10 pro tips for working with type in InDesign

When it comes to typography, everyone has their own preferences, from typefaces to weight to alignment. InDesign has a number of great features to accommodate the different options available, making working with type an extremely simple and straightforward process.

In this tutorial, I'm going to walk through some of the features I've found most useful in my everyday work on Computer Arts magazine. Focusing mainly on the Character Formatting control panel, I'll show you how these options can be used on a day-to-day basis to help speed up your workflow.

01. Ligatures

The majority of typefaces, particularly serifs, will contain ligatures. For letters that would normally sit uncomfortably next to each other, such as a lowercase 'f' next to an 'i' or 'l', InDesign has a Ligature option in the Control panel menu. When selected, this will automatically address the problem by replacing the characters with a ligature, which is a special character that ties the letters together.

02. Underlining

Found in the flyout menu of the Control panel, the Underline Options dialog box can be used to adjust the alignment and appearance of any underline. By default, the stroke weight of an underline is based on the point size of the text. These options prove particularly useful when you want to apply a consistent underline to sections of text containing different sizes of type.

03. Highlighting

The Underline Options dialog box also provides a great way to apply a highlight to text. By selecting a bright or contrasting colour, increasing the weight and decreasing the offset, you can create a highlight colour to sit behind the text. This is in contrast to the Strikethrough option, also found in the Control panel flyout menu, where the line sits on top of the text hiding, what's below.

04. Nonbreaking spaces

The No Break option in the Control panel flyout menu works by tying together words that need to stay linked within flowing copy. A better alternative to this is The Nonbreaking Space (Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+X) found under the Type>Insert White Space submenu. Unlike No Break, this applies a hidden character, making it easier to spot when editing text at a later date.

05. Copy flow

Adobe Paragraph and Adobe Single-line Composer are alternative ways of controlling copy flow. The Single-line Composer adjusts the spacing and hyphenation on a line-by-line basis, and Paragraph makes these changes based on the requirements of the paragraph. The best option to choose depends on the length of your copy.

Next page: more top type tips!