Modify objects using graphics frames

Adobe InDesign objects include any item you can add or create in the document window, including open paths, closed paths, compound shapes and paths, type, rasterized artwork, 3D objects, and any placed file, such as an image.

If a graphic exists inside a frame (as all imported graphics do), you can modify it by changing its relationship to its frame, as in the following examples:

  • Crop a graphic by making its frame smaller.

  • Create various masking and layout effects by pasting an object into a frame.

  • Add a keyline or outline to a graphic by changing the stroke weight and color of its frame.

  • Center a graphic against a background rectangle by enlarging its frame and setting the frame’s fill color.

Paste an object into a frame

Use the Paste Into command to nest graphics within container frames. You can even nest graphics into nested frames.

Background image pasted into a frame
Background image pasted into a frame

  1. Do one of the following:
    • To paste one object inside a frame, select the object.

    • To paste two or more objects inside a frame, group them first, because a frame can contain only one object.

    • To paste a text frame inside another frame and preserve its current appearance, select the entire text frame using the Selection tool  or Direct Selection tool , not the Type tool.

  2. Choose Edit > Copy (or Edit > Cut, if you don’t want to keep the original).
  3. Select a path or frame, and then choose Edit > Paste Into.

Remove a frame’s content

  1. Do one of the following:
    • If you’re removing a graphic or a text frame, select the object with the Direct Selection tool . Or, use the Selection tool to click the content grabber of the image.

    • If you’re removing text characters, select them with the Type tool .

  2. Do one of the following:
    • To permanently remove the content, press Delete or Backspace.

    • To place the content elsewhere on the layout, choose Edit > Cut, deselect the frame, and then choose Edit > Paste.

Note:

An imported image cannot exist without a frame. If you cut an imported image from its frame and paste it elsewhere within a document, a new frame is created for it automatically.

Fit objects to frames

If the frame and its content are different sizes, you can use the Fitting commands to achieve a perfect fit.

Frame alignment options apply to frames that contain either a graphic or another text frame (text frames nested within another frame), but they do not affect paragraphs inside a text frame—you control alignment and positioning of text itself using the Text Frame Options command and the Paragraph, Paragraph Styles, and Story panels.

Fit an object to its frame

  1. Select the frame of the object.

  2. Choose Object > Fitting and one of the following options:

    Fit Content To Frame

    Resizes content to fit a frame and allows the content proportions to be changed. The frame will not change, but the content may appear to be stretched if the content and the frame have different proportions.

    Fit Frame To Content

    Resizes a frame to fit its content. The frame’s proportions are altered to match the content proportions, if necessary. This is useful for resetting a graphics frame that you accidentally altered.

    Note:

    To fit a frame to its content quickly, double-click any corner handle on the frame. The frame resizes away from the point you click. If you click a side handle, the frame resizes only in that dimension.

    Aligning an object within a graphics frame
    Aligning an object within a graphics frame

    A. Original B. Frame resized to fit content C. Content resized to fit frame 

    Center Content

    Centers content within a frame. The proportions of the frame and its content are preserved. The size of the content and frame are unaltered.

    Fit Content Proportionally

    Resizes content to fit a frame while preserving the content proportions. The frame’s dimensions are not changed. If the content and the frame have different proportions, some empty space will result.

    Fill Frame Proportionally

    Resizes content to fill the entire frame while preserving the content’s proportions. The frame’s dimensions are not changed. If the content and the frame have different proportions, some of the content will be cropped by the bounding box of the frame.

    Note:

    The Fitting commands fit the outer edges of the content to the center of the frame’s stroke. If the frame has a thick stroke weight, outer edges of the content will be obscured. You can adjust the frame’s stroke alignment to the center, inside, or outside of a frame edge. (See Set strokes.)

    To remove undesired fitting settings applied using Auto-Fit, choose Object > Fitting > Clear Frame Fitting Options.

