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Adobe Illustrator Adobe InDesign Adobe Photoshop Digital Tips and Tutorials

Ultimate Guide: Align Objects With Keyboard Shortcuts in Adobe Apps

One of the most underrated features in Adobe creative apps are the various object alignment tools (left align, right align, align top edges, horizontal align middle, etc.) If you’re anything like me, you use these tools regularly. And while they are conveniently — and sometimes even dynamically — located in multiple locations, you may find yourself moving your cursor back-and-forth from your artwork to the alignment panel more often than you’d prefer. This can slow down — or even disrupt — your workflow. The solution? Keyboard shortcuts!

In this guide we setup keyboard shortcuts for the most common alignment actions. I also include notes about variations you can explore on your own.

Adobe apps come chalk full of keyboard shortcuts (see official keyboard shortcuts lists for InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and XD), so finding a combination of keystrokes that are not already designated to a shortcut can be tricky, and you’ll likely need to press several keys to employ any new shortcut. In this guide, most of our shortcut will involve only three keys, but, luckily, they don’t require years of finger yoga to be able to get your hands in the positions required to press them all at the same time. If you have ever reset the PRAM on a Mac, you know what I’m talking about.

We’re going to start with Adobe InDesign.

For our keyboard shortcuts we’ll consistently press Control+Command and then we’ll add a modifier key.

Note: for ease of research, writing and reading this tutorial, I’ll be using Mac keys only, so, if you’re using a Windows machine, you’ll need to adjust accordingly. I.e. Command on MacOS = Ctrl on Windows.

As much as I tried to get directly into the setup of these shortcuts, there is at least one more thing that needs clarification.

Adobe uses different names for the same action, in different locations in the same app. Here’s what I mean. When you position your cursor over the first button in the Alignment panel, the tooltip says “Align left edges,” but, when you setup your keyboard shortcuts, the name for this action is “Horizontal Align Left.” Why Adobe would use two names for the same action is beyond me, but this is what we have to work with. And, if that isn’t bad enough, these same alignment actions get different names in different Adobe apps. For example, the tool tip in InDesign and Photoshop is “Align left edges,” but in Illustrator it is “Horizontal Align Left” and simply “Align Left” in XD.

While writing this guide, I nearly created a keyboard shortcut for inserting the face palm emoji.

So, in this list of the shortcuts we’ll create, I list the action’s name (from the shortcut creator dialog box), then the tooltip, then the shortcut itself.

Action nameTooltipShortcut
Horizontal Align CenterAlign horizontal centersControl+Command+C
Horizontal Align LeftAlign left edgesControl+Command+Arrow-Left
Horizontal Align RightAlign right edgesControl+Command+Arrow-Right
Vertical Align BottomAlign bottom edgesControl+Command+Arrow-Down
Vertical Align CenterAlign vertical centersControl+Command+M *
Vertical Align TopAlign top edgesControl+Command+Arrow-Up
*I use the letter M for the Vertical Align Center shortcut to differentiate between C for Horizontal Align Center and M for Vertical Align Center Middle. I find it helpful to think that you can find the shape of the letter V in the shape of the letter M, which I can only assume is the reason Adobe folks used when setting these up as default shortcuts in Adobe XD.

Setup keyboard shortcuts in Adobe InDesign

  1. Select Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts…
    1. Optional: You may want to create a new set, just in case something goes wrong you can revert to the default set.
  2. Set Product Area: to Object Editing
  3. Under Commands: Scroll to and click on Horizontal Align Center
    1. Note: this list is alphabetical, so this will be the first of our shortcuts to create).
  4. Click in the New Shortcut: text box and press down the following keys: Control + Option + Command + C
  5. Click Assign
    1. Repeat for all the other shortcuts in the list above.
  6. Click Save
  7. Click OK

Use your new shortcuts!

And, you’re done!

… Kind of.

To create shortcuts in other Adobe apps, keep reading.


Adobe Abnormalities

Understanding that Adobe apps are developed by app-specific teams helps us understand why each app handles very similar tasks so differently. Organizations the size of Adobe cannot have an entirely flat org. structure, so silos exist, and this affects how we interact with their apps. In this section, we’ll uncover some of these dissimilarities and how to overcome them.

