Thread and Link InDesign CS5 Text Frames - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Link (thread) a text frame to other frames in an InDesign Creative Suite 5 publication so that the text can flow between them. Threading is useful for most layouts because you can’t always include all text in a single frame.

  • Flowing: Placing text starting in one frame and continuing to additional frames.

  • Threading: Linking text frames so that text flows from the first frame to the second, and so on.

  • Story: The name of a group of sentences and paragraphs in threaded text frames.

  • In port: An icon on the upper left side of a text frame’s bounding box indicating that a frame is the first one in a story or has text flowing in from another frame. An In port icon has a story flowing into it if it contains a small arrow; otherwise, the in port icon is empty.

  • Out port: An icon on the lower right side of the text frame’s bounding box indicating that a frame has text flowing out of it. The Out port icon contains a small arrow if the frame is threaded to another frame; an empty Out port icon signifies that the frame isn’t connected to another text frame.

    If a text frame isn’t connected to another frame and has overset text (more text than can be displayed in a text frame), the Out port shows a small red plus sign (+) icon.

When you have more text than you want to fit into a single frame, thread the text from frame to frame.

  1. Copy the text you want in your layout onto the Clipboard.

    It doesn’t matter how much text you have to place, because you can flow text between frames.

  2. Use the Type tool to create two text frames.

    The text frames can be above or beside one another, or even on separate pages.

  3. Using the Text tool, click in the first text frame.

    The blinking insertion point that appears in the first text frame lets you know that you can enter or paste text into the frame.

  4. Press Ctrl+V (Windows) or Cmd+V (Mac) to paste the text into the text frame.


    The text you’ve copied to the Clipboard enters into the frame. If you’ve pasted too much text, you see the overset text icon (a red plus sign) on the lower right side of the text frame.

  5. Click the overset text icon with the Selection tool.

    The cursor changes to the loaded text icon so that you can select or create another text frame to thread the story.

  6. Move the cursor over the second text frame and click.


    The cursor changes to the thread text icon when it hovers over the second text frame. When you click the second text frame, the two frames are threaded because the text continues in the second frame.

    You can continue creating frames and threading them. You can thread them on the same page or on subsequent pages.

InDesign shows you text threads (lines connecting text frames to others ) if you choose View→Extras→Show Text Threads.

You can unthread text as well, which means that you’re breaking the link between two text frames. You can rearrange the frames used to thread text, such as changing the page the story continues on when it’s threaded to a second text frame.

Break the connection by double-clicking the In port icon or the Out port icon of the text frame that you want to unthread. The frame is then unthreaded (but no text is deleted).