Using Auto Fit

If you resize an image frame when Auto-Fit is not selected, the frame resizes while the image size remains the same. If you select Auto-Fit, the image resizes with the frame. If you decide to crop or transform the image, use the Direct Selection tool to transform the image itself. Or, deselect Auto-Fit, transform the image, and select Auto-Fit again.

You can select the Auto-Fit option in the Control bar and in the Frame Fitting Options dialog box.

Set frame fitting options

You can associate a fitting option to a placeholder frame so that whenever new content is placed in that frame, the fitting command is applied.

  1. Select a frame.

  2. Choose Object > Fitting > Frame Fitting Options.

  3. Specify the following options, and then click OK:

    Auto-Fit

    Select this option if you want the image to resize automically when you resize the frame.

    Reference Point

    Specify a reference point for the cropping and fitting actions. For example, if you select the upper-right corner for a reference point and choose Fit Content Proportionally, the image may be cropped on either the left or bottom side (away from the reference point).

    Crop Amount

    Specify the location of the image’s bounding box in relation to the frame. Use positive values to crop the image. For example, you may want to exclude a border that surrounds the placed image. Use negative values to add space between the image’s bounding box and the frame. For example, you may want white space to appear between the image and the frame.

    If you enter crop values that cause the image not to be visible, those values are ignored, but the fitting option is still implemented.

    Fitting On Empty Frame

    Specify whether you want to fit the content to the frame (which may cause the image to be skewed), fit the content proportionally (some empty space may result), or fill the frame proportionally (one or more sides may be cropped).

The fitting action is applied only when content is placed into a frame. If you resize the frame, the fitting option is automatically reapplied only if Auto-Fit is selected.

Move a graphics frame or its content

When you use the Selection tool to select a graphics frame, you can select either the frame or the image within the frame. If you click outside the content grabber and drag the selection, the frame’s content moves with the frame. If you drag the content grabber, the image moves within the frame.

The following techniques include ways to move a frame or its content independent of each other. These techniques are useful for adjusting a graphic when cropped or masked in its frame.

Note:

If a selection tool doesn’t work the way you expect it to, try deselecting everything first. Do this by pressing Ctrl+Shift+A (Windows) or Command+Shift+A (Mac OS).

  • Do any of the following:
    • To move a frame together with its content, use the Selection tool  to click the image outside the content grabber.

    • To move imported content without moving the frame (that is, to pan content behind its frame), drag the content grabber. You can also use the Direct Selection tool  to select and drag the image.

    Moving the content, but not its frame
    Moving the content, but not its frame

    Note:

    If you hold down the mouse button on a graphic before you move it, a dynamic graphics preview (a ghosted-back image) of the outside of the frame appears, but the preview of the image that moves inside the frame is not ghosted. This makes it easier to see how you are positioning the entire image within a frame.

    • To move a frame without moving its content, click the frame using the Selection tool, switch to the Direct Selection tool, and then drag the center point.
    Moving the frame, but not its content
    Moving the frame, but not its content

    • To move multiple frames, use the Selection tool to select the objects, and then drag them. If you use the Direct Selection tool to select multiple objects, only the item you drag is affected.

Create a border or background

A graphics frame is ideally suited for use as a border or background for its content, because you can change the frame’s stroke and fill independent of the content.

Adding borders to graphics frames
Adding borders to graphics frames

A. Photo in graphics frame B. Frame with stroke applied C. Frame enlarged with both stroke and fill applied 
  1. Using the Selection tool , click an imported graphic outside the content grabber to select its frame.
  2. To enlarge the frame without resizing the graphic, drag any bounding box handle outward. To maintain frame proportions, hold down Shift as you drag.
  3. Use the Swatches panel and the toolbox to apply a stroke and fill color.
  4. Use the Stroke panel to adjust the frame’s stroke weight, style, or alignment.

Note:

You can quickly enlarge a frame equally around all sides by using the Transform or Control panel. Select the frame with the Direct Selection tool , set the panel reference point locator  to the center point, and enter new values for the width and height.

