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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, Adobe's print and interactive page layout application, 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.
Many designs that call for a line, also called the rule, to set above or below a paragraph, especially a heading. Now you could spend all day drawing lines with the Line tool, but you'd be a lot better off using InDesign's Paragraph Rules feature. Let me show you how to do it. I'm going to select this text frame and zoom in to 200% with the Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows and I'd like to place a line underneath this heading. I'll double-click on this to switch to the Type tool and now I'm going to use the Rule Below feature. To get to that feature, I'll go to Control panel flyout menu and choose Paragraph Rules.
Paragraph Rules is actually two different dialog boxes in one. I can set a Rule Below or a Rule Above. They look the same but they control different rules. I can even have two rules on one paragraph. In this case, I'm just going to stick with the Rule Below. To add the rule, I turn the Rule On checkbox. You can see because the Preview checkbox is turned on that I get that line immediately under there. Now right now, that line is way too clunky, so let's fine-tune it. A 1-point rule, too thick. Let's make it thinner.
I'll make it a 0.5-point rule. That looks a little bit better. Instead of a solid line, I'm going to change it to a dotted line. You can see you have all kinds of options here. Right now, it's set to the Text Color. That means whatever color the text is, so will be the line. I'm going to change that to something different like this blue. Now where is the line going to be positioned? Currently, it's exactly at the baseline of the text. But I can move it down by changing the Offset value. I'll move it down maybe two points to give it a little bit more space.
Press Tab and I jump to the next field. That's looking pretty good. I can also change the left and the right indent of this line. If I increase the left indent, it'll move to the right, which would look a little strange. I'm going to move it to the left instead by using a negative left indent. How about -2 points? You can see that it actually moved to the left outside of the text frame. Now the right indent works the same way. I can move it to the left or the right. In this case, I'm going to move it to the right. Let's say about 3 picas. That looks nice! All right, I'll click OK and you can see that we have our rule below.
Now there's a number of interesting effects that you can create using the Paragraph Rules feature. Let me show you another example. I'll scroll down here, place my cursor in a different heading, and then go back to the Paragraph Rules dialog box. I'm going to add a rule below to this paragraph, but this time, I'm going to make it not thinner rather thicker. Maybe I'll make it like 11 points thick. That's a really big line, isn't it? I'm not going to make it a Text Color. Instead, I'm going to make it a light color like this yellow, and finally, I'll change my Offset.
Instead of using a positive number, which will move it down, I'll type in a negative number, like -10 points. You can see that this rule below, which was just a black line, has suddenly turned into a highlighter or I could change the color to some dark color like his dark blue, click OK, and I can select the text and change its color to Paper white. Now I'm actually having the text reverse out of that rule below. Well, that's pretty cool! It just goes to show, sometimes you have to think outside the line.
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