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign doesn’t list the object alignment actions anywhere in the app’s menus, which is why, when setting up the shortcut you must find it in Product Area: Object Editing. This isn’t bad, it’s just different than the rest of the apps we cover in this guide.

Adobe Illustrator

The Adobe Illustrator shortcut setup is a bit different than that of InDesign. One of the reasons for this is that the alignment actions can be found in the app’s menus, so that’s where you find the actions in the keyboard shortcut setup process.

Adobe Illustrator doesn’t let you use the Control key or the arrow keys in keyboard shortcuts, so I’ve substituted the Option key for the Control Key and letter keys for the arrow keys.

Setup keyboard shortcuts in Adobe Illustrator

  1. Select Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts…
  2. Select Menu Commands
  3. Under Command: Twirl open the arrow next to Object, then Align
    1. Note: this list is kind of alphabetical, it appears in the same order as it does in the menu.
  4. Click twice in the Horizontal Align Left row and the Shortcut column
  5. Press down the following keys: Option+Command+L
    1. Repeat for all the other shortcuts using the list below as a guide.
  6. Click OK
    1. You will be prompted to save the Set of keyboard shortcuts. Name it, save it and you’re good to go.
Action nameShortcut
Horizontal Align LeftOption+Command+L
Horizontal Align CenterOption+Command+C
Horizontal Align RightOption+Command+R
Vertical Align TopOption+Command+T
Vertical Align CenterOption+Command+M *
Vertical Align BottomOption+Command+B
* Remember M is for Middle

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop does allow you to use the Command key, but doesn’t allow you to use Arrow keys in keyboard shortcuts. So, similar to Adobe Illustrator, my solution is to use the first letter from each action’s directional component. I.e. C for Center, L for Left, R for Right, etc. as the modifier key in the shortcut.

The shortcut setup is a bit different in Photoshop, too.

Setup keyboard shortcuts in Adobe Photoshop

  1. Select Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts…
  2. Set Shortcuts For: to Application Menus
  3. Under Application Menu Command: Scroll to Align > Top Edges and click in the right half of the Top Edges row.
    • Note: this list is NOT alphabetical, it appears in the same order as it does in the menu
  4. Press down the following keys: Control+Option+Command+T
    • Repeat for all the other shortcuts using guide below.
  5. Click OK
Action nameShortcut
Top EdgesControl+Option+Command+T
Vertical CentersControl+Option+Command+M *
Bottom EdgesControl+Option+Command+B
Left EdgesControl+Option+Command+L
Horizontal CentersControl+Option+Command+C
Right EdgesControl+Option+Command+R
* Remember M is for Middle

Adobe XD

Adobe XD doesn’t allow you to create custom — or modify existing — keyboard shortcuts. (It has been a feature request since 2018.) This limitation is one of the reasons we used the specific shortcuts key combinations that we did — they are the defaults in XD, so no additional setup is necessary … in XD.

That’s not to say that XD is perfect. XD does its part in confusing all these alignment matters. KD is the only app that lists the vertical alignment options before the horizontal options.

XD also groups the horizontal distribution action with the vertical alignment actions and the vertical distribution action with the horizontal alignment actions. I really gotta think Adobe is just screwing with us in this case.  


Further customization

In InDesign, each of the alignment actions can be modified further by setting the Align to: option in the Align panel. We created our shortcuts based on the default option: Align to Selection, but you may find yourself aligning objects to Key Object, Margins, Page or Spread more often than Selection. In this case, you can change your designated actions and/or setup additional shortcuts for multiple Align to settings. I find I use Selection, Key Object and Page most often. Key Object alignment doesn’t require additional keyboard shortcuts, you just have to define the key object before you use the shortcuts we’ve already set up, and it will work as expected — the alignment action will determine its position based on the key object.

Align to Page

To setup additional keyboard shortcuts for Align to Page, I’vesimply added the Option key to the shortcut.

