InDesign lets you indent paragraphs from the left side, right side, or both sides of the column or text frame. You can also indent the first line of a paragraph independently of the rest of the paragraph. If Inset Spacing is specified in the Text Frame Options dialog box (Object ‚ Text Frame Options, or z +B or Ctrl+B), text is indented from the inset value. To apply indents, you use either the Control palette, the Paragraph pane (Window ‚ Type & Tables ‚ Paragraph, or Option+ z +T or Ctrl+Alt+T).
The easy part of creating first-line indents, hanging indents, bulleted lists, and numbered lists in InDesign is using the software. The hard part can be deciding how much space to use. How do you decide how deep to make a first-line indent? How much space goes between a bullet and the text following it? Amateur publishers or designers, who are likely to be thinking in inches rather than points or picas, are likely to use too much space. They're tempted to use 0.25", 0.125", or another nice dividend of an inch for spacing rather than a more appropriate value such as 6 points. When deciding on spacing, consider the following:
First-line indents that indicate new paragraphs should generally be one or two em spaces wide. The width of an em space is equal to the point size in use ‚ so 10-point text should have a 10- or 20-point first-line indent. Opt for less space in narrower columns to avoid awkward space and more space in wider columns so the spacing is evident.
As you remember from grade-school outlines, indents help organize information, with deeper indents indicating more detail about a topic. Professional publications , though, have many organizational options ‚ such as headlines, subheads, and run-in heads ‚ so they rarely have a need for more than two levels of indents. You might use indents on lengthy quotes, bulleted lists, numbered lists, kickers, and bylines. If you do, stick to the same amount of indent for each so the readers' eyes don't wander.
In bulleted lists, use a hanging indent for a succession of two- or three-line bulleted paragraphs in wider columns. If your bulleted items are five or six lines long, especially in narrow columns, it might work better to use run-in heads to break up the information.
Generally, the amount of space between a bullet and its text is equal to half the point size of the text. So if you're working with 11-point text, place 5.5 points between the bullet and text.
When it comes to numbered lists, you need to decide whether you're going to include a period or other punctuation after the number and whether you'll ever have two-digit numbers. Numerals in most typefaces are the width of an en space, and they should be followed by the same amount of space the numbers and their punctuation take up. If you have a two-digit numeral, the numbers take up one em space and so should be followed by one em space.
While these values give you a good starting point, you might need to modify them based on the typeface, font size, column width, design, and overall goals of the publication.
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For more on indenting and other paragraph settings, see Chapter 18. When you have a setting that works, create a paragraph style using it, as explained in Chapter 20.
To indicate a new paragraph, you might indent the first line or put a noticeable amount of space between paragraphs. If you opt to indent the first line, don't do it the typewriter way with tabs. Select the paragraphs, then enter a value in the First Line Left Indent field in the Paragraph pane or Control palette as shown in Figure 19-1. Press Shift+Return or Shift+Enter to see the results with the field still highlighted; press Return or Enter to get out of the pane and back into the document.
In hanging indents, the first few characters of text (often a number or bullet) are aligned with the left margin while the remaining lines in the paragraph are indented. Notice the numbered items in Figure 19-2; the text that makes up the rest of the paragraphs " hangs " to the right of the numerals.
To create a hanging indent, first separate the textual items, bullets, or numbers from the text with a tab. Note the position of the tab, then specify a left indent for the paragraphs at the same location. Use the Left Indent field in the Control palette or Paragraph pane. Then enter the same value in the first-line indent field ‚ except make the value negative to pull the first line back. For example, if you have a tab at 1.75", use a left indent of 1.75", and a first-line indent of ‚ 1.75". Figure 19-2 shows the same text as in Figure 19-1, formatted with an indent hang of 0.5".
Publishers often offset quotes that are longer than a few lines by indenting the paragraph from both sides of the text frame or column. To do this, use the Left Indent and Right Indent fields in the Paragraph pane or Control palette. In general, use the same values you use for first-line indents, and indent both sides the same amount.