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  1. InDesign User Guide
  2. Get to know InDesign
    1. Introduction to InDesign
      1. What's New in InDesign
      2. System requirements
      3. Common questions
      4. Use Creative Cloud libraries
    2. Workspace
      1. Workspace basics
      2. Customize your workspace in InDesign
      3. Toolbox
      4. Set preferences
      5. Properties panel
      6. Touch workspace
      7. Default keyboard shortcuts
      8. Undo edits and manage History panel
      9. Document recovery and undo
    3. Generative AI
      1. Text to Image
      2. Generative Expand
      3. Generative AI FAQ
  3. Create and layout documents
    1. Documents and pages
      1. Create documents
      2. Work with parent pages
      3. Work with document pages
      4. Set page size, margins, and bleed
      5. Work with files and templates
      6. Convert PDFs to InDesign files in InDesign (Beta)
      7. Create book files
      8. Add basic page numbering
      9. Number pages, chapters, and sections
      10. Convert QuarkXPress and PageMaker documents
      11. Share content
      12. Understand a basic managed-file workflow
      13. Save documents
    2. Grids
      1. Grids
      2. Format grids
    3. Layout aids
      1. Rulers
      2. Align and distribute objects using rulers
      3. Measure objects using the Measure tool
  4. Add content
    1. Text
      1. Add text to frames
      2. Threading text
      3. South-East Asian Scripts
      4. Arabic and Hebrew features in InDesign
      5. Create type on a path
      6. Bullets and numbering
      7. Glyphs and special characters
      8. Text composition
      9. Text variables
      10. Generate QR codes
      11. Edit text
      12. Align text
      13. Wrap text around objects
      14. Anchored objects
      15. Linked content
      16. Format paragraphs
      17. Format characters
    2. Typography
      1. Using fonts in InDesign
      2. Kerning and tracking
      3. Scale and skew type
      4. Apply color effects to type
    3. Format text
      1. Format text
      2. Auto Style text
      3. Work with Style Packs
      4. Tabs and indents
    4. Review text
      1. Track and review changes
      2. Add editorial notes in InDesign
      3. Import PDF comments
    5. Spell check and language dictionaries
      1. Check spelling, autocorrect, and dynamic spelling
      2. Create, add, and manage dictionaries and words
      3. Change dictionary preferences
      4. Duden dictionary
    6. Add references
      1. Create a table of contents
      2. Footnotes
      3. Create an index
      4. Endnotes
      5. Captions
    7. Styles
      1. Paragraph and character styles
      2. Map, export, and manage styles
      3. Object styles
      4. Drop caps and nested styles
      5. Work with styles
      6. Leading
    8. Tables
      1. Format tables
      2. Create tables
      3. Table and Cell styles
      4. Select and edit tables
      5. Table strokes and fills
    9. Interactivity
      1. Hyperlinks
      2. Dynamic PDF documents
      4. Buttons
      5. Forms
      6. Animation
      7. Cross-references
      8. Structure PDFs
      9. Page transitions
      10. Movies and sounds
    10. Graphics
      1. Understand paths and shapes
      2. Draw with the Pencil tool
      3. Draw with the Pen tool
      4. Apply line (stroke) settings 
      5. Compound paths and shapes
      6. Edit paths
      7. Clipping paths
      8. Change corner appearance
      9. Frames and objects
      10. Align and distribute objects
      11. Linked and embedded graphics
      12. Integrate AEM assets
    11. Color and transparency
      1. Apply color
      2. Use colors from imported graphics
      3. Work with swatches
      4. Mix inks
      5. Tints
      6. Understand spot and process colors
      7. Blend colors
      8. Gradients
      9. Flatten transparent artwork
      10. Add transparency effects
  5. Find and replace
    1. Find and replace text
    2. Find and replace fonts
    3. Find and replace glyphs
    4. Find and replace using GREP expressions and queries
    5. Find and replace objects
    6. Find and replace colors
    7. Search options to find and replace
  6. Share
    1. Save and access cloud documents
    2. Organize, manage, and share cloud documents
    3. View and manage versions in cloud documents
    4. Common questions about InDesign cloud documents
    5. Share and collaborate        
    6. Share for Review
    7. Review a shared InDesign document
    8. Manage feedback 
  7. Publish
    1. Place, export, and publish
      1. Publish online
      2. Publish online dashboard
      3. Copy, insert graphics
      4. Export content for EPUB
      5. Adobe PDF options
      6. Export content to HTML
      7. Export to Adobe PDF
      8. Export to JPEG format
      9. Export HTML
      10. DPS and AEM Mobile overview
      11. Supported File Formats
      12. Export and import User Settings
    2. Printing
      1. Print booklets
      2. Printer's marks and bleeds
      3. Print documents
      4. Inks, separation, and screen frequency
      5. Overprinting
      6. Create PostScript and EPS files
      7. Preflight files before handoff
      8. Print thumbnails and oversized documents
      9. Prepare PDFs for service providers
      10. Prepare to print separations
  8. Extend InDesign
    1. Automation
      1. Data merge
      2. Plug-ins
      3. Capture extension in InDesign
      4. Scripting
  9. Troubleshooting
    1. Fixed issues
    2. Known issues
    3. Crash on launch
    4. Preference folder read-only issue
    5. Troubleshoot file issues
    6. Unable to export InDesign file to PDF
    7. InDesign document recovery

