: Rename Stories

Any InDesign or InCopy user can rename the stories in the Assignments panel so they make more sense. It’s easy: Just check the story out, then click once on its name. The current name becomes selected in an editing box, and whatever you type replaces the selection. For instance, in a feature article, you might want to change the automatic names InDesign used for its stories, “Magazine-Blah,” “Magazine-Blahblah,” and “Magazine-Blahba” to something more human, like “Headline,” “Body,” and “Sidebar.”

Here’s an assignment named “Basketball Meet” with the default story names:


And after renaming the stories in the panel:


Doing so doesn’t rename the linked InCopy files on the server, just in the interface, so you don’t have to worry about breaking any links. Best of all, through the magic of a little XML file that’s created in the background, your new names stick with the file — whoever opens the document in InDesign or InCopy will see the custom names. And they’ll thank you.

Number Two: Edit the Toolbars

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a dropdown list of paragraph styles in a toolbar, a la Microsoft Word? You can make this happen in InCopy (but not in InDesign … drat!). In InCopy, find the Paragraph Styles panel (it’s probably in the dock on the right side of the monitor) and drag its name to any empty area in the top or bottom toolbar. When you see a vertical blue line appear at the left of the empty area, release the mouse button. Done.


To convert it back to a floating, dockable panel, drag it out of the toolbar by its handle, a dark grey vertical strip to the left of its section in the toolbar .

You can even create a completely new toolbar. Drag a panel name directly under the top toolbar or above the bottom one until you see a long blue horizontal line appear, then release the mouse button. A new toolbar is created and the controls in the panel you were dragging appear within it.

Not all panels can become toolbars, but try it with your favorites. It’s amazing how much time you can save by placing the controls you use most often in more convenient locations for you. To save the new arrangement, choose Window > Workspace > Save Workspace, and name it.

Number Three:  View Story and Layout Side-by-Side

The three views available to InCopy users — Galley, Story, and Layout — are great, but they’d be even more useful if you could see them side-by-side once in a while, instead of flipping between the tabs. You might want to edit copy in Story view, for example, but would like to see how your edits affect the Layout view as you work.

You can do that by creating multiple windows for the same document. Start by selecting one of the views you want in the current document window—let’s say Story, for this example. Now, go to the Window menu and choose Arrange > New Window. You’ll see a duplicate window appear in the same View mode as the original window.  It’s important to note that you’re not duplicating any files here, you’re just opening up more views of the same file. Whatever you do in one window is replicated in the other window, and in the single document both are showing you.

The new window has the same View mode active as the other one, so switch its view to Layout. Also, the window is overlapping the original one, so choose Window > Arrange > Tile Vertically. InCopy resizes both windows so they fit completely on your monitor, side-by-side.


Now, as you edit text in one window (in Story view), your edits are immediately reflected in the other window (in Layout view). You may need to click in the other window occasionally to see a cleaner view of your changes, the screen redraw can get a little wonky.

There is one limitation to this method: The windows don’t scroll concurrently. (That’s actually a feature, not a bug — it means you can edit a story in one window and see how it affects the jump in the other window in real time.) For same-page edits, this method works great, but if you’re moving around the document in one window and want the other window to keep up, you’ll have to manually scroll it into position.

One Response to “3 Often Overlooked Features in InCopy”

  1. Jasonology says:

    Good one AMC! Keep ’em coming.