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Center that vertically… (Framed)

As part of my day to day job I have the pleasure of seeing how othersoften encounter InDesign documents created by by others, and there’s one thing I come across often…

text orbit centered horizontally and vertically in pink box

Unthreaded text frames, filled with a colour and a single line/word of capitalized text that is horizontally and vertically centered. Sometimes I spot the following:

  • text is repositioned vertically using a baseline shift
  • or in some cases text is set in a separate text frame and arranged in front of an unassigned coloured frame.

Depending on the scenario there are other ways to tackle a similar look. Let’s look at the ‘Framed-alternative’ :)

Frame it

If we look at the framed text scenario. There is certainly a quicker and easier way to get capitalized text centered vertically, and that is to use the Vertical Justification setting in the Text Frame Options dialog or the Control Panel.

Text Frame Options dialog, with Vertical Justification, Alignment set to Center

Ok, I hear you say “yeah right, but I still need to apply some baseline shift, as my very keen designers eye tells me the capitalized text isn’t quite centered after this’.

Very likely your text will not be nicely vertically positioned in the text frame if you click ‘Ok’ in the dialog box at this stage, and that’s because there’s a default setting that controls the assumed ‘baseline’ position of the text that we need to change…

Click the Baseline Options tab in the Text Frame Options dialog to access these settings.

First Baseline set to 'Cap Height' in Text Frame Options dialog, Baseline Options tab.

InDesign by default has the First Baseline offset, set to ‘Ascent’ … when working with vertically aligned capitalized text, change this setting to Cap Height, and you should see a more accurate vertical centering:

Text vertically centered in text frame.

Cari Jansen

Cari Jansen

Cari Jansen is based in Perth, Western Australia and works throughout Australia as a technical writer/editor, print, electronic (EPUB, Kindle, Tablets, Adobe DPS) and eLearning publishing consultant, software trainer, course developer, and public speaker. She's an Adobe Certified Instructor (Adobe Acrobat, Digital Publishing Suite, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop), Adobe Certified Expert (Adobe Captivate and Muse) and an Adobe Community Professional and Adobe Training Partner based in Australia. In 2008 she founded the Perth inDesign User Group, which she ran until late 2013. You'll meet Cari at industry events, both as an attendee and speaker, speaking on a range of print and digital publishing technologies and trends. To learn more about Cari, visit her web-site: You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube
Cari Jansen

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13 Comments on “Center that vertically… (Framed)

  1. Great tip. We use the same technique for perfectly centred Upper-case spine lettering for book covers.

    If you are using upper and lower case lettering, then selecting ‘x-height’ for First Baseline Offset, gets you closest to a visually centred spine. However, a tiny bit of nudging by eye is sometimes still needed to get you spot on.

  2. Personally, I like to use the Paragraph Rule “Line Above”, tweak it a little bit and make a Paragraph Style out of it.

    It stays in-line just where it belongs, and I have fewer pieces to worry about on my layout. And if I need to tweak it for copy-fitting purposes (space before/after), I only have to do it once!

  3. @Design instructor. Use of paragraph styles definitely has its place :-) where text lines such as headings/ subheadings are designed with a background colour.

    It’s one of the other incorrect uses I encounter when reviewing people’s InDesign documents :) Only just the other week I showed a group of long-time InDesign users how their document set-up could be revised and how easy it was to turn unthreaded frames into text with a paragraph style attached to it.

    (was actually thinking of writing that up as my next contributor post).

    For smaller documents, such as Ads, poster-designs, book-covers framed-text definitely continues to have its place as well ;-)

    … see also ;-)

  4. Man this was bugging me for life… ;) i always used a seperate text field, quite stupid. Still it doesnt align always so i do custome baseline shift per text frame

  5. when i’m make a text center inside of a text frame if i move the text frame that text change its position to down and up some time hiding. i don’t know how to solve this problem

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