InDesign CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Setting tabs


InDesign CS6 Essential Training

with David Blatner

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Video: Setting tabs

If you're trying to line up text in columns, you might find tabs to be useful. I have my table of contents here in my cover and front matter file file from the exercise folder. I am going to zoom in here, and take a look at what's going on. I can see that these numbers at the end of each line don't line up properly. I can also see these blue characters in here. For example, the paragraph symbol at the end of each paragraph, a little dot where each space is, and then over here, this double angle bracket called guillemet; that's the Tab character.
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  1. 1m 23s
    1. What is InDesign?
      1m 23s
  2. 2m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 38s
  3. 21m 19s
    1. Getting started
      3m 33s
    2. Adding or editing text
      3m 23s
    3. Adding or replacing graphics
      4m 31s
    4. Moving objects around
      4m 55s
    5. Printing and creating a PDF
      4m 57s
  4. 26m 6s
    1. Exploring the application window
      6m 25s
    2. Navigating and magnifying pages and objects
      6m 24s
    3. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 35s
    4. Working with panels
      3m 58s
    5. Setting the view quality of artwork
      2m 31s
    6. Adjusting view and preview settings
      4m 13s
  5. 27m 52s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 39s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      4m 2s
    3. Saving for CS4 and CS5 with IDML
      2m 24s
    4. Setting the margin and column guides
      4m 29s
    5. Putting ruler guides on the page
      5m 7s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 11s
  6. 23m 37s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      4m 32s
    2. Changing page size
      4m 38s
    3. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 18s
    4. Overriding master page items
      2m 43s
    5. Adding page numbering
      2m 22s
    6. Changing page numbering with sections
      4m 4s
  7. 52m 48s
    1. Understanding text frames
      3m 38s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 48s
    3. Inserting special characters
      4m 1s
    4. Importing text
      3m 47s
    5. Threading text frames
      3m 12s
    6. Setting text frame columns
      4m 31s
    7. Setting text inset and vertical justification options
      3m 48s
    8. Allowing text frames to grow and shrink
      4m 5s
    9. Putting text on a path
      5m 51s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      5m 10s
    11. Checking spelling
      5m 12s
    12. Using Find/Change
      4m 45s
  8. 28m 19s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 20s
    2. Using the Links panel
      7m 17s
    3. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 10s
    4. Fitting graphics to the frame
      5m 1s
    5. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 31s
  9. 35m 49s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 2s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      5m 6s
    3. Colorizing images
      1m 59s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 4s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      3m 33s
    6. Using other transparency effects
      5m 15s
    7. Copying and formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 59s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 51s
  10. 18m 34s
    1. Creating color swatches
      4m 33s
    2. Understanding the danger and power of unnamed colors
      5m 46s
    3. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 53s
    4. Applying gradients
      4m 22s
  11. 15m 27s
    1. Editing frame and path shapes
      5m 8s
    2. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      4m 8s
    3. Making polygons and starbursts
      1m 59s
    4. Creating text outlines
      4m 12s
  12. 37m 56s
    1. Positioning objects with the Gap tool
      3m 54s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 5s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      5m 27s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 33s
    5. Grouping and locking objects
      3m 10s
    6. Nesting objects
      3m 23s
    7. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 20s
    8. Understanding text wrap
      5m 51s
    9. Using anchored objects
      6m 13s
  13. 26m 17s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 37s
    2. Collecting, conveying, and placing content
      8m 58s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 22s
    4. Scaling objects
      4m 21s
    5. Skewing objects
      1m 9s
    6. Mirroring objects
      3m 50s
  14. 24m 19s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 31s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 28s
    3. Changing case
      3m 23s
    4. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      5m 3s
    5. Using Find Font
      3m 54s
  15. 33m 11s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 5s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      2m 10s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      1m 52s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 26s
    5. Setting tabs
      7m 55s
    6. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 23s
    7. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 10s
    8. Numbering paragraphs
      6m 10s
  16. 19m 47s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 10s
    2. Using character styles
      4m 45s
    3. Editing and redefining styles
      2m 20s
    4. Using object styles
      2m 47s
    5. Applying styles with Quick Apply
      3m 45s
  17. 39m 59s
    1. Creating a table
      4m 29s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      4m 36s
    3. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      3m 0s
    4. Formatting a table
      4m 32s
    5. Formatting cells
      6m 2s
    6. Applying table styles
      5m 33s
    7. Placing graphics in cells
      3m 1s
    8. Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 46s
  18. 16m 45s
    1. Building a multi-document book
      7m 27s
    2. Creating "continued on..." jump lines
      3m 51s
    3. Constructing a table of contents (TOC)
      5m 27s
  19. 23m 8s
    1. Exporting EPUBs
      6m 12s
    2. Creating an interactive PDF
      12m 49s
    3. Building a Flash SWF
      4m 7s
  20. 28m 1s
    1. Checking a document with the Preflight panel
      5m 26s
    2. Packaging for output
      3m 34s
    3. Using the Print dialog box
      4m 52s
    4. Printing a small booklet
      2m 46s
    5. Exporting a PDF
      7m 56s
    6. Exporting text
      3m 27s
  21. 1m 25s
    1. Next steps
      1m 25s

