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Explore the numerous type options, type-related features, and type-specific preferences of Adobe InDesign. Using practical, real-world examples, instructor and designer Nigel French dissects the anatomy of a typeface and defines the vocabulary of typography. The course moves from the micro to the macro level, addressing issues such as choosing page size, determining the size of margins, adjusting number columns, and achieving a clean look with baseline grids. This course takes you from laying out a page to delving into the hows and whys of typography.
We're going to kickoff this chapter about indents and spacing, talking about the first-line indent. The first-line indent may seem like a rather trivial and very humble thing, and it is humble, but it is very important. The first-line indent is what is going allow us to differentiate one paragraph from another. And if I insert my type cursor into this text, we can see that I have applied a first-line indent amount of 9 points. 9 points in this context is 1 em space, and that's because the size of my type is 9 points.
You can make your first-line indents bigger if you wish, although I don't think they need to be much bigger than this. Another standard might be making them the size of your leading amount, in this case, that would be 10 points. If you make your indents excessively big, then this sort of problem may occur where the last line of one paragraph ends before the first-line of the next, opening up a very unfortunate space between these paragraphs. First-line indents are not the only way to differentiate paragraphs, another approach would be to use Paragraph Spacing, and that's what I have here for this text on the right-hand side where I have applied 5 points of space before each paragraph.
And I have used 5 points of space because that's half a line space, a line space in this context being 10 points because that is my leading value. Which method you prefer depends in part on your own personal preference, but also upon the kind of text that you're working with. For literature or a magazine article or a newspaper article, probably First-line indents are going to be more appropriate for continuous reading text. But for text of a more instructional nature, like we have on the right-hand side, Paragraph Spacing may be more appropriate.
Important point, either of these are valid approaches to differentiating paragraphs, but what we don't want to do is mix and match them. We don't want to have a first-line indent and paragraph spacing because if you were to have that one or other of these devices, becomes redundant. Obviously, if you're using first-line indents as opposed to paragraph spacing, you're going to be able to fit more text into a finite amount of space because they are more economical space-wise.
So those are some considerations to take into account when choosing how to differentiate your paragraphs.
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