In designing templates for the Digital and Print Templates, where do the most significant challenges lie? Are there any possible workarounds for existing templates? To simplify the answer, we’ll split Sketch and InDesign up, since the way you create templates will slightly differ depending on which one you’ll use.
Generally, the Frontify Templates solution is best suited for creating less complex templates, with as little running text as possible. Why? Simply because when applying lengthy text snippets or complex imagery, you could run the risk of creating inconsistencies. Business cards, posters, or ads are better suited than flyers, brochures, or fact sheets. Text-heavy translation workflows can also prove tricky since text lengths can differ depending on the language.
Keep your InDesign package content (e.g. images) as small as possible (as big as necessary). Large files and unused elements make the templates slower, so we recommend you only add images and other links in the required sizes/quality (e.g., jpg image instead of a PSD) and remove any unnecessary elements (like master pages) from your original InDesign file.
Our Templates solution only modifies elements in the source document that have been changed. For example, if no changes are made to an element, the element in the original document remains untouched. This means that even if elements don’t look quite right while being in editing mode, they still render correctly when downloaded – because, essentially, they haven’t changed.
Setting up Your InDesign File & Package
Top 5 tips for preparing
Here are the 5 most important tips (described in more detail below) for setting up your InDesign templates:
Keep the size of your InDesign package as small as possible (as big as necessary). No large images. This means no 50 MB psd files, especially not for a social media post. Remove hidden layers or master pages.
Use paragraph styles and only override when necessary. If a different style is needed for a paragraph, use a character style.
Make sure that text styles are set correctly, and especially check if you really want to keep hyphenation (which is usually enabled by default).
Make sure that the fonts you are using are included in the InDesign package. You need static OTF or TTF fonts. Adobe fonts are not packaged.
Put elements that should be editable as much in the front as possible (on top of the layer list).
The following are the key considerations when designing or converting InDesign documents for Print Templates. Because our solution is constantly evolving, changes to the list may occur.
We support InDesign CS4 (where IDML was introduced) or newer. Make sure NOT to use a version between 15.0.2 and 15.1.1 (due to some InDesign bug in those versions which affect the font display in our editing mode); ideally use a current version of InDesign.
Our Templates solution only accepts InDesign package archives, not .indd files. To package an InDesign document, please follow these steps:
Save your InDesign document.
Go to “File > Package…” and make sure that all fonts and images are correctly linked; now click “Package”.
Check the following boxes in the next dialog:
Copy Linked Graphics
Update Graphic Links in Package
Create the package. Leave the package as is. There cannot be multiple .idml files in one archive, even if the same links or fonts are shared.
Make a .zip file of the resulting folder (containing the .indd file, .idml file, a Links, and a Document fonts directory).
Go to your Template Library in Frontify, click “New > InDesign Package”, and choose the previously created .zip file.
By completing the steps above, the fonts are included in the package and ready for use. You need to include the fonts in every package, not just one for the whole Frontify instance, because we take the fonts from the package to use in the templates.
Only static TTF and OTF fonts are supported; other formats you need to convert before packaging (e.g., postscript type 1 fonts are not supported).
Variable fonts are not supported; please make sure to use static fonts.
Adobe Cloud fonts are not supported because of licensing restrictions: Ensure fonts are available and not marked with square brackets, e.g., in the paragraph style settings.
Sometimes it's hard to get the right fonts into an InDesign package if you are working with an INDD file from an InDesign package that somebody else had created. If you are sure you have the correct fonts installed, try the following: Close InDesign - remove the "Documents fonts" folder from the package - open the INDD file. Then do your changes and repackage. This should help get the right fonts in.
Put editable elements into the foreground (as high up in the layers panel as possible), while non-editable elements should be in the background (as low in the layers panel as possible). This is due to the partial render mechanism: We try to render as many of the non-editable elements as possible in a static background image. This can help you if you have complex elements in your template that are not supported by our templating tool or are difficult to implement.
If these elements are below the first editable element, you don't have to worry about how they look in the template in editing mode, because we display them as images to the end-user (and thus they look correct to your end-users).
In the "Layers" list in the template and in the publication, we show default values (e.g., "image" for an image). If you want to display a custom value for it, you can manually rename the element in InDesign. Double-click the element you want to rename and add the new name.
We will then use this name in the template/publication.
No Master Pages
Elements placed on master pages can’t be changed in templates or publications. Make sure to put the content you want to change on the content pages and not in the Master. Remove Master Pages whenever possible.
No Object Styles
Don't use predefined object styles. Always set them to "None", as information programmed into object styles will not be correctly interpreted in edit mode.
However, make sure to use paragraph/character styles to ensure your templates work as expected.
Colors / Color Profiles
When exporting, the "Intent" of the document is respected. If the intent is set to Print, CMYK values are applied if available. If the intent is set to Web or Mobile, RGB values are used.
We use the default InDesign color profiles. If you need a custom color profile that is not covered by InDesign's default profiles, please contact our support team and make sure you have the color profile at hand to send us through.
Different types of gradients are supported for templates. Make sure to follow the instructions below and never use re-usable object styles to set up gradients.
You can use the effect "Gradient Feather" for partially transparent overlays or a gradient fill if you'd like to color an element fully with a gradient:
Linear Gradient Feather
Linear or radial gradient fills
Different opacity, location, or angle settings
Radial Gradient Feather
Do not rotate, mirror, or transform images. They might end up in the wrong position in editing mode. Additionally, if they should be replaceable by the consumer, it can be very confusing for the end users because we keep the transformations when replacing images.
