Getting Graphic with InDesign, Part 2

In Part 1 of “Getting Graphic with InDesign”, we discussed speed and management tips for importing and managing placed graphics. In this issue, we’ll cover how to place and control an anchored object (or inline graphic). Also included here are some tips for quickly and effectively controlling how your graphics interact with any text they encounter.

Anchored objects

You can now place and edit anchored objects in InDesign. This is a good feature to have when you want to make sure a specific graphic or other design element stays with a certain section of copy, no matter how much copy or page layout editing is applied. Just keep track of which tool you’re using, and placing and editing anchored objects is a snap.

Insert the text cursor in the line of type where you would like to have the anchored object. In this case we’ll anchor an image of Augustine Volcano in Alaska between paragraphs, but you can add any element, including a text frame.


Tip: To make placing and adjusting an object anchored between two words much easier, create two character spaces between the two words where you intend to place your anchored object. Then, place the text cursor between the two spaces so that a space will separate the placed anchored object from the text characters on each side. You can then kern the copy surrounding the object to fine-tune the spacing before and after the anchored object.


There are several ways to insert an anchored object. You could just simply type Command-D to activate the Place command, find the object you want to anchor, and click Open. The graphic will be anchored inline and will appear above the line. This works fine for small objects placed between two characters.

But if you’re placing a larger object, such as an image between paragraphs as we are here, you’ll want to have more control over the placement, so Control-click (PC: Right-click) near the cursor insertion point and then select Anchored Object>Insert from the contextual menu. This will activate the Insert Anchored Object dialog, which will allow you to control the content, apply an object style (or paragraph style if the anchored object is text), and control the placement of the object. In the example, we set the dimensions of the object to match the dimensions of the image we’re importing, and we centered the anchored object relative to the Column Edge. We also assigned a drop shadow object style.

It’s important not to place too large of an object, as large objects may not fit into small columns. Large objects are also difficult to manage inline and may not print well when scaled down too much. I typically scale any graphic to a reasonable dimension prior to placing it as an anchored object.


When you click the OK button in the Insert Anchored Object dialog, InDesign will create a container for the anchored object. You’ll then need to place the content (text, graphic, or unassigned properties) inside the container.

To resize your anchored object, choose the Selection tool (V) and click on the graphic. The frame for the placed graphic will be active. Hold Shift-Command (PC: Shift-Control) and click-and-drag the upper-right corner of your graphic in order to proportionally scale down both the frame and its contents to the dimensions of your choice.


Now with the anchored object’s frame still active, you can manually reposition the object (unless you checked the Prevent Manual Positioning box in the Insert Anchored Object dialog). You can also edit the anchored object options. Just Control-click (PC: Right-click) on the anchored graphic and select Anchored Object>Options from the contextual menu.

Check the Preview box in the Anchored Object Options dialog to preview any changes you make. The options you have will depend upon where you’ve placed your anchored object. For instance, you can position an object anchored in a line of type Above Line if you want. You can also manually reposition the graphic within the frame using your Direct Selection tool and Arrow keys as well.

Note: An Anchored object can be released by Control-clicking (PC: Right-clicking) on the object and selecting Anchored Object>Release. Also, any anchored object can be deleted by simply inserting the text cursor immediately following the graphic and backspacing through the object.

Text wrapping

Whether an object is anchored or free, you can control how text reacts to that object by using the Text Wrap palette.

Select Window>Text Wrap (or press Command-Option-W [PC: Control-Alt-W]) to activate the Text Wrap palette. There are five choices for wrapping text in the palette: No Text Wrap, Wrap around Bounding Box, Wrap around Object Shape, Jump Object, and Jump to Next Column. Select the mode appropriate for your needs. Here we assigned a Jump Object wrap to the Augustine Volcano anchored graphic we placed earlier.

It’s important to note that on an anchored object, text wrap will only affect the line that contains the anchor marker and any lines that follow. It will not wrap any lines above the marker. Place hard or soft Returns at the end of the last line of text above the line containing the marker to move the graphic below the text. For even more control of the vertical spacing of your anchored object, adjust its baseline shift. Click on the anchored object with your Selection tool and adjust its baseline shift by holding the Option key (PC: Alt key) and pressing the Up or Down Arrow keys.

Assign a push away distance. To view the text wrap boundary of any object, simply click on that object with the Selection tool. The text wrap push away boundary will be shown by a blue outline. Here we’ve assigned a .25″ Top Offset and Bottom Offset for the text. (Note: Even though the Top Offset will have no affect on the anchored object in this example, we still set a value for it so we can use the push away boundary to help us align the object.) Assigning Left and Right Offsets is not necessary here because a Jump Object wrap does not allow text to either side of the graphic. [For more on controlling the spacing in your text wraps,see “The Art of Type”]


For complex pages, you’ll want to use layers to help you control your text wraps. Type Command-K (PC: Control-K) to activate Preferences, and click on the Composition category on the left. In the Text Wrap section, check the Text Wrap Only Affects Text Beneath option. Now, text will wrap around any objects on a layer above it, but won’t wrap around any objects on a layer below it.