How to save time with InDesign ?

Time flies inexorably. Client is waiting for the approval. Changes will be required for sure. Fix, resubmit, exports PDFs, upload to the Printer. Hopefully he won’t require changes too. In a good day, round trips will be limited, production acceptable, stress level ok. On the other days, you got used to work under big pressure trying to be as robotic as possible to do repetitive tasks. Overtime is your motto. Yet…

Solutions exist to get your production and collaborators back to zen. First medication is using InDesign at full potential. Second may require scripts when third consists in commercial plug-ins. Don’t hesitate to mix them. The only downside effect known so far is a increase of productivity, a strong reduction of round trips and a lifelong addiction.

Read further for the prescription :

A) Use InDesign, for good…

With Creative Cloud subscription, InDesign users can get regular updates. Every new batch brings new features. All of them are gathered here : many users keep on working without taking care of the new features. What a waste!

It’s like having air conditioning in your car and keep on rolling down the window.

We don’t blame anyone for that. When you publish in a hurry, it’s understandable to  stay in the comfort zone. But a better knowledge of your tool can boost your productivity and give you fresh air. Here a bunch of functionalities, some new, some old you should not ignore :


Many designers ignore the GREP Find/Change dialog. And yet, based on regular expressions, this feature will slice the time you spend in text replacements. You want an example ? Say you have a directory with hundreds of phone numbers like “” (That is the french phone number pattern). Now the client wants every number to be prefixed with the international code like +33 (0)…Thank to GREP, this can be achieved in a blink.

Regular expressions in InDesign

The following regular expression, 0(\d(\.\d{2}){4}), allows to target
any matching phone number in one time.



You didn’t know GREP ? So you don’t know about GREP Styles neither. Another opportunity to save time ! When you go styling contents, you create your paragraph and character styles (do you ?) then review the document to apply them when needed. Well with GREP Styles you can cut off 50% of you work by forcing character styles application based on regular expressions. For example, if you need phone numbers to be styled with a specific character style, a GREP style can be used to locate the phone numbers and automatically apply the style.

Using Grep Styles

A regular expression is used to apply a specific character style to any string matching the pattern.

In case client changes his mind, the modification of the applied character style takes one second.

Column Spans

Stop using multiple frames for your headlines ! With the Column Span option, you can place a paragraph across multiple columns in the same frame. Editorial changes become harmless.

Étendue de colonnes


Of course the list isn’t exhaustive. We just wanted to show how simple yet powerful features you may not know can already save you a lot of  time in your daily work. So consider reassess yourself. If you need so, we can audit your working methods or even set training to improve your InDesign Skills and save time. 

B) Use scripts

Should we ask who keeps on replacing texts one by one ? You place a Word file then you start a never-ending loop of replacements : looking for repetitive spaces, replacing by one, etc. Next ! Do you know scripts can do the job for you ?


The best part ? A lot of scripts are already available. They are just waiting for you ! Call the “Window/Utilities/Scripts” menu. This will brings the scripts palette. Look for the “FindChangeByList” script available in the “Application/Samples/JavaScript” directory. This script is about to do multiple replacements at on time. Just configure it and it’s done !


Scripts are highly customizable and can be used for a wide range of operations : file exports with specific naming attributes, documents fixes, data injection…Anything you do repetitively HAS to be automated ! You don’t find the script you need ? Tell us what you are looking for.

C) Use plug-ins

You can also boost your productivity with commercial plug-ins. Hereafter, we are introducing a few ones.


Do you lay out Catalogs, complex tables, data-sheets, directories ? So you need EasyCatalog. With Excel, CSV, XML or even a database as input, you can populate all your documents in  blink. One may find it’s expensive but the R.O.I is really important.


Stop keeping on exporting dozens and dozens of file by hand one by one. With Axaio MadeToPrint, you can automate you files exports while setting specifics naming options and even use hotfolders. Or maybe you like exporting files ?


Communication between designers and printers can be difficult sometimes. Color management issues, missing fonts, low resolution pictures or unexpected PDF Profiles. With Enfocus Connect, designers no longer wonder if the PDF file they send is ok nor the printer if he can print the file without hiccups. The designer produces a PDF file accordingly to printer specifications in complete transparency. Then the printer can send it to the press eyes closed. What a smooth workflow, don’t you think ?

If you want to get more infos on these products, contact us.

D) Conclusion

Save time often require to question ourselves. Staying in the comfort zone is an illusion. Sooner or later, the production delays will catch you back. You have to be a step ahead. And it starts by a better knowledge of your tools. Maybe most of them will be useless to you. But one can make all the difference. 

The price of a paid-for plug-in or in a custom development can discourage those who only consider how much they will spend and not how much they will save eventually. Consider all your costs when a repetitive task is done manually. Maybe you think it’s just a matter of seconds, a few euros at worst. Now start adding these euros day after day, month after month, year after year, this simple repeated action is costing you so much. Now imagine to get rid of this once and for all with something you will pay once then consider your R.O.I. Isn’t it worth it ?

We would be happy to keep on talking about this with you, so feel free to contact us !

One response on “How to save time with InDesign ?

  1. Obi-wan Kenobi says:

    Hi Loic, I think an “epub export” mention would be interesting: I continuously test the InDesign functionalities at the Force dark side border and I realize more and more that we can design a Print version without imagining its Digital parallel. The two versions must be built in front!
    For the rest, I totally agree: Grep, Scripts and Plug-ins are absolutely essential!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *