Character formatting controls the appearance of the individual letters in your publication. Font, type size, color, and leading are all aspects of character formatting. (Longtime QuarkXPress users won’t think of leading as a character format, but we’ll cover that next.)
We refer to all formatting that can be applied to a selected range of text as “character” formatting, and refer to formatting that InDesign applies at the paragraph level as “paragraph” formatting. Tab settings, indents, paragraph rules, space above, and space after are examples of paragraph formatting. There are areas of overlap in these definitions. Leading, for example, is really a property that applies to an entire line of text (InDesign uses only the largest leading value in a line), but we’ll call it “character” formatting, nonetheless, because you can apply it to individual characters.
In addition to these distinctions, InDesign’s paragraph styles can include character formatting, but apply to entire paragraphs. See “Styles,” later in this chapter.
Character Formatting Controls
InDesign’s character formatting controls are found in both the Character panel and the Control panel (see Figure 4-2). The controls in the panels are substantially the same, so we’ll discuss them once.
FIGURE 4-2. Character Formatting Controls
To display the Character panel and shift the focus to the panel’s Font field, press Command-T/Ctrl-T. If the panel is already visible, InDesign hides it; you may need to press it twice.
To display the Control panel, press Command-Option-6/CtrlAlt-6. If the panel is already open, but is displaying the paragraph controls, press Command-Option-7/Ctrl-Alt-7.
Font Family and Font
Selecting a font in InDesign is different than selecting a font in most other page layout programs. To InDesign, fonts are categorized as font “families,” and each family is made up of one or more type styles. A font family is a set of typefaces designed to have a common “look.” A “font,” then, is specified by its font family and type style. In this book, we used the font family Minion Pro, and the type style Regular, so the font of the body text is “Minion Pro Regular.”
InDesign’s user interface for selecting fonts mirrors this approach. When you choose a font, you must select both the font family and a specific type style (see Figure 4-3).
FIGURE 4-3. Selecting a Font
Note that InDesign does not have “type styles” in the same way that other programs do—it makes no assumption that the selected font family has a “bold” or “italic” member, and will never generate a fake bold or italic version.
To select a font family or type style, you can choose from a menu or type into the field (see Figure 4-4). As you type the name of a font family or type style, InDesign will display the available font or fonts that match the characters you typed. You can click the magnifying glass icon to choose whether to search the entire font name or the just the first word of the font. If you search only the first word, typing “gar” lists Garamond but not Adobe Garamond Pro. You can also press the up and down arrow keys to move from Regular to Bold to Italic, and so on. Note that the current font is applied to any text you have selected while you arrow through different font styles. Click or press Enter to apply the font.
FIGURE 4-4. Typing a Font Name
The most recently used fonts appear at the top of the Font submenu. If you have a limited set of fonts that you’re continually selecting, click the star icon to the left of each font you want to mark as a favorite, and select Show Favorite Fonts Only (see Figure 4-5). If you type in the field to search for a font, that favorites option is turned off.
FIGURE 4-5. Font Favorites
Font Style Keyboard Shortcuts. Although InDesign won’t generate a bold or italic weight, you can type Command-Shift-B/Ctrl-Shift-B to make your text bold and Command-Shift-I/Ctrl-Shift-I to make it italic. If a font doesn’t have a bold or italic version, InDesign will not change the text.
Symbols and Dingbats. Sometimes, when you change to a symbol font (such as Zapf Dingbats), you may encounter font substitution (the dreaded pink highlight). This can happen because InDesign is attempting to map the character from one font to another. To avoid this problem, hold down Shift as you apply the font.
Duplicate Font Names. Some folks have more than one font with the same name on their systems—such as a TrueType and a PostScript version of Times Roman. While most programs just pick one (and you never know which you’re getting), InDesign displays both fonts.
You can change the size of text by entering the point size you want in the Size field of the Character or Control panel, or choose a point size from the attached pop-up menu (see Figure 4-6). If you type the size, you can specify it in .001-point increments. After you’ve entered the size you want, apply the change by pressing Return/Enter or by pressing Tab to move to another field.
