Adobe InDesign CS2 review

£609
Price when reviewed

InDesign was first launched in 1999, making it the most recent of the main Creative Suite applications. But in many ways, it’s also the most central. By incorporating Illustrator’s vectors and Photoshop’s bitmaps into its multipage layouts, and by offering advanced print via Acrobat and web repurposing via GoLive, InDesign acts as the natural hub for the suite as a whole.

Adobe InDesign CS2 review

InDesign’s integration with the graphical suite applications is especially important and is helped by the bundling of Adobe Bridge. The handling of Photoshop PSD files has long been excellent, but is taken to a new level by the ability to switch layer visibility on and off and to select from embedded layer comps to quickly explore layout possibilities. In many ways, the integration with Illustrator is even tighter with the ability to cut and paste paths and then edit them within InDesign – these paths can now be opened, closed and reversed – while for embedded AI files you’re now able to control the visibility of layers. For files provided in Acrobat format, the ability to load and place multipage PDFs helps to boost production efficiency.

Graphics are crucial to the end impact of most InDesign projects, but successful text handling is essential to them all, starting right from the initial text import. Improved XML handling, with options for dealing with tables, stripping unmatched content and automatic updating will all be welcome in advanced production environments. The new Word/RTF import filter’s ability to map styles provides XML-inspired efficiency, consistency and control for all users, especially as import settings can be saved as presets. And the ability to preserve local overrides while stripping out other styling will save hours of re-italicising and emboldening.

Basic text control within InDesign has also been totally revamped. With new options for text drag-and-drop, dynamic spellchecking and AutoCorrect, InDesign’s text handling is brought more into line with Microsoft Word, and that includes text styling too. You can now paste without formatting, selectively clear character and paragraph-level overrides, find and apply styles far more efficiently with the new Quick Apply capability, selectively import and replace styles, and format blocks of text with multiple styles using the new Apply Next Style option. Best of all, InDesign CS2 at last offers a wysiwyg font sample, although it’s pretty appalling that it has taken Adobe five major releases to get around to it.

New layout options include the ability to specify baseline grids at the text-frame level to ensure accurate layout on pages containing areas of text with different leading values. The control over anchored frames has also been enhanced, with the ability to position the frame anywhere inside or outside the current text frame, enabling callouts, pull quotes, margin notes and linked graphics that automatically travel with their associated text. And InDesign CS2 now provides dedicated handling for the most important type of anchored text: footnotes (although surprisingly not endnotes).

Further layout enhancements include the ability to automatically convert frames from one shape to another and to intelligently re-apply transformations such as scaling and resizing to grouped objects or individually. Another major omission finally addressed is the option for a placed graphic to proportionally fill its frame even when this has a different aspect ratio.

All told, InDesign’s layout and graphical power is extraordinary, but trying to keep on top of it and to ensure consistency can become a problem. That’s where InDesign CS2’s biggest innovation comes in: Object Styles. Using the new Object Styles palette, you can save any combination of object-level formatting as a named style and then apply all settings to another object with a single click. Parameters that can be saved include not just the obvious – fills, strokes, corner effects, transparency, drop shadowing and feathering, but text and anchored frame settings, and even a default paragraph style. Even better, you can apply a style, update the current object and then redefine the style to automatically update all styled objects in the current publication.

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