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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, the print and interactive page layout application from Adobe, 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.
This heading, Desert to Sea, looks really dorky, doesn't it? I mean it's all squished into this narrow column and this text frame is a multicolumn frame. I can see that by selecting it, going to Object, and choosing Text Frame Options. There we go. It's a two-column frame, two columns inside the one frame. Let me click OK and here's the problem. I want that heading to span across both columns. Now, you might think that you'd have to create a whole new text frame in order to do that.
But here in InDesign CS5 you don't , because there's a feature called Span Columns. Let me show you how it works. To span this column, first I need to place my cursor in the frame. So I'll double click on it to switch to the Type tool and place the cursor inside this text. Then I'm going to go all the way over to the right edge of the Control panel and choose Span Columns from the Control panel menu. The Span Columns dialog box lets me specify how many columns this paragraph should span.
Right now, it's set to just Single Column. But if I change this to Span Columns, all of a sudden you'll see because the Preview checkbox is turned on, you can see that it spans across both columns. Now you can specify exactly how many columns you wanted to span but in this case, a two-column text frame, it doesn't really matter. We're just going to span across all of them. You can also control the space before and after it. In this case, I want to add a bunch of space after here to push the text down. So I'll set this down to how about 3 picas or something like that.
Click OK and you can see all that text moves down. Okay, let's go ahead and do the same thing to this blue paragraph but instead of going to the Control panel menu, I'm just going to use the control in the Control panel. Right here where it says None, that pop-up menu lets me span paragraphs too. I'll set this to Span 2 and you can see that now that goes all the way across. I'm also going to adjust the space after here but instead of doing it in the dialog box, I'll do it up here in the Control panel in the Space After field. That looks great.
Now let me show you one more thing about Span Columns. I'm going to select this heading down here and I'll zoom in to 200% with Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows and I want to show you what happens when I span a paragraph that's in the middle of a story. I'll place my cursor inside that paragraph, come up here and choose Span 2 columns and you can see that it's shifted slightly. What's going on there? Well, let me add some space before and then you'll really see what's happening. If you span a paragraph that's in the middle of the story, it sets up multiple zones inside your text frame.
In this case, this paragraph becomes one zone and then there is another zone, which is the heading, and then there's a third zone down here, which is this other paragraph. Now if you're new to InDesign, this ability to have text span multiple columns might just seem obvious. But it's actually a new feature in InDesign CS5 and it's probably one of the most powerful features in the whole program.
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