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Our blog provides primarily tips & tricks that help you use various software packages more efficiently and effectively…but you’ll also find the occasional bit of industry news or anything else we find interesting. To see all the tips & tricks on a particular topic (such as InDesign), select that category from the column at the left.

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CMYK & RGB Color Infographic.
We previously blogged about color in a post titled RGB and CMYK Make Colorful Alphabet Soup. That was about two and a half years ago, but the world of color basics hasn’t changed. The blog still provides a great starting place to develop an understanding of the world of color.

For those of you who like to go a bit beyond the basics, Matt Bird of stinkyink.com has developed a great infographic titled Your Monitor Lies to You: The Secrets Behind RGB and CMYK Colours, or more simply put, The Science of Color. So for you aspiring scientists or desktop publishers that just need to understand a bit more about color, check out Matt’s infographic.

Thanks, Matt!

Acrobat Logo

 

Our last blog warned about some of the pitfalls of upgrading to Acrobat DC. If you haven’t downloaded the upgrade yet, I recommend you take a few minutes to read it. Having given fair warning first, now let’s look into some of the exciting new features.

 

 

Interface

Adobe takes working with Acrobat documents to a whole new dimension with Acrobat DC. It now provides touch capability and has an entirely new interface. Most folks are saying the new interface is much more uncluttered than the old. Let’s look at a couple of examples. The following image (courtesy of TheNextWeb.com) shows the right-hand toolbox in both Acrobat Pro DC and Acrobat XI. Adding to DC’s functionality is the ability to customize the tools that appear in the toolbox. If you find that you never use the “Prepare Form” tool, for example, you can delete it. Similarly, if you find that you frequently use the “Print Production” tool, it’s easy to add it to the menu.

Adobe Acrobat DC Right-Hand Menu

Looking for a specific tool? If you don’t find it on the right-hand toolbox, you will find it in the Tools menu at the top of the screen. Clicking on the Tools menu shows all of them:

Tools Screen of Adobe Acrobat DC

Notice that each tool has the word “Add” below it. Click this button and it is added to the right-hand toolbox. If you click the dropdown arrow next to the word Add, the options to “Open” the tool and “Learn More” about the tool appear.

Not only has the right-hand side panel changed, the top menu bars have changed. Following is the top menu lines for both Acrobat Pro DC and XI, again courtesy of TheNextWeb.com. (Check out their blog about Acrobat Pro DC for their take on it.)

Acro DC Old and New Screens2

The top menu row in Acrobat Pro DC holds common commands and can be modified somewhat. There is a floating page control that can be docked to this top line, if desired. When not docked, it is visible at the bottom of the screen when you mouse over that area. The second row of the top menu is context sensitive. In other words, it changes depending on which tool you are using.

Having worked with DC just a little, I can tell you that it will take some time to learn the new interface and use it efficiently. To help with that process, Adobe has some excellent tutorials that teach the basics. You’ll find them here.

The good news is that the tools work the same across platforms. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a Mac or a PC, a tablet or a phone. Acrobat makes good on its promise that you can work anywhere with their Mobile Link that accesses recent files across desktop, web, and mobile. Additionally, whether you’re using Acrobat Reader, Standard, or Pro, the menus are all alike, with options not available in the Reader or Standard versions grayed out.

Work Anywhere

Adobe’s promise that you will be able to “work anywhere” is met in a number of ways. First is the multi-platform product itself. Acrobat DC is available on Mac, PC, and mobile devices. And did you notice earlier in this article that we said Acrobat DC is now touch capable for the growing number of users with touch screens. Additionally, there is the whole “DC” thing. “DC” stands for Document Cloud. Adobe DC includes 5 GB storage space in their Document Cloud. Lastly, Acrobat’s Mobile Link app enables you to access recent files across desktop, web, and mobile.

Enhanced Editing

Imagine you’re at a client facility and you recognize that your PDF has a typo in it or you want to add an additional bullet point to your features list. You can do that directly to the PDF from your phone or tablet. Or perhaps at the last minute you see that the image includes an old model of your product. You can swap the image in the PDF for a newer one.