The screenshot below shows two errors: not only does the image have (unnecessary) rotation and minus scaling, but the image is even slightly squeezed (visible by the fact that the X and Y scaling is not the same)
Illustrator, Photoshop, or PDF files could be scaled incorrectly, depending on how they were placed in InDesign.
Additionally, images with applied options during the “Place…” operation (e.g., automatically cropping the background of PSD files or selecting a specific page) are not properly supported. Convert Illustrator or Photoshop files to JPGs, EPS, or PNGs whenever possible to mitigate these issues.
Additionally, “Frame Fitting Options” are not supported, and using them could result in ill-positioned images and wrong cropping.
No Embedded Images
You cannot see nor replace embedded images (recognizable from the “embedded” icon in the Links palette) in editing mode. The “Replace Image” functionality will fail to replace the images in the Download. The solution is to unembed (right click on the image in the links section and then choose "Unembed Link") these images, so they appear in the "Links" folder in your InDesign package.
No "Pasted Graphics"
Do not use pasted graphics in your designs. Use properly placed and linked images instead, so they appear in the "Links" folder in your InDesign package.
If you want to include image placeholders (empty image frames) without an actual image (but maybe an example color), make sure to use a Graphic Rectangle (set content type via “Right-click > Content > Graphic”). Any other elements won’t be recognized as image placeholders.
Images Within a Polygon
If you want to replace images in a polygon, make sure you crop them at the required ratio in the original image so that you don't apply any cropping in InDesign. This way, the crop function in our template tool works as expected.
When you place a path from Illustrator in InDesign, be sure to paste only the path itself, without a clipping path (or group). That way, the path is interpreted correctly in Edit mode.
Keep It Simple
Split different text styles or elements (e.g., title and subtitle) into separate text fields to be unlocked, edited, and styled independently. Because of differences in text rendering between the browser and InDesign, line breaks might end earlier or later in the text.
Try to keep text simple and avoid multiple text stylings whenever possible. Some text styles, such as super-/subscript, are not supported.
We recommend using the "Adobe Single-line Composer" as paragraph setting because browsers are not able to display the "Adobe Paragraph Composer" functionality of InDesign. Using the "Single-line Composer" ensures that your line breaks are in the same place in edit mode and when you download.
Paragraph / Character Styles
Correctly set up paragraph styles are a MUST!
Always use clean paragraph styles to style your text. Don't work with style overrides where you just override the Basic paragraph or another paragraph style. When necessary to override your paragraph styles (e.g., with a different color), do so with character styles. Again: Do not just override it manually.
Leading and font sizes can be especially tricky – make sure to have clean leadings and font sizes on your paragraph and character styles.
Paragraph and Character Styles need to be ordered by their “Based On” setting. Styles can only base on the styles listed above. If you have a style hierarchy that uses the “Based On” setting, move the most basic style to the top of the styles list.
InDesign standard is “hyphenation on.” Due to browser restrictions, the hyphenation sometimes won't be 100% the same as in InDesign. If you want to ensure that edit mode and the final output match, make sure to turn off hyphenation in your paragraph styles.
The browser (meaning edit mode) will always use metric kerning. If you want to ensure that edit mode and the final output match in terms of spacing, make sure to set kerning to "Metrics" in your paragraph styles.
Auto-Sizing of Text Boxes
We partially support the "Auto-Size" option in InDesign.
You can define auto-sizing for Height, Width, or Height & Width. We support auto-sizing from the corners (but not from the middle) and with the "No Line Breaks" option active
Text (Bullet) lists
Create Bullet & numbering lists by setting the bullet list in a paragraph style. We support the following properties in the text list
Paragraph styles on the list
Character styles in items
Create or delete bullets/numbers on an existing list
Custom marker (Unicode characters)
Left indent and first-line indent for items
Multiline bullet point text (soft breaks)
To define the correct indents for your bullet list, do so as follows:
We don’t support the following properties (yet):
Create or delete a bullet/numbering list
Marker (bullet/number) character styles
Nested & continuous lists
Please be aware: deleting or adding bullet lists within the editing mode doesn’t work.
Unsupported text features
Irregularly shaped text frames
Irregularly shaped text frames are not supported – use rectangular text frames instead. If you need a circle text field, you can use a rectangle text frame with rounded edges.
Hyperlinks are not supported in our Digital & Print templates. It is not possible to change or add hyperlinks in your text in our editor. If you have fixed hyperlinks in the InDesign file that are static and in a separate field, you can enable this in your downloads by adding a custom PDF preset that supports hyperlinks (read more about adding custom PDF presets here).
Scaled Text frames
Don't scale text frames. If you want to resize your text frame, change the actual size (width and height) of the text frame. So the scaling should always be 100%.
We only support balanced text columns. Sequentially filled columns don't appear correctly in editing mode (despite downloading correctly).
We don’t support text flow over multiple elements or pages.
We don’t support tables.
"Align to Grid" in Paragraphs
We don't support alignment to a grid in paragraphs. Set it to "None".
Elements with multiple transformations applied (e.g., rotation and scaling) may end up in the wrong position when editing a template/publication. Especially mirrored and rotated elements (at the same time) are affected. Nesting may intensify this behavior in certain situations. As a rule of thumb: try to keep your document as simple as possible, un-nesting or ungrouping elements might help.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us.