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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.
If you're a careful typesetter, one thing that really drives you buggy are runts, and runts are distinguished from widows and orphans because what they refer to is a short, final line in a paragraph. Well, I guess you'd call it a too short final line. Obviously, there's always going to be a short final line in a paragraph whether it's fully justified like this or left-justified. This--it really depends on your taste and your house style, but that this might be considered too short. Even though it's two words, it's very short; two small words, or even a single full word that is the last bit as often considered a runt by some people.
And this is almost always considered a runt which is a hyphenated, like a half of a word, as the last line of a paragraph. All right! So that's what we mean by runts. Widows and orphans are like the one single entire line of a paragraph that falls by itself at the bottom or the top of a column. So what are some ways that we can use to stop the runts to prevent them? Let me show you a couple of manual ways and then also a really cool automated way that you can use. So the manual ways I think most people use are to select two or three words at the end of a paragraph and to apply the No Break style to that selection.
No Break prevents the selection from breaking. And because InDesign uses the Paragraph Composer as the default typesetting engine, it's going to recast the entire paragraph in order to keep my selection together. It might re-break some lines above or below. We don't know if this is going to bring it up or down. It's really up to the paragraph composer. So it's a much better way than actually kerning this text in, which you might be wanting to do. Don't ever do that. Instead just select it and choose No Break.
So No Break is available from under the Control panel menu, on the right choose No Break; or if you have the Character panel open for some bizarre reason, it appears there as well. All right, so it recasts the entire paragraph so that the lines don't look too spaced-in or spaced-out, but these three words were brought up to the previous line. Let me undo. A faster way to locate the No Break command, because this is kind of a pain, always going up here, is by pressing Command+Return or Ctrl+Enter on a PC keyboard, which opens up Quick Apply.
In Quick Apply, you can just type the words no break, like n-o, and here it's already coming up because I've created a character style called no break. If I continue typing you see that it comes up as the menu command, No Break. So it's a faster way often to just use the keyboard to apply the No Break command rather than having to mouse over to the Control panel. I'm going to undo. And so you saw that I've already created a character style called no break. If I edit this style, you'll see that the only thing it does is apply the No Break command to the selection.
So I don't have to worry about it changing the font size or the leading or the color or the typeface of the selection. All it does is apply No Break. And that's often a better way to do this because it's easy to find. You can search for this character style. Now this problem over here, I would actually--instead of selecting this and saying No Break because I don't want it to hyphenate, the problem here is that somebody accidentally messed up the paragraph style. Let me go to the Paragraph Style panel and edit the body style, or actually, I don't want to edit the entire style; I just want to edit it for this one paragraph.
I'm going to come up over here and come down to hyphenation. For this one paragraph somebody--okay, it was me, just to show you, left Hyphenate Last Word enabled. I believe that InDesign added this feature in CS4, or could have been CS5, and they had turned on by default so that if there was a last long word, it would go ahead and hyphenate and seriously, nobody likes to see this because it's just jarring to see. So you should turn this off so that the last word will never hyphenate in a paragraph. And you might also want to turn off Hyphenate Capitalized Words which was turned on for this paragraph as well.
You never have to worry about the last line looking too spaced-out or too tight because remember, the paragraph composer will always recast the paragraph to make sure that the white space in between the words is equalized throughout the entire paragraph. I love that about InDesign. All right, So that was one way by applying No Break. Another way is to use the Nonbreaking Space. So here in this paragraph, I can actually--it might be a little easier in the Story Editor to select this. I'm going to go up to the Story Editor, and the space in between rapidly and up to, I could select that space and then replace it with a Nonbreaking Space, and then it brought up the word up and so I'd have the same thing and add that Nonbreaking Space between the last two words.
And then as soon as I close this, then you see it's fixed, and this is the hidden character for a Nonbreaking Space. Some people prefer this way, because if you use the no break character style or No Break command as local formatting, you can't see it. You can't tell that that's the reason that these words are falling where they are unless you add like a yellow highlight to your character style for no break and then remove that at the end. There are all sorts of tricks. So a lot of people prefer to just add this kind of thing. And there are a couple scripts out there that will automatically search for the last couple words in your paragraphs and replace the spaces between them with this Nonbreaking Space.
And I'm going to undo because I want to show you another way, an automated way. Okay, so that's two ways: manually apply No Break or add Nonbreaking Spaces in between the last two or three words. The last way that I want to show you is with a GREP style. So I'm going to edit my body style. That's what these paragraphs are all using. And I've already entered the GREP style here but it's not in effect yet because I preceded it with this asterisk. This is a little trick for people who are into GREP styles that you can add a GREP style but not have it work by simply preceding it with an Asterisk.
It's sort of like commenting it out. So if I remove the asterisk, let me tell you what this does before I click in the gray area to make it go into effect. It's going to apply my character style called no break to text that fits this pattern. What the heck is this pattern? It's not looking for number 10. What it's looking for is the end of the paragraph; that's what that symbol means, the dollar bill sign, it's looking for a location, the end of the paragraph. The ten characters preceding the end of the paragraph, it's going to apply the no break style to it.
So if I click in the gray area, you can see that it immediately fixed both of these instances. Let me click OK and show you. Because the word Mission with the period was fewer than ten characters, it went ahead and applied no break to all that. In fact, if you open up Character Styles and click here, you can see down here that as part of the paragraph style, it has applied this GREP style of no break to this character, this character, this character, all the way up to until we get ten spaces out, and then there's nothing counted here.
So Periods and spaces and punctuation are all counted as part of that ten. The same thing for down here. So it got up to ten and then the word just hyphenated, which is perfectly fine. Now perhaps ten is too much or too little for you. You can always go to that paragraph style and edit it and say, it's okay if there are--let's make this 7 and see what happens. So here Mission stayed by itself because it is more than seven characters, but up to became--got the previous word hyphenated, so that you'd have more than seven characters in the last line. So there you go! Just use period, open curly bracket, the number of characters, close curly bracket, and the dollar bill sign.
And if you want to play around with this without having it go into effect, use my trick of adding an asterisk as the very first character and now we have the GREP style saved but it's not actually in effect yet. So three ways to stop the runts and make your type look much better.
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