InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finally Formatting Part II

Finally Formatting—Part Two!

King of the Roses Page 1

My formatted Page 1 of King of the Roses. The titles are in Minion Pro, the text in Garamond.

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

This is the next installment in my Beginner’s Cheat Sheet meant to help you format your own book interiors using InDesign. Note, again, that this series covers only plain text formatting, not graphics. But the fact is—YOU CAN FORMAT YOUR OWN BOOK INTERIOR!

In the previous post in this series on using Adobe InDesign to format your own book, you used the Paragraph Styles dialogue box to make basic decisions about font, font size, leading, and justification.

In this post, we’ll consider options you can choose in InDesign that might not be offered in Word.

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

The first of these options:

Aligning your text to the baseline.

This ensures that the lines of text on facing pages align with each other. This feature will become part of your main body style going forward.

Step One: Make a note of two pieces of information: your leading, which you can recover from the Control Panel if you’ve forgotten it, and the actual top margin value—how far it is from the top margin of your text box to the top of the page. You can recover this by opening Layout>Margins and Columns. If you set the margin to 1 inch, this is the number you want, NOT the margin from the top of the header where your running heads are.

Workspace with Control Panel Circled

Step Two: Reselect the paragraph you’ve been working with.

Step Three: Go to your “Preferences” menu—under “Edit” for a PC and under the “InDesign” logo in the upper left-hand corner on a Mac. Choose Grids.

  • In the “Baseline Grid” box that appears, type your top margin number, for example, “1 in,” in the box that says “Start.”
  • Type your leading number in the box that says “Increment every.” This can be in points.
  • The “View Threshold” number allows you to tell the program when it can display the grid for you to see, assuming you want to (and I think you will). Mine defaulted to 75%. If you leave it at the threshold, you’ll be able to see the grid only if your zoom is 75% or higher. This appears to be a good value for this box.
  • Don’t mess with anything else. Leave the defaults.
  • Click OK.

InDesign Baseline Grid panel from Preferences

Step Four: Go to Type>Paragraph.

You get a new little dialogue panel (not the same as the Paragraph Styles box you’ve already worked with). In the lower righthand corner of this panel you’ll see a little double-columned icon. Hovering your cursor should reveal that this is the place where you click to “align to baseline grid.” Click this icon.

InDesign Paragraph Panel

Align to baseline in lower right, hyphenate option in lower left.

You should see the lines of text in your selected paragraph move a little.

I suggest that you check to see whether your text actually did align to baseline by going to View>Grids & Guides>Show Baseline Grid, then select “View>Actual Size.” You’ll see the gridlines across your page/spread. If your text has aligned, it will sit on these gridlines.

Possibly it hasn’t aligned. In the experimental file I’m using to write these posts, the text didn’t align when I clicked the icon. I discovered how to correct this. I’ll get to that below.

For now, you have set your baseline grid. You can turn off the view by clicking the “Hide Baseline Grid” option which you might as well do for now, even if your text hasn’t aligned.

Other Options—Hyphenation:

While in the Paragraph Panel where you aligned to the baseline, click “hyphenation” in the lower lefthand corner.

Now reopen the Paragraph Styles panel from the righthand side of the workspace. Double click on the style you’ve created and named—the one you’re working with. “Paragraph Styles Options” should open.

The description of your style (Style Settings) should now note that you have added a hyphenation choice and, if your icon obeyed you, a desire to align to baseline.

InDesign Paragraph Style Options dialogue

On the left of this main box, you’ll see a list of options you can apply.

If you click on “Hyphenation,” you get some choices as to exactly when your document is allowed to hyphenate. I haven’t messed much with these options, but you certainly can.

Widows and Orphans

You now have to make the fateful decision about widows and orphans. To do so, in this same Paragraph Styles Options dialgue, click on “Keep Options.”

In my research, I discovered that this isn’t a hard and fast choice. It boils down to whether or not you want “square pages” or uneven pages, which occur if the program moves single lines of text around to avoid leaving one alone at the top or bottom of the page.

I deliberately chose not to have the program eliminate widows and orphans. This created some more work for me (which I’ll discuss in a later post), but I just like the square-page look. You can decide.

If Your Text Didn’t Align to Baseline—

Open the “Indents and Spacing” option. Here, when the alignment command seemed unresponsive, I found a drop-down box labeled “Align” and noticed that “none” was selected. When I discovered that another option was “All lines,” I chose that.

InDesign Paragraph Styles Options dialogue

Bingo. My text dropped obediently to the baseline.

You will be able to confirm that your text has aligned when you apply the style to more pages. If so, your bottom line of text will sit almost right on the bottom margin.

InDesign baseline alignment shown

Test aligned to baseline sits right on the bottom margin of your pages.

Final Option: Optical Margin Alignment

Say what?

This is really neat!

InDesign offers you the option of “hanging” your punctuation—periods, quotation marks, hyphens—ever so slightly outside the margins of your document. The idea is that those kinds of nearly invisible marks, when left inside the margins, create a slightly ragged-looking page.

To see what this option does, leave your paragraph selected and go to Type>Story.

InDesign Optical Margin Alignment

Remember to adjust the font size to match yours.

The tiny “Optical Margin Alignment” box appears. Adjust the font size to match your font and click in the checkbox to activate. This feature will be added to your style, although I haven’t been able to make it show up in the style description in the Paragraph Styles panel.

You won’t be able to tell if you like this feature until you apply the style to several pages. But you can disable it by simply selecting all, re-opening the little box, and turning it off.

Now, you can select all your text with CTRL/COMMAND + A, click on your new style, and see what it looks like in actual text.

If you don’t like some feature, just select the text where the style will apply, reopen the Paragraph Styles box, and use the options in the list on the left to make changes. Any changes you make will impact all the text to which you have applied this style.

Next Post: Additional and Character Styles for Chapter Heads and Italics

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1 Comment

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

One response to “InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finally Formatting Part II

  1. Pingback: InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Formatting, Part II! | Virginia S. Anderson

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