The process of connecting text among different text frames is called threading text. Text frame is similar concept as a text box. However, text frame can be independent of the other text frame or they can be connected. Note also that text within the connected text frames is also connected. That means text can reflow among connected frames. Threading text is also known as linking text frames or linking text boxes. In addition, the connected text frames can be on single page or on different pages.

Each text frame contains in port and out port, which are used to connect the text frames. Arrow sign from an in port to an out port of another text frame is the indication of text thread. An empty port means that the frames are not connected. Red plus sign (+) on out port refers to overset text, which is extra text not contained in any text frames. If you want to view the threading text, then go to View > Extras > Show Text Threads and select the frame with Selection tool.

How to Connect Text Frames?

Follow these steps to connect the text frames:

  • To create new text frame and connect: Select a text frame with Selection tool and click on in port or out port of a frame to load a text icon. After that, click and drag to create a new text frame in a place of your preference. Note that clicking in port or out port connects new text frame before or after the selected text frame.
  • To connect an existing frame: Select a text frame with Selection tool and click in or out port to load text icon, then click on an existing text frame to connect it to selected text frame. Note that when you hover text icon over an existing text frame, it will change to thread icon.
  • To add a frame in-between connected frames: As in previous ways, click on out port wherein you want to connect a text frame, and then click an existing frame or click and drag to create new text frame.

What Happens When You Unthread Text Frames?

Unthreading text frames means disconnecting all subsequent text frames from previous text frames. While doing so, all subsequent text frames will be empty and the text visible on previous text frame will overset. Note that no text is deleted when you unthread text frames.

Do any of the following two steps to unthread the text frames:

  • Double-click on an in port or an out port.
  • Click on an in port or an out port of a text frame, then hover over a text frame you want to unthread and click when text icon converts to unthread icon.

How to Flow Text on InDesign Documents?

You need to fill up text when you work on InDesign documents. As you know threading text flows across many text frames. There are two ways you can flow text into a document, either manually or automatically.

  • Flow text manually – First and much manual way is to click an out port with red plus (+) sign to load text in a text icon, then click and drag to add text in a new text frame. This method needs to load text into text icon each time the text is added to a new text frame. Second and less manual way is to load text into text icon for the first time, and Alt + Click to float all text until it finishes floating. The text icon automatically loads when text reaches the bottom of a text frame.
  • Flow text automatically – The most automatic way to float text into text frames is to load text into text icon and Ctrl + Click to automatically add text frames and pages as necessary to float all the text. However, a much less automatic way to float text is to Ctrl + Alt + Click to automatically add text frames but not pages. Any text that is more in the last text frame is presented as overset text.

How to Use InDesign As Text Editor?

As you know Microsoft Word is a good text editor most office users use. You may have noticed that pages in Word automatically change as you type more or less text. This is a very important feature of any text editor program. How can you similarly use InDesign? The Smart Text Reflow feature in InDesign comes to rescue us. When you enable these features, pages automatically update to match the page requirements, thereby avoiding any empty pages or overset text.

Smart Text Reflow needs primary text frames for it to work by default. Note that primary text frame refers to the text frames on parent pages. If facing pages are turned on, both sides of parent pages need primary text frames that are also threaded for Smart Text Reflow to work.

However, Smart Text Reflow also works on text frames that are not based on primary text frames provided that the text frames must be threaded to at least one text frame on a different page.

You can apply Smart Text Reflow feature on InDesign by following the steps below:

  • Go to Edit > Preferences > Type.
  • In Smart Text Reflow section, choose appropriate options and click ok.

Options for Smart Text Reflow

These are the available options for Smart Text Reflow.

  • Add Pages To – This option lets you specify where you want InDesign to insert new page. End Of Story inserts new page after cursor position, a point where you were typing. Similarly, End Of Section and End Of Document insert a new page at the end of current section and current document respectively.
  • Limit to Primary Text Frame – This option limits the Smart Text Reflow to only primary text frames. That means it does not work on text frames.
  • Preserve Facing-Page Spreads – This option is good if you have not turned facing pages on. In such a case, InDesign creates a new page and shuffles it with the rest of the pages. If you turn it on, InDesign creates a spread of two pages instead.
  • Delete Empty Pages – This option deletes pages that only contain an empty text frame.

I suggest you read InDesign’s official user guides for more understanding of threading text. Remember that threading text is necessary to create story jump lines in a newspaper design.

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