Crop or mask objects

Cropping and masking are both terms that describe hiding part of an object. In general, the difference is that cropping uses a rectangle to trim the edges of an image, and masking uses an arbitrary shape to make an object’s background transparent. A common example of a mask is a clipping path, which is a mask made for a specific image.

Use graphics frames to crop or mask objects. Because an imported graphic is automatically contained within a frame, you can crop or mask it immediately without having to create a frame for it. If you haven’t created a frame for an imported graphic manually, the frame is automatically created at the same size as the graphic, so it is not obvious that the frame is there.

Note:

For efficient printing, only the data for the visible parts of cropped or masked images is sent when you output the document. However, you still save disk space and RAM if you crop or mask images to their desired shapes and sizes before importing them into your document.

  • To crop an imported image or any other graphic already inside a rectangular frame, click the object using the Selection tool  and drag any handle on the bounding box that appears. Press Shift as you drag to preserve the frame’s original proportions.


    Cropping an image using a graphics frame

  • To crop or mask any object, use the Selection or Direct Selection tool to select one object you want to mask. Choose Edit > Copy, select an empty path or frame smaller than the object, and choose Edit > Paste Into.
  • To crop frame content precisely, select the frame with the Direct Selection tool, and use the Transform or Control panel to change the size of the frame.
  • To specify crop settings for an empty placeholder frame, choose Object > Fitting > Frame Fitting Options, and then specify the crop amount.

Note:

With an imported graphic, you can also create a mask by using the drawing tools to change the shape of the graphic’s existing frame.

Object export options

Introduction to object export options

Object export options can be used to specify export parameters required when you export to different formats, such as EPUB, HTML, or accessible PDFs.

 

Object export options can be applied to both text frames and graphic frames, as well as groups. Use Object export options to:

  • Define Alt text for placed images and graphics.

  • Apply tags and actual text settings for tagged PDFs.

  • Create different conversion settings on each object so they render well on different screen sizes and pixel densities. Use these options to control the quality of rasterization applied to text effects, such as drop shadow and bevel, when you export the layout to HTML or EPUB.

Note:

If an object is hyperlinked, it would be supported on export.

Apply Object export options

  1. Select the frame or group in the layout.
  2. Choose Object > Object Export Options.

    or

    Right-click on the object and select Object Export Options.

  3. Apply the settings.

Note:

You can leave the Object Export Options dialog box while you select other objects on the layout to apply the settings.

Alt-text options

Alternative text (Alt text) is a brief text-based description of an image or graphic. This text is used in situations where the image is not rendered or to help screen-readers.

Alt-text Source

Select the source to assign the Alt text for the selected frames or groups.

Note:

When you import content from Microsoft Word, InDesign also imports alt-text applied to images.

Custom

Enter text manually.

From Structure

Use text as specified in the structure. See Label graphics for use with screen-reader software.

From XMP (Title |Description |Headline)

Use data stored in common XMP fields. If XMP data is updated using another application such as Adobe Bridge, when you update the link, text is updated automatically.

From Other XMP

If text string is stored in some other XMP field, enter the complete namespace and property name in <ns>:<property> format. For example, the Adobe Bridge user interface supports IPTC Core, which contains a field titled “IPTC Subject Code”. If this field was used to store the text string, then the Property value would be “Iptc4xmpCore:SubjectCode[1].”

Tagged PDF options

Apply Tag

Select the source to assign the PDF Tag for the selected frames or groups.

From Structure

Use text as specified in the structure.

Artifact

Use for graphic elements that have no important meaning when they are read aloud by a screen reader.

Based on Object

Automatically determines the content of the frame and applies “Story” or “Figure” tag.

Actual Text Source

PDF also supports actual text, in addition to Alt text. Actual text can be applied to graphic elements that visually look like text. For example, a scanned TIFF image. Actual text is used to represent words that were converted to artwork. Actual text is only applicable for tagged PDFs.