FIGURE 4-6. Point Size
Size Adjustment Keyboard Shortcuts. You can increase the size of selected type by pressing Command-Shift->/Ctrl-Shift->, or decrease the size by pressing Command-Shift-</Ctrl-Shift-<. The amount that InDesign increases or decreases the point size when you use these shortcuts depends on the value in the Size/Leading field in the Units & Increments Preferences dialog box.
To increase or decrease the size of the selected text by five times the value entered in the Size/Leading field, you can add the Option or Alt key: Command-Option-Shift->/Ctrl-Alt-Shift->, or Command-Option-Shift-</Ctrl-Alt-Shift-<.
Scaling Text by Scaling the Frame. You can scale text by scaling the frame itself. To do this, select the text frame with the Selection tool, then hold down the Command/Ctrl key and drag a corner or side handle. Hold down Command-Shift/Ctrl-Shift as you drag to scale proportionally (a good thing, as far as text is concerned).
Text characters—usually—sit on an imaginary line, the baseline. Leading (pronounced “ledding”) is the vertical distance from the baseline of one line of text to the next text baseline. When you hear “10 on 12” or see “10/12”, it means “10-point text on 12-point leading.” In InDesign, leading is measured from the baseline of a line of text to the baseline of the line of text above (see Figure 4-7). When you increase the leading in a line, you push that line farther from the line above it, and farther down from the top of the text frame.
FIGURE 4-7. Leading
In InDesign—as in PageMaker—leading is an attribute of individual characters, but the largest leading value in a line predominates (see Figure 4-8). This differs from QuarkXPress, where leading is a paragraph attribute (although if you use QuarkXPress’s relative leading mode, the largest leading in a line predominates).
FIGURE 4-8. The Largest Leading in a Line Wins
For those of us who came to desktop publishing from typesetting, the idea of leading being a character attribute seems more natural than QuarkXPress’ method of setting it at the paragraph level. Fortunately, InDesign lets you have it both ways. You can turn on the Apply Leading to Entire Paragraphs option in the Type pane of the Preferences dialog box. However, this preference only affects paragraphs that you change after you set it.
How to Avoid Wacky Leading. The main disadvantage of making leading a character attribute (when the Apply Leading to Entire Paragraphs option is turned off) is that it requires a bit more vigilance on your part than the “leading-as-a-paragraph-attribute” approach taken by QuarkXPress and most word processors. Most of the time, leading values should be the same for all of the characters in the paragraph. If, as you apply leading amounts, you fail to select all of the characters in a paragraph, you’ll get leading that varies from line to line—which, most of the time, is a typesetting mistake.
You can also get this effect if you leave your paragraph’s leading set to the default Auto leading, which always sets the leading to some percentage (usually 120%) of the text size—or, more specifically, some percentage of the largest character on a line. This is true even when Apply to Entire Paragraph is turned on. We strongly urge you not to use Auto leading (except for inline frames and graphics, as discussed in Chapter 6, “Where Text Meets Graphics”).
If you’ve seen paragraphs where the leading of the last line of the paragraph is clearly different from that of the lines above it, you know exactly what we’re talking about (see Figure 4-9).
FIGURE 4-9. That Crazy Carriage Return
It’s simple—the carriage return, that sneaky invisible character, can have a different leading value than the other lines in the paragraph. When the person formatting the text selected the paragraph, they failed to select the carriage return. To avoid this, make sure you select the entire paragraph before applying formatting. Better yet, apply a paragraph style. When you apply a paragraph style, InDesign applies the character formatting specified in the style—including leading—to every character in the paragraph.
Leading Shortcuts. You can decrease the leading of selected type by pressing Option-Up arrow/Alt-Up arrow, or increase the size by pressing Option-Down arrow/Alt-Down arrow. (Yes, this does seem counterintuitive; think of it as pushing the line up or down.) The amount that InDesign increases or decreases the leading depends on the value you entered in the Size/Leading field in the Units & Increments Preferences dialog box (for more on units and increments, see Chapter 1, “Workspace”).
To decrease the leading of the selected text by five times the value in the Size/Leading field, press Command-Option-Up arrow/CtrlAlt-Up arrow. To increase the leading by the same amount, press Command-Option-Down arrow/Ctrl-Alt-Down arrow.
Leading Techniques. Here are a few tips for adjusting leading.
