As someone who has been typesetting the work of translators in InDesign documents for most of the last decade, I've come to the conclusion that there is often no way to tell why someone might have done something as wrong as handle text indents with text frame indent spacing. You can ask, or you can attempt to read the mind of the responsible party - you may have already developed such a sixth sense, if you've been doing this for a while.
I suspect it's because they couldn't figure out how to indent text with the appropriate tools. Or perhaps the designer did understand how to use text indenting but chose not to for unknown reasons. If you read this recent indesignsecrets.com posting you can see one somewhat obscure reason why someone might want to use inset spacing - in order to fool the TOC tool into re-ordering content in a non-standard way.
But it could just as easily be that they wanted text flow in English to occur in a particular way, and it never occurred to 'em that anyone would ever want to flow in a translation in which the text had expanded significantly. If your content has vertical spacing induced by setting text in separate frames and nudging 'em around, then that would speak in favor of the theory "designer doesn't know how to use InDesign to achieve a desired effect." I'd use inset spacing if e.g. I was placing a callout into a frame with a stroke on it, and I didn't want the text hard against the stroke, but wanted some spacing between the text and stroked frame, all the way around. You know, as if I wanted the text inset from the frame. That's why I, personally, would use inset spacing.
Two points I'd like to add to my little screed:
1) If we could see your document - either a screen shot with the guides and frame edges and etc. visible, or the document itself - we'd have a much better chance of figuring out why text frame inset was used to make text indents, whether or not it was the "right" thing to do
2) Of course, there's no strong reason why using indent is "right" and text frame inset is "wrong." There are a pile of weak reasons, for sure, but in general, InDesign usually has multiple routes to any given desired goal, and while one may be strongly preferred in one circumstance in one workflow, it might be less preferable in another. Often there's one that is obviously the best, but in this case, after seeing how screed-like my posting was, I'd like to back off a bit and say - well, maybe there are very strong reasons I don't know about to use text frame inset instead of indent.
Thanks for the input Joel. Most of what I do is technical/product
information pieces so there really are no long flowing text blocks. It's
all smaller text blocks sandwiched around all the graphics. I had wondered
what the double line around the text block meant and then Bob Levine said
it was probably inset spacing. Since I knew what it was I wanted to know
why you would use it. Thanks again.
I had wondered what the double line around the text block meant and then Bob Levine said it was probably inset spacing. Since I knew what it was I wanted to know why you would use it.
With an inset you can make what might take two text frames with one and still use paragraph indents for the actual indent, like this (one text frame on the left two on the right):
The version on the left could be widened and the text would automatically stay centered
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Text inserts in blocks are often a sign the document was originally created in QuarkXpress.
When these are opened/converted in InDesign most of the text blocks have insert amounts on all four side of the text blocks. (also same amount)
I think I remember years ago hearing about some scripts that can find all the text blocks with inserts and set them back to normal. Try Googling for this.
thanks for the info Bo,
I was replying directly from my e-mail program when I placed the image. I
guess I need to reply directly from the forum page.
The text blocks did have the same inset spacing on all four sides. I'm not
sure if our vendor originally created this piece in Quark or not.
It's more a curiosity than a hindrance. I just reset the spacing for the
block I happen to working with.