Exporting content from InDesign

Exporting content from InDesign to InCopy establishes a link between the two applications. You export InDesign text frames, graphics frames, and their contents to InCopy using either of two methods:

  • Create a container file (*.icma)—called an assignment—and add related groupings of document items (such as the text and graphics of a story) to the assignment so they can be worked on together. Content within assignments is exported as *.icml files.

  • Export text and graphics frames separately (including placeholder frames) using the Edit > InCopy > Export menu commands. Exported content is saved as *.icml files.

After content is exported, small icons appear at the top left of exported frames in InDesign and InCopy, and in the Assignments panel. A link to the exported file appears in the Links panel. These icons indicate the status of managed frames and they differentiate managed frames from those that aren’t part of the workflow. All exported content appears in the Assignments panel. Content exported using the Export menu commands appears in the Unassigned InCopy Content section of the Assignments panel list. While both methods establish a controlled connection between InCopy content and an InDesign document, the primary method is to use assignment files.

Exporting content makes the content available for users to check out while maintaining a link to the original InDesign document. (This link is made from within InDesign; you cannot create the link from InCopy.)

Once the content is exported, InCopy users can see (but not change) the page layouts, styles, and so forth as they appear in the InDesign document.


You can also create text or anchored graphics using InCopy and then place them in InDesign.

Assignments panel overview

The primary tool for working with assignments is the Assignments panel (Window > Assignments in InCopy, Window > Editorial > Assignments in InDesign). The Assignments panel displays the files exported from the currently active InDesign document, and an icon indicates their status. The Assignments panel menu also contains commands that control import version and file-management functions between InCopy and InDesign. When you open an assignment in InCopy, the assignment name and its contents appear in the Assignments panel. You can double-click text and graphics frames in the Assignments panel to select them in the document window.


All content exported to InCopy or added to an assignment is also listed in the Links panel. Although you can do some workflow management tasks, such as checking out and checking in content, the recommended panel for these tasks is the Assignments panel.

InDesign Assignments panel

A. InCopy content names B. InDesign document name C. Assignment Out Of Date status D. Available And Text Up To Date status E. In Use And Text Out Of Date status F. Editing And Text Up To Date status G. Unassigned content H. User name I. Update Content button J. Check Out/Check In Selection button K. New Assignment button L. Delete Selected Assignments/Remove button 

InCopy Assignments panel

A. InCopy content names B. Assignment Out Of Date status C. Assignment name D. Available And Text Up To Date status E. In Use And Text Out Of Date status F. Editing And Text Up To Date status G. User name H. Update Design button I. Update Content button J. Check Out/Check In Selection button 

Assignment files

In InDesign, assignment files are containers for organizing collections of page items. For example, you might want to select all the items in a story (headline, byline, copy, graphics, and captions), and then assign them to one InCopy user. Adding those items to an assignment provides a convenient way for InCopy users to access only the content for which they are responsible. Assignment files (*.icma) appear in the file system, in the InCopy story bar, and in status messages. Only InDesign users can create assignment files; only InCopy users can open them.