Acrobat DC’s Pro version includes enhanced document editing capabilities, including the ability to edit scanned documents – yes, you read that correctly – you will be able to edit your scanned documents. The editing functionality has been improved to allow full paragraphs to reflow while editing. In other words, you won’t have a large white space in the middle of a paragraph because you deleted three words. The text will reflow. You can also change the text size and type directly in your PDF and resize or move the text boxes.

Not to be outdone by text, images can now be edited in the PDF. You can flip, crop, rotate, or replace images right in your PDF. That’s pretty amazing.

(Of course it creates a version control nightmare, but that’s fodder for another blog.)

E-Sign

Acrobat DC allows you to send, track, manage, and store signed documents with a built-in e-signature service. This service is included with your subscription to Acrobat DC. E-signatures are legal and enforceable in 27 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Adobe’s e-signature service complies with industry security standards including HIPAA and PCI v3.0 used by the credit card industry. You can learn more about this technology and it’s security here.

This blog just touches the surface of Acrobat DC capabilities. If you think you’re ready to purchase, please read our last blog that discusses some of the issues surrounding the implementation of Acrobat Pro DC.

If you’re ready to buy, click here to purchase your copy.

Acrobat Logo
Two weeks ago Adobe released their new version of Acrobat. The previous version, Acrobat XI, was released in October 2012, so Adobe has had quite a bit of time to re-design an already good product. The new release is not Acrobat XII or Acrobat 12. Rather, they are moving it onto their cloud platform, naming their newest version Acrobat Document Cloud, or Acrobat DC.

We have always been huge fans of Acrobat because of its great capabilities and versatility. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that we’re in the midst of a many-part series about how to get the most out of Acrobat XI. Yes, the release of Acrobat DC was a surprise to everyone! Given that Acrobat DC has a totally redesigned interface, I think you’ve seen the last of ourseries on Acrobat XI.

Having said we’re huge fans of Acrobat, are we huge fans of Acrobat DC? Well, not quite yet. It embraces the way technology is moving and has moved, but there are some current bumps in the road that need to be overcome. In today’s blog I’ll discuss some of the issues because they have the power to ruin your day (week? month?). I’ll cover some of the new technologies in Acrobat DC in my next blog.
Caution!

Caution! The Road Ahead May be
Bumpy with Unexpected Turns

 

Installation: This is perhaps the most significant issue. If you are a Creative Cloud subscriber, Acrobat DC will automatically install and will uninstall the previous version without warning.

Let me back up. One of the great benefits of being Creative Cloud subscribers is that you get regular updates of Cloud programs through the Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop Application. These updates include software updates, enhancements, and bug fixes made available through your subscription. Downloading these updates is a routine task.

In the past, when Adobe made a significant upgrade of a program – for example, going from InDesign CC to InDesign 2014 – the Creative Cloud Desktop Application downloaded the newer version while leaving the previous version intact. We expected the same behavior when we downloaded Acrobat DC. Since it is a new version with a new name we expected the end result to be two versions of Acrobat on our desktop – Acrobat XI and Acrobat DC. We were wrong. Acrobat DC replaced Acrobat XI instead of maintaining both versions. (Fortunately we only downloaded DC to one of our systems, so we still have XI capability.)

Note that Adobe says it is releasing an update that warns about this, so if you are reading this blog at a later date this issue may no longer be an problem. Or at least not come as a surprise.

As if that’s not enough, installing Acrobat DC will cause some (or perhaps all) of your Acrobat plug-ins to no longer function. We’ve read about Pitstop and FusionPro not working with DC. If you rely on Acrobat plug-ins regularly, do not install Acrobat DC until updates for the plug-ins have been developed. There’s no telling how quickly that will happen as Acrobat released DC without giving developers a preview of the revised software and allowing them to begin their work on updating their plug-ins.

Note: If you are a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can find instructions for reverting to Acrobat XI here. Be advised, however, that the process requires uninstalling Acrobat Pro DC before installing Acrobat XI Pro. This is also a change from previous Adobe programs. In the past you could have multiple versions of Acrobat on your system, as you can have multiple versions of InDesign and Photoshop on your system.