- Increase leading as you increase line length (the column width). Solid leading (such as 12 point text on 12 points leading) produces almost unreadable text for all but the narrowest of lines.
- Use extra leading for sans serif or bold type.
- Fonts with a small x-height (the height of the lowercase “x” in relation to the height of the capital letters) can often use a smaller leading value than those with a large x-height.
- Decrease leading as point size increases. Large display or headline type needs less leading than body copy. You can often get by with solid leading or less—just make certain that the descenders of one line don’t bump into the ascenders of the line below.
The goal of kerning—the adjustment of the space between characters—is to achieve even spacing. InDesign offers both pair kerning (the adjustment of the space between adjacent characters) and tracking (or “range kerning”)—the adjustment of all of the inter-character spaces in a series of characters.
For each space between any pair of characters in a publication, InDesign applies the total of the pair kerning and tracking values (so if you set kerning to 50 and tracking to –50, you will not see any change in the composition of the text).
InDesign adjusts kerning using units equal to one-thousandth of an em. An em is equal in width to the size of the type—for instance, in 18 point text, an em is 18 points wide, and so each unit in the kerning or tracking fields equals point (about .00025 inch). You can enter values from –1000 (minus one em) to 10000 (plus 10 ems) in the Kerning and Tracking fields.
To adjust spacing between a pair of characters, move the text insertion point between the characters and apply manual kerning (see Figure 4-10). Use any of the following techniques.
- Enter a value in the Kerning field of the Character panel or Control panel. If the kerning field already contains a value entered by one of the automatic kerning methods (see below), you can replace the value by typing over it, or add to or subtract from it (by typing a “+” or “-” between the value and the amount you want to add or subtract).
- Click the arrow buttons attached to the Kerning field. Click the up button to increase the kerning amount by the value you entered in the Kerning field in the Units & Increments Preferences dialog box, or click the down button to decrease kerning by the same amount.
- Press a keyboard shortcut (see Table 4-1).
FIGURE 4-10. Kerning Text
TABLE 4-1. Kerning Keyboard Shortcuts
To change kerning by:
Option-Right arrow/Alt-Right arrow
Option-Left arrow/Alt-Left arrow
Command-Option-Right arrow/Ctrl-Alt-Right arrow
Command-Option-Left arrow/Ctrl-Alt-Left arrow
* This is the default value in the Kerning field of the Units &Increments Preferences dialog box.
** Or five times the default kerning amount.
To remove all kerning and tracking from the selected text, press Command-Option-Q/Ctrl-Alt-Q (this sets tracking to zero and sets the kerning method to Metrics).
You can’t apply pair kerning when you have a range of text selected—if you try, InDesign displays an error message. When you want to apply a kerning value to a range of text, use Tracking.
InDesign offers two automatic kerning methods: pair kerning based on kerning pairs found in the font itself (choose Metrics from the Kerning pop-up menu), and kerning based on the outlines of the characters (choose Optical). To see the difference between the two methods take a look at Figure 4-11.
- Metrics. When you turn on the Metrics automatic kerning method, InDesign reads the kerning pairs built into the font by the font’s designer (or publisher). These kerning pairs cover—or attempt to cover—the most common letter combinations (in English, anyway), and there are usually about 128 pairs defined in a typical font.
You’d think that using the kerning pairs defined in the font would be the perfect way to apply automatic kerning to your text. Who, after all, knows the spacing peculiarities of a given font better than its designer? Would that this were true! In reality, very few fonts contain well-thought-out kerning pairs (often, pair kerning tables are simply copied from one font to another), and the number of kerning pairs defined per font is inadequate (a really well-kerned font might contain several thousand pairs, tweaked specifically for the characters in that typeface).
We really need a better method—a method that can adjust the spacing between every character pair, while taking into account the peculiarities of the character shapes for a particular font. We also need a kerning method that can automatically adjust the spacing between characters of different fonts. With InDesign’s Optical kerning method, we get both.
- Optical. The Optical kerning method considers the composed shapes of the characters and applies kerning to even out spacing differences between characters.
