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It's easy to get text into InDesign. Just click in a text frame with the Type tool and start typing. But how do you format that text? How do you make it pretty? Let's take a tour through your options for text formatting. I have my brochure document open here from the Exercise Files folder and I'm going to select this central text frame and zoom in to 200% by pressing Cmd+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. To quickly switch to the Type tool, I'll double-click in my text frame. I'd like to format some of this text, so first I select the text that I want to change, then I can have a choice for where I want to make that change.
Many people think they need to use the Character panel, which you get by choosing Window > Type & Tables and then Character. But you know what, I never use this. Why? Because all of these features live up here in the Control panel, so I'm going to put away the Character panel. I just don't need it. When I have text selected, the Control panel shows me everything I need. Now there is something important that you need to know about the Control panel though. When I do have text selected, the Control panel can be in one of two modes, and these modes are controlled by these buttons on the left edge of the Control panel.
The top button shows me the character formatting. The bottom button shows me the paragraph formatting, things that apply to an entire paragraph. To start with I'm going to make sure that this is set to Character Formatting because I want to change things like font and size and so on. I will say however that if you have a really wide monitor, you actually can see both character and paragraph formatting in the Control panel. Then these buttons actually just control which is on the left side of the Control panel. Let's go ahead and see how we can change the font or the typeface of this text.
All the fonts are listed here in the Font pop-up menu. I'll click on that and you can quickly see that there is a long list of fonts on this machine. The current font has a little checkbox next to it. Also pay attention to the little symbol next to the font name. That indicates whether a font is an OpenType font or a TrueType font or if you see a little p1, it means it's a PostScript font. If there are individual font styles within a font family, for example Regular, Italic and Bold, those will appear out here in the submenu.
Now if you know exactly what font you're looking for, you don't have to select it out of this pop-up menu at all. In fact, I'm going to let go of my mouse cursor over here so it won't change my font, and instead I'm going to type-in the name of my font. I could do that by simply clicking in that font field but I'm going to show you a shortcut and that is to press the Cmd+6 or Ctrl+6 keyboard shortcut. That's a really important shortcut because it always jumps to the first field in the Control panel. In this case it jumped to the Font field. I'm going to change this to Myriad, so I type My, and that's all I need to type for it to guess that I want Myriad Pro.
Now I can press the Tab key, which applies that font and jumps to the next field down, which is the Font Style. Inside the Font Style it has all of the different styles within that family. For example if I want semibold, I would simply have to choose Semibold from that menu or type S for semibold, but in this case because I use the menu, it took my cursor out of that field, so I'm going to have to do it manually with my mouse. Now the next field over in the Control panel is the Font Size, right now it's set to 11 point and once again you can choose it out of a menu or type exactly what you want inside this field.
I'll make this a little bit smaller. How about 10.5 points? And again I'll press Tab. Now the next field down is an interesting one. It's the Leading. Leading means the amount of space between one baseline and the next baseline down. Currently the Leading is set to 12.6 points, but that Leading value is inside parentheses. What does that mean? Well, it means that I have Auto-Leading turned on, and Auto-Leading is typically 120% of whatever the font size is.
Auto-Leading is okay if you're just typing a list of things to buy at the grocery or something but in general you want to specify absolute leading so that you know exactly how far it is from one line to the next. In this case I'm going to change that value to 13 points. I'll type 13 pt and hit Enter or Return to jump out of the field. Now I know it's exactly 10.5 points tall on 13 points leading. If you've used the QuarkXPress, you're probably used to leading being a paragraph formatting instead of a character formatting, but here in InDesign it's a character format attribute.
So you need to be careful. Each character on a line can have its own leading. For example, I'll just choose the letter W at the beginning of this and change its leading to something really large, about 30 points. You can see that it added space above that entire line. Why? Because in InDesign, whichever character has the biggest leading wins. In this case this W had 30 points leading, so the whole line gets 30 points leading. That's very different than QuarkXPress and many other applications.
And to be honest it drives me crazy. I don't want to have different leading in the middle of a paragraph most of the time. So fortunately, Adobe gave us a preference, an option for how we want leading to work. I'll go to the InDesign menu on the Mac or the Edit menu on Windows and choose from the Preferences submenu and I'm going to choose Type. That takes me right to the Type pane of the Preferences dialog box, and in here, there is an option called Apply Leading to Entire Paragraphs. I like turning that on and I almost always leave it on because now when I click OK, all the changes to leading will affect an entire paragraph.
Now it doesn't change any paragraphs that have already been formatted but as soon as I make any change to any leading in this paragraph, it'll apply it to every character in that paragraph. For example, I'll change this a here to something different. How about 14 points? You can see that now all the text in this paragraph has 14 point leading. As I've mentioned in an earlier chapter, if I want that preference to be on for all future documents, I'd have to close all my documents and then change that preference while no documents were open.
That'll affect all the new documents I make. Let's look at a little more basic character styling that you need to know about. I'll select all of this text again and come up here to the Control panel and I want to look at these things that are labeled AV. The one on top has to do with kerning. That is, it adjusts the amount of space in between two individual characters. The one on the bottom controls tracking. That is, kerning across a number of different characters. Because I have a whole sentence selected, I'm going to be changing the tracking.
Some people call this range kerning, but it's technically called tracking. If I choose a negative number, it makes all those characters tighter. For example, I'll choose -25 and you'll see that the characters tighten up a bit. Or if you choose a positive number, it stretches them out a bit. I'll choose 50 and you can see that there is extra space between each character. Of course the styling we've looked at so far, the font, size, leading and kerning or tracking, just scratch the surface of what's possible.
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