If you installed a trial version of Acrobat Pro DC and want to revert to Acrobat XI when the trial is completed, you’ll find instructions to do so here.

Forms & Flash: Adobe has retired the Adobe FormsCentral desktop app and has reduced support for Flash-compatible videos. If either of these are important to you, move forward cautiously. Acrobat DC includes three tools that help you create and enhance fillable PDF forms so the capability is not lost, but there is a learning curve for learning the new tools. Regarding Flash, you will be able to view files with Flash components if they were created in previous Acrobat versions, but you will not be able to embed Flash in files created in Acrobat DC.

Training: From what we’ve seen online, design bloggers are loving Acrobat DC. We haven’t used it enough to fall into the “loving it” community yet. It is fully redesigned, so be prepared for a loss of productivity for some period of time after upgrading. In the long run the newer version should make you and your staff more efficient, but in the meantime…prepare for weeping and gnashing of teeth.

System Requirements: Acrobat Pro DC is compatible with the following operating systems, mobile platforms, and browsers.

Desktop Compatibility:

  • Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit)
  • Windows 8 (32 bit and 64 bit)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (64 bit)
  • Windows Server 2012 (64 bit)
  • Mac OS X v10.9
  • Mac OS X v10.10

Mobile Compatibility:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows Phone (Note that the Adobe Fill & Sign DC and Adobe eSign Manager components are not compatible with Windows Phone.)

Browser Compatibility: Acrobat Pro DC works with various versions of Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, and Chrome.

You’ll find more details on system requirements here.

More Info: A good place to start is the Acrobat Pro DC FAQ on Adobe’s site.

Acrobat DC Family of Programs and Purchasing Options

Adobe Acrobat has been available in multiple editions — Acrobat Reader, Acrobat Standard, and Acrobat Pro, and there is has often been much confusion about them.

The Reader program is available for free and provides the capability to view PDFs and, to some extent, interact with them. Acrobat Reader allows the user to fill in forms, sign and add comments to documents. The new Reader DC is still free and also works on touch-enabled devices and allows the user to store and share files online.

Acrobat Standard and Pro editions have given the user the capability to create documents with a lot more functionality, such as embedded multimedia, saving websites as an Acrobat document, control over document security, and a host of other specialized abilities. The new Acrobat DC is also available in either Standard or Pro editions.

Both Acrobat Standard and Acrobat Pro can be purchased as a perpetual license (which they call “desktop”) or by subscription. The subscription includes regular updates to the DC program as they are made. Pricing is as follows:

Acrobat DC Reader Acrobat DC Standard Acrobat DC Pro
Desktop Subscription Desktop Subscription
Free $299 $12.99/month $449 $14.99/month

If you’re ready to buy, you can purchase your copy here.

Our next blog will discuss some of the new capabilities of the Acrobat DC Standard and Pro versions.

In our series on how to use the features in Adobe® Acrobat® Pro, today’s blog covers the Interactive Objects panel. You’ll be able to add buttons, audio, video and more using this panel.

We’re attacking this in two parts – the “Add Buttons” feature and then all other features. The other features are so similar, that you’ll find the video covering all of them to be shorter than the “Add Buttons” video. Remember, you can click on the four-corners icon in the bottom right of any video to enlarge it to full screen.

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Part 1 of 2: Adding Buttons

Learn how to add buttons, give them effective actions, change the way they look and respond, edit and duplicate them.

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Part 2 of 2: Adding Video, Sound, SWF and 3D Objects
Learn how to add video and sound to your PDF files. You’ll follow the same pattern to add SWF and 3D objects.

Enjoy! I hope your interactive PDF files are incredibly effective!

Learn more about Brainstorming, Unleashing Your Creativity to Think Outside the Box here or purchase your copy here.

