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Text and Tables in InDesign

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Old school publication designers and production artists — the ones who remember waxers and press-on type — know that the make-or-break feature of any page layout program is how it handles type. This chapter covers the text and table options available in InDesign CS2.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Drop shadows? Who Cares. Button states? Big deal. Old school publication designers and production artists — the ones who remember waxers and press-on type — know that the make-or-break feature of any page layout program is how it handles type. Importing, threading, formatting, and tweaking a document's text usually account for the lion's share of layout work. If the program's default way of handling type-related tasks constantly works against you, creating professionally-typeset stories with it is a frustrating journey down a long and weary road.

Thus, InDesign arrives on the pro's desktop as welcome as a tall glass of cold spring water after a long walk 'cross a West-Texas county. Due to the quiet elegance of InDesign's Paragraph Composer and the common-sense justification default settings, type in InDesign simply looks better right from the start. Add to that the power and flexibility of its Open Type support (that cool Glyphs palette!); ingenious time-savers like nested styles and the Story Editor; and the incredibly rich table formatting options (struggles with tabular columns of text fade into distant memory); and you've got yourself a mighty text machine there, my friend.

With so many power features, and the ubiquitous need to work with them, regardless of publication type; it's no wonder this chapter is the longest in the book! Drink well, and drink deeply.

Selecting and Editing

Get a Word Count


Our authors give us Microsoft Word files for stories, but I can't figure out how to give them the word count they should be aiming for. I can set and style placeholder text in the layout file, but how can I then count the words so I can tell the authors what their target count is before they start to write? InDesign doesn't have a Word Count function like Microsoft Word.


Indeed it do! After you fill your frames with dummy text (choose Type > Fill with Placeholder Text), click anywhere in the frame with your Type tool and look at the Info palette. You'll see a count for that story's characters, words, lines and paragraphs. Or, if you select some text, you'll see a word count for that selected text.

If you install the free TextCount.js script (see page 162 for more on scripts), you can also get a count of all the words in a selection, even across multiple frames — useful if a feature story contains unthreaded text frames — or all the words in an entire InDesign file.

Select Spaces and Punctuation


When I double-click a word and delete it or cut it to the clipboard, InDesign doesn't remember to delete/cut the word's trailing space; leaving behind two spaces in a row.


We can tell you're probably using InDesign CS because they fixed this in CS2. Yes, it's a pain. Try this: Double-click the word as usual, then press Shift/Left- or Shift/Right-arrow on your keyboard. That adds a single character or space to the selection. Tapping Shift/Right-arrow a couple times is also handy for selecting a comma (for example) and a space to the right of a selected word.

If you are using InDesign CS2, then someone snuck onto your machine and turned off the Adjust Spacing Automatically When Cutting and Pasting Words checkbox in the Type panel of the Preferences dialog box. Turn that back on and you'll be in hog heaven.

Accessing Overset Text


InDesign shows the same red overset icon whether I'm over by one character or ten thousand. I wish I could quickly select and cut — or even just peek at — what's actually causing the overset, without resizing the frame or creating a temporary threaded one.


If you're pretty sure you want to get rid of the overset text (such as if it's due to trailing empty carriage returns), you can quickly place the cursor at the end of the visible text and then press the “Select to End (of story)” keyboard shortcut: Command-Shift-End/Ctrl-Shift-End. That's the “End” key on your keyboard, usually above the arrow keys by the Home and Page Up/Down ones.Now you can press Delete or cut the text to the clipboard.

More often, though, the overset text has important content you may want to keep. You can see that content — and edit it — without messing with the text frame. Open the Story Editor (Edit > Edit in Story Editor) or press Command-Y/Ctrl-Y to see all the text in your story, including overset text, in a new, “just for editing” window. InDesign CS2 even offers an easy-to-identify “overset” marker in the Story Editor window.

As you work in the Story Editor, the layout view of the story keeps pace with your edits. Once you've cut enough copy in the Story Editor, the overset icon in the layout's view of the text frame disappears. Perfecto! Close the Story Editor window or press Command-Y/Ctrl-Y again to return to the layout.

The Info palette also comes in handy here. As long as the Type tool is active in the story — in either Layout or Story Editor — the Info palette shows a live readout of how much text, if any, is overset — it's the number of words after the plus sign (Figure 3-1).


Figure 3-1 The Info palette tells you if and by how much text is overset by adding a + symbol after its usual copy counts (characters, words, lines and paragraphs).

Quick Story Editor/Layout Jumping


I made some extensive edits to a multiple-page story in the Story Editor window. When I close the window, I always have to spend precious minutes scrolling through the layout to find the copy I just edited.


It's a natural tendency to click on any visible portion of the document page to bring that window to the front, or to do as you did, which was clicking the Story Editor's Close box to close it altogether. Resist the impulse, and instead use its keyboard shortcut to jump back and forth. When you press Command/Ctrl-Y, InDesign jumps to the Story Editor window or the document layout window (whichever is not currently active) and automatically scrolls to match the current text cursor position.

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