When you create an assignment, a folder is created in the same location as the InDesign document by default. This assignment folder includes the *.icma assignment files and a content subfolder that contains any exported InCopy story files (in .icml format) that are part of images or other resources. Once the assignment is created, store the project folder in a location where all users have access to it, or create and distribute an assignment package. If content is exported before it’s added to an assignment, the files on disk are not moved to the content folder of the assignment file.

Assignment files include the following:

  • Links or pointers to the associated page items, including placeholder frames. These elements let the InCopy user open a single file in InCopy and have editorial access to multiple page items.

  • Any transformations on the graphics included in the assignment, such as moving, scaling, rotating, or shearing.

  • Page geometry, so InCopy users can see the layout of the frame and its content that they’re editing without opening the entire InDesign file.

  • Color-coding of assigned frames in the document.


Illustration of page in InCopy showing page geometry and color coding

Create assignments and add content (InDesign)

Only InDesign users can create assignments and add content to them. There are several ways to create assignments. The method you choose usually depends on whether you have content to add at the time you create the assignment.

  • Create empty assignment files. From your InDesign document, you can create a series of empty assignments to act as templates for content to come later.

  • Create assignments and add content at the same time.

  • Add content to an existing assignment file. You can add linked content—text and graphics that have already been exported as InCopy content—or you can add selected page items to become linked InCopy content. If one or more of the selected frames already contain InCopy content files, and none is part of an assignment, you can add them to a new or existing assignment file.

By default, the assignment folder you create is saved in the same folder as the InDesign document. You can then place this folder on a server or create and send a package.


If you don’t want InCopy users to place and fit graphics, don’t add graphics frames to an assignment.

Create empty assignment files (InDesign)

  1. In InDesign, save the document.
  2. In the Assignments panel, choose New Assignment from the panel menu.
  3. In the New Assignment dialog box, specify assignment file options and click OK.

Simultaneously create assignments and add content (InDesign)

  1. In InDesign, create a document that has one or more text frames, graphics frames, or placeholder items, and then save the document.
  2. Select the text and graphics frames you want to add.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • From the Assignments panel menu, choose Add To Assignment, and then select New.

    • Choose Edit > InCopy > Add [option] To Assignment > New.

  4. In the New Assignment dialog box, specify assignment file options and click OK.

The newly created assignment file includes any frames selected in the document window.

Add content to existing assignments (InDesign)

  1. Save the InDesign document.
  2. Select the text and graphics frames you want to add.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • From the Assignments panel menu, choose Add To Assignment, and then select the assignment.

    • Drag content from the Unassigned InCopy Content section of the Assignments panel into an existing assignment.

    • Select page items with the Selection tool and drag them to an existing Assignment in the Assignments panel.

    • Choose Edit > InCopy > Add [option] To Assignment, and then select the assignment.

  4. Choose Update All Assignments from the Assignments panel menu to make the content files available to InCopy users.

You can add content only to assignments in the same document. However, you can import the same content into multiple documents and add it to an assignment in each of those documents.

Assignment file options (InDesign)

When you create or modify an assignment file, you can set the following options:

Assignment Name

The unique identification of the assignment in the Assignments panel, for example “Ocean article.” This name must conform to the file naming conventions of the operating system.

Assigned To

The unique identification of the user assigned to the files. The user’s name appears in parentheses following the assignment name in the Assignments panel. Entering a name here is for informational purposes only; it doesn’t grant special rights or permissions to the user.


