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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
Adding a decorative first or second cap to some of your most important paragraphs in your document adds a bit of class, but you are not limited to just turning on the Drop Cap checkbox or not. There are some finessing and some tricks that you can use to make your work look really special. What I want to do in this video is take you from the very beginning of how to use a drop cap all the way to some more advanced tricks in about five minutes. So let's get started. Here we have a few paragraphs in a story and there are no drop caps at all.
So for people who've never used a drop cap, the best way to do this is to click inside the paragraph where you want a drop cap and edit the paragraph style, all right? You could go to the Paragraph Formatting section of the Control panel and add drop cap. This field says how many lines should it drop and this field is how many characters should drop, but it's always bad to do that kind of local formatting, better to just edit the style. So this style is called body first. That's normally what you want. You don't want to do this for every single paragraph; you want to do it for the first paragraph in the body following like a subhead or title. So you make a special paragraph style just for that first paragraph.
And now we are going to double-click that paragraph style, and with Preview turned on, we can see the effects of our changes here under Drop Caps and Nested Styles. Up here is the Drop Cap area. Let's just make a drop cap that goes 3 lines down and is 1 character. That's all, nice and easy. So we added a little bit of interest to this paragraph. Now we can make it a little bit more interesting, as you see in this section, because here in body first 1, what I did was in addition to adding a drop cap, I also specified a character style that called on a different font.
So the character for the drop cap does not have to match the rest of the paragraph style. If you forgot to make a drop cap character style to specify here, you can always choose a New Character Style and go ahead and create it on the fly. Now I have already gone ahead and created it. I'll drop cap different fonts and if you want to experiment with different fonts, which unfortunately really can't do in that dialog box. First you have to assign the character style then come here and start fiddling around with the character style itself.
Turn on Preview, dropcap-diff font, go to Basic Character Formats and choose a different typeface. So this one is Mona Lisa, that's kind of elegant, but maybe I am more of a Hobo kind of person. I always like to use Hobo instead of Comic Sans because Comic Sans has enough haters. So there is Hobo or maybe you want something a little bit more interesting. Let's try Gill Sans Ultra Bold. All sorts of fun stuff you can do if you create a character style and then specify that character style.
Of course you can also change some other things, like as you saw, I've changed the character color as well. Now down here, you have a couple of more examples. Let's look at this one. Close you and come over here, so we can concentrate on this. What I have done here is I have taken the drop cap, and then I selected it, and I made it larger. I just increased the Type Size from the normal 9.5 to 18 points.
So when you make a drop cap larger, it actually grows above the text frame. So it's still dropping only three lines, we look at the Paragraph Settings, still dropping only three lines, but we made it larger than the text size. So that's kind of an interesting effect that you can see starting out of the story. Let me turn on Preview Mode. That looks good. Now one thing that's bothering me a little bit is that I would like this left bar to be aligned with the left edge of this text. Let me switch back to Normal mode and let's open up the Paragraph Style panel and see what's happening here.
This is the paragraph style, here is body first 2 for version 2, and if we go down to Drop Caps and Nested Styles, you can see that I do have Align Left Edge on. So if I turn that off what happens is it nudges it over a little bit. So if you have a drop cap that's not quite touching the left edge and it really depends on the type designer what kind of side bearings they added to the character, you can turn on Align Left Edge and InDesign will look for the exact left edge and align it.
So it does a good job. I want the other left edge aligned, this one. So how can you do that? Well the only way to do that is just this old desktop publishing trick of having to kern this in, kern it to the left to sort of nudge it to the left, and you can't kern the very first character left unless there is another character before it, right? Because kerning is reducing the space between two characters. So we're going to have to add a second character in front of the L so we can kern it in and we want that character to be invisible obviously, so we are going to add a space.