Action nameShortcut
Horizontal Page Align CenterControl+Option+Command+C
Horizontal Page Align LeftControl+Option+Command+Arrow Left
Horizontal Page Align RightControl+Option+Command+Arrow Right
Vertical Page Align BottomControl+Option+Command+Arrow Down
Vertical Page Align CenterControl+Option+Command+M
Vertical Page Align TopControl+Option+Command+Arrow Up

Align to Margin

To setup additional keyboard shortcuts for Align to Margin, I’vesimply added the Option and Shift key to the shortcut.

Action nameShortcut
Horizontal Margin Align CenterShift+Control+Option+Command+C
Horizontal Margin Align LeftShift+Control+Option+Command+Arrow-Left
Horizontal Margin Align RightShift+Control+Option+Command+Arrow-Right
Vertical Margin Align BottomShift+Control+Option+Command+Arrow-Down
Vertical Margin Align CenterShift+Control+Option+Command+M
Vertical Margin Align TopShift+Control+Option+Command+Arrow-Up

Distribute spacing

Let’s address the elephant in the room. All these Adobe apps’ alignment panel also include Distribute Spacing actions. Let’s set up some shortcuts for these actions as well.

Action nameShortcut
Horizontal Distribute SpaceShift+Control+Option+Command+H
Vertical Distribute SpaceShift+Control+Option+Command+V

Notes:

  1. Each app handles the modifications of this action a bit differently, but this guide is far past TLDR-qualified, so I won’t cover that here. 
  2. InDesign had default keyboard shortcuts for both Control+Command+H and Control+Option+Command+H, which is why we used the more complicated Shift+ Control+Option+Command+H, but you’re welcome to override default keyboard shortcuts if you never (or rarely) use them and will use this one more. 
  3. XD, by default, uses the simpler Control+Command+H and Control+Command+V, respectively.

Okay, now you’re done.

I hope you learned a thing or two and that these shortcuts prove as useful to you as they have to me.

Remember, give yourself time and grace to learn these new skills. Soon enough you’ll get the hang of them and be glad you did.

Happy creating,
Nick

Nick Saemenes 🗣


P.S.

Some third party apps allow you to setup app-specific keyboard shortcuts, which allow you to create more consistent keyboard shortcuts for like actions across multiple Adobe apps. I have used BetterTouchTool for such. I have no affiliation with BetterTouchTool. I am a paying customer and find it useful for MacOS customizations.

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Social Media Tips and Tutorials

Best practices: Graphics for promoting events on social

Let’s talk about the best ways to do event promotion on social media. Yes, this means how to create eye-catchy graphics. As we dive deeper into this topic, I’ll break down ideas by each platform.

Facebook

Here are image specs that you need to keep in mind when promoting your event on Facebook.

  • Facebook Event image specs: 1200 x 628
  • Native feed image specs: 1080 x 1080 (1:1 ratio)

Facebook Events:

Let’s start with creating a Facebook Event. When designing a graphic to be used in the event, you should keep in mind that you don’t have much space to cram every detail into the graphic. The event page itself can do that for you.

The best graphic you create is an eye-catchy image. Try a headshot of your speaker, a research photo, or a campus beauty picture. Add the title of the lecture or event to the graphic and that’s it. Images that are flooded with info and text will not help draw attention to the event.

Now when you go through the rest of the Facebook event setup, you can add more details including date, time, description of the event and how to register (if needed).

For example, this Facebook event cover isn’t too text-heavy but still has the title of the event.

Facebook timeline:

Just like Facebook Events, the best way to grab the attention of your audience is with a simple graphic. You can use the same image as you did in your event graphic. In this case, it is okay to add the date and time for your event. This graphic can also be used again if you wish to promote it on Twitter.

This example below is of how you can change up your Facebook event cover to be catered towards Facebook or Twitter.

Twitter

Twitter is just like Facebook. You shouldn’t overpower your image with text. You have 280 characters that can help.

Here are image specs that you need to keep in mind.

  • Native feed image specs: 16×9 or 1080 x 1080 (1:1 ratio)

Instagram

Event promotion on Instagram is good for engaging students. It’s better to use Instagram Stories rather than your native feed because Instagram is a photo and video sharing platform. People will not engage with text-heavy posts.

