9 Replies Latest reply: Mar 22, 2012 2:13 AM by Eugene Tyson RSS

    Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?

    NightEd-UK

      Take a look at the two screen grabs. In this first one the price £48.25 fits at the end of the fourth line.

      Picture 27.png

      But I want to split the paragraph at that point. Look what happens when I do:

      Picture 25.png

       

      Why does it do that? As you see from the first example, the type will fit happily on the line above with the same hyphenation and justification settings. Why should splitting the paragraph make a difference?

       

      This feature enrages every production journalist on my UK national newspaper every working day of our lives. We don't like to put minus tracking on text and the only other way I know to counteract this effect is to reduce the word space values in the justification settings for the affected paragraph (we're working in Single Line Composer, by the way – Paragraph Composer makes it even worse). Sometimes even that doesn't work without everything looking too squished. If we can't edit the text to solve the issue (and why should we if we're otherwise happy with it?) then we have to construct a fake new paragraph using fixed spaces for the indent and baseline shift to create the 1pt space we insert between pars.

       

      The font in this example is Corporate E Bold, in case that has any bearing.

       

      Is there any other way round this, some mystical unknown setting that turns it off? If not, was it ever fixed in later versions of InDesign? My company uses CS3 and is not likely to update it for many years.

       

      Thanks

        • 1. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
          Eugene Tyson CommunityMVP

          Because it uses paragraph composing to adjust for the best possible spacing within a line calculated on other lines here is how it works there are two types

           

          Adobe Single Line Composer

           

          and

           

          Adobe Paragraph Composer

           

           

          Paragraph composer is the default - and here's the rules on how both work:

           

           

          Adobe Single-Line Composer.
          Some programs use single-line composition to flow text. It goes line by line through a paragraph and sets each line as well as possible using the  hyphenation & justification settings. When you modify the spacing of one line then the lines above and below that are not taken into consideration. If you adjust the space within a line it can cause poor spacing on the next line, which as they say in the business - tough luck.

           

          When you use Adobe Single-Line Composer, the following rules apply:

          1. Adjusting word spacing is preferred over hyphenation.
          2. Hyphenation is preferred over glyph spacing.
          3. If spacing must be adjusted, removing a space is preferred over adding a space.

           

           

          Adobe Paragraph Composer

          Adobe Paragraph Composer (which was called the Multi-Line Composer in previous versions) is turned on by default. It takes a broader approach to composition by taking the entire paragraph compoistion in one go. If you have a poorly spaced line it can be fixed by adjusting the spacing in the previous lines, so that the Paragraph Composer reflows the previous line.

           

          The Paragraph Composer is has the following rules:

          1. The evenness of letter spacing and word spacing is the given the highest priority. The possible breakpoints is determined by how much they cause word and letter spacing to vary from the desired settings.
          2. Uneven spacing is preferred to hyphenation. A breakpoint that does not need a hyphenation is preferred over one that does.
          3. All possible breakpoints are ranked, and good breakpoints are preferred over bad ones.

           

          The paragraph composer is more sophisticated than the single-line option, offering generally better overall spacing because it sacrifices optimal spacing a bit on one line to prevent really bad spacing on another, something the single-line method does not do.

           

           

          There is one frustration in dealing with the paragraph composer: When you try to edit text or play with tracking to get rid of an orphan or widow, the paragraph composer keeps adjusting the text across several lines, often counteracting your nips and tucks. The single-line composer doesn’t do that.

          • 2. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
            Eugene Tyson CommunityMVP

            As you can see in your original - the spacing is terrible in the paragraph before the split.

             

            After you split the paragraph it realises now there is more room to move the text spacing around and does so.

             

             

            You can force it back by selecting the two words at the end of the paragraph and apply a No Break

             

             

            There is a GREP around somewhere to find all Widows/Runts in paragraphs and apply No Break - but I can't remember it off the top of my head.