Displays a list of colors for adding a distinctive highlight to the frames of the current assignment in the document window, and to the assignment names in the Assignments panel. This color coding differentiates frames that belong to one assignment from frames that belong to another, and it differentiates from unassigned frames. To toggle the display of this color coding, choose View > Extras > Show/Hide Assigned Frames. In InCopy, the color coding is visible only in Layout view.


If toggling the display of assigned frames produces unexpected results, those frames might be tagged for XML and View > Structure > Show Tagged Frames might be enabled. You cannot show assigned frames and tagged frames at the same time.  


Click the Change button to specify the location of the assignments folder. By default, the assignments folder is created in the same location as the InDesign file.

Placeholder Frames

Lets InCopy users see the text and graphics frames in the assignment as well as boxes (or other shapes) representing all other frames on those InDesign pages. All frames and placeholders accurately reflect the size, shape, and location of the InDesign originals. Placeholder frames are empty shapes that don’t show any of the content in the InDesign document. The Placeholder Frames option provides the least amount of fidelity, and therefore provides the fastest performance. In InCopy, the placeholder frames are visible only in Layout view. InCopy users cannot check out and edit placeholder frames.

Assigned Spreads

Lets InCopy users see all assigned frames, as well as the entire contents of other frames that aren’t part of the assignment, on the same spread. In InCopy, content in frames outside an assignment isn’t editable and is visible only in Layout view.

All Spreads

Exports all content in the InDesign document to the assignment file. This option provides the maximum amount of fidelity; it also provides the slowest performance because the assignment file displays the design and layout of every page, including pages not relevant to the section a user is editing.

Linked Image Files When Packaging

Includes a copy of linked images in the assignment package. Selecting this option gives InCopy users access to images but increases the package’s file size. InCopy users can include images while returning a package.

Export content as separate InCopy files (InDesign)

If your workgroup prefers working with separate files rather than using assignments, you can export InCopy content without using an assignments file. Compared with creating a single assignment file with references to multiple content files and layout information, this method creates a separate file (.icml) for each text or graphics frame you specify in the document. To see the context of the content you are editing, you must also open the associated InDesign document (.indd).

Cater the InDesign document to suit your workflow needs. For example, if you want all of the editor’s comments to be exported in a single file, create a layer for the editor to make comments. You can then export all the content on the selected layer.


A quick way to export content as separate InCopy files is to use the Selection tool to drag selected frames into the Unassigned InCopy Content in the Assignments panel.

  1. In InDesign, create a document with one or more text frames, graphics frames, or placeholder items.
  2. Do either of the following:
    • Select the text or graphics frame of a single story, or Shift-click to select multiple frames.

    • Click an insertion point in a story, or select some text in a text frame.

  3. Choose Edit > InCopy > Export, and then choose one of the following options:


    Exports all selected text and graphics frames.


    Exports all content on the selected layer.

    All Stories

    Exports every story that has not been exported already.

    All Graphics

    Exports every graphic that has not been exported already.

    All Graphics And Stories

    Exports every story and graphic that has not been exported already.


    If you export all content in the document, and then add more text or graphics frames to the same document, you can save time exporting the new ones by using the Export > All Stories (or All Graphics or All Graphics And Stories) command again. InDesign exports only the new content.

  4. Enter a name and location for the files, and then click Save.

    The file name you specify is used as a prefix for identifying each exported content file in the file system. If you export multiple text frames, the first several characters of the text are automatically appended to the file name; for example, “mystory-Upcoming cycling events.icml.” For multiple graphics frames, the file names are formed as “mystory-graphic,” “mystory-graphic-1,” and so on. The file name appears in the file system, in the InCopy story bar, and in status messages.

  5. When prompted, save your InDesign file.

The InCopy content is now managed, and is available to be checked out and edited by other users in the workflow.

Shared content appears in the Links panel just like imported graphics. If you move a shared file manually, you can use the Links panel to update its link.


When you export content, you see the Available icon  on the text frame (InDesign and InCopy), and in the Assignments panel (InCopy). The word [Editing] appears in the story bar (InCopy).


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Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

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Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online