Here are image specs for Instagram:

  • Instagram Stories: 9×16
  • Native Feed: 4×5 (preferred since it takes up more of the screen) or 1080x 1080

Instagram Stories:

Using Instagram Stories to do event promotion is great. You are able to tweak your graphics to be the right specs and either use the “swipe up” feature if you have that or “Link in Bio” for any registration or more info you wish to provide.

Another way to use Instagram Stories is to have multiple cards/slides to deliver information about the event. Have a slide with the title and date and then another with time and location. This helps get all the info across without overcrowding one simple slide.

In the example below, the original image was tweaked to fit IG Stories and still has the most important info.

Instagram Feed:

The feed is not best for text graphics because Instagram is a photo and video sharing platform. People are less likely to engage with something too text-heavy. Try using Instagram Stories instead to help reach your audience. If you do want to post to your feed we suggest using a really high-quality photo– a headshot or campus beauty. In the copy, you can add all the details to the event and you can send people to “Link in Bio” if you need more space. If you have a link in your bio make sure it stays up for the duration of your event promotion.

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Social Media Tips and Tutorials

Social Media Video Specs

A helpful guide of video specs for each social media platform to help everyone create great content.

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

TikTok

YouTube

  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 
  • File size: 128GB or 12 hours (whichever is less)
  • Length: 
    • Technical: 12 hours
    • Preferred: 1-10 min
  • Captions: CC on all videos unless they are integrated into the video already
  • Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iky7Rq8DJ0c
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Social Media Tips and Tutorials

Holidays we cover

There are many opportunities to celebrate holidays. We have broken it down to the ones we will cover on the institutional Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Awareness and Appreciation Months

This list incorporates existing traditions and activities that are hosted by other units and programs.

  • Black History Month
  • Women’s History Month
  • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
  • Mental Health Awareness Month
  • Pride Month
  • LatinX Heritage Month
  • Native American cultural event
  • ECC Festival

Non Denominational U.S. Holidays

There are a small number of national holidays that we participate in. Our activity will be driven by the quality of content that is developed. These are subject to change.

  • Veterans Day
  • Memorial Day
  • MLK Day
  • Halloween

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Social Media Tips and Tutorials

Diving into Instagram Stories and Going Live

Let’s talk Instagram Stories:

When Instagram rolled out this feature, no one really knew how to use it. But they are getting popular with lots of fun features. They’re a great way boost your Instagram game. We’ve been using it more frequently and have seen great progress.

Stories are a great way to grab followers’ attention for a short period of time. Want to get more likes on one of your posts? Want to share a post you like? Post quick updates? Share a cool video? This is where you can do that.

Highlights are a great opportunity to archive your stories. When we post to our Story, we think about which highlight bucket the content will ultimately be saved under. That way we aren’t just posting a story that doesn’t connect with our followers. At the institutional level, our goal is to showcase the Oregon State experience, and Stories do that.

We have found success in using Stories for event or gameday coverage. These truly capture what it’s like to be part of #BeaverNation. We have also seen people engage with our fall, winter and spring highlights. By simply grabbing boomerangs, photos and videos you can produce a great Story.

Additionally, the perfect length is about 4-8 slides because people will just skip past you if the story is too long. You want to make sure to have a good hook at the beginning and your followers will love it! Check out Sprout Social’s Instagram Best Practices if you still want to learn more.

Next up, going Live:

The key is to have a goal in mind. Are you going to answer follower questions? Or are you going to showcase an event or are you going to go live with someone? Once you have that figured out, you can execute a plan of how your live will go.

The feature is pretty easy to use and here are some tips we’ve learned:

  • Post an Instagram story a couple days and hours before you go live —this way your followers know it’s happening.
  • Save your live after it’s done. It will stay on your profile for 24 hours and people can revisit it.
  • Instagram live will cut you off after one hour. So make sure you keep track of the time.
  • Make sure you have a tripod or a secure place to put your phone when you go live. You don’t want to move your phone too much or it doesn’t make for a fun live.
  • Better lighting always helps.
  • Make sure the phone is charged.
  • If you want to do a Q&A, check out these helpful tips. This feature is engaging and allows you to connect with your audience. You’re able to pick questions you want to answer and won’t have to read the comments as they roll in.
  • Check out how to go live with another Instagram user here. If you have a student or researcher, this might be a fun way to interact.