            • 3. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
              NightEd-UK Community Member

              Eugene Tyson wrote:

               

              You can force it back by selecting the two words at the end of the paragraph and apply a No Break

               

               

              Thanks for the suggestion, but in this instance and one other I just tried, applying No Break to the last two words did this instead:

               

              Picture 28.png

              • 4. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
                Peter Spier CommunityMVP

                The paragraph composer really does a much better job of calculating spacing than you can do manually, and if you start adding No Break you limit the ability of the algorithm to work properly, especially with justified text in a narrow column and no hyphens, as it seems you have.

                 

                It actually wouldn't surprise me to see a highlight in the first example for an H&J violation if you turn on the highlight inthe Compostion section of your prefs. If you want tighter text in general, you should change the justification parameters in your style.

                • 5. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
                  Eugene Tyson CommunityMVP

                  Yeh the No Break idea was just that, an idea. If it doesn't come back, then you can do other things, like reduce the kerning, or even worse -  you could apply a horizontal scale.

                   

                  All these are just ideas, and probably bad ideas. As the program calculates the space better. You could try switching to Single Line Composer (in the paragraph panel sub menu or in the Paragraph Style).

                   

                  But all in all - it's adjusting for better spacing.

                  • 6. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
                    NightEd-UK Community Member

                    Thanks very much for taking the trouble to reply, chaps, especially Eugene. Please note I did say in my original question that we're already using Single Line Composer. Hyphenation is not turned off on any of the paragraphs.

                     

                    I still don't understand WHY this happens. The first four lines in my first example are fine for our purposes. Cut and paste them on top of the second example where the fifth line is a new indented paragraph and it will look perfectly OK. The price and the full point clearly fit on to the end of fourth line without changing our default justification, tracking or horizontal scale settings, which were carefully customised for our purposes after a lot of experimentation when we last changed our body font (see screen grab below). InDesign is happy with that result when the paragraph is running on below. So why don't the same four words fit any more just because a paragraph mark is applied at the end? There is no logic to it.

                     

                    To give you some context, we're a tabloid paper and our stock-in-trade is editing news stories from original texts that could be 2,000 words long to maybe 120 words in the finished version. Every word and every bit of space counts and we don't have paragraphs in the paper where the last line is less then half full, let alone widows.

                     

                    It seems like there's no way out of this other than to tweak the settings every time it happens, and if that's the case then some of us already know all the ways you can do this and others are so un-techy they'll never have a hope of grasping it. So if there's no simple way out, this is not so much a question as a complaint to Adobe. They are obviously not going to change anything on CS3 now, but whatever internal setting is turning these words round when you split a paragraph needs to be something you can adjust or just turn off in future versions.

                     

                    There are more than 100 people in our company who curse this serious fault in the progam (and that is what it is) every single working day. It's the only significant negative we've discovered since switching from an antique version of Quark 18 months ago.

                     

                    Screen Shot 2012-03-21 at 23.17.34.png

                    • 7. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
                      [Ariel] Community Member

                      By the way, often applying "full justification" aka "justify all lines"

                      pulls a short last line back to the previous line without having to play

                      with any settings, such as tracking, H&J, etc.

                       

                      Ariel

                      • 8. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
                        NightEd-UK Community Member

                        Arïel wrote:

                         

                        By the way, often applying "full justification" aka "justify all lines"

                        pulls a short last line back to the previous line without having to play

                        with any settings, such as tracking, H&J, etc.

                         

                        Ariel

                         

                        Thank you Arïel - this appears to be the magic bullet I was looking for. Just tried it in a dozen different paragraphs and it worked every time. Only downside is that it will cause reflow problems if the text is re-edited or the geometry adjusted, but that's a small price to pay. Thank you so much.

                        • 9. Re: Why does InDesign create widows when you split a paragraph?
                          Eugene Tyson CommunityMVP

                          I still don't understand WHY this happens.

                           

                          I explained it in the first post. There is logic to it - it works by calculating either line by line - or by calculating the best spacing per paragraph, depending on whether you have single line composer or paragraph composer.

                           

                          In your first example the text would look awkward if the price was moved the next line - try it yourself by inserting a soft return (shift return)

                           

                          In your first example, the best spacing for that line was applied.

                           

                          When  you entered a return, it was calculated that there would be better spacing if the number was moved to the next line.

                           

                           

                          It's always looking for the best spacing.