March 20, 2009

Attn.: InDesign Salvage Operations Team

Posted in advice, Lazyweb, Tools at 2:37 pm by India

Relief workers inspect smashed carriages after railway accident at Camp Mountain, Queensland

Justin asks,

do you have any tips for recovering “damaged” files?

when i try to open a layout i was just working on, it prompts me to fix the file from recovered data, then notifies me that the file may be damaged; it starts to recover, but then the program quits altogether.

[. . .] if there’s no easy solution, this means a ton of work lost … are you familiar with this quandary? any suggestions?

Anyone? Anyone? I haven’t experienced this in a long time, so my response was vague:

. . . the first thing to try would probably be moving your preferences folder to the desktop and forcing InDesign to rebuild it. That’ll get the program to launch properly, at least, and then maybe you can recover the file from there. Details:
InDesign Secrets: Rebuilding InDesign Preferences.

The second option would be trying to get someone at Adobe to look at it, by posting a query on the forums. Sometimes they respond pretty quickly.

Finally, if the time you’d lose redoing everything would be worth $99,
you could send the document to Markzware for their voodoo file rescue
service: Markzware blog: Fix your Bad Adobe InDesign Files!

Other suggestions? If the file could be opened, I’d say export to .inx; that cures a lot of ills. When you can’t open it, though, I dunno.

I should also mention here that perhaps one reason this hasn’t happened to me in a long time is that I regularly create new save-as versions while I work—foo(1).indd → foo(2). indd → foo(2b).indd (a variant I’m not sure about) → etc. Doing a “save as” compresses the file, and I feel in my heart that it removes a lot of potentially corrupting gunk and thereby keeps my files more stable. Having snapshots of all those previous stages also makes it easier to roll back parts of a file, selectively.

An aside: Does anybody out there use Version Cue? I’ve never bothered. Does it help with this kind of stuff at all?

January 2, 2009

Am I going blind?

Posted in advice, Lazyweb, Tools at 1:51 pm by India

Happy New Year! Here’s my first lazyweb request of 2009:

guides in Photoshop CS4

Can you see the guides in this screenshot? How about the control points on the path? Because I can’t, and it’s making me nuts. Read the rest of this entry »

October 7, 2008

Flash vs. substance

Posted in art direction, Design, illustration, Lazyweb, technology, Tools, web development, Work at 11:47 am by India

Sole Searching

A few weeks ago, Rachel Sugar, one of my coworkers, had an idea—based on a book called Jews and Shoes—to present some illustrated factoids about footwear in Jewish tradition. Staff favorite Vanessa Davis was nominated for the art portion of the project, and I asked if she’d be interested in working on what was then still a very vague idea. She was game, fortunately, because she rocks.
Read the rest of this entry »

October 1, 2008

Build a copyeditor from scratch!

Posted in advice, books, Editing, Lazyweb, Work at 1:13 am by India

stack of manuscript pages

My stats page tells me that that nice Brian Winters has namechecked me again over at Metafilter. This time, it’s to Baethan, who wants to work in publishing. Her question was,

What sort of courses, experiences, certifications, degrees, etc. should I pursue to tailor me for a career in editorial publishing?

When I return to college in the spring, I’ll be a sophomore. I want to use the next three years to make me into a dream applicant for a job in editorial publishing- proofreading or copy editing. Random House’s example of an entry-level job, “Editorial Assistant“, sounds like what I plan to apply for.

I’d like to work in fiction, preferably fantasy, but I’m not too picky. I also have an interest in art history and some knowledge of music. I really like learning and I know from a high school chemistry class that working my way through technical papers is a lot of fun, so I probably wouldn’t mind a nonfiction editorial job. I don’t think I’d like to work for a magazine. I want to stay the heck away from newspaper jobs. Oh, freelancing is also something I’d rather not do for a living (though I suppose it would be good while I’m in college). I love cubicles.

What sort of resume would make me attractive to a publishing company? I’ll be attending one of Connecticut’s state schools (not UConn, probably) so any ideas on majors and classes would be welcome. (SCSU has Journalism and English as majors, so I’m thinking a combination of the two would suit.) I’ve also been looking for relevant distance learning courses, but haven’t had any luck. Money is not abundant, so I don’t want to end up going to grad school.

Finally, what can I learn at home that will be valuable in an editing job? I know my vocabulary could use improving. My knowledge of grammar is lacking- I never learned grammar, I just got a feel for what’s correct and incorrect through reading. Any good websites or books for this?

In short, I’m looking for all your knowledge regarding copy editing. I believe I’ve read all the pertinent MeFi questions, but please point me to any you feel I should pay particular attention to. (Er, to which I should pay particular attention?) Thanks!

There’s some good advice at MeFi already, including the most obvious—study the Chicago Manual and Strunk & White, get an internship, volunteer—but I’m wondering if y’all have additional suggestions.
Read the rest of this entry »

May 31, 2008

MetaFilter Asks . . .

Posted in books, Design, Lazyweb, print-on-demand, typography at 6:10 pm by India

metal type

MeFi user Caduceus requests information about

Changing technologies in book design?
I’m looking for information about how new technologies have affected book design and typography.

I’m particularly interested in the affects of computers and design software, but information about how things like Print on Demand and ebooks have changed the status quo of book design would also be helpful. I’d be happy to be pointed to books, web essays, blogs, whatever information I can track down and dig through.

Kind reader Brian Winters directed Caduceus to this blog, but I don’t think there’s much here that addresses the question, since I started designing books relatively late in the digital age (around ten years ago, give or take). Most insight into such subjects around these parts comes from my more experienced visitors. So . . .

