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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.
Here is an interesting situation. Let's say that you are formatting some text as a bulleted list, like I have here on the right. And it looks pretty nice. I'm using Automatic Bullets in InDesign with a special bullet character as the bullet. Now let's say that you want this bulleted text to wrap around a curve, like this guy. If I select this object and I go to Text Wrap, and I say we just want a normal square text wrap, wrap around the bounding box, then when I select this object with the Selection tool, and we drag it to the right, and turn on wrap around bounding box, then the bullets behave normally.
They just move over. Well, actually we're getting a little issue here with the hanging indent. So that's actually a problem. But even more so, is what happens when you want it to wrap around a curve. So if I said wrap around the shape of this curve, now even the space between the bullet and the first line of text changes, let alone losing the hanging indent. So here it was with the bounding box, at least there the space remained the same, and now it's all really messed up. So I know a lot of people, when they want to have this effect, they just decide to change their mind, and they go after a different effect. Or if they really want this, they do it by hand by adding forced line breaks, and using spaces to get things to sort of align.
But there is actually a way to do this in InDesign, and I've already done it, as an example here. On this page, if we look at it in Preview Mode, you can see that this text wraps around the curve, and the space is about the same. It needs a little bit of finessing, but we are almost all the way there. So how is this done? Let's do it to this example right here. There are two things that you need to do. First, the character that goes in between the bullet, and the first character of the first line needs to be an Em or an En Space.
It needs to be a flexible space. It can't just be a tab. So select all the text here, and then go to the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, and here's a quick way to get there; if it's not part of the style, which this isn't part of the style. Go up to the Bulleted List button in the Control panel, and then hold down the Option or the Alt key, and click, and it's a quick shortcut right to that dialog box. If you forget that, you have to go to the Control Panel menu over here, and then choose Bullets and Numbering from there. So this field right here, the default, is to add a tab after the bullet, but instead of a tab, we want to add an Em Space or an En Space.
So here is an Em Space, and I have Preview turned on, so we can see what happens, or if we want to say an En Space, right from this little triangle right there. Let's leave it at En space for now. We're going to come back here to fiddle around with the bullet and numbering position. The other thing that you want to do is though we do want this to wrap around this curve, the problem is that we lose the hanging indents when it wraps around the curve. So we actually need to change the shape of this text frame and you can do that.
I'm going to lock this guy, so we don't accidentally mess him up. I am just going to go to Object > Lock. You can do that by creating a curve yourself that follows the curve of the path that you want to wrap around. So what I'm doing is I'm trying to get it to match the wrap that I want. We're not going to actually keep this ellipse on the page, so you can fiddle with it as much as you can. It makes no difference if it has a stroke as this one does. And then what we're going to do--see this part of the curve where it overlaps the rectangular text frame? We're going to cut that out, so that we can have a curve on the side of this frame.
That's how this one works. See? There is a curve on the side of the frame. You can do this yourself with the Pen tool, and the Direct Selection tool, but it's a lot easier to just drag a curve on top, and then select both that curve, and the frame. Make sure the frame is below it, by the way. And then, in your Pathfinder panel which is open here, but if it's not open, you can find it from Object & Layout flyout menu > Pathfinder. What we're going to do is subtract the shape of the uppermost object from the one selected behind it.
So Subtract is this icon right here in the Pathfinder panel, and now we've sort of bitten out the shape and you can see that we're getting a little closer to what we want. Now it's simply a matter of selecting all the text, and then going up to the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, and experimenting with changing the left indent and first line indent. So for example, if I made the first line indent, let's make the left indent a little bit more, and make sure that Preview is turned on so you can see what's happening, and then maybe--there we go.
That looks pretty good right there. I'll just leave it like that, 1p10, 1p10, this is the most we can do. You can see now at least we have the same amount of space from bullet to the first letter, and the hanging indent is still being maintained. So it's two steps: change the space between the bullet, and the first line of text from a hard tab to an Em Space or an En Space, some kind of variable space, and the second one is to change the shape of the frame containing the bullets, so that its curve matches the wrap of the object that you want to appear to be pushing into the text.
And then finally, with a little experimenting with the Offset measures for the first line indent, you arrive at a solution that's pretty elegant, and a lot simpler than doing all this by hand.
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