Updating pages efficiently with primary text frames : InDesign Secrets

Published by | Thursday, June 27th, 2013

A longtime frustration of Adobe InDesign users is that when you apply a master page to another, the objects on that page do not reformat correctly. The good news? That’s all changed in InDesign CS6 with a feature called primary text frames. In this week’s InDesign Secrets, David Blatner shows you how to use this incredibly useful option.

InDesign Secrets - Figure 1

There are two ways to create primary text frames. The first: When you create a new document, turn on the Primary Text Frames option in the New Document dialog.

InDesign Secrets - Figure 2
The second way: When you’re working with an existing document, add new text frames to your master page. Just follow these three quick steps:

1. Double-click the master page in the Pages panel to jump to it.

2. Choose the Text tool and drag out a new text frame or frames. Make sure to thread the frames if you draw more than one.

3. The Primary Text Frame option is accessed via the icon in the upper-left corner of your text frames. Click it to convert the text frame to a primary text frame, indicated by the black arrow bisecting the icon circled in the image below.

InDesign Secrets - Figure 3
Now when you apply a different master page to a page containing primary text frames, the formatting will update correctly. Another benefit of setting up primary text frames is that smart text flow is turned on by default, and any excess text will automatically be added to new pages. As David says, this is probably the way it should have worked all along, but at least Adobe has caught up with the rest of us.

Next, go to the lynda.com library to learn the secrets of the Info panel, where you can get document metadata, a word count, image identification, and other useful information. And then come back for another free video in two weeks, when Anne-Marie Concepción shows another surprising way to get your document’s word count.

Interested in more?

• Start a free trial membership at lynda.com
• The entire InDesign Secrets biweekly series
• Courses by David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción on lynda.com
• All lynda.com InDesign courses


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2 Responses to “Updating pages efficiently with primary text frames : InDesign Secrets

  1. Alicia White says:

    Perfect! Just what I needed! Thanks, David.

  2. Vagelis says:

    Hello Mr Blatner. I have a book workflow, and I use primary text frames. When I update the book numbering, if pages are auto added, my primary text frames get broken in the various documents, and the master pages no more apply. I have to reflow each story in new pagew with new primary text frames. Do you have any clue why that happens?
    Thank you very much.

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