InDesign 2.0: Hidden Baseline Grids

Exposing a Hidden Feature of InDesign 2.0

Does this describe you: Type is your thing. Ensuring that the baselines are consistent is causing a relationship breakdown between you and your partner, dog or manager. You wake up in a cold sweat thinking about bad hyphenation decisions you made during the day.

If so, its time to look at this little hidden feature of InDesign 2.0. It’s not as frivilous as zooming, zapping aliens – but it may change your life. At least a little.

Here’s the problem: you have two flows of text on a page; one master column contains the body copy; and there is also a second column that contains a pull quote, or margin notes that refer to the main body text.

To typeset the text to ensure readability, the appropriate process is to align the baseline of the first lines of each paragraph, with the main body paragraph flowing on the document-wide baseline; and the margin note starting on the same baseline, but the leading flowing appropriate to its smaller type size.

Setting this type manually is a chore. You have to exactly align the baselines of the two text frames. If the text reflows, or the margin quote needs to move – there is many minutes (to hours) of rework to realign your text.

InDesign 2.0 has what Tim Cole (Adobe’s InDesign Evangelist) calls a double-secret feature. Its a little hidden, but worth the effort to uncover to solve this problem and hopefully save the relationship with your pet.

Firstly, we need to ensure that the document has a baseline grid set. To do this, go to Edit>Preferences>Grids. The grouped area “Baseline Grid” contains the settings. Start is the starting position from the top of the document, Increment Every is the baseline setting.

[993] 01 preference

Set the baseline to the appropriate baseline grid for your document.

[994] 02 starting paragraph

[995] 03 align master paragraph

And assign to a paragraph by using the Type>Paragraph palette. The “Align to Baseline Grid” button is in palette as shown.

I have also turned on View>Show Baseline Grid to see where the baselines are… it helps visualise what is going on in our document.

The second paragraph in this instance lies to the right of the body paragraph. Its Character settings are completely different: different point size, leading.

[996] 04 second aligned

If you have not created a custom keyboard shortcut set, Click on the “New Set” button.

Now it is time to sneak up on the double secret feature. It is hidden in the Edit>Keyboard Shortcuts, specifically in the Text and Tables section. Scroll down until you see “Only Align First line to Grid” You will see that there is no keyboard shortcut assigned to this option.

We also need to assign a keyboard shortcut to this option. Click in the New Shortcut area, and type a new Shortcut. Press the keys for your new keyboard shortcut. If the key sequence is currently being used for another command, InDesign displays that command under Current Shortcuts.

The context here is important. The context ensures that the shortcut performs the way you intended. For example, you can assign Ctrl+G to group two cells together (Table context) and Ctrl+G to insert special characters (Text context).

[997] 03a keyboard settings

To enable this feature, assign it to a keyboard shortcut.

Now, back in our original document, we have a right hand “hanging” paragraph. The first step is to set it to the document’s baseline grid. Of course, all of the lines are now aligned to the document’s baseline. We’re one step on the way.

[996] 04 second aligned

Now we use the keyboard shortcut. In my keyboard set, they were assigned using the “Default” context. This means I have to select the text frame using the black arrow (Selection Tool) and type the new shortcut. Voila!

[998] 05 new feature turned on

Please note as I move the right hand paragraph down the page, the baseline for the first line stays aligned to the baseline grid whilst the following lines follow the leading for the paragraph.

[999] 06 moved paragraphs

Note that the you doesn’t have to use the keyboard shortcut on each paragraph. Though there is no UI in the palettes for this feature, it can be saved/captured as part of a paragraph style…the create and redefine functions both ‘see’ this attribute on a paragraph level.

[1006] 07 saved in para styles

The Edit>Keyboard Shortcuts is worth serious investigation. Next time you wake in a cold sweat, just jump onto your InDesign and have a look. Hopefully it will not send you back to sleep…

Thanks to: Tim Cole, Sandee Cohen.

5 thoughts on “InDesign 2.0: Hidden Baseline Grids”

  1. My InDesign didn’t even have “Only Align First line to Grid” under texts and tables! Don’t know why!

  2. Занимаюсь дизайном и хочу попросить автора отправить шаьлончик на мой мыил) Готов заплатить…

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