In general, the kerning applied by InDesign when you use the Optical kerning method looks looser than that applied by the Metrics kerning method. That’s okay—once you’ve accomplished even spacing, you can always track the text to tighten or loosen its overall appearance. Because tracking applies the same kerning value to all of the text in the selection, in addition to any pair kerning, the even spacing applied by the Optical kerning method is maintained.
FIGURE 4-11. Automatic Kerning Methods
Viewing Automatic Kerning Amounts. As you move your cursor through the text, you’ll be able to see the kerning values applied to the text in the Kerning field of the Character panel or Control panel. Kerning values specified by Optical kerning or Metrics kerning are displayed surrounded by parentheses; manual kerning values you’ve entered are not (see Figure 4-12).
FIGURE 4-12. How You Can Tell It’s Automatic Kerning
Changing Word Spacing. It’s not entirely true that you can’t apply kerning when more than one character is selected. You can select a range of text and select Metrics, Optical, or 0 (zero) from the pop-up menu attached to the Kerning field.
If you want to increase the spacing between words but don’t want to change the letterspacing of a range of text, press Command-Option-\or Ctrl-Alt-\(backslash) to add the base kerning increment (as defined by the value in the Kerning field in the Units & Increments Preferences dialog box) after each space character in the range. Hold down Shift as you press this shortcut, and InDesign adds kerning by five times the base kerning amount. To decrease word spacing, press Command-Option-Delete/Ctrl-Alt-Backspace (add the Shift key to the shortcuts to multiply the effect by five).
This keystroke works simply by changing the kerning after each space character. You can always go back and change the kerning, or use Find/Change to remove it.
Tracking, in InDesign, applies the same kerning value to every character in a selected range of text (see Figure 4-13). When you change the tracking of some text, InDesign applies the tracking in addition to any kerning values applied to the text (regardless of the method—manual or automatic—used to enter the pair kerning). Note that this is the same as the definition of tracking used by QuarkXPress, and is different from the definition used by PageMaker. In PageMaker, tracking also applies kerning, but the amount varies depending on the point size of the selected text and the tracking table in use. In PageMaker, InDesign’s tracking would be called “range kerning.”
FIGURE 4-13. Tracking
Just as you cannot apply kerning using the Kerning field when you have multiple characters selected, you can’t change the Tracking field when the text insertion point is between two characters—you have to have one or more characters selected. (Actually, you can change it, but it doesn’t do anything.)
Note that the default keyboard shortcuts for tracking are exactly the same as those for kerning; which one you get depends on whether or not you have a range of text selected.
Tracking Tips. The following are a few of our favorite tracking tips.
- If you’re setting text in all capitals or the small caps style, add 20 or 50 units of tracking to the text. Do not add tracking to the last character of the last word in the text, as that will affect the amount of space after the word, too.
- Printing white text on a black background often requires a little extra tracking, too. That’s because the negative (black) space makes the white characters seem closer together.
- Larger type needs to be tracked more tightly (with negative tracking values). Often, the larger the tighter, though there are aesthetic limits to this rule. Advertising headline copy will often be tracked until the characters just “kiss.”
- A condensed typeface (such as Futura Condensed) can usually do with a little tighter tracking. Sometimes we’ll apply a setting as small as -10 to a text block to make it hold together better.
- When you’re setting justified text and you get bad line breaks, or if you have an extra word by itself at the end of a paragraph, you can track the whole paragraph plus or minus one or two units without it being too apparent. Sometimes that’s just enough to fix these problems.
Horizontal and Vertical Scaling
Enter a value in the Horizontal Scaling field or the Vertical Scaling field (or both) to change the size of the selected text (see Figure 4-14). When the values you enter in these fields are not equal, you’re creating fake “expanded” or “condensed” type. We say “fake” because true expanded or condensed characters must be drawn by a type designer—when you simply scale the type, the thick and thin strokes of the characters become distorted. Entering values in these fields does not affect the point size of the type.
FIGURE 4-14. Squashing and Stretching Type
Sometimes, you need to raise the baseline of a character or characters above the baseline of the surrounding text (or lower it below the baseline). In pre-DTP typesetting, we would accomplish this by decreasing or increasing the leading applied to the character. However, that won’t work in modern programs—remember, in InDesign the largest leading in the line predominates. Instead, use the Baseline Shift field in the Character panel or Control panel (see Figure 4-15).