Cover of Brainstorming Book It doesn’t matter if your topic is your family’s next vacation or your company’s next new product launch,Sandy’s book Brainstorming: Unleashing Your Creativity to Think Outside the Box is full of tips and ideas to help you conduct an effective brainstorming session. Don’t waste your time and the time of those attending by doing the same old thing at your next brainstorming session. Well planned and executed brainstorming sessions significantly increase the number and quality of ideas generated. This book provides ideas and step-by-step instructions to make your brainstorming sessions more productive and profitable. You’ll find checklists for selecting team members and an effective moderator, creating the presentation and moderating the brainstorming session. The book also includes guidelines for brainstorming that can be copied and provided to team members.

You can purchase your copy of Brainstorming: Unleashing Your Creativity to Think Outside the Box by clicking here and purchasing from our buy page.

It is also available on Amazon.com in print or as a Kindle book.

Pages Panel of Acrobat Pro

Adobe Acrobat Pro Pages Panel

We are in the midst of a series of blogs teaching how to use some of the features of Adobe® Acrobat® Pro. These features allow you to tremendously enhance your PDFs.

The first blog in the series covered the Content Editing panel. You can find it here. The second blog covered the first of three areas in the Pages panel. It’s available here.

Today’s blog covers the remaining two areas in the Pages panel of Acrobat®.

Remember that you can click on the four-corners icon in the bottom right of any video to enlarge it to full screen.

 

Part 6 of 8: Insert from File and More Insert Options
There are a number of ways to insert information into an existing PDF. This video covers the following:

  • Insert from File command — this is the easy one!
  • More Insert Options – Starting at 1:48, the video covers the lesser known ways to insert information into your existing PDF — from a scanner and from a website. You’ll also learn how to insert a blank page.

Part 7 of 8: Combine Files
This short video (only 2:04) demonstrates how to combine multiple files into a single PDF. Yes, you could accomplish this by inserting one file after another into the first document, but using the Combine File command will save you lots of time.

Headers & Footers
The next command in the Pages panel is “Headers & Footers”. I have previously blogged about the topic here.

Part 8 of 8: Background, Watermark, and Bates Numbering
This last video covers the last three commands in the Pages panel.

  • Background – You’ll learn how to change the background color or add your own custom background to an existing PDF.
  • Watermark – Starting at 1:27, you’ll learn how to add a watermark to your document. The watermark can be simple text entered into Acrobat or an image.
  • Bates Numbering — Starting at 3:57, you’ll not only learn what Bates Numbering is (I’m guessing you don’t know) but also how it can be a great help to you.

Well, friends, that’s it for the Pages panel of Adobe Acrobat. The next video (or video series) will cover the Interactive Objects panel. See you then!

Adobe Acrobat Panels

Pages Panel of Acrobat Pro

Adobe Acrobat Pro Pages Panel

We are in the midst of a series of blogs teaching how to use some of the features of Adobe® Acrobat® Pro. These features allow you to tremendously enhance your PDFs.

The first blog in the series covered the Content Editing panel. You can find it here.

Today’s blog is the first of two that deal with the Pages panel of Acrobat®.

With such a large number of commands in the Pages panel, we’ve broken the tutorial into a series of videos. We ended up with eight videos, so we’ll cover the first five in this blog and the last three in our next blog.

Remember that you can click on the four-corners icon in the bottom right of any video to enlarge it to full screen.

Part 1 of 8: Thumbnails, Rotate & Delete Commands
This first video covers the first three commands in the Pages panel.

  • Intro & Thumbnails – Thumbnails are pretty simple and take less than 2 minutes to cover.
  • Rotate – Starting at 1:45, you’ll not only learn the ins and outs of the Rotate command, but we’ll also teach you how to add the command to your tool bar.
  • Delete — Starting at 4:19, the discussion of the Delete command includes a caution that may keep you from being very sorry some day.

Part 2 of 8: Extract Command
The Extract dialog box allows you to specify a number of variables that gives you many options for extracting pages. Learn about them in this short 3:39 video.

