When InDesign Ignores Your Leading Values
We’ve received two emails this week regarding leading — or, more specifically, InDesign apparently ignoring or changing the leading values of paragraphs.
For example, G. wrote:
…The problem arises when we copy and then paste a text frame into a new document — some of the text blocks (not all) change their leading. But this is the thing: when highlighted, the text blocks display exactly the same leading as the original… same font, size, leading — but on the page they look like the space between the lines has been doubled… what’s going on!?
As Insp. Poirot would say, “Ah, we must use the little gray cells, I think.” (I always like to think of David Suchet at times like these) The clue to this mystery is that the leading value (what’s listed in the Control panel) doesn’t match the reality on the page. This can happen for at least two reasons. (I can actually only think of two right now, but I’m hedging my bets by saying “at least”.)
- Vertical Justification. The first instance in which InDesign can ignore leading is when the Align pop-up menu in the Vertical Justification section of the Text Frame Options dialog box (Command/Ctrl-B) is set to Justify. Vertical justification typically overrides your leading values. You can return to normal leading values by increasing the Paragraph Spacing Limit in the same area, which lets InDesign add space between paragraphs instead of between each line.
- Align to Grid. InDesign also throws your leading values out the window when the paragraphs have Align to Baseline Grid turned on (in the Control panel or the Paragraph panel). Align to Baseline Grid is a powerful force of nature, but as we have said in the past, it is not to be used lightly or by the faint of heart. This is the Number One source of “what the heck is InDesign doing to me now!?” comments by users worldwide, I’m convinced. When align to baseline grid is on, your leading is off. Period. Bye-bye leading values. It’s “snap to the grid or talk to the hand” time. The grid can, of course, be managed in the Grids pane of the Preferences dialog box, or the Baseline Options tab of the Text Frames Options dialog box.
Now here’s the problem: Sometimes align to grid is turned on for a paragraph style (say, for instance, the Basic Paragraph Style, if someone has been so foolish as to edit that style definition) in one document, but not in another. In that case, when someone copies text from document A to document B, the leading goes haywire!
Why Won’t My Text Move Up?
Here’s a bonus corollary to the leading value issue. A prominent and bright industry presenter asked me recently why some text would simply not move any further up on the page. He sent me the file, and it was true: You could drag the text frame all the way to the top of the page, but the first line of text — a headline — would not move any higher than about 2 inches from the top of the page. My little gray cells were baffling. But then it came to me: Yes! Align to baseline grid. The fiend. The menace. Yes, it was true, when I turned That Feature off, the text could move anywhere.
Why was it stopping so low on the page? Because the Start field of the Baseline Grid was set to 14p! The Start field determines where the first baseline grid appears. And if something is locked to one of those infernal baseline grids, then it ain’t moving higher!