InDesign Typography
Illustration by John Hersey

Working with vertical alignment


InDesign Typography

with Nigel French

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Video: Working with vertical alignment

Now, thus far in this chapter we have been talking about alignment, and we have been talking exclusively about Horizontal Alignment, but of course, there is also Vertical Alignment, and that is the subject of this movie. So let's look at some aspects related to Vertical Alignment and specifically some of the options that we have in this very useful dialog box, Text Frame Options. So to start out with, let's just look at the four different options for Vertical Alignment, so these are going to affect the position of your text within the text frame, and they're all pretty self-explanatory, with the possible exception of this fourth one, Justify, which is going to stretch out your text to fill the frame, often with undesirable results, and we'll be talking more about that later.
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  1. 4m 4s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. Customizing the workspace for type
      2m 18s
  2. 9m 25s
    1. What is Typekit? (CC 2014.1)
      1m 56s
    2. Choosing and syncing fonts (CC 2014.1)
      3m 6s
    3. Syncing problems (CC 2014.1)
      1m 43s
    4. Typekit resources (CC 2014.1)
      1m 5s
    5. Using the Font menu (CC 2014.1)
      1m 35s
  3. 55m 41s
    1. Working with text frames
      8m 26s
    2. Using a primary text frame (CS6 and later)
      3m 59s
    3. Understanding text flow methods
      6m 25s
    4. Understanding text threads
      3m 40s
    5. Understanding Smart Text Reflow
      2m 27s
    6. Mocking up pages with placeholder text
      5m 47s
    7. Placing multiple text files
      3m 50s
    8. Using Auto-Size text frames (CS6 and later)
      4m 1s
    9. Copying and pasting vs. placing
      2m 25s
    10. Cleaning up text with Find/Change
      5m 46s
    11. Using the Story Editor
      3m 41s
    12. Spanning columns
      5m 14s
  4. 48m 34s
    1. Choosing your type
      6m 46s
    2. Understanding text essentials
      6m 37s
    3. Scaling type
      2m 27s
    4. Using italic and oblique type
      4m 33s
    5. Working with condensed and extended type
      4m 26s
    6. Setting type in all caps
      3m 46s
    7. Setting type in small caps
      4m 21s
    8. Underlining type
      4m 11s
    9. Using superscript and subscript
      4m 35s
    10. Applying baseline shift
      4m 8s
    11. Combining typefaces (CC 2014.1)
      2m 44s
  5. 16m 6s
    1. Understanding type anatomy
      3m 25s
    2. Exploring serif and sans serif
      2m 48s
    3. Comparing points, picas, and ems
      8m 34s
    4. What's in a name?
      1m 19s
  6. 16m 27s
    1. Setting leading
      4m 56s
    2. Avoiding auto-leading
      4m 12s
    3. Leading shortcuts and preferences
      4m 7s
    4. Using autoleading with inline graphics
      3m 12s
  7. 21m 25s
    1. Defining kerning and tracking
      2m 5s
    2. Understanding kerning methods
      5m 10s
    3. When and how to kern
      5m 53s
    4. When and how to track
      8m 17s
  8. 48m 42s
    1. Working with quotes, primes, and apostrophes
      8m 16s
    2. Using dashes
      5m 24s
    3. Using ellipses
      2m 56s
    4. Working with accents and special characters
      4m 1s
    5. Using space characters
      4m 15s
    6. Working with ligatures
      4m 29s
    7. Setting fractions
      3m 56s
    8. Using lining and proportional numerals
      2m 49s
    9. Using alternates, swashes, and ornaments
      5m 2s
    10. Working with optical sizes
      4m 40s
    11. Stylistic sets (CC 2014.1)
      2m 54s
  9. 57m 20s
    1. Understanding alignment
      3m 47s
    2. Working with left-aligned type
      3m 24s
    3. Working with justified type
      7m 5s
    4. Using Optical Margin Alignment
      3m 39s
    5. Determining column width
      4m 53s
    6. Working with center alignment
      5m 36s
    7. Working with right alignment
      1m 22s
    8. Aligning to or away from the spine
      1m 50s
    9. Understanding the Paragraph Composer and Single-line Composer
