Mastering Live Captions

Live Captions were introduced in InDesign CS5 and functionality is the same in CS5.5 as well. Live Captions are very powerful when it comes to pulling metadata out of the image and displaying them on the page. But, why are they called “Live”? Because they are! 😀 They are like regular text variables, but they are “trained” to pull out metadata out of images and they change when you swap images. I will not go in details here how to create Live Captions, (click here to learn more about Live Captions) instead, I would like to show you how to work faster and to be more efficient by storing and reusing your Live Captions setups! So, let’s get started! 😉

I created three text frames with different Live Caption setups. As you can see, first contains image title, description and keywords, second contains camera data and third simple copyright text. All that info is pulled out of the image metadata. Now, let’s say I need same setup for few other pictures. It’s not a big deal. I can just use copy/paste and I’m done, But, there is even better way to do it, and it’s called use InDesign Snippets! (you can also use Library to store them as well)

I’m using Mini Bridge to create Snippets simply by dragging text frame containing my Live Captions setup and dropping it onto my Mini Bridge panel. Wow, can it be easier?! Don’t forget to name them as well! 😉 Now, I can open different document, and simply drag already created Snippet from Mini Bridge panel to my page and place it where I want to! Awesome! I don’t have to go through really painful process of selecting Live Captions fields anymore! Woohoo! But wait, there is even more! 😀

I have placed my Snippet but it says No data from link! That’s not good at all! But, how to know which “data” is missing?! In cases like this, Story Editor is your very best friend! Select “No data from link” text and go to Story Editor and you will see exactly which part metadata field is assigned to selected Live Caption field! Also, there is another, little bit loner, way. Select “No data from link” text and go to Type menu -> Text Variables -> Define… and when dialog opens, selected text variable is one you are searching for.

Also, same applies when you don’t have image intersecting/grouped with Live Captions text frame and you get No intersecting link message! Story Editor to the rescue! 😀

I should also mention few things you should be aware when using Live Captions. First, and really important is that Live Captions will NOT break across multiple lines! Second, also really important thing is that Live Captions can NOT be formatted using GREP! To use GREP you must convert Live Caption field to text, but after that Live Caption is not live anymore! Also, I noticed a strange behavior with some parts of metadata. InDesign was not able to read data from image even if image contained correctly stored metadata. I had to resave image in Photoshop and after that it was all good.

So, that’s it! Hope this short “mastering” episode will help you work faster and save some time! Have fun! 😉


About Marijan Tompa (tomaxxi)

Husband, Father, Graphic Designer from Subotica [Serbia]. Also Adobe IDUG Chapter Representative, JS, AS3, Flex developer. InDesign Script/Panel developer. My everyday work includes working with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, CorelDRAW. I recently started to write scripts to speedup my work with InDesign. View all posts by Marijan Tompa (tomaxxi)

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