15 Replies Latest reply on Dec 1, 2011 11:46 AM by John Hawkinson

    Unsightly line and paragraph organization

    luca del carlo Level 1

      I'd wish to get a sense of how others go about formatting the text of a book to avoid the certain arrangements that are generally regarded as unattractive, i.e. the top of a page beginning with the word of a previous paragraph or other similar faux pas. I'm aware of the Keep Options feature to addresses such a problem, but this also tends to also generate new unappealing arrangements, such as when choosing to keep 2 lines together at the end or start of every paragraph, which solves the orphan issue, but then can cause blank space from a moved line at the bottom of a page.

       

      It seems there's no fully automated way to do layout/typography properly and it still comes down to careful tweaking with an experienced eye. In the half dozen titles I've formatted in InDesign so far, I find myself using what I know are probably less than ideal fixes for these problems, such as using kerning to eliminate an orphan. Or is this in fact one of the appropriate options for solving such issues?

       

      What are the major faux pas of line/paragraph layout and how are they generally addressed if there's not an automated solution? Thank you.

        • 1. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

          My method, and I think many others do this too, is to occasionally adjust the height of text frames on a spread to add or remove a line when Keep options alone (or very minor tweaking of kerning/tracking) are not doing the job. If you have sufficent bottom margin space, I don't think most readers are even aware that it's been done.

           

          The other option is to edit, but generally I don't have the authority to change the text in that way.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
            [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

            A widow or orphan is inexcusable. Use Keep Options to have InDesign do that automatically. Better to have a blank line at the bottom of a page than this at the top of a next

             

            <page break>

             

            one.

             

            If I have the time and I am in the proper mindset, I usually can get rid of that white line at the previous page as well. In that case, anything goes: decreasing tracking -- I have a script that sets it to the minimum required --, or increasing it by a minimal amount to make a paragraph one line longer; changing hyphenation -- preferably getting rid of an unsightly one, such as in the middle of a proper name; decreasing or increasing space above or below headings; scaling an image some more to gain or loose some height.

            If all fails and I still want to gain a line, I do what Peter suggests: make the text frame one line longer.

             

            Peter Spier wrote

            I don't think most readers are even aware that it's been done.

             

            Noone ever noticed any of my bag of tricks. On the other hand, noone ever commented my pages were beatiful either. Well, at least I know.

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
              luca del carlo Level 1

              Isn't it interesting sometimes how we assume we're doing things incorrectly, only to learn that indeed this "bag of tricks" is part of the solution?

               

              When attempting to solve issues with tracking, I try to not increase of decrease by more than +/- 10. Certainly the less the better, and it all comes down to judging it with ones eye, but is there a generali limit with how far you'll take the tracking...+/-15, 25? Very curious.

              • 4. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

                Usually when I need more than say +/-7 or 8 -- it depends on the font and column width, and also a bit of visual inspection of the surrounding paragraphs -- I go looking for alternatives. I never go beyond +/-10.

                • 5. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                  Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                  I try to keep to +/- 5 (and I usually kern word spacing before tracking the entire text), and I ALWAYS apply the adjustment to an entire paragraph, not just a single line or word as this allows smaller adjustments (and if you need to add or lose a line, it's easiest to do it in a longer paragraph than a shorter one), but there are occasions when that just doesn't work, so I might creep to as much as +/- 12 if the surrounding text is tight enough or loose enough that it doesn't stand out.

                  • 6. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                    John Hawkinson Level 5

                    In my opinion, it's better to have the entire page with the same tracking if possible.

                    Working in newspapers with 2" columns and 9pt type, we track to +/- 15 (more for headlines, but that's different). Your milage may vary.

                    • 7. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                      Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                      Trying to track an entire page is admirable, but that of necessity is likely to change the number of lines on the page each time (that was the point, after all), so no you have untracked lines added, or tracked lines on another page that moved over. How do you deal with that?

                      • 8. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                        John Hawkinson Level 5

                        OK, two cases:

                         

                        In: You track in the text and some extra lines or characters get added at the end of the frame on the current page. Reselect all the text on the page again and re-adjust the tracking of all to match. It's fairly rare that this will appreciably affect the number of lines, so it's not a big deal. I often use the Cmd-Opt-Q (reset tracking to zero) shortcut followed by Opt-Left (reduce tracking), but you can also just retype the number in the Character panel.

                         

                        Out: This is trickier. Assuming you're starting at the beginning of the story and proceding sequentially, if you track out and thus tracked out lines or characters get pushed to the next page, then you can just click at the end of the current page and hit Cmd-Opt-End (Select to End of Story) and hit Cmd-Opt-Q to reset it's tracking. If you're not going sequentially, then you'll have to manually go to the subsequent page and reset the tracking of the few lines at the top of the page that moved over.

                         

                        I do find it handy to have Preferences > Composition > Highlight: Custom Tracking/Kerning enabled when doing this. That way you get nice green highlighting on non-zero tracking. Unfortunately it's a huge pain to toggle it on and off by default. We have a local script that binds it to a menu item. That's a bit complicated, but the old short version (without menu item) is this:

                         

                        // $Id: toggle-track.jsx 1336 2009-10-11 11:56:36Z jhawk $
                        try {
                                var p=app.activeDocument.textPreferences;
                        }
                        catch (myError) {
                                var p = app.textPreferences;
                        }
                        with (p) highlightCustomSpacing = ! highlightCustomSpacing;
                        

                         

                        Save as toggle-track.jsx in the Scripts folder and bind to (using Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts, Scripts area), e.g., Ctrl-T on a Mac (under Windows you'll need a different keybinding, of course, since Ctrl-T is taken and you don't have a free modifier. Perhaps Alt-Shift-T.)

                         

                        (Hmm, I would have written the script differently today. No "myError" and definitely no "with". Ah, style!)

                        • 9. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                          seems like overkill to me, and I'm surprised you don't have to keep going back and forth if you use the paragraph composer -- with my luck I'd be hitting a case where it would cycle endlessly every time.

                          • 10. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                            Trevorׅ Adobe Community Professional

                            Nice script John,

                             

                            Is there an easy way to highlight character width adjustments?

                            • 11. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                              John Hawkinson Level 5

                              What's a "character width adjustment"? Do you mean the Horizontal Scale % adjustment? If so...no.

                              • 12. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                                Trevorׅ Adobe Community Professional

                                thanks

                                couldn't think of the rigth term when I wrote it.

                                • 13. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                                  luca del carlo Level 1

                                  Now that I've tried adding a line occasionally in my layout by increasing the bottom of the text frame, I must say that it really jumps out; one reads 40 pages with a fixed bottom margin, and then, suddenly, that margin changes and on the adjacent page returns back to normal - this seems conspicuous. Are we really talking about the same approach? Perhaps I'm just hypersensitive to it now.

                                  • 14. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                                    Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                    Try lookig at the layout in Preview mode so you can't see the margin guides, or better yet, make a sample printout and look at random spreads. Do you pick them out? You might if you don't have a lot of space between the last line and a page number marker, but if there's sufficient margin and sufficient space, you probably won't catch it in a print unless you are really looking for it.

                                    • 15. Re: Unsightly line and paragraph organization
                                      John Hawkinson Level 5

                                      Try rereading some favorite books, seeing if you casually notice, and then actually look at the pagesand see how many do this...

                                       

                                      But there's definitely an argument for doing it to both pages of a facing-page spread.