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Adobe InDesign CS3

Working with Leading

Leading refers to the vertical white space that separates lines of text. Like letter and word spacing, the right amount of leading makes text easier to read. Leading is measured in points; you can specify the leading value yourself or let InDesign determine it automatically.

return to topAdjusting the Space between Lines of Text

InDesign automatically inserts leading as you enter text into your document; however, there may be times when you want to control the value of the leading. Reasonable leading values vary with the requirements of each document and each font used.

NOTE: You can apply more than one leading value within the same paragraph; however, if different leading values occur within a single line of text, InDesign uses the largest leading value for the entire line.

Leading settings have two parts:

Leading Value measures the entire vertical space allotted for a line of text.

Baseline Shift defines the vertical position of the text, relative to the baseline, within the space allotted by the leading value.

Selecting a Leading Value

  1. From the Toolbox, select the Type ToolType Tool icon

  2. Select the text in which you want to apply a leading value

  3. If the Character palette is not already displayed, from the Type menu, select Character
    NOTE: The palette is displayed if a checkmark appears next to its name.
    OR
    On the Dock, click CHARACTERCharacter icon
    The Character palette appears.
    Character palette: Leading annotated

  4. Use the Leading text box, pull-down list, or nudge buttons to indicate the desired value
    HINTS:
    To restore the default leading value, from the pull-down list, select Auto.

  5. Press [Enter]

return to topPositioning Text within its Leading

The baseline is an imaginary line on which the text is aligned. You can use the Character palette to adjust how the text is aligned on the baseline, creating more or less space between particular lines with the same leading value. Positive baseline shifts, shifting the text up in relation to the baseline, are achieved by entering a positive value in the Baseline Shift text box. Negative baseline shifts, shifting the text down in relation to the baseline, are achieved by entering a negative value in the Baseline Shift text box. The following table shows examples of a positive and negative baseline shift.

Positive Baseline Shift Negative Baseline Shift
positive baseline shift
negative baseline shift

Adjusting the Baseline Alignment

  1. From the Toolbox, select the Type ToolType Tool icon

  2. Select the text in which you want to adjust the baseline alignment

  3. If the Character palette is not already displayed, from the Type menu, select Character
    NOTE: The palette is displayed if a checkmark appears next to its name.
    OR
    On the Dock, click CHARACTERCharacter icon
    The Character palette appears.
    Character palette: Baseline Shift annotated

  4. Use the Baseline Shift text box or nudge buttons to indicate the desired value
    NOTE: Positive values move the selected text up from the baseline; negative values move the selected text down from the baseline.

return to topSetting the Default Leading Percentage

When you select Auto for a paragraph's leading value, InDesign applies a default value equal to 120% of the text size. Using a value greater than the text size ensures that the lines of text do not overlap. You can change the default leading value used for paragraphs.

  1. From the Toolbox, select the Type ToolType Tool icon

  2. If the Paragraph palette is not already displayed, from the Type menu, select Paragraph
    NOTE: The palette is displayed if a checkmark appears next to its name.
    OR
    On the Dock, click PARAGRAPHParagraph icon
    The Paragraph palette appears.
    Paragraph palette

  3. On the Paragraph palette, click MENUMenu icon» select Justification...
    The Justification dialog box appears.
    Justification dialog box

  4. In the Auto Leading text box, type the percentage you wish to apply as the default

  5. Click OK
    The leading is adjusted on your selected text.

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