      3m 44s
    10. Combining alignments
      9m 20s
    11. Using hanging punctuation
      2m 13s
    12. Working with vertical alignment
      10m 27s
  10. 14m 9s
    1. Using first-line indents
      2m 26s
    2. Using indent alternatives
      2m 3s
    3. Working with left and right indents
      4m 0s
    4. Using last-line indents and outdents
      1m 26s
    5. Using paragraph spacing
      4m 14s
  11. 23m 19s
    1. Setting hyphenation
      6m 14s
    2. Working with line breaks and discretionary hyphens
      4m 48s
    3. Balancing ragged lines
      1m 36s
    4. Using the No Break feature and non-breaking characters
      2m 52s
    5. Using frame, column, and page breaks
      3m 42s
    6. Defining Keep Options
      4m 7s
  12. 37m 53s
    1. Understanding tabs
      8m 58s
    2. Considerations for table text
      3m 55s
    3. Table tips and tricks
      11m 55s
    4. Creating a bulleted list
      6m 50s
    5. Creating a numbered list
      3m 46s
    6. Creating a multi-level numbered list
      2m 29s
  13. 23m 12s
    1. Understanding drop caps
      11m 3s
    2. Navigating tricky drop caps
      5m 14s
    3. Using a nested character style with a drop cap
      3m 59s
    4. Other uses of drop caps
      2m 56s
  14. 1h 11m
    1. Understanding paragraph and character styles
      7m 13s
    2. Creating, applying, and editing styles
      7m 3s
    3. Removing overrides
      4m 58s
    4. Creating and applying character styles
      5m 4s
    5. Creating and applying nested styles
      12m 30s
    6. Using GREP styles (regular expressions)
      4m 8s
    7. Creating and applying sequential styles
      6m 19s
    8. Using paragraph rules creatively
      11m 48s
    9. Mapping Word styles
      6m 12s
    10. Working with anchored objects and object styles
      6m 24s
  15. 25m 30s
    1. Applying a text wrap
      6m 7s
    2. Making items ignore a text wrap
      1m 46s
    3. Using text wraps for flexible layouts
      3m 2s
    4. Working with difficult text wraps
      8m 39s
    5. Inverting text wraps
      2m 7s
    6. Setting text wrap preferences
      3m 49s
  16. 29m 33s
    1. Choosing a page size and setting margins
      6m 33s
    2. Setting up columns
      2m 53s
    3. Dividing a page into rows
      3m 27s
    4. Setting up a baseline grid
      5m 40s
    5. Handling baseline grid problems
      3m 37s
    6. Baseline grid tricks
      7m 23s
  17. 44m 26s
    1. Working with type outlines (CC 2014.1)
      6m 50s
    2. Creating an interlocking effect (CC 2014.1)
      3m 31s
    3. Fusing letterforms (CC 2014.1)
      7m 15s
    4. Type and gradients (CC 2014.1)
      4m 57s
    5. Type and transparency (CC 2014.1)
      1m 50s
    6. Type on a path: Circles (CC 2014.1)
      4m 48s
    7. Type on a path: Calligram (CC 2014.1)
      6m 16s
    8. Vertical type (CC 2014.1)
      2m 58s
    9. Type and image: Gradient (CC 2014.1)
      1m 38s
    10. Type and image: "See-through" type (CC 2014.1)
      1m 8s
    11. Type and image: "Disappearing" type (CC 2014.1)
      3m 15s
  18. 12m 19s
    1. Looking at screen documents
      4m 2s
    2. Setting size, leading, and line length onscreen
      3m 13s
    3. Exploring typefaces designed for the screen
      3m 36s
    4. Accessibility: Contrast and color
      1m 28s
  19. 28s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign Typography
9h 20m Intermediate Aug 03, 2012 Updated Nov 12, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding text threads and text flow methods in InDesign
  • Using Copy and Paste vs. Place
  • Choosing and combining typefaces
  • Understanding leading and how it relates to type size and column width
  • Comparing points, picas, and ems
  • Learning the proper use of white space and break characters
  • Understanding the finer points of kerning and tracking
  • Working with punctuation, special characters, ornaments, and ligatures
  • Aligning text
  • Applying global formatting with paragraph, character, and object styles
  • Refining spacing with indents
  • Creating drop caps
  • Avoiding common problems associated with justified type and text wraps
  • Setting up margins and columns
Nigel French

