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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.
Everybody knows that in InDesign, leading is character formatting, not paragraph formatting. That is, you can apply leading to a single character and whatever character has the biggest leading on a line of text, wins. That's why if I double-click on this text and change its leading, nothing happens. You need to select some text first. So I'll double-click on that word and it selects the word and I'll change that, and it changes the leading, but only for that one line. Not the whole paragraph.
Again, whatever has the biggest leading, wins; the whole line gets that leading. It's kind of obnoxious because it means you have to select the entire paragraph to change its leading. You could quadruple-click on it if you're that coordinated, four-clicks and then change the leading, let's say to 20 points here, and it affects the entire paragraph. That's a little bit too big. So let's change this down to let's say 17 points. All right, now what about this paragraph down here? You'll often see this in magazines and newspapers that are created in InDesign, because all the lines in the paragraph have the same leading, except for the last one.
There it is, that last line has the wrong leading. Different than everything else. But if I select all the text on that line, you'll see that it all has the same leading, right? So what's the problem? The problem is the invisible paragraph return. That is actually a character and you can see it by going to the Type menu and choosing Show Hidden Characters. It's that character there, the paragraph return, that has the wrong leading applied to it. You can select that and see that it has different leading than everything else. Some of us have been complaining for years about this problem that you can have different leading in different parts of the paragraph because you virtually never want that.
You almost always want all the leading to be the same throughout a paragraph. Fortunately, there's something you can do about it. And it's inside Preferences. In Windows, you find the Preferences dialog box under the Edit menu, but here on the Mac, we go to the InDesign menu and choose Preferences. Either way, you want to choose the Type Preferences and inside Type Preferences, turn on Apply Leading to Entire Paragraphs. When that's on, nothing changes in your document until you start changing the leading. For example, I'll click inside this paragraph and I'll change the leading to something else, let's say 16 points.
You'll see that immediately it changes through the entire paragraph, even though I only have the text cursor flashing inside the paragraph. That's the way I like working and I have that preference turned on in virtually every document I create in InDesign. But there is one instance where I turn that preference off. Let me show you. I'll pan up to the top of the page here and why don't I turn off the Hidden Characters. They are kind of distracting. And I can see that in this headline, it's kind of loose, so I want to make the Leading a little bit tighter. So I'll go in here and click inside and why don't we set this down to something like 60 points.
Okay, I like the way those first two lines look, but this third line, I don't like so much. It almost looks like it has the wrong leading. But I know, it can't have the wrong leading, because that preference was turned on, right? Well, what's going on? This last line has no ascenders, no Hs or Fs or any characters that would reach up into the space, and the second line has no descenders like a J or a G that would reach down, therefore we have a big space here that just doesn't look right. We need to offset that by changing the leading just for the last line of this paragraph.
To do that, I need to go back to Preferences which you can get to by pressing Command+K or Ctrl+K on Windows, choosing the Type pane and I'm going to turn off that preference that I just turned on. When I click OK, again notice that nothing changes. Turning the preference on or off doesn't affect anything in your document until you start making changes. So I'll select this one line here and I'll make this slightly smaller. I just clicked in the Leading field and I'm pressing the Down Arrow key to make that a smaller value. I'll click off here and we can see that it seems to have more even spacing throughout the entire paragraph, even though it technically has less leading on that last line.
Now after I make that change to that one heading, I'm going to go back to the Preferences dialog box and turn that option back on because I want to have it on most of the time. But I think you'll agree that this kind of fine- tuning is the exception rather than the rule. We're not going to do that kind of tweaking very often. So make sure you go back to the Preferences dialog box and turn that option back on before you continue working on your document.
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