Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Apply advanced character formatting, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] In an earlier chapter, we looked at the basics of character formatting, including setting the font, size, and leading. Now let's look at a few more important character styling options that you have. I'm going to zoom in to the top of this page by holding down Command + Spacebar, or Control + Spacebar in Windows, and then dragging out a marquee. Now I'll grab my type tool, and I'm going to select this heading here. Let's add some additional formatting to this text. Now, you remember that leading changes the spacing between lines of text, right? But what about changing the spacing between individual characters? I'm going to look up here in the control panel at these two fields.
The first one on the top is kerning. Now, kerning let's you adjust the amount of space between two letters on a line. The second one is called tracking. Now, tracking is the same as kerning, but it goes across a range of text, not just two characters at a time. In fact, some people call tracking range kerning. Technically they're both doing the same thing, adjusting the amount of space between characters. But again, you usually use kerning just for two characters at a time, and tracking for a whole bunch.
Now, that said, even though I have a bunch of text selected here, I'm going to change a kerning value. I'm going to change this pop-up menu from Metrics to Optical. Metrics tells InDesign to read the character spacing tables that the font designer built, and that's usually pretty good, but optical kerning is a very clever technology in InDesign, which actually looks at the shape of each character and it adjusts the spacing between them very subtly so you get more even spacing throughout.
Now, optical kerning does not work for all fonts and all sizes. For example it's particularly bad on script faces, but in many cases, it actually gives you a better result than what you'd normally get with a font using metrics. It depends on the font. Now, I often use optical kerning for headings like this. I still think I could take out a little more space between some of these characters. So, for example, I'll place my cursor between the R and the A, and then I'll go back to the kerning field and I'll change this to, say, -10.
Okay, now let's say I wanted to make the whole line tighter or looser. I would do that by selecting the text and then coming up here and changing the tracking field. I'll choose about 25, and you can see the whole line got looser. Now, there are number of other character formatting attributes in the Control panel that you'll probably never use, or maybe you shouldn't use, like over here, in the middle of the Control panel, you can change the shear or the skew value. Right now, it's set to zero degrees, but if I come in here and change this to, say, 15 degrees, and then press Return or Enter, you see that it tilts everything over to the right.
It almost looks italic, but it is not a true italic. This is a fake italic. Some people call it oblique. Now, if you do this, just be sure not to show it to any type designers, because they're going to scream at you for not using a true italic font, but at least now you know you can do it if you need to. Okay, here's some formatting that you're almost certainly going to use sometimes. I'm going to come down here and select some text in this paragraph. Now, I want to give this an underline, and I'll do that by coming up to the Control panel, making sure that I'm in character formatting mode, that's the A selected on the left, and then clicking on the Underline button.
That's this button with a T and an underscore. Now, the text is highlighted, so I can't see the underscore very well, so I'm going to click off here, and you can see that this underscore is a very thick black line. Looks kind of clunky to me. Fortunately, we have some controls over how that underline looks. I'm going to go ahead and select the text again, and this time, instead of clicking on the button, I'm going to look in the Control panel menu. That's way over here on the right side of the panel. You see, there's Underline Options.
Now, there's a bunch of other options in here that you should look through. Just take a minute and flip through the features in here. But, the truth is, I don't usually choose Underline Options from this menu. Instead, I use a shortcut. I just hold down the Option key on the Mac or Alt key on Windows, and then I click on that button over here in the Control panel. That forces InDesign to show me all the options, in this case, the Underline Options dialog box. Now here, we can change the weight, the offset, the color, and so on. Let's go ahead and change this to something different, like let's make it hot pink.
The weight is the thickness of the line. Let's make it bigger. Say, two points. The offset is how far down from the baseline of the text this line should sit, and I'm going to make this bigger too, another two points. Finally, over here, you can see that the line doesn't have to be a thick solid line. You could use any of your line styles. It could be dashed, or dotted, or even wavy. I'll choose that one. All right, let's click OK, and now I'll click out here, and you can see that I now have a really cool underline.
Okay, now you might have noticed that the word way over here is badly hyphenated. That's okay. You can control that by selecting the word and then going to the Control panel menu. In this case, I'm going to choose No Break. When you choose No Break, it forces the word to stay together. It won't hyphenate across two lines. Now all the other text around it has to reflow to make sure this one word won't break, but if you want the word to stay together, it's worth it. You can even apply No Break to more than one word at a time in order to keep them together, but you have to be careful of that, especially when your text column is narrow.
I once accidentally applied No Break to a whole paragraph, and it took forever to figure out why my text had completely disappeared from my page. Well, we've looked at a lot of different formatting options, and we've really only scratched the surface of what you can do with character-level formatting. In the next movie, we're going to look at how you can search for, and more importantly, change all the fonts in your document.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents