13 Replies Latest reply on Sep 14, 2018 4:28 PM by Migintosh

    Can you make two lines of text break together?

    henris21560312 Level 1

      Hello Community,


      this might be an odd question and i have not found any answer to it by searching the web.

      I am currently working on a songbook that consists of alternating lines of lyrics and guitar chords, see this screenshot:



      This currently exists in this form in MS Word and porting it over to InDesign is fairly easy.

      The problem i am having right now is, that i am tasked to prepare this book to be printed as a smaller version of this.

      That makes it neccessary to add some line breaks, because the sheets will be taller (this cannot be changed).

      Having the lines break automatically would cause there to be two chord-lines and two lyric-lines, which renders the page useless, as it is vital, that all of the chords remain above the extact same place of the lyrics.


      Is there any way to "lock" every other line to each other, so that they break together once they hit the edge of the text area, if you know what i mean?


      My goal is to avoid having to manually reformat every song, as there are about 200 songs in total and hitting just the right spot above the lyrics for the chords is pretty work intensive.


      I hope some of the resident geniuses can help me out with this one.





        • 1. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
          Mike Witherell Adobe Community Professional

          Have you considered using a condensed or narrower typeface for the smaller, taller version?

          2 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
            henris21560312 Level 1

            Changing the typeface to a narrower one would shift the relative position of the chords though, and forcing me to correct them all, which is a ton of manual work.


            The one used here is Tahoma Bold, 9pt by the way.


            The only thing i can do is making the type smaller. Currently i'd have to go down to 5,5pt to cancel out most line breaks, which is impractical, as the book will be used al lot in poor light.

            • 3. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
              Lukas Engqvist Adobe Community Professional

              One way to solve this is to set up so that the paragraph has "space before" and/or "space after".
              where you do not press return you will get the smaller leading (line space) when you press return you get the additional space.



              If you want to force a line down use forced line break (shift-return) and it will go down ot the next line without getting the additional space associated with paragraph break.


              (If you show hidden characters it will help you see the invisible formating)

              There is also Keep options that you can use to keep the whole paragraph together if you want to ensure that page breaks are between verses.

              3 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                vinny38 Level 5

                Almost impossible without a script (or huge manual work)

                Have a look at this one, you might find it helpful: Songbook with guitar chords

                2 people found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                  henris21560312 Level 1

                  That script looks interesting, i'll take a closer look once i find the time.


                  Well, it might be time for me to get into scripting.



                  Thanks all for your answers, i apprechiate it.

                  • 6. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                    jane-e Adobe Community Professional

                    It might be worth hiring a scripter, Henri. If you have anchored objects for the chords, then it will make it easier the next time and the time after that when more layout changes occur. There is an InDesign Scripting forum if you want to ask questions there.

                    1 person found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                      henris21560312 Level 1

                      Thanks for the hint.

                      Hiring a scripter is a bit too much for this project, but i'm eager to dive into the matter myself.


                      I'll check out the scripting forum.

                      • 8. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                        jane-e Adobe Community Professional

                        Also, sorry, but why are the "e chords" lower case?

                        • 9. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                          henris21560312 Level 1

                          Upper case for major chords and lower case for minor chords

                          • 10. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                            [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                            henris21560312  wrote


                            Hiring a scripter is a bit too much for this project, but i'm eager to dive into the matter myself.


                            I'll check out the scripting forum.


                            How are the chords aligned now? (Presumably with spaces and tabs.) Is there a regular return at the end of that line, or is it something else such as a shift-return? Or are they placed as floating boxes, scattered over the pages?


                            How hard it is to write a script depends a lot on details such as these. If your author has been working consistently, great! If it's a messy writer and had to use everything available in Word to get it to align "on screen" only, not so great -- and not eminently scriptable.


                            If it's just spaces and tabs, you can search for lines containing just whitespace and single letters. Then, on each letter inspect its horizontalOffset and find a nearest corresponding point in the text line immediately below; that's where to add an anchored object. Insert one, copy the chord into it, on to the next.

                            3 people found this helpful
                            • 11. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                              henris21560312 Level 1

                              The chords are aligned using only spaces, there is a regular return at the end of every line.

                              If i got it right, that sounds like good preconditions to create a script.


