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This article is from October 4, 2006, and is no longer current.

More Info on the Free Notes Plug-in


In episode 31 of David’s and my podcast, the Obscure InDesign Feature of the Week was “Notes.” We talked about how the installation CD comes with a free Notes plug-in that’s meant for InCopy/InDesign workflows, but it works perfectly well in InDesign all by itself – InCopy is not needed. You should listen to that podcast (fast-forward towards the end, when we cover the Obscurity, if you want) to hear the details of this neat little tool.

But thinking about it some more since then – and prompted by a post about it on the InDesign listserv – I thought of a few more details that I didn’t get a chance to fully cover in the podcast.

There are actually 3 plug-ins that you’d want to copy out of the install CD’s Goodies folder and paste into your Plugins > InCopyWorkflow folder (in your ID CS2 program folder) to use Notes:
– Note.apln
– NotePref.apln
– Username UI.apln

After you restart ID, go to the new File > User menu and give yourself a unique username and color. That way your notes are identified by your name/color when multiple people add notes to a doc, similar to comments in a PDF. Go to Preferences > Notes to choose more options.

When a Note is embedded into the text flow, you don’t see the full text of the note in layout view. You just see an icon placholder for it, which appears as a non-printing special character (looks like a tiny hourglass) in your user color. If you put your Type cursor over the top half of the hourglass, the cursor changes to a pointing finger, as in a web browser hovering over a link. Click the mouse button at that point and the Notes palette opens showing the content of that note (and other info, like who wrote it and when, and navigation icons for jumping to the previous/next note).

When you view the contents of a text frame in the Story Editor (Edit > Story Editor or Command/Ctrl-Y), notes are much more visible … they appear in inline frames that can be expanded/collapsed, similar to footnotes.

If your workgroup really gets into Notes, you might also want to look at the Notes Manager plug-in from SoftCare.

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @amarie
  • I’ve been recently doing some scripting that includes notes. It’s a great way for one script to pass information to another while identify places in text or even a range of text.

    I’ve grown seriously attached to them. The InDesign Scripting Reference does a half-hearted job of describing them (at least, in the JavaScript section). At least there’s an entry for the Note object, but none for the Notes collection. For that, you need the InCopy Scripting Reference.


  • low Jackson says:

    Cool, this is gonna be really useful! But is there a way to print these notes at the side of the page like commenting in acrobat?

  • Anne-Marie says:

    Iow, unfortunately you can’t print the notes from InDesign, nor have them show up as comments if you exported the layout to PDF, not even with the Notes Manager plug-in. (Calling Dave Saunders … calling Dave Saunders … ) heh.

    Having notes appear as comments in exported PDFs is a feature of InCopy, however. You might want to consider buying one copy ($249) as a “plug-in” if this is important to you. Or download a free tryout of InCopy to check it out before making a decision.

    To include Notes as comments in a PDF, just open the layout from InCopy’s File > Open command, and immediately go to IC’s File > Export, choosing PDF as the format. When exporting layouts to PDF from InCopy, the options aren’t nearly as exhaustive as InDesign’s, but one of the options is “Include Notes as Annotations”. (Which means comments.)

  • It would certainly be possible to write a script to extract the text of the notes and put them into text frames on a notes layer with each located adjacent to the corresponding note’s position in the document — having seen some document with such notes, some logic might be needed to prevent notes at “the same position” from colliding.

    I put “the same position” in quotes because they’re in consecutive character positions in the text stream, but those characters would share the same location.

    For that matter, there’s also the issue of notes that are merely close but not adjacent.

    The way things are, I wouldn’t be able to work on such a script before I return from the conference in Seattle where I’m conducting a 3.5 hour hands-on JavaScripting InDesign class.

  • Jason Cutler says:

    I installed the InCopy demo and I have these three files in there (plus others) :
    Username UI.framework

    are these the right ones? The file extension is different. They have the same name as the ones in InCopy’s Plug-ins/InCopyWorkflow folder.

  • Anne-Marie says:

    Jason, yes, those are correct. I think the .apln is for Windows, and .framework is for Mac.

  • Carlos F. Meneses says:

    Anyone have any luck with getting the notes printed on the page? We are currently copy and pasting notes to an additional page at the end of our documents, which seems to kill the advantage of having this plug in.

  • David Wolfe says:

    Carlos, there is currently no way to print Notes on the page using InDesign. The tip Anne-Marie gave for InCopy is a (horrible) workaround for now. Many have been complaining to Adobe for at least 2 years about this. More people need to do the same. The Notes feature is the only means Adobe has given for Editors using InCopy and designers/production people using InDesign to communicate back and forth. To not be able to print those communications is not just a feature request–it’s a serious flaw in the feature.

  • Kelly Vaughn says:

    I found that I cannot place a note in text within a table. I also noticed that text in a table does not show up in story editor. Am I missing something, or is that really how it works?

  • @Kelly, those two features (notes in tables and viewing tables in story editor) were added in CS4.

  • abdennis says:

    Re: exporting Notes as comments in InCopy (in CS3). I discovered that if frames are grouped, the notes in them are NOT exported.
    Anyone have an idea why or how to get around this?

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