Managing the ragged edge in InDesign CS5

Benjamin Martinek's picture

Hello everyone, I've been lurking on this website for some time and found it very useful. Now I have a question that I can't find a satisfying answer to anywhere, so I decided to finally join.

I'm familiar with the many ways you can adjust the justification of the text, but if one decides to go with the ragged-right block, it seems to me that you really have no choice but to accept whatever Adobe decides to be the most acceptable edge.

As Bringhurst puts it: "When setting ragged text with a computer, take a moment to refine your software's understanding of what constitutes an honest rag."

Well, I would like to do just that. Ideally, I would like to be able to set the minimum and maximum line length, and tell InDesign what sacrifices to make to achieve this. Or maybe just be able to introduce a certain degree of flexibility of spacing, to even out the rag.

So far, having spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to do this, my conclusion is that InDesign will simply not let you. So my question to you is:

Am I right in my conclusion? If so, is there maybe a plug-in that would allow for this functionality? And perhaps most importantly, how do you professionals go about managing the ragged edge?

Big thank you in advance.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Seems to me that TypeFitter from Teacup software might do some of what you're looking for. I could be wrong, as I just saw a demo or two, and it was quite a few years ago.

http://www.teacupsoftware.com/products/TypeFitterPro.html

Benjamin Martinek's picture

Thanks for your reply Thomas. I've just given Typefitter a go, unfortunately it just deals with stuff like widows, imbalanced columns and such.

I would really appreciate some more replies, because I'm quite concerned with this issue...

riccard0's picture

I use the "uniform lines" option of paragraph composer (not sure about the exact english wording). Then manually adjust where needed.

Benjamin Martinek's picture

You mean the 'Balance ragged lines'?

riccard0's picture

Yes, that. Painful when you have more than a paragraph, I know.
About flexibility in spacing, that would negate the very aison d'être of ragged text, wouldn't it?
Anyway, have you tried a (Google) search of the forums? There is a good deal of tips on setting paragraphs.

Benjamin Martinek's picture

Not necessarily. Even if "having the best of both worlds" wasn't a sound typographic decision, still it makes sense that the software should allow this.

Eric Gill used to set books ragged right, "with compromise", to achieve a nice, even rag.

riccard0's picture

About Gill and ragged text: http://typophile.com/node/1821#comment-14348 (and following comments ;-)

About line control, I found this other old comment: http://typophile.com/node/13160#comment-76405

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