Indesign: Paragraph composer vs. Single line composer

Dimitri Kayiambakis's picture

The Paragraph composer is a good feature I guess, but it often causes unwanted hyphenations above and under the line you’re working on. Anybody working with books/magazines with experience on this? Maybe the solution is to have two different paragraph styles for body text – one with single line comp. – and one with paragraph comp?

charles ellertson's picture

(Note: I'm a book compositor.)

It takes a while to get use to, and to trust, a paragraph optimization routine.

First of all, the basic decision you as a typesetter have to make is whether hyphenation is most important to you, or the evenness of word spacing. With most programs, you have to pick one as *most important*. Then, depending of the sophistication of the text-handling portion of the program, you can shade towards "equal emphasis." AFAIK, TeX has the most control over these compromises. InDesign has less, especially as manipulating the hyphenation dictionary is a problem (at least, in versions CS2 and CS3).

All right. If controlling hyphenation is most important to you, you are probably better off to use the single line composer. If controlling the evenness of word spacing is most important to you, use paragraph optimization routines (paragraph composer in InDesign).

The way to control hyphenation when using the paragraph composer is to make liberal use of the nobreak feature (not the nobreak space), and the discretionary hyphen (Shift+Control+-). Once you have told ID not to break somewhere, or that *here* (i.e., an explicit discretionary hyphen) is the only acceptable hyphenation point, it will honor that. But if in the end controlling hyphenation is most important to you, use the single line composer.

Another thing I have found is that for setting extended text with the paragraph composer, it is wise to take the time to run some tests with the min-ideal wordspace. For some fonts, and for some measures, 80-100-XXX is not ideal. There is also a slider in the *hyphenation* part of the paragraph style which offers some control over the compromise between spacing and hyphenation.

Good luck.

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