InDesign Manual line break w Adobe Paragraph Composer

Fredrik's picture

Hi there,
We keep having a problem when wanting to insert manual line breaks while using the Adobe Paragraph Composer setting (applied on a Paragraph Style). Are we missing some basic setting - is there a way to 'override' the Paraph Composer locally? I.e. applying a manual break without affecting the rest of the paragraph?
In the following images you can first see a sample paragraph the way it is handled 'by default'. When trying to fix one of the lines, breaking before the word 'used', the whole paragraph gets shifted:

If you have any ideas or suggestions regarding this, we'd be more than happy. Or any advice on the hyphenation zone setting that we don't quite manage very well and might well have some impact on the problem we're having.
Thank you,
Fredrik, Nina

rs_donsata's picture

I suffer the same problem when applying manual line breaks.


Fredrik's picture

So is this a limitation of the Paragraph Composer?

blank's picture

So is this a limitation of the Paragraph Composer?

It’s sort of the point of paragraph composer. Paragraph composer is not designed with much user intervention in mind, and works better for justified copy than ragged. If you want to start breaking stuff manually switch to single-line composer.

Theunis de Jong's picture

I would hardly call it a "limitation".

What InDesign is trying to do, in Paragraph Composer mode, is to equalize the space widths of the entire paragraph. That's best visible with justified text, but it also works with ragged-right text. It appears it works backwards from the manual line break for the first part, and forwards for the rest.

Putting in manual line breaks should be a last resort, as these will always bite you back when editing the text afterwards. Try using "No Break" on just those words you want to keep together. That will allow ID to use its own judgement on where the exact line breaks will come. I use that function so much for these sort of manual tinkering, I've assigned a shortcut key to it.

If you intended to get rid of the "used" because it sticks out of the rest, you could try fiddling with the hyphenation settings. The "Hyphenation Zone" doesn't mean much to me, but you could try moving the "Better spacing - Fewer hyphens" slider either way.

If you desperately need total control of the paragraph (all of them or just this one), switch to the Line Composer. That'll behave the way you are used of lesser programs (!)

Fredrik's picture

Hi James,
Yes, I did some further reading and discussion with people more experienced with inDesign and sort of came to the same conclusion.


Fredrik's picture

Hi Theunis,
Thanks for your comments. I will try around with the "No Break" to get to know how that works.
And just for the record, I think InDesign is a great program ;)


mili's picture

An easy way to create a non breaking word is to insert a discretionary hyphen before the word.

AndrewSipe's picture

This is just an observation, but why are you adding a break before "used"? Your rag in the original is nominal, and hyphenation is limited, but as soon as you force return, you get twice as many hyphens and the ragging seems to become more prevalent. And if you forced return because "used" was too close to the margin, you've now force "found" a few lines lower even closer.

Like I said, just an observation.

It's paragraph specific (return to return), but you can switch between single-line and paragraph composer. So if you want to manipulate a single paragraph, this might lead to a more suitable solution.

Fredrik's picture

as soon as you force return, you get twice as many hyphens and the ragging seems to become more prevalent
Well, yes, that's the undesired effect of the manual line break that had me asking in the first place :)

In any case, for my purposes, I'll simply use the single-line composer and manually fix the rag.

Theunis de Jong's picture


Could you post an image of the same paragraph with your manual tweaking? I'd love to compare the overall look of that against ID's automated (mathematically optimized) solution.

For justified paragraphs, I'm almost always satisfied with how ID handles it. Mainly I adjust by hand to avoid a bad break (a visual one, not technical), or to keep "I" or "A" and the next word on a single line -- just to be picky.

Ragged-right paragraphs are harder to judge, because of the big differences between two tries, but, while I don't always take ID's breaks for granted, I'm always struggling to get the overall look I want.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Just use "no break" formatting and apply it to the word "used" and the following word. Then the paragraph composer can still work its magic on the rest of the paragraph.



sarajill's picture

I'm struggling with paragraph composer as well. I appreciate the way it formats paragraphs, but bridle at losing control over the setting of type. I wish there were a happy medium between the two. In my opinion, paragraph composer could use some major improvements before it's ready for serious typesetting of text.

lunde's picture

I am finishing a 900-page book, and am using Adobe InDesign CS3 for the layout. For the cases when I need to break lines at specific places, I am using Command-Return (Forced Line Break), and I am getting excellent results.

Dr. Ken Lunde
Senior Computer Scientist, CJKV Type Development
Adobe Systems Incorporated

Theunis de Jong's picture

Losing control? I see it as 'having less to worry about'. Yeah, if you are editing a book, it's irritating InDesign tries to make the very best of it with the word/letter spacing and hyphenation constraints you impose on it. Fortunately, Adobe foresaw that, so just select the Single Line composer to do your own thinking.

Ken: awww, do you really favour manual line breaks (meaning: "I want a line break HERE") over No Break (meaning: "I want this word/these words to be unbroken")? I assigned a shortcut to No Break and apply it at will whenever I see something I don't like. For the rest, I let ID decide.

Or perhaps that 900-page book has pages-long single paragraphs as well :-) that'd help a lot.

lunde's picture

My use of the Forced Line Break came as the result of the copyedit of the book. Almost all of these were to force a hyphenated word to the next line, particularly when it is the last word of the paragraph or is preceded by a hyphenated word.

I am doing the index now. Suffice it to say, InDesign CS3's indexing capability is quite primitive compared to FrameMaker of ten years ago (which I used for typsetting First Edition of the same book).

Dr. Ken Lunde
Senior Computer Scientist, CJKV Type Development
Adobe Systems Incorporated

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