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I have two primary needs:

  • Build several documents with the same layout/styling
  • Combine those separate ones into a single document

For the first point I've discovered (I'm learning InDesign as I go) the usage of templates, which I have successfully implemented so far.

For the second point I have two questions.

1. How do I merge the documents into one

Here's what I do: I placed some elements (like page numbering) on separate layers in my template. I create my "full" document and import the other documents into it, skipping the layers I'm not interesting in, like page numbering. This way I have correct page numbering in my separate documents and in the full document.

Is this a good practice?

2. How do I update the templates afterwards

What if I need to change my template afterwards? As far as I understand, once you created a document from a template, it is actually not linked to it.

Is it possible to reflect changes from the template into documents created from it?

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2 Answers 2

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Have you looked into the books feature? I'm not aware of any reason to manually combine sections of a book. An InD "book" is essentially a group of unique documents that are tagged in a separate book file that drives a panel. From there you can associate the documents in a certain order, flow page numbering from one to another (and alter it with section starts and ends), and synchronize styles and master pages.

Here's a few resources to get you started.

To answer your specific questions ...

#1: As I said, you can merge them with the book feature. You can also (cringe) place each page into another document like a linked image.

#2: You will have occasion to make proper use of templates. When those need updating, you simply open it (you'll end up with a fresh "Document 1"), make your changes, then save it as an template over the original. It's not linked to anything so you won't update existing documents. You could, however, load style changes from it in those existing docs.

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I actually managed to do this: I've got separate documents, each with font/back cover and page numbering (on a separate layer). I the create a consolidated document based on the same template and import the others. If I change the other documents, I get a warning in the consolidated one. Serves the purpose for now. Thanks anyway for the links to the book feature. Haven't got much time to look into it right now but it's in the pipeline. And very intrigued by the "load style changes from it in those existing docs". –  Didier Ghys Aug 9 '13 at 16:36
    
I've used imported documents in the past when a page/spread is shared across versions of a publication. It actually works really well. I wouldn't do it for a whole document though! Setting up a book file is really quite simple. I encourage you to give it a shot next time you have half an hour to spare. As for loading styles from a source doc, it's a beautiful thing, especially for distributed teams. –  plainclothes Aug 9 '13 at 17:51
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Use master pages rather than templates (.indt is what I'm assuming you mean by templates). You can create different master pages from the pages palette and apply them to the pages in your document. When you make an edit to the master page (say you change a folio style) the change will be reflected on all the pages that you've applied that master page to. Master pages can also be based off each other or not. This is helpful with page numbers which you want to remain consistent on every page template. Using master pages will make it easier to include all your pages in one doc and avoid the stickiness of InDesign layers.

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Well template are pretty useful to create documents with all predefined styles and other document properties. I guess if your workflow and document structure is pretty well defined in the first place, it's not really an issue. I wanted to have a flexible solution though. I do use master pages, for the reasons you mention, but I got no idea how I can make use of that for my sub-documents separation and therefore page numbering. –  Didier Ghys Jul 9 '13 at 20:14
    
@DidierGhys I'm a bit confused as to why the page numbers are tripping you up. You can apply page numbers to the master with the menu Type > Insert Special Character > Markers > Current Page Number and you can easily change section/numbering style for subdocuments. –  ghoppe Jul 10 '13 at 16:56
    
@ghoppe Well I figured a way to have proper continous page numbering in my sub-documents and the consolidated document. Although I did not know about section numbering as the article your link explains. Will look into that then. Thanks for the tip ! –  Didier Ghys Jul 11 '13 at 8:37
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