Mastering the Palette: Creating, Managing, and Importing Swatches in Adobe InCopy

In the vibrant world of visual communication, color plays a crucial role in conveying meaning, establishing brand identity, and guiding the reader's eye. In Adobe InCopy, a cornerstone of collaborative writing and design, managing color effectively becomes essential. This article delves into the world of swatches, the building blocks of your color palette, exploring how to create, manage, and import them to achieve consistent and impactful results.

What are Swatches?

Imagine a toolbox filled with pre-mixed paints, each offering a specific hue and shade. In InCopy, swatches function similarly. They store pre-defined colors, eliminating the need to manually input values every time you need a specific shade. This consistent and reusable approach ensures color accuracy across your document and streamlines the design process.

Creating Swatches:

There are several ways to breathe life into your swatch collection:

  • From Scratch: Open the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches). Click the "New Color Swatch" button and choose a color type (CMYK, RGB, Lab, etc.). Select the desired values and give your swatch a descriptive name.
  • Based on an Object: Select an object whose color you want to capture. In the Swatches panel or Toolbox, click the Fill box or Stroke box. Click the "New Swatch" button and name your creation.
  • From the Eyedropper Tool: Activate the Eyedropper Tool (I) and click on an object or area of your screen. The color is automatically added as a new swatch.

Managing Swatches:

Once your palette starts to flourish, maintaining order becomes key. Here's how to keep your swatches organized:

  • Sorting and Grouping: Drag and drop swatches to rearrange them. Use folders (right-click in the panel) to group related colors.
  • Editing and Deleting: Double-click a swatch to adjust its properties. Right-click and choose "Delete" to remove unwanted swatches.
  • Importing and Exporting: Share your palette by exporting it as an ASE file (File > Export > Swatches). Import existing palettes from other InCopy files or Adobe applications (File > Import > Swatches).

Importing Swatches:

Leveraging existing color libraries can save time and ensure brand consistency. InCopy allows you to import swatches from various sources:

  • Adobe Libraries: Access shared color palettes from the Creative Cloud libraries panel (Window > Libraries).
  • ASE Files: Import palettes created in other Adobe applications or shared by colleagues.
  • InDesign Integration: If working with linked InDesign files, color palettes are automatically shared between the applications.

Beyond the Basics:

While creating and managing individual swatches is crucial, InCopy offers further control:

  • Tint Swatch Options: Generate a range of lighter or darker shades based on a chosen base color.
  • Greyscale Options: Convert any swatch to a greyscale equivalent.
  • Book Swatches: If working on multi-chapter projects, synchronize color palettes across documents for consistency.

Optimizing Your Workflow:

Remember, effective swatch management is key to a smooth and efficient design process. Here are some tips:

  • Name your swatches descriptively: Use clear and concise names that reflect their intended use.
  • Organize your palette logically: Group related colors and use folders for themed sections.
  • Leverage existing palettes: Utilize shared libraries and pre-defined color systems whenever possible.
  • Maintain consistency: Ensure all team members use the same palettes for brand cohesion.


By mastering the art of creating, managing, and importing swatches, you unlock a powerful tool for enhancing visual communication in your InCopy projects. From establishing brand identity to guiding the reader's journey, color plays a vital role, and swatches offer the control and consistency needed to achieve your design goals. So, embrace the palette and let your creative vision come alive!

Get InCopy as part of Adobe Creative Cloud.