                              I have some other stuff on my plate for now, but i'll dive into it in a couple of days and see what i can come up with, you have certainly helped me a lot and pushed me in the right direction, thank you.

                              • 12. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                                boots_n_patches Level 1

                                not  so  fast,  folks … this  is  very  ‘doable’  with  indesign  by  itself … in  fact,  this  is  specifically  what  indesign  was  developed  for … and,  no,  plugins/scripts  are  not  needed.


                                method  #1  deals  with  two  features (tracking, baseline-shift)  residing  in  the  character-palette … that’s  all  we  need.  two  caveats  present  themselves … easiest  when  using  monospace-font … also,  can  only  have  one  character.

                                method  #2  utilizes  the  anchor-object.  this  eliminates  the  two  above  caveats.  essentially,  any  proportional  font  will  work … as  well  as  multiple  characters.


                                as  inferred  earlier,  this  is  possible (without scripts/plugins) … and,  in  fact,  i  will  elaborate  by  showing  this  very  ‘clean’  method.  having  spent  an  hour  or  two … trouble-shooting  the  various  issues … one  caveat  is  that  it’s  advisable  using  a  monospace (fixed-width, fixed-pitch)  font.  a  second  caveat  also  reared  it’s  ugly  head … only  one  character  is  allowed  using  method  #1.


                                the  reason  i  state  this  approach  is  ‘clean’ …

                                    •    not  necessary  to  implement  plugins  or  scripts  to  achieve  your  means (eliminating crashes too)

                                    •    not  dependent  on  certain  releases  or  versions  of  indesign …

                                    •    can  apply  these  effects  to  standards  that  has  already  been  created / implemented.

                                    •    heck … i  have  no  doubt  this  would  also  work  in  illustrator (though i have not tried).

                                    •    does  not  utilize  "grep"  or  "styles".


                                am  using  mac-osx (10.12.6) sierra (indd-cs6) … also  worked  fine  on  my  indd-cs4  setup  at  home.


                                method  #1 …



                                    •    want  a  musical  “chord”  to  flow  with,  or  anchor  to,  certain  character  of  the  sentence

                                    •    use  monospace-font

                                    •    will  be  using  “tracking”  value (character-palette)

                                    •    will  be  using  “baseline-shift”  value (character-palette)

                                essentially,  you  will  be  super-imposing  the  “chord”  above  the  character  you  wish  as  your  anchor



                                    •    character-palette  in  constant-view

                                    •    choose  appropriate  fonts (monospace preferred)

                                    •    choose  appropriate  font-size

                                    •    set  up  defined  text-boxes  to  act  as  surrogates


                                i  have  my  character-palette  set  up:

                                andale-mono (monospace font)


                                normal  text:  12pt

                                    •    leading:  auto

                                    •    kerning:  metrics

                                    •    tracking:  0

                                    •    scaling:  100%

                                    •    baseline-shift:  0


                                chord-text:  24pt

                                    •    leading:  auto

                                    •    kerning:  metrics

                                    •    tracking:  -600

                                    •    scaling:  100%

                                    •    baseline-shift:  20pt


                                Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 10.47.56 AM (edited).png


                                create  your  text-box  "surrogate"  in  the  pasteboard  to  the  right … this  is  merely  a  “work-place’  acting  as  template  to  each  specific  “chord”  instance  that  you  wish  to  use … 1x2”  rectangle  will  suffice.  so,  as  not  to  confuse  yourself  while  composing … you  might  use  #  symbol (pound-sign)  as  default  character.


                                type  #  at  24pt … then  highlight  that  #-symbol  and  establish  it  as  -600(tracking)  and  20(baseline-shift) … your  values  may  differ.  when  you  actually  type  in  the  first  “chord”  which  is  lower-case  “e” … you  will  position  the  mouse-cursor  in  front  of  the  #-symbol.  the  reason  in  doing  this  is  because  the  value  may  not  adhere  if  you  simply  replace  #-symbol  with  “e”  character.


                                Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 2.23.39 PM (edited).png


                                now … let’s  write  your  first  stanza … in  your  normal  document  text-frame … as  you  normally  would:

                                “true, you ride the finest horse i’ve ever seen … standing sixteen one or two with eyes wild and green … and you ride the horse so well,  hands light to the touch … i could never go with you… no matter how i wanted to.”


