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Let's look at the basics of Paragraph Spacing, differentiating our paragraphs using space before and/or after paragraphs. Here we have three single-line paragraphs, and I would like to add some space before Paragraph B. So with my cursor in that paragraph and just being in it is sufficient because this is a paragraph level format, and will be applied to the whole paragraph regardless of how much you have selected. I'm going to come in at 12 points of space before, and we get that result.
Now I could have achieved the same result by coming to paragraph A and say I want 12 points of space after that, or if I like doing things the hard way I could add six points of space before Paragraph B, and six points space after the Paragraph A. So three different ways of getting the same result. Which way is the best way? It's largely down to a matter of personal preference. Either of the first two approaches, space before or after are valid there are rare times when you do want to add space before and after, but generally speaking it's an either/or proposition. Personally I always prefer space before.
I have always used that, and that's what I will continue to use, and it works fine for me. Interesting thing about space before is that when your text occurs at the top of a text frame, or page, space before is ignored, so it's intelligent. Now there are some aesthetic considerations when adding paragraph space before, and in this example here we have a subhead, and we have some text which follows it. And this subhead is rather ambiguous the way it's spaced.
You can see that I currently have five points of space before it and five points of space after it, which means that it's unclear visually whether it belongs to the paragraph that precedes it or whether it belongs to the text that follows it. And clearly it should be associated visually with the text that follows it. So instead of spacing it that way I would do this where I have all of the spacing above the paragraph so that that subhead is now clearly visually related to the text which follows it rather than the text which precedes it.
A cautionary note about paragraph spacing is how not to achieve it and how not to achieve it is by adding in multiple returns. If I turn on my Guides by pressing W we can see that the spacing between the paragraphs in this text has been achieved by pressing Return twice at the end of every paragraph. Now this may be a habit that you'll use to when typing in Word, or another ord processing program. And that's okay, but when you get the text into InDesign you definitely want to strip out these extra returns, and there are two reasons why.
One is that each of these extra lines is going to be a whole line space, and that amount of spacing is too large. It doesn't need to be that big, but perhaps more importantly, when these extra returns occur at the top of a column or a page they are going to create an empty line, and we're going to get misaligned columns or misaligned pages creating an undesirable tombstoning effect where visually your text is going to start at a different point from the top of the page.
Now if you do inherit text that has these multiple returns in it, and you want to easily strip them out, you can do that with Find/Change, right here under the Edit menu, and there is a predefined query, and it is this one, Multiple Return to Single Return, Change All, and they are all gone, and then, of course, you would go on to differentiate these paragraphs either with a first-line indent, or with Paragraph Spacing. In this case I'm going to use a first-line indent of 12.5 points since that is the size of my type.
So there we have some considerations of working with Paragraph Spacing before and/or after, how not to achieve it, and the importance of establishing a visual relationship between the relevant pieces of text.
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