Should any of you more (or less! it’s MetaFilter!) informed persons wish to weigh in, there’s the thread. Of course, if you are, like me, too lazy to go register so that you can comment at MeFi, you’re welcome to deposit your thoughts here.
Read the rest of this entry »

February 5, 2008

Books on the why/how of book interior design?

Posted in advice, books, Design, Lazyweb, Typesetting, typography at 8:27 pm by India

Woman consulting a book

Commenter “elle” is trying to find a book that’s “kind of like a manual on how to design interiors.”

Like why you use a space break, why you indent certain amounts, why chapters start new right and things that break down the skeleton of a book. It’s something that is never really taught and you kind of do these things without a reason why, its simply because “you just do.” Do you know why a part opener always starts new right backed blank? I don’t. I just know it does.

Why do we have double breaks? Why does the text start flush left afterwards?

Anyone? Anyone? The usual books I recommend are The Elements of Typographic Style and The Complete Manual of Typography, but neither of these goes into the reasons behind design conventions, as far as I can recall.


Photo: Girl inspector confers with a worker as she makes a a careful check of center wings for C-47 transport planes, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer. From the Library of Congress’s Flickr project. No known copyright restrictions.

October 30, 2007

How do you learn Photoshop?

Posted in advice, Lazyweb, Tools at 1:12 pm by India


India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at Sorry for the inconvenience!

blackboard art

I’ve heard it said that most Photoshop users actually use only about 2 percent of the program’s features, and I can support this theory with my own experience: I know how to do what I know how to do.

I’ve learned most of what I know how to do from watching other people, either on the job or at InDesign User Group meetings and similar showcase-type events. Oh, and once, I read maybe the first half of Real World Scanning and Halftones. When I need to know how to do something else, I look it up in Help, Google what I’m trying to do, or look online for a tutorial. And then, unless that new trick is something I start doing every day, I usually forget it again pretty quickly. I don’t usually learn how to do a task by seeing it done once, but just knowing that something can be done makes it much easier to figure it out later. I would never have tangled with the vanishing point tool, for instance, if I hadn’t seen it demoed at the NYC InDUG.

This approach has worked just fine for me, in an assortment of jobs, since 1996, when I first got my paws on a copy of the program. And apparently my 2 percent is good enough. Read the rest of this entry »

June 18, 2007

How do you find out about design-related stuff?

Posted in advice, community, Design, Lazyweb, Work at 2:39 pm by India


Book designer B., soon moving to New York, wrote today to inquire,

  1. How do you find design jobs?
  2. How do you find out about groups to join for discussing design, books, etc., and for going with to conferences/seminars/talks?
  3. What are your favorite sites for knowing when design-related things are happening?

I get asked this first question every few months, and perhaps you do, too. My answer is always something along the lines of—

I also sometimes recommend that people contact the Lynne Palmer agency, which is a headhunter specifically for book publishing. I’ve never gotten a job through them, except through the power of Magical Thinking—whenever I contact them, I get offered a job by someone else—but I do know that they get cool listings that you will not find online.

For the second and third questions, I have no idea. I skim so many design blogs’ RSS feeds that if something worthwhile is going on, I assume I’ll get wind of it. But maybe I’ve been missing out on all the fun. Are you all going to events and not inviting me?

Please discuss. Tips on entering design communities in other locales also very welcome.

Photo: Advice by NineFingers / dustinotariumatron; some rights reserved.

April 18, 2007

Free & Cheap File Transfer

Posted in Lazyweb, Tools at 1:39 pm by India

Pack Mule

A client just asked me, so now I’m asking youse:

[We] are looking for a free way to get an ftp site so we can get some huge images sent to us over the Internet. . . . do you have any recommendations? When I do a Google search, of course many options come up, but we thought maybe you’d know of a particularly reliable or reputable service.

What I said:

I don’t know of any free FTP services, but I do use web-based file transfer sites pretty often:,, Most of those are good for up to 1 GB for free; you can transfer bigger files for a monthly fee.

You’ve probably got some FTP space included with [your] website hosting package or e-mail account, but check the size and bandwidth limits—it may be too expensive to use for anything other than web stuff.

There’s also a service called BoxCloud that I haven’t tried; I think it’s basically peer-to-peer file sharing.

What do you recommend?

Photo: cp 2533-2, “Pack mule carrying medical and surgical chests (side view). Contributed by San Francisco Hospital Corps, 1902. Selected by Scott.” Posted by staff of the Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health & Medicine. Some rights reserved.

October 11, 2006

Making Letters

Posted in handwriting, Lazyweb, Reading at 11:13 am by India

Two quick workday things:

  1. The Early Office Museum has lots of cool pictures of and information about office tools such as typewriters, adding machines, pencil sharpeners, paper fasteners, and so on. If you’re a geek for that sort of thing, have at it.
  2. Deron Bauman points out a WaPo article on the decline of cursive (which I’d already seen mentioned on Bill Walsh’s blog this morning but hadn’t actually gone over to read), which gave me the idea of looking for some handwriting manuals from my grandmother’s time and place. She learned to write in turn-of-the-century Atlanta and had a lovely round hand that was probably typical for her day. In the grand tradition of letting the Internet do my legwork for me, do any of ye Gentle Readers have any suggestions for books I might get from Alibris or Abebooks?

My own day-to-day handwriting is usually a slovenly mix between print and cursive, but I can write a pretty regular script when I pay attention. A couple of months ago, I collected all the samples of my dad’s handwriting I could find, with the intention of trying to make a font out of it; he was trained as an engineer and wrote a very neat, elegant, partially linked print. So far, no further action on that, but it’s in the back of my mind.