Get basic tips for typesetting poetry in Adobe InDesign.
- [Instructor] Hi, I'm Nigel French. Welcome to Type Tips. In this week's episode, some tips on typesetting poetry. And I'd like to thank my friend and typography teacher, Alastair Johnston, for his advice in preparing this tip. First of all, the personality of your typeface. Since this is poetry, we can choose a typeface with a bit more personality than we typically might for continuous prose. And in this case, I am using centaur. Secondly, we need to think about how the margins frame our text.
I have a six by nine page here, which is in a two to three aspect ratio. Starting with the inside margin, I've made this large enough to take into consideration the binding. The top margin is 1 1/2 times that value, the outside margin, twice that, and then the bottom margin, 2 1/4 times the inside margin. In addition, I have a page number inside the bottom margin, which is helping to anchor the page. In terms of the letting, this is a bit looser than would be typical for continuous prose.
I'm using 12-point type here on 16-point letting. And then we come to the issue of alignment. It's typical for poetry to be left-aligned, but centered on the longest line. And that's what I'm going to do with the poem on the right-hand page. So I need to identify the longest line, which is this one. And then center it. Then put my cursor at the front of that line and note its horizontal cursor position, which is indicated right here on my control panel, 53.348 points.
I should just mention that it's possible that you don't see your cursor position. It should show up when you are in your paragraph formats. But you need to have enough room, which is going to be dependent upon the resolution of your monitor. And if you don't, you will have to hide some of the other things that are available on the control panel. And in my case, I've hidden Paragraph Borders and Shading, and Baseline Grid, just to make room for this. So noting that number, and it's read-only, unfortunately, I can't copy it.
It's also dimmed, which makes it a little harder to read. So noting that number, I will now select the rest of the text and add that value as the left-indent. This is going to mean that the left margin will fluctuate from one poem to the next. But that's just the way it is. Another issue that's going to come up is that certain lines may require indentation.
I've made a paragraph style for this, and I've added that indentation as a first-line indent so that it will be added to the left indent when we center on the longest line. So I'll just do that once again, select this, the longest line, make it center-aligned, cursor at the front of the text, note the cursor position, enter that for the rest of the text.
Admittedly, this is a simplistic example. If you design a poetry journal and receive submissions from far and wide, then your job is a lot more challenging. The poet may have already formatted their work and some of that formatting may be unorthodox. It's hard for you to know what is the the poet's intent and what is just bad formatting. If possible, establish a house style for your journal and make the guidelines available to your contributors.