Text tips for InDesign

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Although Adobe announced InDesign CS3 this week, it will be a while before it gets into general use in the field. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite tips for working with text in the current version of InDesign:

Fine-tuning superscripts and subscripts

InDesign settings 1

To fix it, go to the InDesign menu and select Preferences - > Advanced Type. Under Character Settings, change the values for Superscript to 52% for size and 30% for position. For Subscript, change the values to 52% for size and 0% for position and hit OK.

You should now see the very same text adjusted to your new settings as seen in Figure 2 below. Notice that the 1 and 2 are both a bit smaller, but the 2 is perfectly aligned to the baseline of the text. This looks so much better, and requires no effort on your part once you adjust the preferences. You may decide to adjust the slash by choosing a different font weight, or even reducing the size a bit if you like, but I like it just the way it is.

InDesign settings 2

You could adjust these on a per-document basis, but if you change the preferences when you have no document open, the settings will apply to all new documents.

And, if you’re using OpenType fonts with fractions, you can create paragraph or character styles that InDesign can automatically change as you create your text. Just make sure that Fractions is checked in the OpenType Features pane of the Character Style Options dialog box.

Check your kerning

InDesign kerning

An alternative drop cap treatment

When I use drop caps, I use a simple InDesign feature called “Indent to Here” which makes the drop cap letter a hanging indent in the paragraph. In some instances, this can be much more effective than the traditional drop cap, but it’s purely a design call. See the example below for what I’m talking about.

InDesign Indent

The first paragraph uses the drop cap without the Indent to Here feature. The second paragraph I placed my cursor just before the second letter of the paragraph and type Command - (backslash). The remaining text in the paragraph aligns automatically to the second letter of the paragraph in the first line. You can have the text align anywhere you wish, just place the cursor in the first line of text where you want the remaining text to align to.

Great looking type is subjective, so your idea of it may not be the same as mine or your client. These tips certainly won’t give you absolutely perfect typography, but they’ll send you well on your way with little effort.

[James Dempsey runs the Creative Guy weblog, which offers tips, tricks and opinion on a variety of design topics.]

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