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Nonprinting “Post-It” Notes in InDesign


I love the Notes feature (in CS3, or in CS2 if you install the free InCopy Notes plugins), but its notes are all hidden inside text frames. I want notes that shout out, “Look at me!” Fortunately, you can make your own notes in your InDesign documents with this quick recipe:

  1. Create any object, such as a text frame. I like to give text frames a 20% Yellow fill with a drop shadow so that they look like sticky Post-It notes on my document. But you can make red-framed ovals, or whatever else you want.
  2. In the Text Wrap palette, set the wrap to None
  3. In the Attributes palette, turn on the Nonprinting checkbox
  4. If it’s a text frame, open Text Frame Options (Command/Ctrl-B) and turn on Ignore Text Wrap.


That’s it — this object won’t print, it won’t cause text reflow on the page, and it jumps out and grabs your co-workers’ attention. Best of all, you can quickly hide all the notes by pressing W to jump into Preview mode. (Nonprinting objects don’t appear in Preview mode.)

Of course, you don’t want to go through all these steps each time you need a note. Instead, once you’ve made one of these, you should save it as a snippet or put it in a library so that you can easily repurpose it later.

Another way to handle notes like this is to add them to a non-printing layer. You can make a layer that is visible but which won’t print by double-clicking on the layer and turning off the Print Layer checkbox. Then you can make the layer visible or hidden in the Layers palette. In CS3, you can override the Print Layer checkbox in the Print dialog box, printing all layers (even invisible or nonprinting layers) if you want.

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at LinkedIn Learning ( are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
  • josh says:

    nice idea…thanks.

  • Jason says:

    And if you do want them to move with the text as it reflows, make them anchored objects and place the anchor in the text that the note refers to.

  • L. Thomas Martin says:

    This is useful if one is sharing ID files. But, if one uses PDFs for proofing and correction, more useful would be notes that become comments in Acrobat when the ID file is exported to PDF.

  • Bob Levine says:

    For that you need InCopy. Works like charm. I’m hoping that gets added down the line to InDesign.

  • Oh yeah, I would love if I could make real notes in InDesign that turned into PDF annotations, and vice versa! But I’m just focusing on what I can do today in CS2/3.

  • Eugene Tyson says:

    I tell you, this way is way better than my old boss’s idea (an old guy from the paste up days). He used to physically attach a post-it note to my monitor where he wanted to pass on the information. Quite hard to keep a straight face when he was paying me. Not as funny as the time he used a rule to measure the document on the screen.

    Anyway, I put post-it notes on nearly the same way as David, but I didn’t make a library, quite handy and I had forgotten about this. I made an object style and applied the style to the text box to create. I also always use a non-printing layer/objects for the notes.

    I’m nearly sure if you have an object style and draw the object, then select the non-printing attribute, then define your style that the non-printing attribute is added to the style. I don’t think the non-printing attribute is available in the object styles dialogue boxes.

  • pAT says:

    Does ID CS2 not have the Print Layer checkbox? I’m looking at my Layer Options and I don’t have that. Just 2 for showing/locking layers and 2 more for guides and one for supressing text wrap.

  • Pat, yes, I believe that is a new feature in CS3.

  • Kit says:

    Hi, almost what I’m looking for, but I need to be able to export it to PDF with these options.

    I am setting up an invoice template that has a dark background, which the client won’t want to print if they want a hardcopy, so I was hoping to be able to send them the screen version, where if they press print, no background etc.

    any ideas? (using CS2)

  • Kit, sorry, I don’t know any way to display one PDF but print a different one. Seems like there should be some way to do that, though.

  • Louise says:

    Thanks for the help in creating notes. This is really great with long documents.

    I needed to have notes which I could easily add or subract and print out for my client so have gone a step further which is to create a table of contents out of your notes and then you can print (or pdf) annotations.

    Create a style for your notes (I have applied it to the notes created at the top of the post cos they look cool!). Put them on their own layer but don’t apply non-printing (this allows for them to created as a pdf or left out – also when it comes to repro then the layer is easily removed).

    At the end of the document I have created a Notes page and made a Table of contents (brilliant feature, look in your help guide) using the Notes style. Now each note is collated along with the page it occurs on. This can be exported as a pdf or printed out. Once it has been dealt with, just delete it, update the Table of Contents and it is no longer on your “to do” list of notes. Alternatively, delete the layer and all the notes will be removed.

    Hope this helps! :)


  • @Louise: Great tip! Love it.

  • Eugene says:

    Wow that is a superb Idea! I think it’s great!

    That would come in very handy. Excellent thinking.

  • Rich says:


    Here is a plugin that prints InDesign notes as interactive PDF annotations.


  • Daniel Perera says:

    And… when InDesign notes are not enough…

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