If you’ve been reading this column for long, you know that I’m a big fan of Adobe InDesign. If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ve probably heard me mention InDesign’s companion application, InCopy. Paginators know InDesign as one of the tools of choice for creating newspaper pages.
For others, like editors and reporters, InDesign can be overkill. Sure, you could use InDesign as a word processor if you wanted to, but it’s a lot more application than most people need to place text on a page.
This is where InCopy comes in. InCopy has been around for quite a while, but most folks in the newspaper business didn’t become familiar with it until recent versions. Working in conjunction with InDesign, InCopy creates an editorial workflow, allowing writers, editors and paginators to work in harmony with each other.
Basically, the InDesign/InCopy (LiveEdit) workflow functions one of two ways. More commonly, a paginator lays out the basic design of a page, leaving room for text frames, photos and other elements. Next, she “assigns” each element to be available to InCopy users. Using a check-in/check-out procedure common in other editorial workflow systems, LiveEdit users can then open a file in either InDesign or InCopy to view or make changes.
Next, a reporter might open the file in InCopy, write a story in the allotted space and check the file in, making it available to anyone in the workflow. Immediately, the paginator receives a cue that a story has been changed, then accepts the change (with the click of a button) in the InDesign document.
The second method of creating LiveEdit workflows begins with the reporter. He writes the story, then checks the file in. After the file is checked in, an editor might check out the story to edit and suggest corrections.
In addition to removing, adding and making corrections, InCopy users can create “notes” that can be seen throughout the workflow but don’t end up on the printed page.
Next, the paginator opens a blank InDesign page (or template) and places the InCopy text files in frames throughout the page, creating a workflow between her page and the text from InCopy. Still, anyone along the workflow could check out, edit and check in text, with the changes appearing on the InDesign page.
As I speak about new technology at industry and press association gatherings, I generally receive more questions concerning InCopy than any other software product. Generally, publishers who haven’t seen the application have heard of it and want to know how it works. “Can you really see how the text is going to appear on the final InDesign page while you’re working in InCopy?” I hear that one a lot. And yes, you can.
Folks who write cutlines and headlines love the ability to see how their text will to appear on the page, allowing them to create visual, as well as literary, masterpieces. This can be done from within InCopy without purchasing InDesign.
There are a few reasons InCopy users should consider upgrading to the CS3 version. Primarily, you want to use the same version of InCopy and InDesign. If your designers are using InDesign CS3, your editorial staff should be using InCopy CS3. It makes the workflow run much more smoothly. And at $89 (USD), the price is right.
An interesting addition to the CS3 version of InCopy is the ability to work with e-mail based assignments. This allows the paginator to send stories and graphics as single assignment via e-mail. Basically, this means you could create a LiveEdit workflow between persons in different locations, using e-mail where a server isn’t present to share their files.Yes, very interesting.
Assignments have also been improved in InCopy CS3 (and InDesign CS3), making it easier to keep related stories together. This makes it easier for InCopy users who want to open an individual story rather than an assignment file containing several stories. Let’s not forget InCopy CS3’s ability to import Excel spreadsheets into tables.
I’ve worked with several newspapers over the past three years to implement the LiveEdit workflow. With each upgrade, the workflow continues to improve in ease of use and capabilities. With InCopy CS3’s ability to convert Excel spreadsheets into tables, work with e-mail assignments and performance improvements, the reasons to consider the LiveEdit workflow continue to grow.
Upgrades from previous versions are available for $89 (USD). The full version of InCopy CS3 is $249 (USD). For more information, visit