An Absolute Tangent

Still can’t believe I got scooped on that “j” post yesterday. My ADD mind keeps thinking j, j, j…Jay and Silent Bob…J. Jonah Jameson…Jamie Summers (the real one, 1976 Lindsay Wagner)…J.J. Jackson…J.J. Evans (Dy-no-mite!)…J Lo… and behold, I just thought of something else.

Let’s go back to good old command+j, which “jumps” us to any document or master page in InDesign. Technically, it opens the Go To Page dialog, but think “jump” and you’ll never forget it. That shortcut and I go waaay back, to my Quark XPress days. And so does the following twist.

By adding a “+” you can make use of Absolute Page Numbering. Say your document starts on page 739. You want to jump to the 3rd page of the document. You could do command+j, and enter 741. Or you could do command+j and enter +3. Done. You just saved a keystroke and all the trouble of learning addition in base 10. You could’ve skipped first grade math and instead frolicked with the dancing bears and butterflies in your 6 year-old imagination. Or you could’ve just eaten another crayon. Life is all about choices.

Absolute numbering is recognized in every InDesign dialog and field where page numbers are found, including all the Pages panel commands, the Print and Export dialog boxes, and the document window itself. One twist on the twist (a surtwist?): if you set the General: Page Numbering preference to Absolute,

then leave off the +.

Page Numbering is an application-level preference. It affects the display of all your open documents, but it doesn’t affect the documents themselves. Others who open the documents will see numbering according to their preferences, not yours. You may want to set the preference to Absolute if you’re dealing with documents with annoying page numbering, like big, nasty section prefixes,

or high Roman numerals

The Absolute Numbering preference does have the potential to make things confusing. With it on, the only place you’ll see real page numbers is on the document page when the Current Page Number special character has been used. Every document will look like it starts on page 1 in the Pages panel.

In the case of Romans, absolute numbering will save you the trouble of remembering how to write 49 in Xs V’s and I’s. Or is it L’s? My personal Roman numerality only goes as high as the current Super Bowl. And even then, I’m one year behind, because as Pats fans all know, the events of last February never happened. Right? I mean a journeyman QB eluding a sack thrice by inches, heaving a wobbly ball into coverage to a 3rd string receiver who wrestles the ball into a catch with one hand on his helmet? That could never happen. I mean, what are the odds? It’d be like two InDesign blogs writing about the exact same feature…

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