Tag Archives: Hyphenation

Using Type: How to Justify Type

Using Type, set in FF Spinoza

Alright, you’ve read the intro on when to justify and what considerations to make when doing it, now let’s get to the how of it. First, before any documents are open in InDesign, let’s fix the default. From the Paragraph panel, select the down arrow in the top right corner, and choose Justification.

InDesign justification settings

Common Term: When typographers refer to ‘H&J,’ they’re talking about hyphenation and justification settings.

InDesign justification settings

Applying the above defaults ensures terrible justification. Twenty percentage points of variation tighter and looser than the default word spacing is simply too elastic a standard. Spaces between words will be both much too wide and far too tight as a result. Instead, vary Word Spacing by 2 or 3 percent on either side. The same goes for Letter Spacing and Glyph Scaling, though I’d keep it to a 1 or 2 percent variation.

InDesign justification settings

And yes, in case you’re wondering I did in fact just say it’s okay to squoosh type, a little. Many designers of text faces take this constraint into consideration and make their designs capable of withstanding modest scaling. But by all means, use your eyes and try it out with the real thing. Once you’ve got a representative sample of your copy set, dial these settings (Glyph Scaling tolerances) back some to see what’s working. (Update In response to one of the comments, I’ll add: If you’re creating a PDF to be read primarily on screen, fix glyph scaling to 100%.) Note that I don’t mess with the Single Word Justification since this is something that’s rarely used, but when it is, you’ll want it to perform as expected. Alright. Provided no other documents are open upon closing this dialog, the values you’ve just set are your new justification defaults.

Justified column

The sample above is justified with the above settings applied. It’s set in Font Bureau’s Benton Sans. Below is a comparison of the default justification settings, left, to the new settings, right. The text breaks at exactly the same points in both samples, which is unusual, but offers a nice apples-to-apples comparison of the subtle differences. Note especially the word spacing on the fifth lines of each.

Default justification settings, new settings

Now to touch briefly on hyphenation. Justification wouldn’t work without it, not without a tremendous copyfitting effort anyway. When words are hyphenated, they should lead the reader from the head of the word, to the waiting body at the beginning of the next line. What I mean to say by that is there’s a logical flow to it. The hyphenated word above, ef-fective, breaks after the first two letters. If it were effect-ive or effe-ctive, it wouldn’t read as well. Which begs the question, how does InDesign know where to acceptably break words? It uses a hyphenation dictionary. But how does it know what language the copy is in? Either you specify it, or it defaults based on the language from its installation setting. The way you set copy to follow the rules of a different language is by selecting the text, either at the character level, or by selecting its text frame, and from the bottom of the Character panel, setting the language. If working with text that constantly flips back and forth between languages, this means that the best way of handling it, at present, is by setting up a character style with the language applied. See Using Styles Properly. Below I adjust the settings on a piece of Spanish text set in Max Phillips’s FF Spinoza.

InDesign language settings

By the way, I recommend limiting the scope of your typesetting work to languages you currently speak and read. If you can’t spot a commonly misspelled word or catch a grammatical error, your ability to operate as a typographer (in that language) will be pretty limited.

InDesign hyphenation settings

My only advice with the above Hyphenation dialog, also accessible from the Paragraph panel, is to look at it on your own and make some conscious decisions, run some tests, etc.. Also, depending on the faces you’re working with, the Story panel’s Optical Margin Alignment setting may offer you a bit of needed latitude, and is worth a try.

InDesign story settings

Now what am I leaving out? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading. Using Type is a regular series on this blog, published Thursdays.


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