one, two, three… to return or not to return…
It was actually a very recent blog-post by Liz Castro – over at Pigs, Gourds and Wikis – that reminded me of a pet-peeve I have… and that is seeing blank lines used as a means for adding space between paragraphs.
Why no blank returns in EBooks?
Liz, who focusses on EBook production, points out that if you use blank returns in your layout to create space between paragraphs, the EPUB export will ignore them, because white space is handled in its own way in HTML and advices it’s better to use space before/after settings in InDesign.
What other reasons might there be?
So you might say… well I don’t intend to create HTML or EPUBs from InDesign, why can’t I just insert a couple of blank paragraphs if I need some space?
Well, the culprit is in the editing part of your document. Let’s assume you have a layout that looks like this:
The space between the paragraphs is created using an additional paragraph return…
What happens when we start editing the text, or resize the text frame?
- In position ‘A’ we’ll have to insert a blank return we removed earlier as the paragraph started at the top of the column.
- In position ‘B’ we see an odd looking gap at the bottom of the page.
In the same way, blank paragraphs could appear at the top of a column, or even a new page. Clearly pointing to some issues that you need to be aware of if you do use blank paragraph returns…
There are other things to consider.
- If you use InDesign’s Keep Options to control for instance that a heading needs to stay with the following paragraph, or a first bullet point that needs to stay with a previous paragraph, but then use a paragraph return to get some space between the heading and the text, or bullet and text… the keep options seem to not work…
Well they do work but your heading will stay with the next blank paragraph .
- Then there’s the pain of having to reduce the size of the paragraph returns or their leading to reduce the space between the paragraphs (as you can see when you click the image with headline example C).
Using Space Before or After fixes all of these issues and more… no more fiddling with leading to get the right amount of space… no more removal or extra insertion of paragraph returns… and above all… a more consistent layout. and… as an added bonus… you won’t have to worry about them when repurposing your content for EBook production either
Are you inspired? Yay…
Now let’s get rid of all those extra returns…(and add some space before/after to our paragraph styles).
- From the Edit menu, choose Find/Change
- From the Query list, choose Multiple Return to Single Return
- Click Change All