Columns vertically uneven in Indesign
August 27, 2007 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Typographers of the world, help me! How does one get lines of type to line up precisely in a two-column format?

I've begun using Adobe Indesign, and have run into a problem that I can find little to no information on fixing. In my document, I have two columns of text per page, and the text autoflows from column to column to column. Sprinkled throughout the text are titles or headings. However, as you can see from the examples below, a title or heading appearing in a column will make the text below it vertically misaligned with the column next to it.

Good alignment (no headings)
Misalignment after a heading

What is the best way to tackle this problem so that text in the two columns is always aligned properly, without me having to go through and fix each instance through trial and error? This document is quite long, and I am making changes along the way, so fixing each place it happens is not really practical. What combination of leading and space-before- and space-after-paragraph numbers (or other settings I don't know about) will defeat this?
posted by deadcowdan to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Determine how much to adjust the leading below your heading so that lines of text that come after the heading will have the same baseline as the adjacent column. Then set up a Character Style for the heading with that leading, and use Character styles instead of manually adjusting font/size/style/etc.
posted by willnot at 11:27 AM on August 27, 2007

Previously related.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:33 AM on August 27, 2007

1. If you aren't already using paragraph styles, start.
2. Figure out some base unit for your horizontal grid. Say, 18pt.
3. Set the leading on all paragraph styles to 18pt or some multiple of that.

You'll want to force all paragraphs to conform to the appropriate style. You could reduce leading and add it back as space-after for headings, although their baselines will be misaligned if you do that (body text will stay correctly aligned).
posted by adamrice at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2007

space before + space after = a multiple of the body text leading
posted by Dean King at 11:46 AM on August 27, 2007

all of the above, plus: in "document setup" you can set a proper baseline grid, where "proper" means: the same figure as the leading you're using in normal text, then under the "paragraph" (ctrl or apple + M) palette, check the "align to baseline grid" button and you're (well, almost) all set.

This also prevents your copy to fall off the grid if you insert oddly-sized elements such as pictures, diagrams or other text boxes.
posted by _dario at 12:16 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sidebar: Leading is the term used to describe the height of the linear space below a line of text. It comes from the strip of lead typographers used to lay down after each typeset line.

I post this because I found the term unaccountably confusing until I learnt about the origin.
posted by Aquaman at 12:16 PM on August 27, 2007

Use a baseline grid Lock all your body copy to the baseline grid, and it will always line up, everywhere, across pages, spreads and no matter how wildly you draw the boxes. Better still: you don't have to do any sums to work out multiples of point sizes or anything like that.

(Just lock the body copy to the grid; headlines don't matter so much)
posted by bonaldi at 12:30 PM on August 27, 2007

Nthing the use of locking yr body text to a baseline grid. It can be annoying at times, but it's the fastest and easiest way.
posted by pfafflin at 1:22 PM on August 27, 2007

Oh man, I hate that. Back in my PageMaker days I used to line them all up by hand.

But now I keep paragraph styles segregated. I would put my header in a different frame.

@bonaldi I've never used baseline grid, but I'm going to now.
posted by sethwoodworth at 3:19 PM on August 27, 2007

Thanks for the baseline grid recommendation. I misunderstood what it did, but it is taking care of my problem in just the way I wanted it to.
posted by deadcowdan at 4:46 PM on August 27, 2007

I actually just learned that turning the baseline grid alignment OFF for an offending paragraph style can fix mis-top-alignment of large-leading headers in some cases. Mentioned here for posterity.
posted by Hey, Cupcake! at 5:52 PM on August 27, 2007

Yes, you usually don't want headlines locked to the grid, just body copy. It can work, but you have to start doing sums to make sure the point size of the font is some multiple of the baseline grid's leading, and sums suck.
posted by bonaldi at 6:54 PM on August 27, 2007

« Older Topics for a Talk on Business Blogging   |   Insurance for pre-existing conditions Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.