Both these Instagram features are a great way to connect with your followers. These are becoming more popular among brands and helps up your Instagram game. Go have some fun!

Categories
Social Media Tips and Tutorials

Tips for a great Instagram

Instagram is the most popular with students and prospective students. This is where Oregon State can share campus beauty/ life photos and videos.

The first thing to think of is a goal. Ours was more followers and engagement, so this is how we started to up our game in the Instagram world.

We learned that you need to be consistent in posting. Basically, look at your metrics to see when followers are online and post then. Make sure you have diversity in your posts (this doesn’t just go for people). Don’t just post buildings or event info. Show your students or professors in their environment or go to an event and share photos from it. Put yourself in the shoes of your followers to know what they want to see.

Break up your feeds! Pictures are great, but Instagram is also a video sharing platform. Post videos spotlighting professors, students and your department or a fun lighthearted video (time-lapse of campus). This helps your feed look more pleasing. It’s important to make sure videos are formatted correctly and don’t cut anything off — that leads to less engagement.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8SLJY1DDXH/

IGTV is becoming more popular to use within the Instagram app. It’s a great place to post videos longer than 1:00, and you can share those as posts as well to boost viewership and reach. This is something the institutional account has started to do with event coverage.

Be active. Don’t just leave a post after it’s been posted. Look at comments, give them a like or answer any questions. Look at your feed and engage with other posts from accounts you follow. Also keep up with those DMs. All these are ways for followers to form a connection your account.

Since adapting to these best practices, Oregon State’s account hit 50K in December 2019 and continues to grow. It’s important to be able to adapt to the changes Instagram makes as you continue to grow your own accounts. The only way is up!

Categories
Social Media Tips and Tutorials

We joined TikTok. Here’s what we’ve learned

TikTok is becoming more popular among 16-24 year olds. During fall term 2019, Oregon State launched its TikTok account with the goal to connect with prospective and current students by producing timely, authentic and relevant content that showcases the university and its community.

The most important part of this social media platform is to stay on top of trends (including music) and hashtags by spending time on the app. We have found it helpful to follow other university accounts and see what they are doing.

These are the topics or trends the OSU account will create videos from:

  • College related trends
  • Trendy hashtags/music
  • Dance and Cheer team
  • Student clubs

We’ve had success on TikTok so far with collaborating with departments, clubs and student organizations across campus. We were lucky to create a video with the OSU Dance and Cheer Team, and it’s one of our best videos since launching the account. Success will come when you collaborate creatively. We’ve also seen success when sharing our exported TikToks on Instagram Stories. This connects your followers with another channel and can help with growth. A little call to action never hurts.

While we are still learning this new platform, we need to remember that the audience we are trying to reach is not only current students but prospective students. We need to create videos that showcase campus in a positive way but also builds on nationwide trends. Sure, there’ll be some things that you cannot do because they aren’t university appropriate, but there’s always a trend/style/music track to explore. You need to put your creative hat on and be willing to put yourself in the shoes of Generation Z knowing no idea is a bad one. Go out there and get your TikToks started!

Categories
Social Media Tips and Tutorials

Event Coverage for Social Media

Getting out and covering events across campus is a fun way to engage your social media audience. They are always wanting to learn more about the Oregon State experience.

Part of the strategy for Oregon State’s institutional accounts is to attend events to help bring awareness of the culture on campus. Our goal is to reach students and prospective students by posting stories and photos to Instagram.

With this in mind let’s talk about our coverage of the 2020 Women’s Basketball Civil War. Planning is everything! You need to have a game plan and different scenarios.

Our game plan was simple. We designated jobs to certain people. Someone would be on Instagram stories, someone taking photos, and someone ready to push a tweet out if we won. Secondly, we made sure we had a plan if we did win. That was to test out going live from Instagram. The goal of that was to reach a bigger audience and celebrate a big win.

