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Quick Tip: Using the Story Editor in InDesign CS5

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Read Time: 3 min
This post is part of a series called Beginners Guides to InDesign.
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The Story Editor feature within InDesign is a great tool to know and utilise. Once mastered, you will be able to edit text clearly without distraction from formatting. Story Editor also has other advantages when handling text heavy documents. Instead of zooming and moving back and forth, the Story Editor will present the user with simple easy to read text. OK lets take a look.

Step 1

Open the document that you wish to work on. Select the Type Tool from the Tool box and click once inside a text frame.

Step 2

Go to Edit > Edit in Story Editor or use the short cut, Command + Y. InDesign will present you with a floating panel. The left hand column on this panel indicates if any styles have been applied to the text and it also indicates the depth of the text.

Step 3

The Story Editor will display the content from the text frame you have selected in simple word processor layout. Personally I think the default typeface is a little harsh on the eye. So let's go to the InDesign preference panel and change it. Go to InDesign > Preferences > Story Editor Display, a new panel will appear.

Step 4

Within this panel you can change the font, size, spacing and color to suit your needs. Another helpful preference is to switch the default cursor symbol to Barbell. When this has been activated, it should be easy to locate your cursor amongst the body of the text. Once all the preferences have been modified click OK and you will see the changes reflected in the Story Editor panel.

Step 5

To make amendments, select the section you would like amend by clicking and dragging, or click once to insert the cursor at a particular point. Make your changes. Within seconds the edit will be mirrored within the document.

That's basic text editing covered, now let's take a look at some extra benefits.

Overset Text

If a text frame is displaying the symbol for overset text (a red box with cross) don't mess with your layout and start enlarging the frame to see exactly how much text is missing. Simply click inside the text frame and open the story editor. Immediately story editor will indicate how much text is missing, see example below.

Make your edits to eliminate the overset text and close Story Editor.

Syncing the Story Editor with the Document

Let's say once you have finished using story editor you want InDesign to take you back to a certain point within the text frame. To achieve this make sure you fully select a word before you activate the story editor and then open story editor, Command + Y.

Make the edits. Select the word or words you want to jump back to and instead of closing story editor use the shortcut Command + Y again. If done correctly the same word(s) should be highlighted on the document.

It Works With Tables Too!

Open Story Editor as described in steps 1 – 2.

Once open you will see that the table is displaying in text format. Make amendments as you would with standard text and the table will update within the document. By default the table view is set to Arrange by Rows. It is possible to change the view to be arranged by columns. Right click or Control click on table symbol and simply select Arrange by Columns.


The Story Editor is often an overlooked feature, however, once it has been explored and learnt it makes editing text more efficient.

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