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign CS6 Essential Training
8h 24m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

InDesign is an essential tool for design firms, ad agencies, magazines, newspapers, book publishers, and freelance designers around the world. This course presents the core features and techniques that make this powerful page layout application fun and easy to use. Author David Blatner shows how to navigate and customize the workspace, manage documents and pages, work with text frames and graphics, export and print finished documents, explore creating interactive documents, and much more. He also covers popular topics such as EPUBs and long documents and includes advice on working with overset text, unnamed colors, and other troublesome issues that may arise for first-time designers.

Topics include:
  • Getting started in just 30 minutes: the quick start guide to InDesign
  • Understanding your workspace
  • Creating and setting up new documents
  • Creating and applying master pages
  • Entering and editing text
  • Placing graphics
  • Working with color and gradients
  • Editing frame and path shapes
  • Working with layers, objects, and groups
  • Rotating and scaling objects
  • Applying character and paragraph formatting
  • Using styles
  • Creating and formatting tables
  • Exporting to EPUB and interactive PDF
  • Packaging, printing, and exporting your final document
David Blatner

Setting tabs

If you're trying to line up text in columns, you might find tabs to be useful. I have my table of contents here in my cover and front matter file file from the exercise folder. I am going to zoom in here, and take a look at what's going on. I can see that these numbers at the end of each line don't line up properly. I can also see these blue characters in here. For example, the paragraph symbol at the end of each paragraph, a little dot where each space is, and then over here, this double angle bracket called guillemet; that's the Tab character.

That's how I know there is a Tab character there, and the reason I'm seeing those blue characters is because I have hidden characters turned on. You can make hidden characters visible or invisible by going to the Type menu, and choosing Show or Hide Hidden Characters, way down here at the bottom, or you can press Command+Option+I, or Control+Alt+I to do the same thing. However, when you're working with tabs, it's a good idea to have your hidden characters turned on, so you can see where those tabs are. I am going to go ahead and double-click here before the 3, and I am going to press a Tab, then I will add some more tabs in here; there we go.

And now you can see I have tabs before each of those characters, but they still don't line up. Well, that's because the tabs, by default, always go to the nearest tab stop. And the tab stops, by default, unless you have changed them manually, always go about every half inch across the text frame. You might be tempted to come over here and start adding additional tabs, but don't do it; let me delete those. There are three ground rules you need to keep in mind if you're going to be using tabs. First, never type a Tab at the beginning of a paragraph in order to create an indent.

That's what the Left Indent and the First Line Indent feature are for. I talked about those earlier in this chapter. Second, never type two tab characters in a row. If you want your tab to take you farther than a half inch, then set a tab stop where you want to put it. I am going to show you how to do that in just a moment. Finally, if you're using tabs to make something that looks suspiciously like a table, it probably is a table, and you should probably use InDesign's table features, instead of tabs. I cover tables in a later chapter. And here, even though it's a table of contents, it doesn't really look like a table, so it's okay to use tabs.