                                you  are  wanting  “e”  as  your  first  chord … so,  in  the  surrogate  text-box,  edit  the  #-symbol … by  typing  “e”  before  #-symbol.  what  appears  above  the  text-box  is  two  characters  in  front  of  each  other.  however,  in  the  actual  text-box,  itself … you  will  realize  there  are  two  characters.  “e”  is  before  “#” … so  highlight  the  first  character … look  at  the  palette,  and  make  sure  the  values  have  been  retained … then,  “copy”  that  character  to  your  clipboard.


                                you  have  the  “e”  suspended  in  your  clipboard … you  now  want  to  “paste”  the  “e” … position  it  at  the  first  character  of  your  stanza (“t” of “true”).  soon  as  you  paste  it,  the  “e”  should  magically  appear  above  the  “t”  character.  of  course,  there  will  be  a  very  tiny  ‘space’  which  is  inhabited  with  the  anchor … but  this  should  not  be  noticeable  space (if you set up -600 correctly).


                                the  next  “chord”  is  “C” … go  back  to  your  surrogate  text-box … and  highlight  the  “e”  and  type  “C” … "copy/paste"  that  “C”  character  to  the  “,”  character  in  your  stanza … etc.  etc.  etc.


                                you  forgot  a  character  or  a  whole  word  in  your  stanza?  want  to  change  other  words? simply  type  in  that  word … the  “chords”  will  flow  right  along  with  the  “anchors”  you  created.  want  to  change  the  font-family  of  the  lyrics (not the chord-character) … no   problem.


                                at  differing  times  of  the  project … make  sure  everything  prints  out  to  *.pdf  or  even  to  your  postscript  proofer.



                                1. in  the  beginning,  you  may  wish  to  assign  tracking  of  -400 (instead of -600) … so  you  can  actually  “see”  the  copy/paste  character  in  transit … you  can  always  revise  by  highlighting  and  adjusting  value — on  the  fly.
                                2. the  reason  we  use  monospace  fonts … proportional  characters  differ  greatly  in  how  much  space  they  use … “w”  takes  a  lot  more  space  than  “i”  when  using  proportional  characters.  monospace (fixed-width, fixed-pitch)  inhabit  the  same  amount  of  space … no  matter  which  character  is  supplanted.
                                3. with  extended  setup  times … theoretically,  you  could  use  other  fonts(proportional)  for  the  chords.  instead  of  having  only  one  “surrogate”  text-box … you’d  have  a  surrogate  for  each  “chord”  you  are  using … A, a, B, b, C, c, etc … each  one  having  different  "tracking"  values.
                                4. you  can  also  use  ‘guitar-chord’  font … enlarge  that  font,  so  as  to  be  able  to  discern  the  figures.
                                5. there  is  a  slight  play  with  "leading"  along  the  way … use  your  best  judgement.


                                method  #2 …



                                not  gonna’  go  into  a  lot  of  detail  with  anchors … will  post  a  couple  screen-caps … will  also  offer  a  couple  links … for  those  newbies  out  there  who  wish  to  capture  a  firm  grasp  on  the  concept.  the  remainder  is  self-explanatory.  suffice  it  to  say … indesign's  anchor  has  been  around  since  early  cs-series … the  interface  has  not  changed  one  bit  through  the  current  version.


                                couple  points  to  interject …

                                setup  your  "anchor"  before  opening  any  document … it  should  then  retain  the  chosen  formatting  you  assign  as  default.

                                i  utilized  a  chord  “font”  for  the  guitar  symbols … these  can  be  replaced  with  *.tif  or  *.ps  or  *.ai  images  if  so  desired.


                                Image1 (edited).png Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 9.22.10 AM (edited).png




                                1 person found this helpful
                                • 13. Re: Can you make two lines of text break together?
                                  Migintosh Level 4

                                  Have you considered using a music engraving program like Finale or Sibelius? You can attach lyrics and chord symbols to specific beats, and you don't have to show the rhythms if you only want to see the lyrics.


                                  If you want to use InDesign, I'd recommend not having a line of chord symbols followed by a line of lyrics unless you are OK with reworking them manually. I'd put the chord symbols next to the word they go with, either with baseline shift and tracking, or as custom anchored text frames, as was described above. That way, if you have to rework them, the chords will remain attached to the correct word.

                                  1 person found this helpful