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This movie is about auto-leading, and why you should avoid it. So that may sound rather glib, but here are the reasons why, beginning with a definition of what auto-leading is. I'm going to select this paragraph. Auto-leading is 120% of your point size. When the leading value appears in parentheses, you know you have auto-leading. That means that if you increase the size of your type, your leading increases with it, and if you decrease the size for your type, your leading decreases with it, which makes it sound like a good idea, and indeed it does look okay when you are working with body text; text at sizes between 8 and 13 points.
However, when you get to larger type sizes, that 1 to 1.2 ratio becomes far too large, especially as is the case here, where we had a headline that is set in all caps. Because it's in all caps, there are no descenders, which makes the two lines of the headline appear further apart. This is on auto-leading, but look how much better it looks when we reduce that leading, bringing those lines closer together, and now there's a clear visual relationship between this, the headline, clearly distinct from this, the strap line. And this could also be improved by adding some line breaks; Shift+Return to carry that down to the next line, and also there.
So I said auto-leading is 120%. It is possible for you to change that, and there may be rare occasions when you need to do so, so let me just point out where that value is. If you come to the panel menu of the control panel, and then down to Justification, we see there the actual percentage of auto-leading. Now, here is a problem that occurs frequently with auto-leading, and I get asked this question a lot: why does the last line of my paragraph have more space above it than the rest of the lines, even when the type size is the same throughout? That's the case with this last paragraph. I've created this problem.
When I use my type cursor, and swipe through that text, we can see that the point size is the same. So what's the problem here? Now, you may remember that I mentioned earlier on how it's a good idea to work with your hidden characters shown. We can get to our hidden characters right there, or under the Type menu right there. I'm now going to switch to Normal view mode by pressing the W key. I already have my hidden characters turned on. And the problem is that somehow -- and it's very easy for this to happen -- that hidden character has different formats applied to it than the rest of the text.
It is at a larger type size. And I know I said that auto-leading is 120% of your type size; more precisely, it's 120% of the largest piece of type on the line, and in this case, the largest piece of type is that invisible character. So we can always make sure that this problem doesn't happen by working with our hidden characters shown, and when we want to select a whole paragraph, rather than swiping through the paragraph, like so, and possibly not including that hidden character in the selection, we can make sure that we click four times to include it. Now, because I'm selecting text with mixed formats, my point size is blank, but when I set that back to 11, the problem is now solved.
So, in summary, I'd say don't use auto-leading; it's much better to have control over the exact amount of spacing between your lines. You want to be in control in setting the rhythm of your document, rather than leaving it to some somewhat random percentage of your point size. Now, typography has a number of rules associated with it, and in applying those rules, I'm trying to not say too often the words always and never.
And indeed, there is an exception to the rule never use auto-leading, and that exception is when you're working with inline graphics. I'll be addressing that in a movie coming up very shortly.
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