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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, the print and interactive page layout application from Adobe, in InDesign CS5 Essential Training. The course shows how to create new documents with strong and flexible master pages, precisely position text and graphics, prepare documents for print, and export designs as interactive PDF or Flash SWF files. Exercise files are included with the course.
Bullets help draw the reader's eye to the first line of each item in a list. But adding bullets to a list can be an exercise in frustration when you don't understand how they work. There are two ways to do bullets in InDesign, manually and automatic. First, let me show you how to make them manually. I'm going to zoom in on this text here and I want to add a bullet before the word Red. So I'll double-click there to switch to the Type tool and I'll type my own bullet. You can get a basic bullet by pressing Opt+8 or Alt+8 on Windows.
Now I'll press the Tab key. I have bulleted this paragraph but it looks a little clunky. I would like that bullet to hang out in the left margin. To do that I first need to give the whole paragraph a left indent. Let's say 1 pica. I'll press Tab and it jumps to the Right Indent. I'll press Tab again and it jumps to the First-line Indent. Currently the first line is flush with the rest of the paragraph but I want it to hang out in the margin, remember? So I'm going to set it to a -1 pica or -12 points and press Return or Enter.
Now the bullet is hanging out to the left or the rest of the paragraph. That's called a hanging indent and once again you create that by making a positive left indent and a negative firs-line indent. However, that first-line indent cannot be greater than that left indent. That is you cannot make the bullet sit outside the text frame. InDesign just doesn't let you do that. So that's how you add a bullet manually. Kind of a hassle, huh? Let's see how to do it automatically. I'm going to press Cmd+Z or Ctrl+Z a few times to get rid of all of that and let's select all of this text and add bullets to it.
Ready, here is how to do it the automatic way. I go up to the Control panel and I click on the Bullet button. Done. The only problem with this is that they look kind of clunky. I'd like to fine-tune them a little bit. Maybe change the bullet to something little more special, change the amount of space between the bullet and the text, and so on. To do that I need to open the Bullets and Numbering dialog box and I can get that from the Control panel fly-out menu by choosing Bullets and Numbering. But as you know by now if I can do something without using a menu I will.
So I'm going to get to the same place by Option or Alt+Clicking on the Bullets button. You can remember that it's the Option or Alt key because it gives you options for these bullets. The first thing we notice is that there is a list of different kinds of bullet characters. There are regular bullets, asterisks, this diamond-shape, this guillemet and I don't know what that's doing here. I'm going to go ahead and delete that character by clicking the Delete button, and instead I want to choose a bullet that I most want because none of those look good to me. So I'll click the Add button and it gives me this Add buttons dialog box.
I can choose any character from any font on my system. In this case I'm going to type-in Min to jump to Minion Pro and choose a font style down here. Regular is pretty good. I am now looking at every character inside Minion Pro and I can scroll through here until I find a character that I like. I picked Minion Pro because I happened to know it has a lot of cool ornaments in it. So I'll just scroll down here until I find something that looks pretty. There is something kind of Floral for my Floral catalog. Let's click OK and then choose that as my bullet character.
I could click OK to see that take effect, but instead I'm going to click the Preview checkbox. That way I can see it take effect without closing the dialog box. That's good, because I want to make a few more changes here. For example, let's change the Indent so that the text is a little bit closer. Currently it's set to 18 points. I'm going to make it a little bit closer. But remember how I said that you can not have a negative first-line indent that's bigger than your left indent? So I have to change my first-line indent first. It's kind of an annoying feature in InDesign but that's the way it works. I'll change this to -14 points and then I'll change this to 14 points. There we go! Now the text is actually a little bit closer to the bullet.
When we made the manual bullet we created a bullet and then pressed Tab. InDesign is also making our automatic bullets by typing the bullet character and following it with a Tab, and I can tell that because the Text After field is set to ^T. ^T is code for Tab. If I wanted to change that to something else other than a Tab I would click on this little triangle off to the side and you can see you can choose any of these special characters and InDesign will type the code for you. In this case however, I'm going to leave it set to Tab. Now the last thing I'm going to do here is change the character style.
I'll talk about styles in a later chapter but in this document I've already gone ahead and added a style for us to use called Bullets. And when I do that you can see that it's changed the color and the size of each of these bullets. It's styled them.
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