Streamline your workflow

July 2, 2012

It was with much fanfare that Adobe released the sixth version of Creative Suite. With new versions of InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and more, newspaper designers and publishers are asking, “Is it time to upgrade?”
I received my copy of CS6 from Adobe the day it was released and have had a month to play with the new bells and whistles. Because we probably spend more time with InDesign than other applications, let’s begin by taking a look at InDesign CS6.
Many of the features might take newspaper designers a while to get used to. Not because they’re hard to learn, but because they accomplish tasks not available before. You might forget about them and keep putting in extra hours to accomplish the same jobs.

Linked Content
The Linked Content feature was introduced in CS5.5, but the user can do even more with it in the latest version. To understand linked content, think of how links normally work. When you place an image on the page, a link is automatically created in the Links Panel.
Imagine that you’ve created a text block on a page. Perhaps the same text frame will be used in more than one place within a document or in separate documents. Maybe you’re placing a story that will be used in different editions, special sections or other places.
Using the Linked Content feature, when changes are made in the original “parent text,” the user can click on the link in the Links Panel and update the parent link so that the text is changed in other instances in the same document and other documents.
As you might imagine, this could be valuable to the designer who is working on multiple versions or zoned editions of a newspaper.

Collecting and Placing Content
This is a handy collection of tools that allows the user to copy and paste several items at one time. It works like “Copy & Paste” on steroids.
Let’s say you have a dozen photos on one page. By using the “Content Collector Tool,” you can copy all of the items at once. Then, using the “Content Placer Tool,” you can place them individually as you wish.
You’ll like this one.

Alternate Layouts/Liquid Layouts
The ability to add groups of different size pages to an existing document is quite handy. The ability to create one layout, then use that same layout with different size pages, is quite amazing.
Before “Alternate Layouts,” the user would have had to create separate documents. With Alternate Layouts, these pages can now be created and managed within the same document.
The CS6 “Liquid Layout” feature assists users in creating a layout for one purpose—say a newspaper page—then re-purposing it for different devices.
In my testing, I created a page for print, then an alternate layout for the Kindle Nook.
When I made changes to the original page, I could move over to the Kindle layout and see yellow symbols, letting me know that a change had been made. By updating the link, the change was made for the Kindle as well.

Other New Features
There are dozens of other new features in InDesign that might not get the same attention as Liquid Layouts, but will turn out to be quite useful:
• PDF Forms: A lot of us create forms that are converted to PDF files for various reasons. Previously, these forms were designed in one application, then interactive elements were added in Acrobat. With InDesign CS6, most PDF items, including text fields, radio buttons, signature fields and more, can be created within the InDesign document.
• Fonts List: The InDesign font menu now groups your most recently used fonts at the top. These can be sorted either by recent use or alphabetically.
• Text Frames: It’s more efficient to work with text frames in CS6. When placing a text frame with multiple columns, for instance, you can add or remove frames when you resize the column. Object styles can also be set to apply multiple text frames automatically.
• Align to Key Object: You can set any object as a “Key Object” for the purpose of making other objects align to it.

The Bottom Line
I’ve been using Creative Suite 6 for a month and it’s been a pleasure. I did, however, purchase a new iMac specifically to use with the new software. CS6 seems to run well on my two-year-old iMac and blazes on the new computer.
Whether you’re a Mac or PC user, you’ll need to have a newer machine to enjoy the enhancements in CS6.
So, what’s my advice? If you’re ready to upgrade your editorial workflow system or just looking for something to improve your design experience at home, InDesign CS6 is a definite “yes!”
If, however, you’re not ready to upgrade your hardware and your computer is a few years old, you will want to hold off before purchasing CS6 for your entire staff. And, as always, don’t mix and match versions. When you do decide to upgrade to CS6 in your office, be sure to upgrade all of your computers.

System Requirements
Creative Suite 6 is not for the faint of heart. System requirements include OS 10.6.8 and higher on the Mac, plus at least 2 GB RAM. PCs require Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor running Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 3 or Windows 7, plus at least 2 GB RAM. © Kevin Slimp 2012

Kevin Slimp is director of the Institute of Newspaper Technology. To read his past columns, go to To learn about the institute, go to

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