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Importing

InDesign offers three ways to bring files from other applications into your publications. Here are your options:

  • Place the file. The Place feature (in the File menu) is the most common method for getting files onto your pages. When you place a file, InDesign creates a link to the file on disk. In the case of graphics, InDesign stores only a low-resolution, “proxy” (or “preview”) image in the publication. When you print, InDesign uses the high-resolution version of the graphic from the file on your disk. You can choose to link to text files—or not, depending on the setting of the Create Links when Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files option in the Text panel of the Preferences dialog box. We’ll discuss managing links later in this chapter.

  • Copy and paste. The most obvious, simplest, and least reliable method of getting information from another application is to copy it out of the application and paste it into InDesign. While this technique can work reasonably well for small amounts of text, it can spell disaster for graphics and images created in other programs. We don’t mean to imply that you should never use copy and paste, just that you should approach it with caution.

    Another thing about copy and paste is that InDesign is very picky about what it’ll let you paste into a publication. Overly picky, in our opinion. You can’t, for example, copy an image out of Photoshop and paste it into InDesign. Even though this is the wrong thing to do, and is likely to result in printing problems, we still believe that InDesign should let you do it (you might have a perfectly good reason for doing so).

    A good reason to use copy and paste, however, appears when you’re working with Illustrator or FreeHand: When you copy paths out of these programs and paste them into InDesign, you get editable InDesign paths. Actually, in Illustrator, this only works if you have turned on the AICB setting in Illustrator’s Preferences dialog box (it’s obscure, but just look around for something called AICB)—otherwise you just get an embedded, uneditable PDF file when you paste.

  • Drag and drop. As we mentioned in Chapter 2, “Page Layout,” you can drag objects out of one InDesign publication and drop them into another. You can drag files from your desktop (the Macintosh Finder or the Windows Explorer) and drop them into your InDesign publication window. This is essentially the same as importing the files using the Place command (except that you won’t be able to set import options for the files, as you can if you place them). Even better, dragging from the desktop is a great way to import more than one file at a time (you can even drag a whole folder full of images into your document, if you want).

    You can also drag objects from some other programs (Illustrator comes to mind) and drop them into InDesign. This, in general, is the same as copying and pasting, and comes with the same cautions. For example, you can drag one or more images from Photoshop’s File Browser on top of your InDesign page to import them.

    On the Macintosh, if you have a Photoshop file (or a file in any program; even Microsoft Word) open, you can click on the little file icon in the title bar (to the left of the document title), hold for a moment, then drag it on top of an InDesign document. This is identical to dragging the file from the desktop. Note that this trick only works if you’ve saved the file first.


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