Numbering Paragraphs… on their right side!
You know that InDesign can automatically number paragraphs, but it always places the numbers at the beginning of the paragraph — which is the left side in most languages. But what if you want the numbering at the end of the paragraph instead of the beginning?!
The solution for this problem is based on an amazing trick that Bart Van de Wiele described in InDesign Magazine Issue 56 (The Type Issue), when we explained how to put a special character, such as a bullet, on the right side of a heading. It’s a tiny bit complicated, but once you get it working, you can use it over and over again very easily, because it’s saved in a style.
The trick is based on something I said above: numbers and bullets are placed at the beginning of the paragraph, which is the left side in most languages. But it’s not the left side in all languages! In some languages (those that read right-to-left), the bullets and numbering begin on the right side.
So you need to make a paragraph style that is based on a right-to-left reading order. Here’s how you do it.
1. Make some Arabic or Hebrew text. Make a text frame, and with the text cursor flashing in it, hold down Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) and select Type > Fill with Placeholder Text. That forces InDesign to open the placeholder options dialog box, where you can choose either Arabic or Hebrew:
2. Give it Automatic Numbering. Just click the Paragraph Numbering button in the Control panel (when it is in Paragraph formatting mode). The number shows up on the right, see?
3. Make your paragraph style. While your text cursor is in one of these right-to-left paragraphs, make a new paragraph style. It will pick up the right-to-left world-paragraph-composer formatting of the text in frame, as well as the numbering.
4. Edit your style. Now you can change the paragraph style to whatever you want, including changing the font, size, indents, and so on. Make sure you set the Horizontal Alignment to Left (instead of right).
5. Adjust the Numbering. You also probably want to change the Bullets and Numbering pane of the paragraph styles dialog box, so that the Number field doesn’t include a Tab. In the following image, I’ve changed the code in the Number field so that it will separate the number from the text with an em space. Note that you can also apply a character style to the number if you want (but I haven’t done so here).
6. Apply the paragraph style. Now, whenever you apply this paragraph style to text, the numbering will show up on the right side, like this:
Now, there are a couple of problems here. If you look closely at the last paragraph, you’ll see the period (dot) is at the beginning of the paragraph instead of the end. So… don’t put punctuation at the end of the text! Second, and perhaps an even bigger problem: it doesn’t really work when you have more than one line of text. The number is placed to the right side of the first line of text.
However, for single-line headings with no punctuation at the end, this can work great.