The Golden Rule of InDesign Troubleshooting Success

image of four graphic callouts with overlaid question marks

I teach several hundred students a year about InDesign at the intro and intermediate levels, and of course that includes discovering how to troubleshoot program issues. Some questions repeat, but there’s one that appears more than any others.

Why Can’t I Select X or Do Y?

I’m sure I write some variation of this discussion response at least every week or so. Yet it always applies, and fits any question that asks “Why Can’t I Select the X Command, or Do Y?”

The Answer is simple: If you can’t select the command, why can’t you?

That’s probably the most important question to ask yourself when you’re stuck in InDesign. You will only find commands that apply to the type of content selected with a specific tool. So, if you can’t choose the Create Outlines command, why can’t you? How did you select the text frame? Did you select the text within the frame, or did you select the frame as listed in the steps?

Important yes, but frustrating too…

Along with being the most important thing to learn in InDesign, it’s probably also the most frustrating thing to handle as well. You may think you’re doing the correct thing over and over and not getting the expected results, only to notice at some point that you’re NOT doing the correct selection or using the right tool after all. Sometimes it really helps to walk away for a few minutes and come back.

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