Book Production with InDesign by “Non-Professionals”

The first books in the California Classical Studies series have been composed with Adobe InDesign (initially the CS6 version, and subsequently with the Creative Cloud 2014 and 2015 versions). The work has been carried out by me and by the editorial assistant Anna Pisarello. Neither of us had previous experience. We used a tutorial book to learn the basics and later solved particular problems by using online help or online searches, with some of the answers being found on Adobe’s own site and others elsewhere. We also began with some templates provided to us by Eric Schmidt of the University of California Press.

For the first two books we did not have computer files but had to begin with scanning of the printed books from 1991 (Kurke) and 1980 (Courtney). In lieu of copy editing, these works required very careful proofreading and manipulation of the files to compensate for the errors of the OCR. OCR of course does not work at all reliably for Greek, and the most efficient course was to hire a graduate student to reenter the Greek in Kurke as Unicode. OCR errors were a particularly acute problem with Courtney because of the number of abbreviations used, the frequent use of italics, and the presence of various foreign languages in this type of commentary. Scanned files also have to be checked carefully to ensure that the font is uniform and that the fontsize is consistent and the character spacing normal, because any deviations will carry over when imported. Eventually we had Word files ready for import into InDesign. Fortunately, we do not foresee doing more reprints of this kind that depend on OCR.

Importing into InDesign was not always straightforward. Sometimes the command that was supposed to add sufficient extra pages for the overset text simply did not work. Sometimes when we tried to use an existing chapter as a template for the next one, the imported text was entirely in a superscript style. After import, when adjusting paragraph styles, it was also easy to end up losing all of the italics or all the non-footnote superscripts (Courtney’s book, in particular, contained many abbreviated bibliographic references with superscript number indicating which edition). With the third book, the footnote callouts also lost their superscript status and it turned out to be faster to fix them manually than to figure out a workaround. We’re still not sure how to prevent such losses of format. For one chapter, the imported text flowed onto the left page of each spread and skipped all the right pages, and repeated attempts to get around this failed (eventually this chapter was simply laid out as a continuation of the previous chapter’s file). For the next volume we now have a blank template document with the particular set of master pages and paragraph styles and character styles we actually use, and importing ought to be more reliable.

One cause for great relief was the successful importing of automatic footnotes from Word into InDesign, since scholarly books contain a lot of footnotes, and it is our mission not to be like the presses that are refusing to use footnotes, either insisting on endnotes only or even declaring there will be no footnotes at all. We did encounter a problem (inconsistently) with the footnotes not following the established style (which had a nested character style determining the size of the superscript footnote number and the small extra space between it and the first character of the footnote). And the setting for having no separator line for footnotes, but only a line of a set length and weight for continuation footnotes, did not seem to be working correctly in the Griffith files (InDesign CC 2014 and 2015). At the last minute before creating a final PDF, this problem went away when the setting for the separator was first turned on in all the chapter files and then turned off again.

We needed to have old style numbers in some places but lining numbers in others (such as footnote numbers), and it took some time to discover that the default figure style for numbers is not a general setting, but depends on the font itself. We are using Abobe Minion Pro, in which the old style form seems to be the default. The first three books have used Minion Pro for the Greek as well, since there has so far been little call for complex combinations that are not present in commercial fonts. But this font will not be adequate if dotted letters are needed or vowels with macron plus diacritic, or if metrical symbols are required. For the Greek itself, the designers of Minion Pro have not created a sufficient left side bearing for capital vowels with diacritics to the left of the capital, and one needs to provide some extra space manually before such a word. The middle dot (Greek colon) in Minion Pro seems to me unacceptably low, and we use a character style to raise it a few points so that it rises closer to the x-height of the lowercase characters.

InDesign has very powerful search and replace capabilities, and it is easy to get suggestions online for GREP expressions to do important tasks (like changing hyphens to endashes between page numbers in references). A couple of surprising weaknesses emerged, however. First, when searching by format, you cannot specify a font without also specifying a style (regular, bold, italic, etc.), but there are certainly purposes for which it would be more efficient to be able to find in a single search the font in any style. Second, when searching through “all documents” in a book, InDesign does not keep track very well of where you first began. That is, if you are doing a search in which for a certain number of the hits you will want to make a change, after you make a change and return to search further, InDesign treats that as a new beginning within that file, and to be sure to review all instances you will end up re-reviewing many you have already checked. Third, we discovered that the text entered on a path (there were some vertical captions in the Griffith volume) is ignored when you search (the text of horizontal captions is included in the search).

In producing the two-column indexes, it was very easy with the first two books to select the paragraphs involved and select the setting Split 2 in the toolbar. It was also then very easy when moving to the ePub version to select the same paragraphs and remove the Split 2 setting. Inexplicably, when trying to do the same in CC 2014 and 2015 versions for the Griffith book, the command had become buggy: the paragraphs were indeed separated into two columns, but the flow of the paragraphs was horizontal rather than vertical! To do a two-column layout one had to manually create separate text boxes on each new page and flow the overset text from one column to the next.

When multiple documents are combined into an InDesign book, the pagination works smoothly. If there is a single running head for a document (= one chapter), then entering this once on the chapter page master and applying designated paragraph styles for the left and right headers is simple. If you have a chapter or document with more than one section, however, and need to change, e.g., the righthand header, this is not always as easy as it should be. In MS Word one would use sections and change the header for the new section if necessary: that is a good method, although in reality if you use too many sections Word’s implementation becomes buggy. There is a way to mark new sections in InDesign, but so far doing this has not worked for us as a way to deal with changing running heads. In InDesign if you have consistent section titles that can serve as running heads, one can use a variable and paragraph styles to automate the change of running head, but one may not have titles that lend themselves to this use.

The cover design was produced by a professional, Nicole Hayward, who provided careful instructions on how to resize the width of the whole cover once the width of the spine of a book had been established. She had advised using the Document setup… command to enter the new dimension. This method always caused a crash. There is a workaround that does not crash: there is a Page tool in the tool strip at left (just below the two selection tools at top). After selecting that tool and after making sure the upper left corner is selected as reference point next to the dimensions fields, you can enter the appropriate width dimension there.

InDesign is very powerful, but also daunting in its complexity. It would certainly help to be using it continuously rather than at intervals, since it is easy to forget where the desired command is hidden among the plethora of toolbars, palettes, and menus. It is disappointing, however, to find that a program that has been under development for this many years (and that commands such a high price) contains serious bugs that confuse the user and slow down work. But it is an unfortunate fact of modern software that upgrades are rarely unmixed blessings, between the removal of familiar features, failure to fix all old bugs, and introduction of new features that are not quite polished or reliable.