Join Diane Burns for an in-depth discussion in this video Using composers and composition rules, part of InDesign: Multilingual Publishing Strategies.
Most of us probably don't think about the underlying code or algorithms that make text look good the way it does InDesign, but InDesign always has an actually rather complex bit of technology at work called a composer. You're probably familiar with the default Adobe Paragraph Composer, which we can see on the flyout menu of the Control panel here. We have the Paragraph Composer or the Single-Line Composer--the difference being that the Paragraph Composer looks at the entire paragraph when doing its technological magic of spacing and so forth, and the Single-Line Composer looks at the paragraph line by line. Most of us use the Adobe Paragraph Composer as a default.
The composer can be found here on the flyout menu. It also is in the Justification dialog box. If we look at the bottom here, we can set the Composer here. When it comes to paragraph styles, the composer can be found in the Justification setting of our Paragraph Options dialog box. So, that's where we find the composer, and we usually don't have to think about it because the default Adobe Paragraph Composer is perfectly suitable for many of the languages that you'll be working with, including Western European languages, Central European languages, Polish, Czech, and so forth, and even languages like Greek and Russian, which are set in Cyrillic characters.
If we click in this Russian text and go to the flyout menu, the Adobe Paragraph Composer is applied and the text is typeset beautifully. However, when it comes to languages in our other groups, starting with the Indic and Southeast Asian script languages, we have to switch Composers and instead use the Adobe World-Ready Composer. If we look at the text on the left, which is typeset correctly, we will see that the Adobe World-Ready Paragraph Composer has been applied.
The text on the right, which is the very same text, has the regular Adobe Paragraph Composer applied to it, and it's just not right. Now presumably you don't read Hindi, and yet I can point out to you very quickly the difference in the two. If you look at this first word here and compare it to the first word on the right here, you'll notice that we have these strange kind of accents along the bottom of the text. This is incorrect, because Devanagari and other script languages have special joins that they use when particular characters are next to each other, and these are wrong.
So we must use the World-Ready Composer for most of the Indic languages. When it comes to Middle Eastern languages like Arabic or Hebrew, the World- Ready Composer is also essential. We have text on the left here, which is arabic text that is typeset correctly, as far as the letters go. If you look on the right where the regular Paragraph Composer has been applied, you'll see quite a difference; that's because Arabic is an interesting language, in that the letters in the language used positional forms; that is, a letter will look different depending on whether it's at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a word, and we have the correct positional forms here.
On the right here, we have no positional forms whatsoever, and it's just, frankly, a bunch of gobbledygook. You would never typeset text this way. Now, we do have another little problem here on the left, where this punctuation should be here at the end of this word, but that's an issue with direction and doesn't really involve the composer at all, and we will talk about direction later on this course. When it comes to CJK languages--we will take a look first at Japanese here-- we need yet a third composer to typeset the text correctly. If I click in the Japanese here, it has the Japanese Composer applied to it.
If I could flyout menu, I don't even see the composer here. But if I go to the Justification dialog I can see that it actually another paragraph composer appears here. How did it get there? We will talk about that later in the course, but it was basically introduced by bringing a paragraph in that had the composer applied to it using the Japanese version of InDesign. So, the Japanese Composer has been applied here and the regular Paragraph Composer is applied on the right. Now, if you look at this carefully, the characters may look correct, and they actually are the same on the left and right, but we have some subtle differences here on the left that are important.
If you'll notice, for example, the spacing after this punctuation is much larger-- as it should be--than it is on the right. Here everything is jammed together. The other thing that can happen with Japanese is that while it doesn't have word breaks like English does, it does have very strict rules about what characters can start the beginning of the line and which ones can't, and if you don't use the Japanese Composer, it is very easy to introduce a line break that is just flat-out wrong. So, it's important to use the Japanese Composer. Yes, people can read the Japanese text without it, but if you care about what your type's saying, you'll want to introduce that composer.
Taking a look at Chinese below, the same thing is true. On the left we have applied simplified Chinese with the Japanese Composer, and again, if we go to the Justification dialog, we can see that it's here. This, as with Japanese, was introduced from outside InDesign. And the Chinese on the right, which has the regular Adobe Composer, can be read by someone who reads Chinese, but again, there are little typographic errors. The punctuation here on the right doesn't fill out the frame as it should, as it does here, and the spacing in the punctuation is just uneven altogether.
And Chinese, like Japanese, has rules about what characters can begin a line. They are not quite as rigorous as those for Japanese, but they do have rules nonetheless, and it would be very easy if you just use a regular composer to typeset it incorrectly. So, again, if you care about what you are typesetting and how it looks, you'll want to introduce that composer. In the case of Korean, it's a little bit different. Korean is actually quite different from Japanese and Chinese in that it is a kind of alphabetic language, and if you compare the text on the left, which has the Japanese Composer, and the text on the right with the Adobe Composer, you won't see any difference.
Korean happens to be a language that you can typeset without any special composer. So, for many languages, the default Adobe Paragraph Composer will quietly do its work, but for languages in the Indic, Middle Eastern, and for Chinese and Japanese, choosing the correct composer is essential for typesetting those languages. We'll look at the details of each of these individual languages later in this course.
- Topics include:
- Exploring fonts and character sets
- Working with language dictionaries
- Changing language direction
- Typesetting different languages
- Installing scripts and templates for Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Japanese languages
- Understanding the importance of translation
- Choosing the right workflow
- Working with one or more languages in a single file
- Using an XML workflow
- Creating PDFs
- Setting up a Digital Publishing Suite tablet app
- Publishing to EPUB