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Working with Typography and Tables in Adobe InDesign CS4

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Learn how to apply special effects such as scaling type, creating drop caps, anchoring objects in text, and wrapping text around objects and images. Also learn the tricks for creating and formatting tables that save you time and enhance your designs.
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It's hard to say when you go from "working with text" to focusing on "typography," where your primary concern is the appearance of the text. Some of the basic decisions you make, such as font and size, affect typography, but the real reason you use InDesign is for all its fine-tuning options. This includes text within tables, which are often ideal for presenting information. Judicious use of features discussed in this chapter can give your projects a professional edge.

In this chapter, you'll learn how to apply special effects such as scaling type, creating drop caps, anchoring objects in text, wrapping text around objects and images, and more. In addition, you'll look at features for creating and formatting tables that save you time and enhance your designs.

#33 Special Effects for Type


The look of type is largely dependent on the typeface you select, the style (such as bold or italic), and the size. The spacing between characters, words, lines, and paragraphs affects the design as well. But for serious impact, you might experiment with some of InDesign's special effects, such as stroke, color, scale, and skew. (Note that two special effects are discussed in other chapters; see #19 for type on a path and #65 for drop shadows and other effects.)

Applying a Style

When type is selected, you can apply a style to characters by clicking buttons in the Control panel's character options: All Caps, Small Caps, Superscript, Subscript, Underline, and Strikethrough (Figure 33a). All these commands are available in the Character panel menu as well.

Figure 33a

Figure 33a The character options in the Control panel include buttons for styles such as Small Caps and Underline.

Applying a Stroke and Color

When text is selected with the Type tool, you can stroke, or outline, its edges and change its color. To apply a stroke to text, enter a value in the Weight field in the Stroke panel (Window menu). To change the color of text, click a color swatch in the Swatches panel (Window menu). The Fill/Stroke button on the Swatches panel and the Tools panel controls whether the color applies to the stroke or body of the characters (Figure 33b).

Figure 33b

Figure 33b The Stroke panel lets you outline selected characters, and the Swatches panel lets you apply a color to them.

Scaling Text

To achieve certain design effects, you might want to horizontally scale (expand) or vertically scale (condense) text. Since scaling distorts text, it is usually reserved for increasing the visual impact of display type such as headlines. Some designers, however, will scale text a tiny bit (such as 97% horizontally) for copyfitting purposes. You have two options for scaling text, numerically or visually:

  • Using the Type tool, select a range of text and then enter a percent value in the Horizontal Scale or Vertical Scale field in the Character panel (Figure 33c) or in the character options in the Control panel. If you end up with overset text from scaling characters, resize the text frame.
    Figure 33c

    Figure 33c The Vertical Scale and Horizontal Scale fields let you condense and expand text, respectively.

  • Using the Scale tool scaletoolicon.jpg, drag a corner of a text frame to resize it (Figure 33d). All the text scales automatically, scaling vertically if you change the frame width and scaling horizontally if you change the frame width. As a shortcut to selecting the Scale tool, you can press Command (Mac OS) or Ctrl (Windows) while using the Selection tool to resize a text frame.
    Figure 33d

    Figure 33d Dragging the corner of a text frame with the Scale tool scales the text as you resize the frame.

Skewing Type

InDesign can skew, or slant, type to somewhat mimic italics. To do this, select text with the Type tool and enter a value in the Skew field in the Character panel (Figure 33e) or in the character options in the Control panel. Skew is expressed in degrees with positive values skewing text to the right and negative values skewing text to the left.

Figure 33e

Figure 33e The Skew field lets you enter a value in degrees to slant type to the right or left.

Converting Type to Outlines

If you cannot achieve the look you want by adjusting the font, stroke, color, scale, or skew of type, you can convert the characters to a frame of the same shape. You can then add a stroke or fill color—or you can fill the frame with text or a graphic. To do this, select the text with the Type tool (you can only convert one line of text at a time) and choose Type > Create Outlines.

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