Finally! Formatting Text in InDesign, Part I

Finally Formatting—Part One!

This is part of a series. Here is a complete list of current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet.

***Click on the images for a larger version. Then use CTRL/COMMAND + + (plus sign) to enlarge them still further.***

I’ve broken the process of actually formatting the text you loaded in the last post into two parts because the full process made for a very long post. We’ll do the obvious stuff in this post, the things you know how to do from Word. In Part Two, coming in a couple of days, we’ll move to some options more specific to InDesign.

Okay, you’ve loaded text. Now it’s time to start taking control of what your book is going to look like by creating and applying “styles.”

Again, I’m not going to tell you how to manage complex graphics. Later, I may tackle some very simple graphic insertions you can use.

Creating and applying styles can sound a bit messy, but here’s the kicker: Your InDesign process is almost precisely the same process you’d have to follow in Word.

It differs a little in that it offers you at least one option I haven’t been able to find in my version of Word.

And as I said in my previous installment, if you’ve already formatted your manuscript for an ebook, you’ve already practiced these steps.

On the other hand, if you’ve never created a style before, it’s probably time to learn. You can traipse along after me, you can hunt down “Styles” in your Word help, or you can check out some very useful posts on blogs and web sites for directions and tips. Skill with Styles is one of the most useful tricks to add to your bag.

Location of Styles in Word

In the PC version of Word 2013, you access Styles in the Menu on the right hand side of your screen. If you click on the “Down” arrow at the right, you can create or modify styles.

There are a million ways to create a paragraph style in InDesign. I’m just going to tell you what I’ve been doing. If you buy your own book or Google the experts, you may find methods you like better. But these seem to work.

My book says that the experts like to format the text first, then create the style based on the paragraph that they’ve polished to their taste. Works for me, so that’s what I’ll show you how to do.

(If by some chance, your workspace doesn’t contain the panels and tool menu that I discuss in this post, go to Window>Workspace>Advanced. That will populate your workspace with the tools you need.)

Okay, let’s say you’re in your document in InDesign. As a reminder, you can move around in your document in several ways. I’ve found these useful:

  • Double click on the page you want in your Pages Panel, then position it with View>Fit Spread (or Page) in Window
  • Scroll through your document using Option + Page Up or Page Down (or Spread Up or Down) or, in the Layout menu, the Next and Previous options, where you’ll find the relevant key commands indicated if you prefer keys, as I do
  • Try CRTL/COMMAND + J as a short cut for the many different ways you can “Go to” a specific page.
Layout menu in InDeSign

Some useful navigation tools–especially CTRL/COMMAND + J for “Go to Page.”

Use one of these methods to go to page 1 of your document, where you’ve loaded your text.

Make sure the little Preview box is checked.

Using the Text tool (indicated with a “T” in the Tools menu at the left), click in the first paragraph to place an insertion point in that paragraph.

As I noted in an earlier post in this series, I like to work chapter by chapter rather than with the whole book. I also prefer to work with a single paragraph until I like the style I’ve created. Once you’re satisfied with your style, you can apply it chapter by chapter with just a click or two.

So quadruple-click or drag or shift-click from one insertion point to the next to select the entire paragraph—all familiar moves for users of Word.

InDesign Workspace with paragraph selected

Note that I haven’t added running heads to the masters in this “playing around demo.”

Now, with text selected, it’s time for those standard decisions: the font, font size, and justification for your main body text.

Before you choose fonts for your various elements, you may want to poke around on the Web to see what people often use for books. Adobe provides a number of fonts and may offer versions of these that aren’t available in Word. But as always in word-processing, ultimately you just have to decide what you like.

To do so, go up to the left-hand corner of the Control Panel, where you’ll find a box with a familiar pull-down arrow.(See the screenshot below.) As you may have surmised, clicking on the arrow will display a zillion fonts. As always, if the one you want isn’t near the top of the list, start typing in the box, and like Word, InDesign will auto-insert your choice. If there’s an arrow next to the name of the font on the list, you can open a set of options. I went with Adobe Garamond Regular. I just thought it looked nice.

Next, in the box directly beneath the “font-family” box, you can select your size. Play around until you like what you see. I chose 11-point font.

Next, a slight deviation from Word: you choose “leading.” This is the space between lines. You can control this in Word in the “Format Paragraph” box, but it’s a bit tricky. In InDesign, you just pick a number and see how it looks. I picked 14-point leading. You’ll need to know the leading number in a minute, but if you forget it, you can always look back up at the Control Panel.

Now for justification, also managed in the Control Panel. I found out the hard way that you don’t want to choose the most obvious full-justify icon in the top row. Instead, run your cursor over the double row of alignment icons, and you’ll see one that says “Justify with last aligned left.”

Workspace in InDesign with font and alignment formatting indicated.

Believe me, this is the one you want. When I chose “full justify,” the program insisted on making even last lines of paragraphs consisting of five or six words stretch from margin to margin. Scared the s**t out of me! Finding that little “last line left” icon saved the day.

Now it’s time to convert these changes into an official style.

With the paragraph you’ve been playing with still selected, open the “Paragraph Styles” panel. In my version of InDD, the panels appear by default in a stack on the right of the screen. Clicking on a title bar opens the panel.

You’ll see a list of existing styles. Hover your cursor over the icons at the bottom of the panel and you’ll find the one for “Create New Style.” Click.

Workspace in InDesign with Paragraph Styles panel open

Remember that I haven’t added running heads to the masters in this “playing around demo” I’m using.

A style called “Paragraph Style 1” should appear in the list.

If you click on this, a dialogue box will open. In the main space in this box should be a description of the work you’ve done so far: your font, your font size, leading, and justification. You’ll have a chance to refine your style further in the next post, but for now, create your style:

Paragraph Styles Options Box in InDesign

I actually created “mainbody” and “mainbody2.” The large box lists the formatting I’ve assigned to this style.

Name it. I chose “Main Body.” Name it “Fred” if you like.

Click OK. “Paragraph Style 1” becomes “Main Body” or “Fred” or whatever. You now have your main style, ready to apply to more text.

If the process thus far has felt overwhelming, I suggest stopping here before applying the new style. I’m going to direct you to select the same paragraph and work with it some more in the next post, as you will want to make decisions like whether and how to hyphenate and whether to allow widows and orphans. You CAN make these decisions (and a couple of others) for your style after applying it, but I’m going to suggest, again, working with one paragraph to see the effects before finalizing the style.

Next time: Four options offered by InDesign



Filed under book design, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

2 responses to “Finally! Formatting Text in InDesign, Part I

  1. Pingback: InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finally Formatting Part II | Just Can't Help Writing

  2. Pingback: New Writers’ Comprehensive Reality Check! | Just Can't Help Writing

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