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Create articles with content in correct reading order

In InDesign CS5.5 articles are created by dragging frames that belong to an article into the Articles panel one after the other.

Select first frame for the article

Drag onto Articles panel

Once article is dropped in Articles panel, dialog opens - enter name of the article

A good choice for the name of an article is to simply use the top most heading in the article.

First frame for article shows up in Articles panel, under the name for the article

Keep adding article through drag'n drop until they are all inside the Articles panel, in the right order

Now let's try the MadeToTag way of doing this - simply delete all entries in the Articles panel, so you can start from a fresh document.

Important: Activate "Use MadeToTag shortcut set"

Only if "Use MadeToTag shortcut set" is enabled, the MadeToTag specific shortcuts will work.

Note: When "Use MadeToTag shortcut set" is enabled, its shortcuts override shortcuts that may exist. Once you disable "Use MadeToTag shortcut set", all your shortcuts will be the same again as before. Obviously this implies that some shortcuts you would be using outside of MadeToTag may not work as usual.

Find out which frame should be assigned next

Especially for less than trivial layout documents, it can be difficult to tell which frames play which role in an article. Is all the text really one chain of linked text frames? Where are bits and pieces that are not part of the main text chain?

MadeToTag offers several keyboard shortcuts that let you hide or show frames, depending on whether they are already assigned to the current article (or any article) or not.

Here, let's use Cmd-Shift-X so we can easily see which frames have not yet been assigned to our new article.

Select first frame for the article

...and use keyboard shortcut "Cmd-Shift-N" in order to create a new article and assign this frame to it.

Enter title for newly created article

New article created, first frame assigned to it

MadeToTag panel also shows new article as Current article

Note: When using MadeToTag shortcuts that work on existing articles, it is important to make sure the article of interest is the "Current article". If it is not, use these keyboard shortcuts to cycle through existing articles and make them the "Current article":
- select previous article: Cmd-Shift-O
- select next article: Cmd-Shift-L

Add remaining frames to new article

As we can see, the major portion of the article's text is a sequence of linked text frames. When such a chain of linked text frames is assigned to InDesign CS5.5's Articles panel, all of its contents are assigned in pieces, so there is no reason to assign the other text frames in the chain.

Now let's assign the remaining pieces of the article - for each frame do the following:

  • select frame
  • use keyboard short cut Cmd-Shift-A to add frame at end of current article
  • use keyboard short cut Cmd-Shift-X twice to turn on all frames and then hide all frames already assigned

Note: For a correctly tagged PDF, in order to provide the best possible degree of accessibility, it is important to only assign content to an article that is relevant to its meaning. Pagination artefacts like page numbers, running headers, as well as any ornaments are never considered to belong to an article as they do not contribute to its meaning.

Note: You may also have wondered where to put items like sidebars, images, callouts etc. within the sequence of an article. In many cases it is acceptable to put these items at the end of an article. Otherwise the "flow" when reading an article through, for example a screen reader, is interrupted and may confuse the reader. If such items are anchored items, Adobe InDesign CS5.5 includes them as part of the story inside which they are anchored. While this makes life very easy - as such anchored frames are automatically part of the story without the need for any extra steps - the quality of the exported tagged PDF really suffers from the way how InDesign does this, as each anchored frame or anchored group of frames will simply be a figure tag in the exported PDF. This is acceptable if the anchored frame is just an image, but is a disaster if it contains important content. A future version of MadeToTag will remedy this limitation of Adobe InDesign CS5.5 - it will maintain the ease of use, but will make sure content in anchored frames is exported to tagged PDF with all of its meaning intact.

Assign items from each page until everything belonging to an article has been assigned to the article

You will realize that by using three keyboard shortcuts you can quickly go through all components of an article and assign them to the article. The risk to assign the wrong frames or to miss a frame is relatively small.

Even a complex article is created in seconds

As you will see in the Articles panel, all items that have been assigned to the current article are how showing up under the entry for that article.

Grouped frames in the Articles panel

For some of the assigned frames you will see "Group" entries - these go back to frames that have been grouped in InDesign. In the tagged PDF exerted from such an article, the "group" will not play any role, but having groups can make work in InDesign easier, also in the Articles panel.

If you run into a group of frames where you prefer to assign the frames individually, to maybe only assign some of the frames, or to have more control over the sequence in which the frames are assigned, use InDesign's "Direct Selection" tool in order to be able to select frames one by one, then proceed as described above.

Double click on an entry in the Articles panel to jump to it

Use "Cmd-Alt-S" to hide everything except the currently selected frame(s)

Stylized Preview

In order to be able find out whether so far we have done a reasonable job at assigning the right content to our article in the right order, let us carry out a styled visual inspection, so we can more easily see whether the content is assigned adequately, whether style sheets have been used consistently, and whether there might be any surprises.

The keyboard shortcut to launch the "Stylized Preview" is "Cmd-Shift-V"

Note: The Stylized Preview exports a given article to a generic HTML representation which is then associated with a CSS style sheet to stylize the article based on the standard tags used.

Jumping to an assigned frame from within Articles panel

In some cases it is useful to be able to go from an entry in the Articles panel to the assigned frame. Just double click on the entry in the list in the Articles panel. InDesign will jump to the frame and will select it.

If you need to see more clearly, which item it is that is selected, use the keyboard shortcut "Cmd-Alt-S" - all frames will be hidden except the one currently selected. Just use "Cmd-Alkt'S" again to make all frames show up again (or use "Cmd-Shift-Y" at any time to make all frames show up - "Y" as in "Why are not all of my frames visible"...).

Double check appropriate use of standard tags

All tags for headlines use some kind of orange, body text is indicated by blue, whereas lists are indicated by green (tables and table cells use shades of yellow). This makes it pretty easy to quickly spot whether given text is using the right kind of standard tag.

Stylized Preview – Revealing less than ideal content structure

In this part of the Stylized Preview, there are at least two issues that should be addressed:

  • empty paragraphs can cause problems when encountered by a screen reader or screen magnifying tool. As an empty paragraph does not contain any content, and probably has been used a formatting bandied to push some content further down, it should not be part of content in a tagged PDF. [Note: A future version of MadeToTag will automatically remove empty paragraphs from exported tagged PDF.]
  • the file name of the image is showing up as its 'alternative text'. This is not very useful information, and should be replaced by a more meaningful alternate text (see section about providing alternate text for images).