Re: Books to learn Adobe InDesign

Subject: Re: Books to learn Adobe InDesign
From: "Peter Gold" <peter -at- knowhowpro -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, "Jessica Weissman" <Jessica -dot- Weissman -at- hillcrestlabs -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2007 04:56:38 -0600

"Jessica Weissman" <Jessica -dot- Weissman -at- hillcrestlabs -dot- com> wrote:


Because I was a very bad beetle in a former life I am now responsible
for maintaining and updating a document created in Adobe InDesign CS2.
Long story, but making what the developers insist are small changes is
falling to me as the company doesn't want to pay for getting more time
from the expensive outsourced graphic designer who put my perfectly good
Word document into InDesign.

** This has got nothing to do with being punished for something you
may have done. What it does have to do with is a bad decision -
putting a technical document that needs frequent maintenance updates
and revisions into a "tightly-designed" layout that's difficult to
maintain. InDesign is NOT the issue; rather it's how the designer
chose to use it.

Some things are actually simple, but others would cause page rolls and
other disasters that I can't figure out how to handle by banging around
in the help files and inspecting the menus.

** Imagine having to do the same tasks on someone else's "perfectly
good Word document." The same unwanted or unexpected results could
occur when you change a single character on a page, if you didn't know
how, at each revision location, exactly how the document was

So can anyone recommend a good utter beginner book for Adobe InDesign?
And a good next step up from that one? Extra points if the book is
directed at someone with little visual sense, though I suspect there
isn't an "Adobe InDesign for the Extremely Reluctant" out there.

I'd be more eager to learn the program if we were ever going to use it
again or if my time were not fully taken up with tasks that can be
accomplished with tools I already know, not to mention tasks such as
analysis that require no tools beyond a mind and a pencil. If we get
into layout tools seriously I'm going for FrameMaker.

***Are you as familiar with FrameMaker as you are with Word? Be aware
that it's as easy to design unmaintainable documents in FM as it is in
ID as it is in Word. Most folks don't consider FM to be a layout tool,
though it is a very capable one, with a few annoying limitations that
can be worked around.


Two books I haven't seen mentioned are:

* Real Word Adobe InDesign CS2 (CS3 is just out) by Olav Martin Kvern
and David Blatner.

* Adobe CS2 Visual Quick Start Guide (CS3 is just out) by Sandee Cohen.

You'd be wise to browse all suggested books at a library or bookstore
before deciding on one or two.

Most of the CS2 books are becoming available used, as folks move to
CS3. Check out - search for "indesign cs2" and
"indesign." Compare prices - they range from sublime to ridiculous.
They list both new and used copies. Amazon seems to have the best book
information, descriptions, and in some cases, also sample content, as
well as user reviews, all of which can help you get a sense of whether
there's value for your needs.

IMO, with your stated marginal interest in learning ID beyond the
level of avoiding disasters when you tweak a carefully-designed
document that presents a new and different challenge every time you
make a change, most of these books will not suit your reluctance. They
are massively informative, and they include design concepts, projects,
and practices. Sandee Cohen's Visual Quick Start Guide is probably a
very good place to start, because it defines each menu item, tool,
twenty-'leven palettes ("panels" in CS3), feature, and operation,
concisely, rather than tying them to design projects. To me, it sounds
as if this is consistent with your main interest - learning the tool
to do the maintenance.

If you'll be doing a help system, you'll probably want to do it from
the Word source. If you'll be doing cross-references, you'll need a
third-party tool for x-refs in ID, so again, the Word source is the
likely place.

Here's one suggestion that might work, if you're very lucky - that is,
if the designer simply "poured" your Word document into ID in one
continuous flow, rather than breaking it into many "threaded" (linked)
and "unthreaded" text frames: Do the maintenance in Word and re-import
the Word file into ID. To determine the flow in ID, click the Text
tool in text and choose Edit > Select All. Zoom out to see if the
highlight travels through the document. If it does, you ARE lucky. If
not, you'll need a book, tutorials, and time.



Peter Gold
KnowHow ProServices

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