Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

Working with Paragraph Composers and Tabs in Adobe InDesign CS6

This excerpt from Adobe InDesign CS6 Classroom in a Book shows you how to apply the Adobe paragraph and single-line composers, set tabs, and add a rule above a paragraph.
From the book

Applying the Adobe Paragraph and Single-line Composers

The density of a paragraph (sometimes called its color) is determined by the composition method used. InDesign’s composition methods consider the word spacing, letter spacing, glyph scaling, and hyphenation options you’ve selected and then evaluate and choose the best line breaks. InDesign provides two options for composing text: the Adobe Paragraph Composer, which looks at all of the lines in the paragraph, and the Adobe Single-line Composer, which looks separately at each individual line.

When you use the Paragraph Composer, InDesign composes a line while considering the impact on the other lines in the paragraph, to set the best overall arrangement of the paragraph. As you change type in a given line, previous and subsequent lines in the same paragraph may break differently, making the overall paragraph appear more evenly spaced. When you use the Single-line Composer, which is the standard for other layout and word-processing software, InDesign recomposes only the lines following the edited text.

The text in this lesson was composed using the default, the Adobe Paragraph Composer. To see the difference between the two, you’ll recompose the body text using the Single-line Composer.

  1. Using the Type tool (), click to place an insertion point anywhere in the main story.
  2. Choose Edit > Select All.
  3. In the Paragraph panel, choose Adobe Single-line Composer from the panel menu. If necessary, increase the view scale to see the difference.
  4. The Single-line Composer handles each line individually. As a result, some lines in a paragraph appear more dense or sparse than others. Because the Paragraph Composer looks at multiple lines at once, it makes the density of the lines in a paragraph more consistent.

  5. Click a blank area of the page to deselect the text and look at the different spacing and line endings.
  6. Figure 7-2 The Adobe Paragraph Composer (left) and the Adobe Single-line Composer (right).

  7. To restore the story to the Adobe Paragraph Composer, choose Edit > Undo.
  8. Choose File > Save.

Setting tabs

You can use tabs to position text in specific horizontal locations in a column or frame. In the Tabs panel, you can organize text and create tab leaders, indents, and hanging indents.

Aligning text to tabs and adding tab leaders

Here you’ll format the tabbed information in the “If You Go” box on the left-facing page. The tab markers have already been entered in the text, so you will be setting the final location of the text.

  1. Scroll and zoom as necessary to view the “If You Go” box.
  2. To view the tab markers in the text, choose Type > Show Hidden Characters and make sure that Normal Mode () is selected in the Tools panel.
  3. Using the Type tool (), click in the “If You Go” box, and choose Edit > Select All to select all of the text.
  4. Choose Type > Tabs to open the Tabs panel.
  5. When a text frame has an insertion point and enough space at the top, the Tabs panel snaps to the top of the frame so that the measurements in the panel’s ruler exactly match the text. Regardless of the position of the Tabs panel, you can enter values to set tabs with precision.

  6. In the Tabs panel, click Left-Justified Tab () so that text aligns to the left of the tab stop.
  7. Type 5p5 in the X box and press Enter or Return.
  8. The information following each tab marker in the selected text now aligns to the new tab stop, which is positioned just above the ruler in the Tabs panel.

  9. With the text still selected and the Tabs panel still open, click the new tab stop in the tab ruler to select it. Type a period (.) and a space in the Leader box.
  10. The Leader box specifies the character or characters that fill the space between the text and the tab stop. Tab leaders are commonly used in tables of contents. Using a space between periods creates a more open dot sequence in the tab leader.

  11. Press Enter or Return to apply the tab leader. Leave the Tabs panel open and in position for the next exercise.
  12. Choose File > Save.

Creating a hanging indent

In a “hanging indent,” text before the tab marker hangs to the left—as you will often see in a bulleted or numbered list. To create a hanging indent for the information in the “If You Go” box, you will use the Tabs panel. You can also use the Left Indent and First Line Left Indent boxes in the Paragraph panel.

  1. Using the Type tool (), select all the text in the “If You Go” box.
  2. Make sure that the Tabs panel is still aligned directly above the text frame.
  3. In the Tabs panel, drag the bottom indent marker on the left side of the ruler to the right until the X value is 5p5. Dragging the bottom marker moves both indents at once. Notice how all the text shifts to the right, and the Left Indent value in the Paragraph panel changes to 5p5. Keep the text selected.
  4. Now you’ll bring just the category headings back to their original location in the frame to create a hanging indent.

  5. In the Paragraph panel, type –5p5 in the First Line Left Indent () box. Deselect the text, and view the hanging indent.
  6. Close the Tabs panel.
  7. Notice that the text now overflows the text frame (as indicated by the red plus sign in the lower-right corner of the text frame). There are many ways to remedy this, including expanding the text frame, tracking the text, or editing the text. In this case, you will edit the text.

  8. Using the Type tool, double-click the word “through” in the “Hours” section.
  9. Choose Type > Insert Special Character > Hyphens And Dashes > En Dash. Delete any extra spaces around the dash.
  10. In many cases, editors (and their style guides) prefer an en dash to a hyphen in a range of numbers.

  11. Choose File > Save.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020