In this Bitesize tutorial, we’ll look at how to ‘thread’ text throughout your InDesign documents. Text is placed in InDesign via a single or number of text frames, and threading allows you to flow a passage of text across multiple frames.

  • Learn how to thread text across text frames

  • Cut or Delete unwanted text frames

  • Learn how to troubleshoot problems, including overset text, using the Story Editor and Info panel

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Step 1: Thread Text Across Frames

Once you have created a text frame and inserted text into it you may find there is too much text to sit in the frame without overflowing. You will see a small red + symbol at the bottom right-hand corner of the text frame.

The first thing to do is to set up a series of text frames to allow the text to flow into. Select the Type Tool (T) and drag to create new frames across the page(s) of your document.

Return to the first text frame and click once on the + symbol to load the cursor with text. A tiny script symbol will appear next to your cursor.

threading text linking text frames text boxes indesign skills

Hover over the next text frame and click once inside it. The text will flow into the frame. Continue this process until all your text is contained within text frames.

A green No errors notice will appear at the bottom left of the screen (from the Preflight panel) once all the text is visible in the document.

threading text linking text frames text boxes indesign skills

To view how the text frames are connected go to View > Extras > Show Text Threads.

In Normal Mode (View > Screen Mode > Normal, or tap W on the keyboard), when you select a text frame, you will see the Threads connecting the frames, showing how the text is ordered throughout the document.

threading text linking text frames text boxes indesign skills book

If you have loaded your cursor with text, but have no text frame prepared to flow the text into, you can click anywhere on the page. InDesign will create a text frame automatically, and channel the text into it. You can then choose to resize the text frame.

threading text linking text frames text boxes indesign skills

Step 2: Delete or Cut Threaded Frames

You may want to delete or cut a text frame from a threaded sequence.

To cut (and optionally paste elsewhere, complete with a copy of the text from that point forward), select the text frame(s) with the Selection Tool (V, Escape) and go to Edit > Cut.

To delete, simply select, as above, and hit the Backspace or Delete key.

Step 3: Help! My Text Has Disappeared!

Sometimes you might encounter problems with threaded text. For example, if you have received a third party InDesign file which includes some text that you know is in the document (or should be) but may not be showing up on screen.

To check the text is definitely there in the document, go to Edit > Edit in Story Editor. The Story Editor function allows you to view all the text content in the document, regardless of whether it’s overflowing any text frames, or is set in an invisible color or opacity. It will also highlight any problems, such as if any of the text is overset (overflowing the text frames).

thread text story editor overset text

You can also open the Info panel (Window > Info) to view how much text is overset. This is shown next to the number of Words, indicated by a + sign.

thread text info panel overset text

So in the document example here, we have 308 words, plus an additional 141 words which are not visible as they are overflowing a text frame.

If you’re concerned about missing any incidents of overset text, particularly in you’re working with a long document, don’t be!

When you go to Export or Package your InDesign file, ready for print or for handing over to a colleague or client, InDesign will flag up a Warning window, notifying you if you have any overset text, and on which page(s) the error occurs.

overset overflowing text overflowing text frame

Simply click Cancel to return to your document; navigate to the indicated pages to rectify the problem.

Next step, find out how to wrap text around images. You can develop more basic skills from our beginner InDesign tutorials page.

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