First of all, thanks everyone for reading and commenting on last week’s piece on InDesign Defaults. Before moving on, I think I should stress that I bring these things up (setting defaults) mainly so that if you haven’t considered them, you have a place to start. And though I recommend specific approaches because they work for me, if you’ve thought it through and what you’ve got better suits you or your process, do that. Typographer and friend André Mora commented on his method of taking time to experiment with size and leading values before locking things into a grid, rather than enabling alignment to baseline grid by default. Not only do I find this a totally valid approach, it’s also a great one. It’s one I often take. The reason why I prefer working the other way is because it forces me to think in context of a grid system.
Which I guess could veer us into today’s topic: Shortcuts. Adjusting one’s document-wide baseline grid settings can be cumbersome. Changing the increment by a half a point can mean hunting down the Preferences menu, then finding the appropriate dialog. For me, it makes more sense to just create a keyboard shortcut that takes me straight there. Since the default shortcut for Show/hide baseline grid is (alt/option + ’) which I already instinctively used, it seemed natural to make Open baseline grid settings relate somehow, so I set it to (shift + alt/option + ’).
Why working with standard keyboard defaults makes sense
Every designer selects and hones his or her own tools to some extent. The reasons why I choose to build off of standard keyboard shortcuts is because they’re the ones I learned first (so, out of comfort), and also because it helps keep my skills portable. For example, if I need to slip into someone else’s work environment for some reason, my hands won’t be tied. This also becomes a temporary consideration when an equipment failure requires one to wipe or reinstall a system.
Default InDesign shortcuts I use all the time
Beside the ones common to the OS/most programs, I most often find myself using these below. For Windows, substitute command with control.
Make selected text larger by 2 pt: shift + command + >
Make selected text smaller by 2 pt: shift + command + <
(2 pt is just the default increment by the way, set that in InDesign > Preferences > Units & Increments, Mac, or the same under the Edit menu in Windows.) Holding down alt/option with the above shortcuts changes size by 10 pt increments.
Toggle preview mode: W
Make me a new document, on the double!: alt + command + N
Bring forward / Bring to front: command + ] / shift + command + ]
Send backward / Send to back: command + [ / shift + command + [
Paste in place: alt + shift + command + V
Paste without formatting: shift + command + V
Toggle OpenType case feature: shift + command + K
In pro fonts, the case feature may do more than set the selected text in all caps, for example in MVB Verdigris, it also adjusts the spacing to a looser, all cap spacing. In JAF Bernini Sans, it substitutes in a set of mid-caps drawn just shorter than cap height, but taller than small caps, for use setting acronyms in running text.
Quick Apply: command + return
This last one is really handy, particularly when applying things that don’t appear on the menus, such as custom styles you create. Also, things that do appear on the menus but are often quite buried, like OpenType features (all small caps or stylistic sets). By the way, if it’s accessible through the menus, you can make a shortcut for it.
I know I’m leaving plenty out for brievity’s sake; There are lots more. Consulting a good chart and familiarizing yourself with the unknowns is best.
Here’s how custom shortcuts are made
Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts… opens the dialog. From here, pick your commands and assign a key sequence. The dialog will alert you to conflicts should you choose something that’s already taken. You can also save your set. This is handy because InDesign will every so often misplace all custom shortcuts. As I mentioned in the intro, it works best for me to make custom shortcuts that are intuitively similar to standard ones.
Consider adding these to your list of custom shortcuts
It seems like I’m always using the Type > Change Case commands to capitalize a title or tone down some ALL CAPS. So for me, control + command + U / L / T / S gets me there.
Open baseline grid settings: shift + alt/option + ’
Here’s where I’m really looking for input: What’s missing from my list of suggestions—any shortcuts making your life better?
Mac-specific tip: This means Alt/Option.
Sometimes checking the menu because I’ve forgotten the shortcut doesn’t seem to clear up anything at all. Anyway, the above broken pair of salad tongs ⌥ refers to your alt/option key. The outlined up arrow ⇧ is shift, the chevron or up arrow ⌃ resembling a caret or circumflex ^ is control, and the cloverleaf, clearly marked on the keyboard, is command.
Okay, that’s it. Thanks for reading and please leave your suggestions and ask your questions in the comments section below. This series, Using Type continues Thursday. Thanks to Charles Bigelow & Kris Holmes’s Lucida Grande for setting the opening title, and quite a few of my menus.