Trade Show Prep: Creating an InDesign Template

Create an InDesign Art Template for Collection Pages | Trade Show Colletion Pages | Surtex Collection Pages or Tear Sheets | Blueprint Collection Pages or Tear Sheets | InDesign Live Captions without File Endings

The beginning of spring is here and it's trade show prep season! One of the many things you'll do when preparing for a trade show is printing your artwork on loose pieces of paper. To get this done faster, you should use templates. A lot of you will use Photoshop or Illustrator for this but I'm about to sing InDesign's praises.


In this tutorial, you'll learn:

1) How to create a basic template for artwork in InDesign
2) To Generate auto-updating "live" captions without file endings.


or in English:

you'll create an Indesign art template for your collection pages and the design names will automatically show up, *without* file endings attached.


The Nitty Gritty:

Ease: Intermediate to Advanced (comfortable with copy/pasting scripts)
Operating System: OSX (Mac)
Programs Used: Bridge, InDesign, and ExtendScript Toolkit (I'll give a link)

Template view

Filled out Template


Create your InDesign Template

Watch the video below to get your template started.  You'll need to open InDesign first! Keep in mind this is a rough-cut video, you'll see most of my "oops'" 😜

After you've saved and/or closed your document, move on to Step Two.

Step TWO

be a script-kiddie

WHAT THIS SCRIPT DOES: The following script works in Adobe Bridge by letting you batch-edit selected files to append their filename to the description (in File Info) WITHOUT the file ending included. 

Follow along and you'll be grand:

  • If you don't have it already, download ExtendScript Toolkit. Check to see if you have the program first: Applications / Utilities / Adobe Utilities CS5 / ExtendScript Toolkit CS5 / ExtendScript Toolkit
  • Once downloaded, install the program and open it up.  The window will look like the image to the right (click to enlarge)
  • Copy and paste the script below into the large area of ExtendScript Toolkit app. Credit for this script goes to Paul Riggot via the Adobe Forums.
    #target bridge     
       if( BridgeTalk.appName == "bridge" ) {    
    FT = MenuElement.create("command", "Add FileName to Description", "at the end of Tools");  
    FT.onSelect = function () {   
    var thumbs = app.document.selections;   
    if(!thumbs.length) return;  
    if (ExternalObject.AdobeXMPScript == undefined)  ExternalObject.AdobeXMPScript = new ExternalObject("lib:AdobeXMPScript");  
    for(var a in thumbs){  
    var selectedFile = thumbs[a].spec;      
    var FileName = decodeURI(\.[^\.]+$/, '')  
          var myXmpFile = new XMPFile( selectedFile.fsName, XMPConst.UNKNOWN, XMPConst.OPEN_FOR_UPDATE);   
      var myXmp = myXmpFile.getXMP();  
    var Desc=[];  
    var count =  myXmp.countArrayItems(XMPConst.NS_DC, "description");  
    for(var i = 1;i <= count;i++){  
    Desc.push(myXmp.getArrayItem(XMPConst.NS_DC, "description", i));  
    Desc=Desc.toString() + " " + FileName;  
            myXmp.deleteProperty(XMPConst.NS_DC, "description");  
            myXmp.appendArrayItem(XMPConst.NS_DC, "description", Desc, 0, XMPConst.ALIAS_TO_ALT_TEXT);  
            myXmp.setQualifier(XMPConst.NS_DC, "description[1]", "", "lang", "x-default");  
            if (myXmpFile.canPutXMP(myXmp)) {   
  • Next, Go to File > Save and save the script to your Desktop. Name it something like, "Add Filename to Description."
  • Then, in the Finder, mouse to the top menu, click Go and hold down your Option (alt) key.  You'll notice that a directory called "Library" shows up like magic.  Click it.


  • After clicking on Library, navigate to: Application Support / Adobe / Bridge CC 2017 / Startup Scripts
  • Click and Drag the saved script from the desktop to that Startup Scripts folder.

Side note: If you would rather add the file name to the Title area (rather than the Description as above), Benjamin Henne on Github has a written for that code.  I don't guarantee that works though as I haven't tried it. Keep in mind if you do go that route, you'll have to adjust some InDesign caption settings later.  You'll figure it out!

Step Three

Running the Filename Script in ADOBE BRIDGE

Alright guys, for this to *actually* work as intended, you'll need to make sure you're naming your files in a way that makes sense to you...usually with a numbering system. In Step one, I briefly mentioned this. For me, I place my files in a collection folder called something like "6063-Herb Garden".  Within, each pattern is named 6063A, 6063B, and so on.  This is so it's easy for art directors and buyers to reference my designs AND it just looks nicer to have only numbers and a letter on a tear sheet.  Stop here and make sure your system is coordinated and clean; if it is good to go, continue with Step Three (below image):

Example of how the inside of my collection "6063-Herb Garden" looks.

Example of how the inside of my collection "6063-Herb Garden" looks.

  • If Adobe Bridge is open, close it completely, then reopen it.
  • A dialog box will pop up that asks if you want to load the script.  Press Yes/Okay.  It will take a moment.
  • Pick the batch or grouping of files you want to add to your InDesign template and select them all using CMD+A or by clicking + dragging your mouse over them.
  • Mouse up to Tools in the top menu.  At the bottom of that menu you should see the script you saved into the Adobe Bridge scripts folder.  Click it!


  • It will take another moment to run.  Check to make sure it worked by right-clicking on a file and select "File Info"
file info adobe bridge
  • You should see the name of your file in the Description area.  If not, something went wrong.  Make sure you followed each step in Step Two appropriately.
Description file info Adobe Bridge.png


Adding Live-Captions without a file ending to InDesign

One last video! We're headed back to InDesign, so bust out the document we made together so we can finish.


Export your file

  • Remember to save your .idml template file somewhere like a Template folder *hint hint*
  • Then you can Export (File > Export) it as a PDF (for print) or another file type.  All have their perks, but pick which one is best for you.  If you're only printing, I'd recommend PDF for print.

And that's that!  I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial - I think this one has a little magic in it!

Create an InDesign Art Template for Collection Pages | Trade Show Colletion Pages | Surtex Collection Pages or Tear Sheets | Blueprint Collection Pages or Tear Sheets | InDesign Live Captions without File Endings
Ask me a question about this tutorial or tell me how it has helped you!