Enter an amount in the Baseline Shift field to shift the baseline of the selected text by that amount. As you’d expect, positive values move the selected text up from the baseline; negative values move the selected text down from the baseline.
FIGURE 4-15. Baseline Shift
While it’s tempting to use Baseline Shift to adjust numbers in formulae, registered trademark symbols, and so on, it’s better to use the Superscript or Subscript features.
Baseline Shift Keyboard Shortcuts. To apply baseline shift using your keyboard, select some text and press Option-Shift-Up arrow/Alt-Shift-Up arrow to move the baseline of the text up two points—or whatever value you’ve entered in the Baseline Shift field of the Units & Increments Preferences dialog box, or Option-Shift-Down arrow/Alt-Shift-Down arrow to shift it down by the same distance.
To shift the baseline of the selected text up by a distance equal to five times the value you entered in the Units & Increments Preferences dialog box, press Command-Option-Shift-Up arrow/Ctrl-Alt-Shift-Up arrow. To shift the baseline down by the same amount, press Command-Option-Shift-Down arrow/Ctrl-Alt-Shift-Down arrow.
When you apply skewing to a range of characters, InDesign slants the vertical axis of the type by the angle you enter here (see Figure 4-16). You can enter from –85 degrees to 85 degrees. Positive skew values slant the type to the right; negative values slant it to the left.
FIGURE 4-16. Skewing Text
This might be useful as a special text effect, but you shouldn’t count on it to provide an “italic” version of a font family that lacks a true italic type style. Why? Because there’s more to an italic font than simple slanting of the characters (see Figure 4-17).
FIGURE 4-17. Real and Fake Italic Characters
The language you choose for a range of text determines the dictionary InDesign uses to hyphenate and check the spelling of the text (see Figure 4-18). Because language is a character-level attribute, you can apply a specific language to individual words—which means you can tell InDesign to stop flagging “frisson” or “gemütlichkeit” as misspelled words, if you want. The only languages that show up in the Language pop-up menu in the Character panel or Control panel are those for which you have a dictionary installed. If the language you’re looking for isn’t in this list, then you can use the InDesign installer to install that dictionary for you.
FIGURE 4-18. Assigning a Language
You can change the case of selected characters to All Caps or Small Caps by choosing All Caps or Small Caps from the Character panel menu (see Figure 4-19). InDesign does not replace the characters themselves; it simply changes they way they look and print. To InDesign’s spelling checker or Find and Change features, the text is exactly as it was entered—not the way it appears on your screen.
FIGURE 4-19. All Caps and Small Caps
When you choose Small Caps from the Character panel menu (or press Command-Shift-H/Ctrl-Shift-H), InDesign examines the font used to format the selected text. If the font is an OpenType font, and if the font contains a set of true small caps characters, InDesign uses true small caps. InDesign is also smart enough to do this if you have a non-OpenType font that has an “Expert” version. If the font is not an OpenType font, doesn’t have an Expert font available, or doesn’t contain small caps characters, InDesign scales regular uppercase characters down to 70 percent (or whatever value you entered in the Small Cap field of the Type pane of the Preferences dialog box, as described in Chapter 1, “Workspace”).
In addition to being able to temporarily change the case of characters using the case options, you can have InDesign change the case of the characters by typing new characters for you using the Change Case submenu (which you’ll find on the Type menu and on the context menu when text is selected).
To change the case of selected characters, choose an option: Uppercase, Lowercase, Title Case, or Sentence Case. Uppercase and Lowercase are self-explanatory. Sentence Case capitalizes the first letter of each sentence. Title Case is very simpleminded: it capitalizes the first character of each word in the selection, even if the word is “the,” “and,” or another preposition or article (see Figure 4-20).
FIGURE 4-20. Changing Case
When you choose Underline from the Character panel menu, click the Underline button in the Control panel, or press Command-Shift-U/Ctrl-Shift-U, InDesign applies an underline to the selected text (see Figure 4-21).
FIGURE 4-21. Underline
To customize the underline, select Underline Options from the Character panel menu or the Control panel menu to display the Underline Options dialog box, where you’ll find controls for setting the thickness, offset, color, and stroke style of the underscore. You can’t save these settings as a style or preset, but you can build them into the definition of a character style.
