Instead of deleting text from Adobe InDesign documents, you can hide it from sight by using the Notes function.

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InDesign has a similar function to Microsoft Word’s Comments feature – ‘Notes’. Notes insert text into an InDesign document, that will not get printed or included in a PDF, that other InDesign and InCopy users can view.

They can also delete text from documents, without actually deleting it.

I recommend editors get into the habit of ‘noting out’ text, as it can be easily recovered. Cut text from an InDesign file, it’s gone. If you later need to reinsert a Note – for instance, if a page layout changes and you have room to fill, or you simply change your mind about a cut – you can just make the hidden text visible again.

If you set a shortcut key for noting out (and unnoting out), it can become as much second-nature as tapping backspace.

How to ‘Note out’ text in InDesign

The following steps will show you how to create shortcuts to create and undo Notes, and how to use the Notes to hide and reveal text.

Creating the shortcuts

Use Edit… Keyboard Shortcuts to open the shortcuts editor.

Select ‘Type’ from the Product Area menu. The Commands list will populate with entries from the Type menu – where the Notes commands are located – listed in alphabetical order.

Scroll to ‘Notes: Convert to Note’, in the Commands window and click it.

The command Notes Mode has the default shortcut Cmd-F8. This converts selected text into a Note. I prefer setting up a new shortcut , as Cmd-F8 conflicts with a system-wide shortcut on my Mac.

Click in the ‘New Shortcut’ field and press Cmd-K to assign the shortcut.

A message will appear informing you that Cmd-K is used to open the Preferences pane.

To fix this, click on the Context menu and select ‘Text’. This means when click out of a text box and use Cmd-K, it will continue to open the Preferences pane.

Click Assign to set the shortcut.

Repeat this process for Notes: Convert to Text (directly below Convert to Note). You can use this to restore text in a Note back to the page.

For simplicity, I use Shift-Cmd-K. If you have kept Cmd-F8, I suggest using Shift-Cmd-F8.

Once you’re satisfied click New Set… and save your customised shortcuts set.

You can use Keyboard Shortcuts to customise InDesign’s shortcuts or change them to a preset selection. It’s worth assigning shortcuts to commands and tools you often use, but lack shortcuts for.

How to note out

Open the Notes pane, using Window… Editorial… Notes. The text in Notes appears in this.

Select the text to be removed using the Type Tool. Do not select break characters unless you want to remove them to reflow text. Use Type… Show Hidden Characters (Alt-Cmd-I) to make them visible.

Sharing InDesign with other users? Set the shortcuts back to how the last user had them.

Tap Cmd-K or Cmd-F8. A small orange barbell will replace the text. Clicking on that will reveal the now-hidden text in the Notes pane.

How to restore noted out text

Inside the Notes pane, select the text you want to restore. Then tap Shift-Cmd-K (or Shift-Cmd-F8).

The text will be removed from the Note and flowed in after the barbell. If you restore all the text, the barbell will be removed.


InDesign treats the barbell that marks a Note’s location as any other character in InDesign. That means it can be deleted with the backspace key or dragged or cut-and-pasted into a new position.

If you move the barbell, restored text will be inserted after the barbell, not in its original position. And once a barbell is deleted, the Note can’t be recovered.

Post-It, don’t Note it

While the Notes function is designed for annotating InDesign documents, the barbells are easy to miss. I find that leaving a ‘Post-It note’ – a very visible text box, placed on a non-printing layer – on documents is more effective. You can find a sample Post-It note in my shared InDesign library.

If you find this tip useful, or you have one you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.


The text used in the InDesign document is from 5G is Revolutionary for Security Mobility Solutions by Rosina De Palma which was first published on Ground Report. The main photo is based on a work by Alexei Kuznetsov