Custom

Enter text manually.

From Structure

Use text as specified in the structure. See Label graphics for use with screen-reader software.

From XMP (Title |Description |Headline)

Use data stored in common XMP fields. If XMP data is updated using another application such as Adobe Bridge, when you update the link, text is updated automatically.

From Other XMP

If text string is stored in some other XMP field, enter the complete namespace and property name in <ns>:<property> format. For example, the Bridge user interface supports IPTC Core, which contains a field titled “IPTC Subject Code”. If this field was where the text string is stored, then the Property value would be “Iptc4xmpCore:SubjectCode[1].”

EPUB and HTML options

Use the EPUB and HTML options to specify image conversion settings for individual objects. If these settings are not specified, the EPUB export image conversion settings are used. See EPUB Images options.

Objext Export Options
Objext Export Options

epub: type

Click the arrow icon to choose the order in which the reader can read the document.

Preserve Appearance From Layout

Check to specify custom image conversion settings for selected frames.

Default

Deafult settings mapped to the Export dialog settings dialog.

Use Existing Image for Graphic Objects

Uses an existing image for graphic objects

Rasterize Container

Convert the object into an image. For example, a text frame gets converted to an image.

Rasterize Content

The appearance is preserved via CSS. 

Custom Rasterization

Check to specify custom image conversion settings for selected frames.

Format

Lets you choose whether the optimized images in your document are converted to GIF, JPEG, or PNG.

Resolution (ppi)

Specify the resolution of the images in pixels per inch (ppi). While operating systems have standardized on either 72 ppi or 96 ppi, mobile devices range from 132 ppi (iPad), to 172 ppi (Sony Reader), to over 300 ppi (iPhone 4). You can specify a ppi value for each object selected. Values include 72, 96, 150 (average for all eBook devices today), and 300.

Palette

Lets you control how InDesign handles colors when optimizing GIF files. The GIF format uses a limited color palette, which cannot exceed 256 colors.

Choose Adaptive to create a palette using a representative sample of colors in the graphic without any dithering (mixing of small spots of colors to simulate additional colors). Choose Web to create a palette of web-safe colors that are a subset of Windows and Mac OS system colors. Choose System (Win) or System (Mac) to create a palette using the built‑in system color palette. This choice may cause unexpected results.

Select Interlace to display a slowly loaded image gradually by filling in missing lines. If this option is not select, an image looks fuzzy and gradually becomes clear as the image reaches full resolution.

Quality

Determines the trade-off between compression (for smaller file sizes) and image quality for each JPEG image created. Low produces the smallest file and lowest image quality.

Method

Determines how quickly JPEG graphics display when the file containing the image is opened on the web. Choose Progressive to make the JPEG images display gradually and in increasing detail as they are downloaded. (Files created with this option are slightly larger and require more RAM for viewing.) Choose Baseline to make each JPEG file display only after it has been downloaded; a placeholder appears in its place until the file displays.

Custom Layout

Select the layout preference from the drop-down list.

  • Alignment and Spacing: Specify the image alignment, left, center, right, and the top and bottom padding.
  • Float Left: Select this option for floating left alignment.
  • Float Right: Select this option for floating right alignment.

Insert Page Break

Select this option to insert page breaks with images. Page breaks can be inserted Before Image, After Image, or Before and After Image.

Size

Choose the custom CSS width and height from the following options:

  • None: No CSS width or height is applied on the object.
  • Default: The default CSS width and height are used.
  • Fixed: A fixed CSS width and height are applied.
  • Relative to Text Flow: Applies to CSS width only. The CSS width adapts to the text flow.
  • Relative to Text Size: Applies to CSS width only. The CSS width adapts to the text flow.
  • Custom Width: Select this option to enter the custom value for width.
  • Custom Height: Select this option to enter the custom value for height.

Note:

The Size drop-down list is applicable for the EPUB Reflowable and HTML Layout only. This is not applicable for EPUB Fixed Layout.

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