Monday, October 17, 2011

When Text Won't Left-Align

I recently came across a bit of text that wouldn't left align. It would center-align and right-align just fine, but it wouldn't left align. (Note that my left-indent was set to zero, and my left-cell padding was set to only 0.08 inches.)

I tried what normally works to fix alignment isues: I went to the Text Frame Options. I figured that maybe there was a mysterious text-wrapping on an object nearby. So I checked the Box "Ignore Text Wrap." I figured that would solve the problem. But no.

So then I went though all the paragraph settings and tried to see what would cause left aligned text to NOT left align. I didn't find anything that would cause weird indent issues. However, I found that this paragraph style (H4) was based upon another paragraph style (H1).

So I applied the H1 paragraph style to the text in my table, and it magically left-aligned as it should.

I then reapplied the H4 style, and tried copying and pasting the offending H4 text into a new text frame, and it left-aligned as one would expect it to.

So then I went back to the H4 paragraph style options and examined the differences between the H1 and the H4. After a little digging, I found that the H4 had an "align to decimal" tab stop.

I removed the tab stop, and presto! The text now left-aligned as it should. (See the fourth row?)

I'm not sure why the "align on decimal" tab stop was there... I most certainly put it there intentionally at some point in time, though I don't know when, nor why. For some reason, I was trying to align digits, and had set the tab to align on a dollar sign. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Based on the fact that the same text behaves differently when placed in a table, I am inclined to think that there is a bug in inDesign, that when you use an "align on" tab stop within a table, InDesign will not honor your left-align paragraph settings. Though I have used the words "Left Justified" in my screenshots, this issue holds true for both left aligned, as well as left justified text within a table.

Edit on 4-23-12: I recently came across a great article that explains this behavior. Apparently, this falls into the category of: "it's a feature, not a bug." Check out the InDesign Secrets article on this topic: Tab Stops in InDesign Tables.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Diamonds, Dots, and Waves: Stroke Style Options for InDesign Tables

For today's episode of Fun With InDesign Tables, I started out by to experimenting with the White Diamonds stroke style.

I made a table 4 columns by 2 rows and gave it a 35 point White Diamond stroke. Just a note: "White Diamond is the name of the stroke, but you can color the diamonds however you want. I suspect that the name "White Diamond" has to do with the fact that the center of the diamonds appear as white (paper-colored)...that is, unless you give the stroke a gap color.

Then I colored the outside border red, and the inside column strokes to yellow.

Next I took the same table and widened it a bit, and then added a black gap color to the table strokes. I thought it was interesting that the gap color stayed confined to the border of the diamond shapes, and made inverse white knockouts in the corners of the table.

Next, I took the same table and gave it a stroke style of Japanese dots. Notice how the black gap color now extends to fill out the rounded corners. This one sort of reminds me of the beaded counting toys that I remember from my childhood

Here are a few more tables, with different stroke styles.

Straight Hash Stroke Style

Think-Thin-Thick Stroke Style

Note that the only thing I changed in these 6 tables is the stroke style. The stroke width, stroke colors, and gap color remained the same.