Breaking at Spaces. InDesign’s underline also includes any spaces in the selection. Some designs require that underlines break at spaces in the text. You could laboriously select each space and turn off the underline attribute, by why not use Find/Change to do the work for you? Find a space in the selection with the Underline attribute, then replace it with a space with Underline turned off.
Breaking Underlines at Descenders. We said that there was no way to break underlines at descenders—but there is an inelegant workaround: apply a white stroke to the characters. The stroke will overlap the underline. You can use Find/Change to search for characters with descenders (such as the “j” or the “y”) and use the Format button in the Change To area to give them a stroke.
Highlighting Text. Want to make some text look as if it’s been highlighted with a felt “highlight” marker? You can simulate the effect using a custom underline (see Figure 4-22). Make your underline larger than the text it’s supposed to cover and apply a negative offset so that it moves up to cover the text. Be sure to change the color of the underscore to yellow or pink or something that will contrast with the text its highlighting. Note that the color actually falls behind the text, but the effect will be as though the highlight was drawn over it.
FIGURE 4-22. Creating a “Highlight” Effect
You can also create interesting highlight effects by mixing a custom underline with a custom strikethrough. For instance, you could make a line appear above and below some text, sort of like putting the text in a stripe.
When you choose Strikethrough from the Character panel menu (or click the Strikethrough button in the Control panel or press Command-Shift-?/Ctrl-Shift-?), InDesign applies the strikethrough text effect to the selected text (see Figure 4-23). To remove the Strike-through text effect, select the feature or press the keystroke again.
FIGURE 4-23. Strikethrough
The strikethrough style isn’t particularly consistent; it changes its thickness and distance from the baseline depending on the font. However, you can control the strikethrough style by selecting Strike-through Options from the Character or Control panel menu. The options here are very similar to those in the Underline Options dialog box: You can adjust the thickness, color, offset (from the baseline), and style of the line. If you’re applying a colored strikethrough on top of black text, you may want to set it to overprint so that it won’t knock out a fine white line—which would be difficult to register on press. If so, make sure you like the result by turning on Overprint Preview (from the View menu).
Some character combinations are just trouble—from a typesetting standpoint, at least. In particular, when you combine the lowercase “f” character with “f,” “i,” or “l,” the tops of the characters run into each other. To compensate for this, type designers usually provide ligatures—special characters in the font that are “tied” (“ligature” means “tie”) together.
When you choose Ligatures from the Character panel’s menu, InDesign replaces some of the character combinations in the selected range of text with the corresponding ligatures (see Figure 4-24).
FIGURE 4-24. Ligatures
If the font you’ve selected is not an OpenType font, InDesign replaces only the “fl” and “fi” character combinations. In Windows, InDesign uses these ligature characters if they’re available in the font (and they are, for most PostScript Type 1 fonts), even though they are not part of the Windows character set—that is, there is usually no way to type them. If the font you’ve selected is an OpenType font, InDesign makes the ligature substitutions are suggested by the font.
OpenType fonts can also feature other sorts of ligatures—for more on this topic, see “OpenType Fonts,” later in this chapter.
Superscript and Subscript
While you can always create superscript or subscript characters (for use in fractions or exponential notation) by changing the point size and baseline shift of selected characters, InDesign provides a shortcut: the Superscript and Subscript text effects (see Figure 4-25).
FIGURE 4-25. Superscript and Subscript
When you select Superscript or Subscript from the Character panel menu, InDesign scales the selected text and shifts its baseline. (You can also press Command-Shift-=/Ctrl-Shift-= for superscript or Command-Option-Shift-=/Ctrl-Alt-Shift-= for subscript.) InDesign calculates the scaling and baseline shift by multiplying the current text size and leading by the values you’ve set in the Size fields in the Advanced Type pane of the Preferences dialog box (see “Text Preferences” in Chapter 1, “Workspace”).
If you are using an OpenType font that has true Superscript and Subscript characters, use Superscript/Superior and Subscript/Inferior options in the OpenType submenu (see below).
This one is really easy to explain: To prevent a range of text from breaking across lines, select the text and turn on the No Break option in the Character or Control panel menu.