The old adage about having to spend money to make money often falls on deaf ears in the design community. While there are many great no-cost add-ons to boost InDesign productivity, sometimes the best tool will cost you some money. These ten tools are among my favorites for what they allow me to do and the return on the investment they give me.
Currently in beta, Rorohiko’s Action Recorder deserves a mention. This handy plug-in brings functionality akin to Photoshop’s Actions panel to InDesign. Currently limited to text frames, layers, rectangles, and styles, the plug-in takes the pain out of repetitive actions by recording them. The actions are editable and can then be applied again and again throughout your workflow.
Rorohiko – $49 – CS6-CC
Jongware’s handy IndyFont script makes it easy to take vector images placed in InDesign and create a working OpenType font from them. Imagine having a company logo or wayfinding icon as a glyph in a custom font, saving you the hassle of creating and maintaining inline graphics! The font creation is as easy as copying and pasting the graphic, then naming and saving the font.
Jongware/Indiscripts – €59 – CS4-CC
Preflighting and packaging options come together in the InPreflight Pro plug-in from Zevrix. This time-saving plug-in goes beyond the built-in preflight capabilities with options to flag items, sort results by attribute, and alert you to non-allowed filenames and locations. On the packaging side, InPreflight can package multiple documents at once—even collecting files to a common folder to save disk space.
Zevrix – $100 – CS3-CC
Proper Fraction Pro
Making fractions can be daunting, unless you have a nifty tool like Dan Rodney’s Proper Fraction Pro script. Not only can the script detect all fractions in a document and insert a proper slash—or virgule, but it can be configured to ignore fraction-like numbers and format based on font. Other options include custom kerning before and after the slash as well as applying OpenType’s fraction formatting.
Dan Rodney – $75 – CS2-CC
If InDesign’s built-in Print Booklet feature isn’t robust enough for your pagination needs, Croptima’s InPlate might be worth a look-see. This plug-in has options for several binding methods, previewing the paginated layout as it’s working, control over gaps and bleeds, and the ability to import and paginate multi-page PDFs directly. InPlate can even paginate as an editable InDesign or non-editable PDF layout.
Croptima – €50 – CS3-CC
Making book covers is quick and easy with Indiscripts’ HurryCover Pro. The script creates a one-page layout from values you enter for front and back covers, spines, and flaps—including fold-in thickness. Use HurryCover to add printer’s and fold marks. If size changes are necessary, the Pro version even lets you re-enter values and magically adjusts the layout for you.
Indiscripts – €25 – CS4-CC
If you’re looking for an easy way to create a word cloud for your next infographic, do yourself a favor and check out Indiscripts’ Wordalizer script. Taking text from the current text frame, book, document, or even the clipboard, the script randomly places and stylizes the resulting word list. The free version includes themes and selection from your installed fonts, while the pro version allows you to weight the word list, customize the themes, and remember your choices for repeated application.
Indiscripts – €25 – CS4-CC
TypeFitter Pro from Teacup Software is a plug-in that makes your text behave by fitting it to the frame for you. It not only adjusts spacing—as you would expect—but also keeps widows and overset text in check. TypeFitter Pro’s panel has buttons for tightening, loosening, and restoring text; lets you choose and customize presets; and allows you to copy those settings to other documents.
Teacup Software – $99 – CS-CC
Forget about the repetition of running multiple Find/Change queries with Automatication’s Multi-Find/Change (MFC) plug-in. Customize and save multiple queries, then group them into sets that can be run at the click of a button. MFC’s sets and queries can be shared with other MFC users, customized, renamed, and deleted. One of the plug-in’s best time-saving features is the inclusion of a one-click undo.
Automatication – $39.95 – CS4-CC
InDesign limits the selection—and therefore the manipulation—of objects to the current spread, making it hard to, for instance, select and rotate all text boxes 10 degrees. Rorohiko’s RepeatAfterMe plug-in delivers this functionality by removing the same-spread limitation. Didn’t use object styles? No problem. Perform a transformation, right-click on the transformed object and select the criteria for transforming similar objects. A preference menu even lets you set similarity tolerances.
Rorohiko – $19 – CS6-CC
When considering the value of any add-on, I try to look at what benefits it will bring me and estimate how much money it will save me or—even better—how much money it might make me. Another ol
d adage springs to mind: You get what you pay for. And with great tools like these, you often you get even more than what you paid for.