Working with vertical alignment

Now, thus far in this chapter we have been talking about alignment, and we have been talking exclusively about Horizontal Alignment, but of course, there is also Vertical Alignment, and that is the subject of this movie. So let's look at some aspects related to Vertical Alignment and specifically some of the options that we have in this very useful dialog box, Text Frame Options. So to start out with, let's just look at the four different options for Vertical Alignment, so these are going to affect the position of your text within the text frame, and they're all pretty self-explanatory, with the possible exception of this fourth one, Justify, which is going to stretch out your text to fill the frame, often with undesirable results, and we'll be talking more about that later.

But these options are all available in your Text Frame Options, keyboard shortcut for that is Command+B, or Ctrl+B, and there they all are. So in addition to that, we also have the option of adding a Text Inset or in a margin on our text frames, and this becomes important if we are going to color our text frames. So here I am working with my text on a tinted background and without any Text Inset my text looks very claustrophobic, it's going all the way to the edges of that frame, and it would really benefit from having a little bit of inner padding on that text frame.

So I am going to select the frame, and then come to the Object Menu > Text Frame Options, and these are the options right here, Inset Spacing. If the chain is unbroken, whatever we put in for one will become the same for all four dimensions, and of course, that is going to cause my text frame to now become overset. I could avoid that if I wanted to, I can, of course, just adjust it on a case by case basis, but I could also set up the Auto-Size option from the bottom, so the top position is locked in place.

Then the text frame will grow automatically, now of course, overlapping that caption, which I'll just move out of its way. So some issues that arise with Vertical Centering, sometimes when you want to put a number in a circle, especially if you want that number to be really close to the edges of that circle, while it's certainly possible to do, you might find it easier just to have it be two separate elements. So here I have a text frame and behind that I have a circle, and frankly it's easier to do it that way, and then you can select both, and you can come to your Alignment options, Object & Layout > Align, and you can say Align To the Selection, and then I can align the center points horizontally and vertically.

And just to finish that off, I could then select both of those elements and group them so they now move as one. In a similar vein, if you are working with just one element--and there is an argument to be made for doing that-- because it's one element as opposed to two, so if you want to color your text frame and center the text horizontally and vertically within that frame, sometimes it just optically doesn't work, and that's the case here, we can see that I am aligning this to the center, but clearly it looks like there is more room above this character than there is below.

Well, what can I do? I can either come and adjust the amount of Inset Spacing so that if we have more on the bottom, it will push the character up, or I can just select the character and apply a very modest amount of Baseline Shift, keyboard shortcut for that is Shift+Option and the Up Arrow. I can just nudge that up and center that one vertically by eye. Just one other thing to consider, in InDesign CS5 and above we have the option of interactively adjusting our corners.

So if click on that yellow rectangle, I can then change the corners. At the moment I would be adjusting all four corners, but let's say I just want to adjust one, I am going to hold down the Shift key and then just adjust the top right corner. Now, of course when I do that, that's going to make the content of that frame up here off center, so we would have to take some further action if this is the look that we were after, and we still wanted that text to be centered within that frame. And that further action would probably be doing it the way I have done it over here as two separate objects.

Again, two examples here of essentially the same thing, Optical vertical centering with Baseline Shift, this is mathematically centered, but the mathematical centering is also factoring in spacing above the character. So mathematically it's correct, but it doesn't look right, so we have adjusted that with a minor amount of Baseline Shift right there, 3 points of Baseline Shift. All right, I am now going to move to the next page in this document, and we're going to look at some examples of when we might use bottom alignment.

