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How to Link Text Boxes in InDesign

Read Time: 4 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to flow text in InDesign and how to unlink text boxes in InDesign. Linking text boxes in InDesign is a great way to keep content organized when creating brochures and multi-page documents like magazines and books.

Linking text boxes is essential if you want to create a newspaper or publication with multiple text frames that flow seamlessly. Linking the frames in InDesign is easy and can be done in just a few steps. You will also get familiar with the primary text frame feature in InDesign. The primary text frame is perfect for publications and books with multiple pages.

You can follow my tutorial on how to link two text boxes in InDesign by grabbing this trifold brochure from Envato Elements. We will use this brochure throughout the tutorial. Now, let’s explore how to connect text boxes in InDesign.

Luxury historic brochureLuxury historic brochureLuxury historic brochure

What You'll Learn in This Text Flow InDesign Tutorial

  • How to connect text boxes in InDesign 
  • How to thread text boxes in InDesign 
  • How to link two existing text boxes in InDesign
  • How to unlink text boxes in InDesign
  • How to use primary text frames 

1. How to Link Two Existing Text Boxes in InDesign

Step 1

Start Adobe InDesign and open the Luxury Historia Resort Trifold Brochure. Go to the second page, and select the out port at the bottom of the first text frame. A short text preview should appear. In the next step, you will start to flow text in InDesign. 

Link text frame playLink text frame playLink text frame play

Step 2

Click inside the second text frame. Your two text boxes should now be connected, as shown in the image below. Learning how to thread text boxes in InDesign is just that easy.

Text frames connectedText frames connectedText frames connected

Step 3

A great way to make sure that your text boxes are threaded is to go to View > Extras > Show Text Threads. A blue line appears showing where each text frame connects. Now that you've learned how to connect two text boxes in InDesign, I will demonstrate how to unlink all text boxes in InDesign.

Text thread connectsText thread connectsText thread connects

2. How to Unlink Text Boxes in InDesign

Using the Selection Tool (V), unlink the text boxes in InDesign by Double-Clicking the in port of the second text frame (highlighted in red). You should now see the overset text error in the first text frame. And that is how to unlink all text boxes in InDesign.

Unlink text threadsUnlink text threadsUnlink text threads

3. How to Use Primary Text Frames

Step 1

Create a new document in InDesign. Go to File > New > Document. Change the size to 8.5 x 11, 3 Pages, 0.5 in, and 0.125 in Bleed.

Create new documentCreate new documentCreate new document

Step 2

You should now see text frames on each page. Click on each page to reveal the frame.

Primary text framePrimary text framePrimary text frame

Step 3

Double-Click inside the first text frame on the first page. Now, go to Type > Fill with Placeholder Text. You should now notice that each frame flows seamlessly into the next.

Add placeholder textAdd placeholder textAdd placeholder text

Step 4

If you need additional pages, go to the Pages panel and select the Create New Page icon.

Add new pagesAdd new pagesAdd new pages

Step 5

With the two additional pages added, you can now continue typing. There's no need to connect the two additional frames because it's done automatically with the primary text feature.

Add additional pages with placeholder textAdd additional pages with placeholder textAdd additional pages with placeholder text

Step 6

If you decided that you no longer want the frames to be connected and you want to unlink them, the process is a bit different. You can't click the in port button on the frame (circled in red). If you do, then InDesign automatically adds additional pages to prevent overset text.

Eliminate framesEliminate framesEliminate frames

Step 7

If you try to delete the frame, you will get an error warning like below.

Delete text framesDelete text framesDelete text frames

Step 8

To unlink them the correct way, go to Preferences > Type and uncheck the Smart Text Reflow box.

Change type preferencesChange type preferencesChange type preferences

Step 9

Now when you Double-Click the in port, you will get an overset text error.

Overset textOverset textOverset text

Step 10

There may be instances where you have multiple overset text errors. To view these errors, go to the Preflight panel. 

Preflight panelPreflight panelPreflight panel

Step 11

If your Preflight panel is hidden, go to Window > Output > Preflight.

Preflight windowPreflight windowPreflight window

Great Job! You're Done!

Thanks for following my tutorial on how to link text boxes in InDesign. Links are used to create threads between pieces of content within the document. Linking text boxes is great for creating text that flows in a specific order. You can really use this technique for anything, like making it easier to make changes to a long document that has to be split into pages.

Dig deeper and get a better understanding of the ins and outs of InDesign with this collection of tutorials. If you liked my tutorial on how to merge text boxes in InDesign, then you will love this list of articles that are perfect for beginners.

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