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We've already discussed one of the benefits about working with area type objects, and that's the ability to create a thread, where you have text that actually spans multiple frames. However, there's another benefit to working with area type, and that's the ability to bring up a special dialog box that let's you change some of the settings for how the text actually flows within that frame. If I select this frame right here, which contains some text inside of it--again, this is an Area Type object-- I can now go to the Type menu and choose this option here called Area Type Options.
When I choose that, the Area Type Options dialog box shows up on the screen. I'm actually you can move it over here to the side of here, so you can focus on the text here, and I'm going to click on the Preview button. Now notice over here, I have the Width and Height values which tell me exactly the size of the frame itself. I can certainly modify that here, or I can do it inside of my Transform panel, if I decide to do it that way. However, what I want to focus on here is the ability to actually specify rows or columns.
Now admittedly, with long runs of text, such as I see over here like a paragraph or two, working with rows doesn't make that much sense. However, working with columns can be quite helpful. For example, I'm going to specify now that I have two columns inside of this one frame. Notice now that I have my text now that appears only in one half of my frame, and if I would have had some more texts inside of this paragraph, it would automatically start to flow into a second column inside of this frame. If I increase this here to 3 columns, you can now see that I have the text start in the first column, and then when it gets to the end here, it automatically starts now in the second column.
So I don't need to create a thread per se, just to get columns inside of a document. I could simply take one area type object and have multiple columns inside of that one frame. Now you could also see that I have a Gutter value, which right now is set to 18 pt. The Gutter is the actual space that appears between each of the columns. If I want to increase the gutter here, I can choose to increase this value. For example, I'll make it maybe 36 pt, and now you can see I have a much wider space between each of my columns.
This Span actually refers to the size of the column itself. Illustrator here pretty much does the math for me. It takes the width of my Area Type frame, which is from here basically to here. I specified three columns, so it automatically splits into three even columns, and then based on the size of my gutter, which it needs two for in this case, it automatically calculates how wide each of the spans should be. Now if I'm working with both rows and columns, and by the way, if I choose rows, you can see how it kind of splits up here to almost like a table, but it doesn't really feel that way or actually function that way as a table, because the tabs don't actually move you from one cell to another, like they might inside of InDesign.
So I find it less useful. However, once you do have both rows and columns set, you could tell Illustrator how you want the text to flow, either from left to right and then start by the next row down or you could have it go from the first column straight down to another row and then back to the top and then down that way again. Still, like I said before, I don't find the rows that useful, but columns can be very useful when setting paragraphs of type, here inside of Illustrator.
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