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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.
There is nothing technically wrong with this column of text, but we can make it look far better with a single click. Look at this right margin, we have justified text, and we can see that the hyphens and the commas and so on push the text in, off the edge of the text frame just a little bit. But it's enough that it's visually different. We have sort of an uneven line down the right edge. Don't like that, but look what happens if I select the text frame, go to the Type Menu and choose Story. That opens the Story panel and I can turn on Optical Margin Alignment.
When OMA, or Optical Margin Alignment, is turned on, InDesign pushes hyphenation outside of the margins just a little bit, so that you get a more visually even line. It just looks that much better. But it's not just the hyphens and commas and periods and other punctuation, it's every character. InDesign literally analyzes every character and sees whether it should push out a little bit to the left or to the right to make a more even line. That's why on the left side you will see the V is pushing out just a tiny bit.
Capital T will push out even more. The quotation marks also push out. The headline also pushes a little bit out of the text frame, but we are not getting an even line at all. I typically would want that capital T to line up with a capital A beneath it. The reason we are not getting more hung punctuation there is because of this setting in the bottom of the Story panel. This is currently being optimized for 12-point text. I could make it much larger, like 36 points, but then you will see it messes up all the other text.
So I need to have something in between. I am going to set this back to 12 point, and instead I am going to manually push that quote mark out into the margin. I can do that by double- clicking to switch to the Type tool. I'll press the Left-Arrow key to place the text at the beginning of the story before that quote, and I'll press a space, just a Spacebar, that's all. Now I am going to apply a large amount of negative kerning to pull that line back. I'll go up to the kerning field of the Control panel and set this to, let's say -700.
That's a huge amount, but it's just enough to get that T back in line where I want it. Often when you do this kind of thing you get a little bit of screen re-drop problem, that is the screen all of a sudden is not accurately reflecting with the way the final document will look. If you simply zoom in or zoom out, that usually clears up. For example, I'll press Command+Plus to zoom in a little bit and you'll see that there is the quote looking just fine. Now let's say, I go and show this to my Art Director and she says, I love the way this looks, nice even columns, I love this quote hanging out in the side, looks beautiful.
But down here I have this quote hanging out as well and she might not like that. It's a funny thing, but some people really don't like having those quotes sticking out in the left margin. But there is a weird trick we can use here to actually push that quote back inside the margin and make it more palatable to people who don't like it. So I am going to click here and then I'll press the Left Arrow to move to the left side of that quote mark. And then I am going to press any small character. I'll just press a Period--you could use a Comma or a Single Quote or anything small and it typically will work fine.
You can't use a Space like we did earlier with that quote, because we are in the middle of a paragraph. I could type as many spaces as I want here and it simply does nothing, because InDesign ignores them. So I have to type an actual character, like this Period. Now I don't want that dot to show up, so I'll select it, I am going to make the color None, that makes it disappear, and I'll also set the size to something really small like 2 points. So now it's invisible and takes up almost no space, but it gets hung out in the margin instead of the quote. My Art Director is happy.
The only thing you need to watch out for here is if you ever export this document out as HTML or EPUB, something like that, because that dot will actually still be there, you'll need to strip it out before you do that. Obviously, this level of fine tuning is not required if you are throwing together a quick newsletter, but if you really care about how your page looks, it's worth taking a little extra time to enable Optical Margin Alignment and then tweaking when necessary.
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