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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.
If you've ever framed some artwork to hang on your wall, you know that there's all kinds of ways to present an image inside of a frame, the same goes for text inside a text frame. The key to arranging your text in your frame is the text frame Options dialog box. Now, I've chosen a text frame here. I've selected it with the Selection tool, so I'll go to the Object menu and choose Text Frame Options from the Object menu or you can press Command+B or Ctrl+B on Windows. The text frames Options gives me a number of controls, the first of which is Columns. You can see that this text frame currently has one column.
It goes all the way from the left edge of the frame to the right edge and this is just too wide for my taste. I'd like to split into two columns. Now I could have made two different text frames I suppose and then threaded them together and so on but that's just too much work. I would rather just make one text frame and then change the Number of Columns to 2. Here we go. It's the simple as that. I just click that little up arrow there and it increased this to two different columns in one frame. Now the space in between those columns is called the Gutter and you can control that here in this field.
Right now it's .3 inches, if you wanted to make it little bit bigger you could just change this to some other number. I'll change that to .4 and then I'll press Tab and because the Preview checkbox is turned on, when I hit Tab which is just the little shortcut for jumping from one field to the next inside of dialog box, when I press that Tab, it updated automatically on the page. So that's kind of handy. So we can see here inside the text frame Options dialog box, there are two columns in this frame with .4 inches in between the columns and the Width is 3.47. InDesign figured out this number for me.
It just figured that out based on width of the frame and then it figured out the Number of the columns and the amount of Gutter space, it figured out there was this amount of space. So that's kind of handy. I'm going to go ahead and click OK and point out something which is that if I change the width of this right now it changes the Width of the columns but it will not change the width of the Gutter. So that's kind of handy but it can cause problems because in some publications you don't want the Width of your column to change. For example, a magazine or a newspaper where you have a very specific Column Width that you don't want it to change.
So let's go ahead and open up that dialog box again. Press Command+B or Ctrl+B on Windows and I want to point out that the width has changed. I could say that I want this to be exactly 3.5 inches. Isn't that cool? And then I'll click OK and you'll see that now it has figured out that this is 3.5 inches, this is 3.5 inches, this is the Gutter width that I've specified and make sure it's exactly the correct amount but as soon as I go here and nudge the size of this text frame, I've messed up my Column Width again. So once again I've got a problem. It's okay.
InDesign has a solution for this. I'll open up the text frame Options one more time, and I want to point out that after I change this to the Column Width that I wanted, 3.5 inches, I believe is what it was, I can turn on a checkbox called Fixed Column Width and when Fixed Column Width is turned on then I am sure that I will always get that 3.5 inch wide column. Here is what happens. If I try and come in here and make it narrower, it snaps wide again. It won't let me nudge that. In fact if I go wider than this, InDesign automatically just adds a third column.
It says, oh I bet you want another 3.5 inch column over here. So that's very handy again for magazines, newspapers, anyone who needs a very clear column width, wants to use that fixed column width feature inside the text frame Options dialog box. That's pretty nifty. I'm going to go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of my page here and apply multiple columns to this text frame at the bottom of the page as well. Once again Command+B or Ctrl+B. I'll increase the Number of columns here to let's say 3 columns for all this little boilerplate legal text and now I want to point out another feature inside the text frame Options dialog box, Balance Columns.
This is a new feature in CS5 and it's so cool. Balance columns help you with the problem that a lot of people have where you have too much space in the final column. See how I filled the first two columns but the third column is empty at the bottom. A lot of people want to bottom out these columns. That is, make sure that you have an equal amount of text in each column. So you don't have a lot of white space at the end and typically the way people fix this is by changing the height of this text frame until it fits. Well, InDesign will do it for you if you turn on the Balance Column checkbox.
That's all you need to do now, turn on Balance Columns and it will automatically add space at the bottom of the text frame. It sort of insets it, until all three columns are as equal as possible. Of course some times you won't have an equal number of lines and so it may not be exactly right but it will do it as close as it can, so that you have an equal amount of space and bottoms out. So that's the very, very handy feature inside the text frame Options dialog box. I'm going to click OK and look at this text frame up here. This special requests item in this form is right up against the edge of the frame and in fact, if I go into Preview Mode by pressing W, you'll see there is a thin gray line around it and the text is just bumping right up against that line.
It just looks ugly. I want to move it down and in kind of like this payment method is down and in from the edge here. I want to move it in, so it's not touching that line, how would I do that? Well, I can use the text frame Options dialog box for that too. Once again, choose it from the Object menu and move it over here so we can see it better and I want to point out the Inset Spacing fields inside this dialog box. Inset Spacing means how far from the edge do you want the text to set? And you have four controls here of course top, bottom, left and right and you also have this little weird item right there that looks like an exploding piece of popcorn or something but if you click on that, it turns into a link icon and all of that means is it makes sure all of your four fields are linked together, so you have this same number in all four sides.
That's just a little convenience for you so you don't have to type the same number four times if you want them to be the same. Click it again and they're unlinked and now can have different values in each field. In this case I'm going to have the same value in all four fields and I'm going to make it oh let's say 9 points so I just press P9 and hit Tab and it automatically converted it into inches so that's the measurement system, I'm working on this document. So we can set it exactly 9 points. I'll click OK and I'll deselect this object just by clicking in this white area here and you can see that the text is now moved away from that gray line, which is exactly the effect that I was looking for.
When you're trying to get your text to look just so on your page, don't forget about the text frame Options dialog-box. In the next movie, I'll continue this discussion of the text frame Options dialog box, showing you why you want to pay attention to a vertical alignment and baseline position.
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