Part 3 of 8: Replace Command
If you use Acrobat very much, you’ve probably used the Replace command before…still, I’m guessing you don’t know all there is to know about it. I was surprised that there is enough information to communicate about the Replace command that the video is 5 minutes, 43 seconds! You’ll learn:

  • The basics of replacing pages
  • A warning about using the command that may save you many headaches some day
  • How to add the command to your toolbar

Part 4 of 8: Crop Command
Learn the ins and outs of the Crop command in the pages panel – all 4 minutes, 21 seconds of it!

Part 5 of 8: Split Command
Let Acrobat do the work of splitting a PDF into multiple files using the Split command. Learn how to split based on number of pages, size of files or based on established bookmarks. While I often want to split my PDFs myself, in the right situation, this command can save you a lot of time.

Whew! That’s a lot of training for one blog. We’ll cover the remaining menu options on the Pages panel in the next blog. Watch for it next week.

Adobe® Acrobat® Pro has many features that allow you to tremendously enhance your PDFs.

In this video I review the content editing features. To go directly to the video scroll down or click here. The video teaches you how to:

  • Edit text in your PDF. If you tried this in earlier versions, you know that it didn’t work well. Maybe you’d have success if you were just changing a character or two. Current versions not only allow you to significantly change your text, it will also wrap text appropriately, change the size of your text box and more. If you want to jump directly to this section of the tutorial, go to 1:48 on the video.
  • Add new text. Go to 3:24 on the video to learn how to add text.
  • Add images. This begins at the 5 minute point in the video.
  • Export your PDF to other file formats. This is a fantastic time saver when you need data from a PDF or want to update the look of your document but don’t have the original files. Learn more about this at 6:45 on the video.
  • Add links. Adding links begins at 8:25.
  • Add bookmarks. Jump to 12:03 to learn about bookmarks, how they differ from links, and how to create and change them.
  • Attach files. Learn to attach files beginning at 16:10.

It seems that most of the “how can I…?” phone calls we’re getting lately deal with some of the advanced features in Adobe® Acrobat® Pro. I previously blogged about adding headers and footers to your PDFs here. In future videos we’ll review other Acrobat tools that will allow you to provide a better, more informative and useful document to your audience.

Remember that you can click on the four-corners icon in the bottom right of the video to enlarge the video to full screen.

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The Space Bar – A Bit of Background

Back in the days before computers and desktop publishing, typists created space between words by hitting the space bar on their typewriters once (typically with their thumb). The standard practice of that time said that two spaces were to be used at the end of a sentence. But that was back in the day, for typists who were creating documents on a typewriter. Typewriters were crude instruments for putting text on paper. They only had one typeface (until interchangeable “daisywheel” typewriters came along) and that one typeface was in only one size. Besides that, all the letters, numbers, and symbols were monospaced. That means that every character took the same amount of space, no matter if it were a capital M or a lowercase i.

Those rules and limitations never applied to professional typesetters. Typesetters have always had access to several typefaces in various sizes, and their type was proportionally spaced. Typesetting was a realm far beyond the humble desktop typewriter. The greater control that their tools gave them (especially the proportionately spaced type) made typesetters’ documents look drastically better than anything a typist could do on a typewriter.

But things are different now.

Instead of dumb typewriters, we use something called computers. The great thing about computers is that they let average people do things really well that they couldn’t do at all without a computer. Typesetting is just one example of that. With the average computer, we have access to far more typefaces, in an infinite number of sizes, than any professional typesetter from days gone by. And while there are a few typefaces that are intentionally monospaced to mimic typewriters from the past, it’s safe to say that every font that you’ll ever use is proportionally spaced, as well.

Different Tools Mean Different Rules

Let’s start by dispelling the “two spaces at the end of a sentence” practice. In the world of proportional spacing, it is no longer required. Your computer compensates. Using two spaces will make your text look gappy. Most people today don’t like that look. If you persist in doing it, people will think that your document was created by a secretary from the 1960s.  But you be the judge. The first paragraph below uses one space after periods. The second paragraph uses two. Which do you prefer?

