Join Anne-Marie Concepción for an in-depth discussion in this video Spanning and splitting columns, part of InDesign CS5 New Features.
There are two new paragraph formatting features in InDesign CS5 that can save a lot of tedious working in layouts. Let me show you an example. You see where it says Perennial Shrubs here and we have this two column text frame. Now it is a two column text frame, by the way; it's kind of hard to tell because of the column guide. So let me hide the guides, so it's easier for you to see what I'm talking about. If I select this and then open Text Frame options by pressing Command+B or CTRL+B, you can see its two columns. The issue is that what if I want Perennial Shrubs, this headline to span across both of these columns.
Normally, I would have to cut this out and piece it into its own text frame and then move the text frame over here with text wrap or group them or something to keep them together. What a big pain! And it's not happening just here, but it's happening throughout my entire catalog. Well now, with CS5, I can just click inside Perennial Shrubs, I just double-clicked to switch to the Type tool and then go to the Control panel menu and choose Span Columns. It's a new dialog box that actually has controls for Spanning and Splitting. I'll talk about Splitting in a bit.
But we want this to span columns and notice that because I have Preview turned on, boom! It fixed it right away. Span Columns allows a paragraph to span multiple columns. Now, it will not span multiple columns of the single column text frames that are threaded. Span Columns only applies to single text frames that have multiple columns within them. Because I said all that means that I could change the number of columns in this text frame and this headline would continue to span across all of them. But if for some reason, I wanted to limit it, I could say well I only want it to span 2 columns or 3 columns instead of like a five column text frame.
But I am going to leave it at All for now. I can also set the amount of space that should come before or after the span. This is an especially useful when the paragraph that you want to span is occurring in the middle of a text frame rather than at the very top of the frame. Even if I change the number of columns here, I'll use the Control panel widget to change it to four columns, it continues to span across the entire frame. So let's do that again to this example down here, lower left. I am going to click inside the headline, the story of Hansel & petal. This time instead of going to the dialog box, I am going to use a new Control panel widget for spanning and splitting columns.
Now, I actually had to hide some of the stuff that normally appears in the Control panel in order to show this. That's kind of the limitation of recording a video. But you should see this whenever you are in Text Editing Mode, especially if your monitor is large enough or your resolution is high enough. You should see this new widget up here. So it's for Spanning and Splitting. And I'm going to just click on this drop- down menu and say Span All. And there we go. It goes all the way across. By the way, even if I continue writing here like I'm going to click after Perennial Shrubs and say "are the best" because it's still one paragraph, the entire paragraph, so it's not line by line; it's for the entire paragraph. Very cool! Now let's look at the next spread, where we have an example where you might want to use Split Columns.
I said the Span Columns format only applies when you're working with a multiple columned single text frame. The Split Column command can work in those kinds of frames, but it can also work in just normal single-column text frames. So let's use this text frame as an example. I'm going to zoom in with Command +Plus or Ctrl+Plus a few times. And this again is a two column text frame and we're going to select this guy and have it Span All. And now, we're going to take these very short paragraphs, select them and then go to the same widget and this time I'm going to choose Split.
Now what do these numbers mean : Split 2, Split 3 and so on? It means how many subcolumns should be created within the parent single column. So for now, I'll just say Split 2, because I believe that 2 columns can fit inside this one column and I was right. So normally you would have embedded a table here or maybe a two-column text frame as an inline object. But now you don't need to do that. It can just be a paragraph format that they are splitting into subcolumns. Say that I change this text frame into a single column text frame. The headline is still happy, right? It just has to span.
But now I have even more room for my short paragraphs. So I might say okay, well actually I want you to Split 3, and now it splits into 3 different columns. And if I click before the paragraph marker of the last paragraph and hit Return it would just continue to stay in its split form, because it's part of the paragraph format. Now, I love using this widget, but you should know that you might want to use the actual dialog box when you're working with split paragraphs because it gives you a few more controls that the widget doesn't. So I'm going back out to the Control panel menu and choosing Span Columns, which also has the Split Columns command, and Preview is turned on.
So you see we have space before and after the splits, just like we did with spanning columns. So I'm going to increase the space before the split because I thought that came up a little too close. We don't need that amount of space after the splits. So I'm reducing it. By the way, I'm just using the arrow keys on my keyboard to increase and decrease these numbers. Then the Inside Gutter, we want to tighten this up a little bit. So I'm just going to click on the arrows. And the Outside Gutter, as you can see is the space on either side of the outside subcolumns. We want to maybe increase that because we don't want them right at the edge.
Both your Span Column settings and your Split Column settings can be included in a paragraph style, so you don't have to keep doing these on the fly. Say for example, that I'm doing a lot of these short bullets inside these text frames. I can just go right to the Paragraph Style for section bullet. I'm going to edit it and come here to Span Columns and say I always want these to Split Columns into 2 or 3, I'll just leave it at 2. Let's do the same thing with Spanning Columns. If I click inside Herbaceous Perennials, and this is the Section Head style and I right click and I choose Edit Section Head > Span Columns > All, and click OK.
Then it fixes it in this text frame and throughout my document. So Spanning and Splitting Columns are two new paragraph formatting features in InDesign CS5 that can save any designer a ton of tedious work.
- Adding spanning heads over columns and splitting columns
- Using the revamped Layers panel
- Editing and customizing motion path presets
- Adding interactive features
- Controlling and managing multiple animations
- Mixing page sizes in a single document
- Publishing to a variety of Flash formats using the enhanced Export dialog
- Creating multi-state objects
- Using the new Gap tool and Gridify techniques