Ways to reuse graphics and text

InDesign offers several different ways to repurpose graphics and text.

Snippets

A snippet is a file that contains objects and describes their location relative to one another on a page or spread. (See Use snippets.)

Object libraries

An object library provides a convenient place to store items such as logos, sidebars, pull-quotes, and other repeating items. (See Use object libraries.)

Templates

A template is a document that includes placeholder text and graphics. (See Use document templates.)

Use snippets

A snippet is a file that holds objects and describes their location relative to one another on a page or page spread. Use snippets to conveniently reuse and position page objects. Create a snippet by saving objects in a snippet file, which has the .IDMS extension. (Previous InDesign versions use the .INDS extension.) When you place the snippet file in InDesign, you can determine whether the objects land in their original positions or where you click. You can store snippets in the Object library and in Adobe Bridge as well as on your hard disk.

Snippets contents retain their layer associations when you place them. When a snippet contains resource definitions and these definitions are also present in the document to which it is copied, the snippet uses the resource definitions in the document.

Snippets you create in InDesign CS5 can be opened in InDesign CS4 but not in any other previous version of InDesign.

Create snippets

  • Do one of the following:
    • Using a selection tool, select one or more objects, and then choose File > Export. From the Save As Type (Windows) or Format (Mac OS) menu, choose InDesign Snippet. Type a name for the file and click Save.

    • Using a selection tool, select one or more objects, and then drag the selection to your desktop. A snippet file is created. Rename the file.

    • Select one or more objects, and then drag the selection to the Mini Bridge panel. A snippet file is created. Rename the file.

    • Drag an item from Structure View to your desktop.

Add snippets to a document

  1. Choose File > Place.
  2. Select one or more snippet (*.IDMS or *.INDS) files.
  3. Click the loaded snippet cursor where you want the upper-left corner of the snippet file to be.

    If you placed the insertion point in a text frame, the snippet is placed in the text as an anchored object.

    All objects remain selected after you place the snippet. By dragging, you can adjust the position of all objects.

  4. If you loaded more than one snippet, scroll and click the loaded snippet cursor to place the others.

Note:

You can drag a snippet file from your desktop into the InDesign document and click where you want the upper-left corner of the snippet to be.

Choose how to place snippets

Rather than place snippet objects according to where you click on a page, you can place them in their original locations. For example, a text frame that appeared in the middle of a page when it was made part of a snippet can appear in the same location when you place it as a snippet.

  • In File Handling preferences, choose Original Location from the Position At menu to preserve objects’ original locations in snippets. Choose Cursor Location from the Position At menu to place snippets according to where you click a page.

Note:

You can press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) to override the Position setting you selected for handling snippets. For example, if you selected Position At Cursor Location but you want to place snippet objects in their original locations, hold down the Alt/Option key when you click the loaded snippet cursor on the page.

Use object libraries

Object libraries help you organize the graphics, text, and pages you use most often. You can also add ruler guides, grids, drawn shapes, and grouped images to a library. You can create as many libraries as you need—for example, you can create different object libraries for varied projects or clients.

During a work session, you can open as many libraries as system memory will allow. Object libraries can be shared across servers, and across platforms, but only one person can have the library open at a time. If an object library includes text files, make sure that the file’s fonts are available and active on all systems that will access the library.

When you add a page element, such as a graphic, to an object library, InDesign preserves all attributes that were imported or applied. For example, if you add a graphic from an InDesign document to a library, the library copy will duplicate the original, including the original’s link information, so that you can update the graphic when the file on disk changes.

If you delete the object from the InDesign document, the object’s thumbnail will still appear in the Library panel, and all of the link information will remain intact. If you move or delete the original object, a missing link icon will appear next to the object’s name in the Links panel the next time you place it in your document from the Library panel.

Within each object library, you can identify and search for an item by title, by the date it was added to the library, or by keywords. You can also simplify the view of an object library by sorting the library items and displaying their subsets. For example, you can hide all items except EPS files.

Object library in Library panel
Object library in Library panel

A. Object thumbnail and name B. Library Item Information button C. Show Library Subset button D. New Library Item button E. Delete Library Item button 

When adding an item to an object library, InDesign saves all page, text, and image attributes, and maintains interrelationships among library objects and other page elements in the following ways:

  • Elements grouped in an InDesign document when dragged to the Library panel stay grouped when dragged out of the Library panel.

  • Text retains its formatting.

  • Paragraph styles, character styles, and object styles that have the same name as styles used in the destination document are converted to the destination document’s styles; those that have different names are added to the document.

  • The original layers of an object are preserved when the Paste Remembers Layers option is selected in the Layers panel menu.

Create an object library

An object library exists as a named file on disk. When you create an object library, you specify where to store it. When you open a library, it appears as a panel that you can group with any other panel; the object library’s file name appears in its panel tab. Closing an object library removes it from the current session, but doesn’t delete its file.

You can add or remove objects, selected page elements, or an entire page of elements to or from an object library. You can also add or move library objects from one library to another.

  1. Choose File > New > Library.
  2. In the CC Libraries dialog, you can choose to continue using InDesign's object libraries or you can use CC Libraries to organize, browse, and access all your creative assets. For more details, see Creative Cloud libraries - collaborate, sync, and share assets.

  3. Specify a location and name for the library, and click Save. Remember that the name you specify becomes the name of the library’s panel tab.

Open an existing library

  • Do one of the following:
    • If you’ve already opened a library in the current session (and haven’t closed it), choose the library file in the Window menu.

    • If you have not opened a library, choose File > Open, and select one or more libraries. In Windows, library files use the INDL extension. InDesign converts newly opened libraries from previous versions of the program to the new library format; you are asked to save these libraries under a new name.

Close a library

  1. Click the tab for the library you want to close.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Choose Close Library in the Object Library panel menu.

    • Choose the library file name on the Window menu.

Delete a library

  • In Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac OS), drag a library file to the Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (Mac OS). In Windows, library files have the INDL extension.

Add an object or page to a library

  • Do any of the following:
    • Drag one or more objects from a document window to an active Object Library panel.

    • Select one or more objects in a document window, and click the New Library Item button in the Object Library panel.

    • Select one or more objects in a document window, and choose Add Item in the Object Library panel menu.

    • Choose Add Items On Page [number] As Separate Objects in the Object Library panel menu to add all the objects as separate library objects.

    • Choose Add Items On Page [number] in the Object Library panel menu to add all the objects as one library object.

    • Drag an element from the Structure pane to an active Object Library panel.

Note:

If you hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) while you perform any of the above commands, the Item Information dialog box appears as the item is added to the library.

Add an object from a library to a document

  • Do one of the following:
    • Drag an object from the Object Library panel to a document window.

    • In the Object Library panel, select an object, and choose Place Item(s) in the Object Library panel menu. This method places the object at its original X,Y coordinates.

    • Drag an XML element to a parent element in the Structure pane or to the page.

Manage library objects

Use the Object Library panel to manage objects.

Update a library object with a new item

  1. In the document window, select the item you want to add to the Library panel.
  2. In the Library panel, select the object you want to replace, and then choose Update Library Item from the Object Library panel menu.

Copy or move an object from one library to another

  1. Drag one library’s panel tab out of the Object Library panel group to separate them, so you can see both libraries at the same time.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To copy an object from one library to another, drag an item from one Library panel tab to the other.

    • To move an object out of one library into another, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and drag an item from one Library panel tab to the other.

Delete an object from an object library

  • In the Object Library panel, select an object, and do one of the following:
    • Click the Delete Library Item button.

    • Drag the item to the Delete Library Item button.

    • Choose Delete Item(s) in the Object Library panel menu.

Change the object library display

The object library displays objects as thumbnails or as a text list. You can sort the thumbnails or list by object name, age, or type. The list view and sorting options work best if you’ve cataloged the objects.

  • Do any of the following:
    • To view objects as thumbnails, choose Thumbnail View or Large Thumbnail View from the Object Library panel menu.

    • To view objects as a text list, choose List View from the Object Library panel menu.

    • To sort the objects, choose Sort Items from the Object Library panel menu, and choose a sort method.

View all objects

  • Choose Show All in the Object Library panel menu.

View, add, or edit library information

With large or numerous object libraries, library information can be cataloged using the display objects’ names, by type of object, or words in a description.

  1. In the Object Library panel, do one of the following:
    • Double-click any object.

    • Select an object, and click the Library Item Information button.

    • Select an object, and choose Item Information in the Object Library panel menu.

  2. View or change the Item Name, Object Type, or Description options as necessary, and click OK.

Find objects in a library

When you search for objects, all objects except the results of your search are hidden from view. You can also use the search feature to show and hide specific categories of objects. For example, you can display only object items with the word “star” in their names.

  1. Choose Show Subset in the Object Library panel menu, or click the Show Library Subset button.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To search all objects in the library, select Search Entire Library.

    • To search only within the objects currently listed in the library (refining a previous search), select Search Currently Shown Items.

  3. Choose a category in the first menu in the Parameters section.
  4. In the second menu, specify whether the category you chose in the first menu must be contained in or excluded from the search.
  5. To the right of the second menu, type a word or phrase you want to search for within the category you specified.
  6. To add search criteria, click More Choices up to five times; each click adds one search term. To remove search criteria, click Fewer Choices as necessary; each click removes one search term.
  7. To display only those objects that match all search criteria, select Match All. To display objects that match any of the criteria, select Match Any One.
  8. Click OK to begin the search.

Note:

To show all objects again, choose Show All in the Object Library panel menu.

Migrating object library assets to CC Libraries

Creative Cloud Libraries help you organize, browse, and access creative assets. In InDesign, you can use CC Libraries as an alternative to object libraries.

Note:

InDesign continues to support object libraries.

InDesign allows you to migrate object library assets to your CC Libraries.

  1. In the object library panel, click the Migrate button to migrate all the assets from the current library.

    Alternatively, you can multi-select assets from the library, right-click and choose the option to migrate the selected assets.

  2. In the Migrate Asset dialog, choose the option to migrate the assets to a new or existing Creative Cloud Library.

For more details on CC Libraries, see Creative Cloud libraries - collaborate, sync, and share assets.

Creative Cloud libraries - collaborate, sync, and share assets
Creative Cloud libraries - collaborate, sync, and share assets
Creative Cloud libraries - collaborate, sync, and share assets

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