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InDesign tutorial: Text frame options in InDesign

Changing the number of columns in a text frame

You can change the size and shape of a text frame at any time. In this exercise, you will make a new text frame, and then resize it.

1 Choose the Selection tool (). Click to select the frame you created in the previous exercise, located on the right side of the page below the image. Press the Delete key to delete only this frame. The first column displays the symbol for overset text.

2 Continuing to use the Selection tool, click to select the text frame in the first column. Move the cursor to the right side of the frame and locate the white dot located at the halfway point of the right side of the frame. The white dot is a handle. Click, hold, and drag the handle to the right. As you drag the handle, the column expands so that it overlaps the picture and extends to the right side of the page.

Release the mouse when the text spans the entire width of the page. You will divide this single text frame into two columns.

3 Choose the Type tool () from the Tools panel. In the Paragraph Formatting Options section of the Control panel, type 2 for the number of columns (), then press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS).

4 Continuing to work in the Paragraph Formatting Options section of the Control panel, type .167 in in the gutter field (), which sets the distance between the columns. Press Enter/Return.

Setting the number of columns
and gutter distance.

The text does not flow over the image because the image has text wrap applied to it, causing the text to flow around the image. See Lesson 5, “Designing with Graphics,” for more on text wrap.

5 Choose File > Save to save your work.

Flexible columns

You can have InDesign determine the number of columns that are needed in a text frame rather than specifying an exact number of columns, and InDesign can even determine the width of the columns. Do this by selecting a text frame and then choosing Object > Text Frame Options. In the Text Frame Options dialog box, choose one of the following options from the Columns drop-down menu to have InDesign automatically determine the number of columns to fit into a text frame:

Fixed Width causes InDesign to generate as many columns as fit into the text frame, with all text frames maintaining a specified width.

Flexible Width causes InDesign to create columns that fit between the minimum and maximum size you specify for the columns. If the text frame becomes larger, the columns will be made larger until they reach their maximum size—at which point a new column is added.

Specifying flexible column width using the Text Frame Options controls.

Spanning and splitting columns

You can specify that text in a layout span across columns that are part of a text frame. You could use for a headline, or you could also split a text column into additional columns. You can control spanning or splitting of columns in the Paragraph controls portion of the control panel.

Text can span across columns or
be split into additional columns.

Baseline grid

If you create documents with multiple columns, you can use the baseline grid to align the text across the different columns. In this part of the lesson, you will display the baseline grid, change the grid settings, and align the text to the baseline grid.

Viewing and changing the baseline grid

1 To view the baseline grid, choose View > Grids & Guides > Show Baseline Grid.


The baseline grid guides may not be visible when viewing the document at a magnification less than 100 percent. If the baseline grid is not displaying after selecting the Show Baseline Grid command, increase the magnification at which you are viewing the document.

The baseline grid displays horizontal lines across the page at increments
you can define. You can specify text to be aligned to the grid lines.

If you plan to have text align to the baseline grid, the grid should be spaced at least at the value used for leading for the body copy. Defining the leading values for text was discussed earlier in this lesson. In this exercise, you will adjust the spacing for the document’s baseline grid.

2 Select the Type tool () from the Tools panel and click in the body text in either of the columns on page 4.

3 In the Control panel, click the Character Formatting Controls button (); notice that the Leading () is set to 14.4 pt. You will use this value for the baseline grid, which is controlled using the Baseline Grid Preferences.

4 Choose Edit > Preferences > Grids (Windows), or InDesign > Preferences > Grids (Mac OS). In the Baseline Grid section of the Grids Preferences dialog box, type 14.4 pt in the Increment Every text field. Click OK to close the Preferences dialog box.

Although this step establishes the value for the grid, you have not yet specified that the text needs to align to the grid. In the next part of this exercise, you will align the text to the baseline grid.

Specifying the spacing for the baseline grid.

5 Making certain that the cursor is still in the body text, choose Edit > Select All, then click the Paragraph Formatting Controls button () in the Control panel.

6 In the Control panel, click the Align to Baseline Grid button (). The selected text in both columns aligns to the baseline grid. Aligning to the baseline grid is defined on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, which is why the different paragraphs needed to be selected before specifying that the text should align to the grid.

7 Choose View > Grids & Guides > Hide Baseline Grid, and then choose File > Save to save your work.

These tutorials are created by and the team of expert instructors at American Graphics Institute.