We want to actually have two characters dropping, but the space, we are going to click right in front of the L and we will add a space, just like that, and now we'll kern it in. I will just use my Option or Alt+Left arrow, and there we go. That's close enough. Now that trick has been around forever. Again you use space and then another character and make sure and set the number of characters that drop to two. And over here I have the same, the original one that's sort of moved over a little bit to the right.
I want to show what happens if, for example, we use a different character like say a Q. Now the Q actually gets smaller, did you notice that? The Q has been scaled down a bit and that's because in the paragraph style under Drop Caps and Nested Styles, we have turned on Scale for Descenders. That's not turned on by default. This is how it normally looks. So if you are adding a character, some capital letters have long descenders, like a fancy R might have a little leg flying out here, and you don't like how it pinches on the text, then you might want to try turning on Scale for Descenders and it will automatically in the paragraph style, whenever a capital letter has a descender, it'll scale it to better fit.
It doesn't always do quite a perfect job, but it does go a long way toward making it work. And now let's look at the question that I hear a lot, which is how can I get the text to align with the edge of a drop cap? And here it's using our old--let me change the definition for this character style here. Let's try Mona Lisa. So I've switched the font back to something more interesting.
The only way that you can get the text here to wrap around the edge of this A, rather than the straight edge of the bearing, is to separate it out into its own text frame, and then anchor the text frame in the text and then set this text frame to wrap, hand-edit the wrap. I can't believe that it's 2011, or it's maybe 2012 when you are watching this, and they still haven't figured that away to let users do this automatically. I can't think of any publishing program that will automatically wrap along the character shape rather than the box containing the character.
But let me show you how it's done. First, you need to separate out that character into its own text frame, as I have done here. Of course you want to get rid of that capital A in the text. The next thing you need to do is you want to anchor this text frame in the text flow. You want it to be the first character here. So I am just going to move this over here and get it into position where I want it to be. This is how I'd like it to appear and now I'm going to create a custom anchor by dragging and dropping this cool little blue box here, which is only in CS5.5 or later.
If you have an earlier version you are going to have to cut this and then paste with your Type tool. Now you might think, okay, she is going to anchor it right here, but actually I'm not going to put it right in front of the very first word in the paragraph, because that is a glitch in InDesign. If I want this text to wrap around an anchored object, the first line will not wrap. So the answer is to do an end run and anchor it right before the first line. So now the first line becomes the second line and so it will wrap correctly. And so it anchored it there and it's a custom anchor so it's going to go ahead and flow with the text.
Now I need to actually turn on Text Wrap. So I'll come up here, under Text Wrap, and turn on the Text Wrap. So now all the text wraps around here and here is another weirdness that I have just gotten used to with InDesign, is that it always puts the line underneath. It pushes that away as well. So the first thing you want to do is come up here, making sure that this chain thing is broken because we are going to edit just one of these fields. We don't want all the fields to edit at the same time. We are going to go to the Bottom Offset. We are going to enter a negative amount so that this line moves over.
So let's just go ahead and enter like -6 points, p6. Let's zoom in a bit and see what's happening. We can close these panels here. This very light blue line, I wish they would put it in a different color, is the wrap border. So we've inset that 6 points and so this is allowed to move over. And now we're going to start editing the wrap boundary of the rest of it. So use the Direct Selection tool to do that. When you switch to the Direct Selection tool and you have an object that has wrap, these are actually the wrap edges.
So all I need to do is drag this point over and you can see now it's actually starting to wrap--oops! I actually dragged too many things. I just want this guy here. I don't want to change actual frame. I don't need to. I just want to change the wrap. And then this is coming a little too close. If you can see that triangular little point there, let me move that out a bit, there we go. So it does take a little bit of work but it is possible to do and the good thing about this method, let's zoom in a bit, is that, again, because it's anchored it will flow with the text and because I didn't need to turn into a graphic or outline at all, I can still edit the character, change it, but then of course I will have to rewrap with my Direct Selection tool.
But there you have it, from the very beginning of how to do a drop cap, to all sorts of fun things that you can do to fancy it up and really make your document stand out.
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