Now let's set that tab stop. First, I need to select all the paragraphs that I want to affect; in this case, it's everything from that first paragraph down to the end. There we go. I've selected it. Now I will scroll back up, and set my Tab Stop. In order to add a tab stop, I need to open the Tab panel, and I can find that in the Type menu. But before I do that, I want to do a little trick; But first, I want to scroll up a little bit, just so I can see the top of this text frame. You don't have to do that, but it turns out to be really useful, because now when I open the Tab panel, it automatically snaps to the beginning of that text frame.

Otherwise, it'll just kind of be loosely floating around the page. To add a tab stop, all you do is click in this blank area along the top of the ruler, and when you click and drag, you can see a black line show up that indicates exactly where the tab stop is going to be. I'll move this one way over to the right edge of that text frame, and let go of the mouse button. All those numbers after the tabs are lined up. Unfortunately, they're lined up on the left edge, and I would like to have these lined up along the right edge. That's okay; I can do that.

While this tab stop is still selected -- you will see a little blue line around it -- I can go to the left edge of the tab stop, and click on the Right-Justified Tab icon. When I do that, it turns this tab stop into a right-aligned tab stop. Now the tab goes up to that point, and then all the text is flushed on the right side. I am going to drag that now a little bit farther to the right, to be up almost to the right edge of this column. If you know exactly where you want that tab stop to be, you can select it inside the Tab panel, and go over here to the X field.

I am going to change this from 26 picas, to 26 picas 6, and hit Enter, and you'll see that it snaps it exactly to that point. Of course, we can have additional tab stops as well. I'm going to create a new tab stop in the middle here, and then set that to be a center-aligned tab stop. I'll come down here, and add an additional tab. So I say Tab, and then I'll put some text; maybe the letter A, then another Tab, and then the number. Because this is a centered tab stop, as I type, the text will always be centered on that point.

In this case, that's not what I wanted to do; I just wanted to show you I could do it. So I am going to select all of that, delete it, and I'll also delete this tab stop. To delete a tab stop, simply drag it right out of the ruler. Pop! It's gone. Now I've removed that tab stop, but I only removed it from the one paragraph where my text cursor was. So I better come back here, and select all this text over again; there we go. I'll click up there, and then Shift+Click down here to select everything in between, and then remove that tab stop one more time. There we go! Now we are back to the way it's supposed to be.

This is looking pretty good. Let's go ahead and turn off Hidden Characters, because we know where the tabs are now. That looks pretty good, except the space is way too big. It's too hard for me to follow my eye across from the words to the number. It would be helpful to have maybe some dots, or something to lead my eye from one side to the other, and the keyword there is lead. What we want is a leader. I am going to Shift+Click up here to add that paragraph to my selection, and then I'm going to add a leader character.

To do that, I select the tab stop in the Tab panel; it's now highlighted. I can click in the Leader field, and then type any character I want. I'll press a dot, or a Period, hit Return or Enter, and you can see that I now have leader characters between the text and the numbers. This is really starting to look good, but there is one more problem just lurking in the wings, waiting to jump out at me. I am going to switch to the Selection tool, and I am going to change the width of this text frame.

I'll drag it a little bit narrower. What happens? Bad stuff happens. All the numbers break to the next line, because the tab goes as far as it can in this text frame, all the way to the end, and it still can't get to its tab stop, so it breaks to the second line. Well, that's just the problem with tab stops. To fix this, I would have to go in and move my tab stop for those paragraphs closer to the left, so that it'll fit on the line again. But there's one other solution you can do instead, and that is, instead of using a tab, you could use a right-align tab.

You can select a Tab inside of a text frame the same way you select any other character. I'll double-click on this to switch the Type tool, and then just drag over it. Now the Tab is selected, so I'll delete it. Now I am going to insert a special kind of Tab. I won't press Tab; instead, I'll press Shift+Tab, and Shift+Tab is a right-align tab. That is, it always aligns with the right edge of the margin. Right-align tabs are really helpful. Let's go ahead and replace some of these other ones as well. I'll replace that with a Shift+Tab, and this with a Shift+Tab, and this with a Shift+Tab; you get the idea.

Now all of these are aligned along the right edge of this text frame, so that if I change the text frame width, those numbers automatically stretch with them. In a later chapter, I show you how to make a table of contents, and automatically use that right-align tab. For now, though, you can see that these tab and tab stop features are essential tools that will take you a long way toward making sure your documents look good.

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