Bottom alignment I find is very useful when we are aligning captions to picture frames and these gray boxes are substituting for picture frames, they are my placeholders, and I want these captions to align to the bottom of the frame. So rather than have to worry about doing this and getting it just right and then when the text is edited having to move the frame again, I align the bottom of the frame with the bottom of the picture frame, and then I set the Vertical Justification for that frame to Bottom, and then that way when we add text, you can see the text grows from the top.

We might also consider for these captions, as I have mentioned before, adding an Auto-Size option to them so that in this case the bottom position is locked and they grow from the top. Something else you might want to do with these captions is make them into an Object Style. So if I have made one, I could then come to choose New Object Style, and I will call that caption. While I am here, I could also incorporate this option so that the text content of this frame is automatically formatted with this paragraph style.

But now, having done that, I can select these two captions, that one does actually need to move into position first, I can select these two and apply that Object Style and they both have their text aligned relative to the bottom of the frame, which in itself is aligned relative to the bottom of the picture frame by its side. So now let's look at some issues involving vertical justification, and as you probably guessed already, I am not a big fan. Before we get to that specifically, let's also look at balancing our column.

So if you're working with multicolumn text, you come to the end of the story, and you have got one column shorter than the others. What do you do? Well, you could adjust your content so that, that doesn't happen, but you could also come and balance your columns, and that's this option right here, these two icons, currently unbalanced. When I click on that one, it balances those columns. We also have the same option in our Text Frame Options right there as a check box. So that's something that you could consider, but let's say that we are working with this text, and we need it to bottom out, i.e., to go all the way to the bottom of our page and would like the text in the right-hand column to do the same.

So I have concocted this rather extreme example, where I have applied vertical justification to this type, and we can see what that's doing. Stretching out the text in the right-hand column, it's overruling the leading value, and it's destroying all the consistency of rhythm that we have established, all in all a very bad idea. When might you want to use that? Well, every once in a while, if you have just a single column text frame, and you just need to fill that frame with the content, and there is no other way to do it, and you are in a hurry, you could do this.

Command+B, or Ctrl+B, and choose Justify, like so, just to fill out that space. But when you're working with multicolumn text, rarely does vertical justification look any good. One last thing relating to our vertical justification are the Baseline Options. Here I have five different text frames and they all have a different Baseline Option set, and it's the Baseline Option that is going to determine the starting point of the text within the text frame.

The default is Ascent, rarely is there a need to change that, especially if you are working with baseline grids, the text will lock to the grid increment anyway, but every once in a while you might want to change it. So let's have a look at how you could do that, Command+B, or Ctrl+B, Baseline Options, and here are the options right here. Now, occasionally Leading is an option that I will use, and if I want to align things to a grid, but rather than using the Align to Grid feature, I want to gently persuade my text onto that grid, I can come to my Baseline Options and have the Offset be Leading, where we would specify what we want the Leading value to be, presumably it's going to be the Leading value of whatever is our body text.

I am going to put in 12 points right there, and it will knock it down 12 points, and that's the point at which the text will start in that text frame. You will see the X-height is actually going to make the text pop-up, or the ascenders pop-up above the top of the text frame. And then Fixed, you can specify whatever value you want, and that might occasionally be useful for your chapter openers, you want your text to start lower in the text frame. Of course there are other arguably easier ways of doing that, but that would be one option that would be a valid one.

So those are some issues relating to vertical justification, our Baseline Options, our pros and cons, mainly the cons of vertical justification, balancing columns, bottom aligning text, giving a text inset, some of the things to look out for when vertically centering your text and just an overview of the four different Vertical Justification options.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign Typography .

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The exercise files provided aren't working in my version of InDesign (CS4, CS5, or CS5.5). What should I use?
This course was recorded using InDesign CS6. For InDesign users working with CS4, CS5, or CS5.5, IDML files are provided.
Q: Where can I learn more about graphic design?
A: Discover more about this topic by visiting graphic design on
Q: This course was updated on 11/12/2014. What changed?
A: We added 18 new movies, primarily in the "Using Typekit" and "Type Treatments and Effects" chapters. These movies describe new and enhanced typography features in the latest release of InDesign CC, and are indicated by the "(CC 2014.1)" tag in their names.
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