Here’s a breakdown of each job:

  • Instagram Stories– To get photos/video/boomerangs of the team, fans, cheer and Benny. With the key thing in mind: to show what it’s like to be at a game even if you aren’t there. (Make sure you have a beginning and end)
  • Photos– capturing game action, cheer, Benny, fans (before, during, and after the game)
  • Twitter– on call for if we win with great copy and a fun photo

With all of that planned out before the game we all felt prepared. Just to be clear things change all the time and you need to make adjustments. We made sure to go to the game early and feel conformable in a new environment. Sometimes that can be the challenging part but, if the crowds having fun then you will probably feed off of that energy.

Looking back at the game we didn’t win, but we put up a good fight. If you make sure to have a solid game plan heading into an event and people know what they are suppose to do you will have great content. Our Instagram stories and photos turned out fabulous and our followers enjoyed them. Our goal is to continue to share more events on our Instagram feed as time continues.

Cheers to the next events!

Categories
AP Style Tips and Tutorials

Top 10 AP Style Oops

To maintain a consistent voice, tone and style across the university, it’s imperative to follow Associated Press style rules. Some can be hard to remember — so keep this cheat sheet of commonly misused items in your back pocket. And if you are looking for additional help, check our editorial style guide, which covers the most common AP style issues you’ll encounter in your work at Oregon State. We also recommend an online subscription to the AP Stylebook. It’s inexpensive, and if there are multiple writers in your office, you’ll get a break on a multi-license subscription.

1. “To” vs. the dash

When listing a range of dates or times, it is preferred to use the word “to” unless space is limited.

  • The party will take place from 2 to 3 p.m., not 2–3 p.m.
  • Don’t forget, always omit the first p.m. if both times are in the afternoon/evening. Make sure not to capitalize AM or PM and to use periods.

2. Capitalization of administrative titles

Administrative titles should only be capitalized if they are used before the person’s name.

  • Professor John Brown
  • Dean Mitzi Montoya
  • John Brown, a professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts

3. Describing alumni

Be sure to use the correct word, depending on whom you are speaking about:

Alumna: feminine singular

Alumnae: feminine plural

Alumnus: male or nonspecific gender singular

Alumni: masculine or mixed-gender plural

Alumnx: gender-neutral

Also, don’t use “alum.” AP considers it an informal version more often used in showbiz stories: She’s an alum of “Saturday Night Live.”

4. Off campus, on campus

Hyphenate when using as an adjective, not as an adverb.

  • Off-campus housing fills up quickly in the summer. Act fast!
  • She is planning to find housing off campus next term.

5. Website

One word, not capitalized. Nor is “internet” capitalized, and “email” is one word. These are changes AP has made to the stylebook in recent years. So you can toss the 2002 edition of the stylebook from your college days.

 6. Résumé

To avoid confusion with resume, the accent marks are necessary.

 7. Capitalizing majors and colleges

Majors should not be capitalized unless they are a proper noun:

  • He majored in English, not civil engineering.

When mentioning the full title of a university unit, capitalize it. Otherwise, keep it lowercase.

  • As part of her course work in economics in the College of Liberal Arts, Amy experimented with financial models.
  • As part of her Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Amy experimented with financial models.
  • Later today, we will attend a meeting with admissions representatives.
  • Later today, we will attend a meeting at the Office of Admissions.

8. Course work

Two words, not coursework

 9. Farther/further

Farther = physical distance

Further = figurative distance

  • He ran farther than anyone else.
  • We will further discuss the situation.

10. Numbers

All numbers under ten are spelled out. Beginning with the number 10, use the numerical version.

Bonus tip: Oregon State University vs. OSU

As part of our editorial style, it is preferred to spell out Oregon State, rather than using OSU. Because other institutions use the same initials, this best practice can help prevent confusion.

Use Oregon State University on first reference, followed by Oregon State throughout the remainder of the piece. OSU can be used, however, in instances where it is part of a formal name (e.g., OSU-Cascades, OSU Extension Service, OSU Foundation, OSU Alumni Association).