InDesign spacing examples

What about the single space, though? Well, software compensates for that, too. While there is a “standard” amount of space when the space bar is used, that space is adjusted (without any action on the part of the user) to accommodate several different conditions:

  • Spacing between “wide” and “thin” letters (think “s” and “i”) need to be adjusted to make the text more readable. The letter “i” obviously isn’t as wide as the letter “s” but a little more space is required between two of them or they are difficult to read. Similarly, two of the letter “s” require a little less space between them.

Spacing Differences between Ss and Is

  • InDesign proportionally changes spacing to accommodate line endings and margins.
  • If full justification is used, it provides even more proportional changes. You can see from the first two lines in the example below that the pink text, which is justified, has spread out the text slightly. InDesign accomplishes that not by changing the size of the letters, but by adding little bits of white space between the words and/or characters.

Aligned Text Example

There’s More to White Space than the Space Bar
There’s more ways to get white space than hitting the space bar. Near the bottom of the Type menu, you’ll find the option “Insert White Space.” Click it and a plethora of options become available.

InDesign Type - Insert White Space Menu

I’ll give you the technical definition of each but a picture is worth a thousand words, right? The image below illustrate the differences in the white spaces. I’ve included a guide to make the difference more clear.

InDesign Insert White Space Options

That, my friend is the power of inserting spaces.

How can you tell what kind of space has been used? By checking out the hidden characters. The following image is the same as the previous one except that we have toggled “show hidden characters” on (^Alt I or Type > Show/Hide Hidden Characters).

Illustration of InDesign Hidden Character for White Space

The hidden characters are the faint blue dots and dashes indicating the type of white space used. A simple dot represents a space bar space.

What’s it all mean? Here’s the detail, taken directly from Adobe’s help site.

Em Space: Equal in width to the size of the type. In 12‑point type, an em space is 12 points wide.

En Space: One‑half the width of an em space.

Nonbreaking Space: The same flexible width as pressing the spacebar, but it prevents the line from wrapping or being broken at the space character.

Nonbreaking Space (Fixed Width): A fixed width space prevents the line from being broken at the space character, but does not expand or compress in justified text. The fixed width space is identical to the Nonbreaking Space character inserted in InDesign CS2.

Third Space: One‑third the width of an em space.

Quarter Space: One‑fourth the width of an em space.

Sixth Space: One‑sixth the width of an em space.

Flush Space: Adds a variable amount of space to the last line of a fully justified paragraph, useful for justifying text in the last line. (See Change Justification settings.)

Hair Space: One‑twenty‑fourth the width of an em space.

Thin Space: One‑eighth the width of an em space. You may want to use a thin space on either side of an em dash or en dash.

Figure Space: Same width as a number in the typeface. Use a figure space to help align numbers in financial tables.

Punctuation Space: Same width as an exclamation point, period, or colon in the typeface.

Why would you ever use them? You will find wildly differing “rules” about when to use these various spaces – so wildly differing rules that the most important one is that you follow your own style guide consistently. Here are some guidelines we use:

  • Never use regular spaces to align text. Use tabs. Occasionally you can use En or Em spaces.
  • For a line or two you might violate the above rule and use an En or Em space at the beginning of the line to indent the first line of text. Standardize on using tabs, paragraph indents and/or first line paragraph indents, but the occasional Em or En space sometimes simplifies things. Remember – occasional.
  • You might use En or Em space to separate a subhead that appears within the first line of a paragraph (typesetters call it a “running head”). It sets the headline off a bit from the rest of the paragraph.
  • A little space on either side of a slash improves the look of headlines. I typically use thin spaces on both sides of the slash as shown below. The first line has no spaces, the second line uses thin spaces, the third line uses regular spaces.

Using White Space around Slash in InDesign

  • Most rules say there should be no spaces on either side of an em dash. I think that looks really crowded and usually use regular spaces (for run-of-the-mill documents). For fancy documents (e.g., poetry, invitation, expensive coffee table books) or in headlines, I often use a sixth space.

InDesign White Space Around Em DashSpacing is highly subjective. InDesign offers you many options to obtain the look you want. Pick a look you like and stick with it. Adding special spaces into your document takes a bit more time, but used judiciously they can make your document much more readable and attractive.