How to edit multi-state object content with InCopy

One shortcoming of the InDesign/InCopy workflow is that if an InDesign user includes text in any of the states of a multi-state object (mso), InCopy users will not be able to see or edit the text in the states of the mso.

But, it turns out that with a couple extra steps in InDesign, and clever use of the linked content feature (introduced in InDesign CS5.5) you can make mso text editable by InCopy users.

In this example, I’ll create an mso that has 2 states: “hidden” and “visible”. When the user taps a “plus” icon in the “hidden” state, the “visible” state appears that consists of a text frame that contains a caption.

How It’s Done

  1. In InDesign, create the text frame for the visible state on the pasteboard close to where the mso will be positioned on the page.
  2. Format this text frame exactly as you want it to appear in the mso. It can be really useful to set the text frame to “auto-size” so that it grows and shrinks as the text within is edited.
  3. Select the text frame with the Selection (black arrow) tool.

Text frame selection

  1. Choose Edit > Place and Link. This will cause a place cursor to appear.

Place and Link


  1. Click to discharge the place cursor. This will create a copy of the original text frame with the same dimensions, properties, and contents as the original.
  2. Position the copy of the text frame where you want it on the page, and build the 2 states of the mso.

Multi-State Object


  1. Now use the Object States and buttons panel to “wire up” the multi-state object as you usually would, leaving the text frame on the pasteboard untouched.
  2. Now, as long as you include the text frame that is on the pasteboard when you export stories or create an assignment for InCopy, the text in that frame will be available to checkout and edit in InCopy.

Here is what it looks like after editing in Layout view in InCopy. The frame on the pasteboard is visible, the frame in the mso is not. Of course, the text also appears in Story and Galley view.

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 4.24.29 PM

  1. Check the story back in.
  2. Now, back in InDesign, you just need to choose Update All Links from the Links panel menu, and both frames will be updated with the edited text.

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 4.29.17 PM

5 Responses to “How to edit multi-state object content with InCopy”

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    This is fantastic! Great solution, thank you, Keith.

    I’m wondering if it gets unwieldy if more than a few states are in the MSO. Can you just put all the linked text frames for the same MSO over in the pasteboard?

  2. Yes, if there are several states in the MSO, or if a single state consists of multiple stories, you can make a linked text frame for each one and line them up on the pasteboard. This of course can become tricky to identify what is what on the pasteboard, but it does work on a technical level.

  3. Chad Chelius Chad Chelius says:

    I think the important takeaway is to appropriately name the incopy files so that InCopy users can easily access the appropriate story from the Assignment panel.

  4. Leonardo says:

    I can not export to InCopy when Object-State apply in my object. It is a problem with the CS6 version?
    Thank U!

  5. Leonardo, this technique works with CS6 as well as CC versions. If you can be more specific about what you are doing, and exactly what you can’t do, we might be able to help.

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