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

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

Text and Tables in InDesign

  • Print
  • + Share This
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.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

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