Managing the ragged edge in InDesign CS5

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Benjamin Martinek's picture
Joined: 16 Oct 2011 - 11:20pm
Managing the ragged edge in InDesign CS5
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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 W Phinney's picture
Joined: 3 Sep 2002 - 11:00am
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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
Joined: 16 Oct 2011 - 11:20pm
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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...

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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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
Joined: 16 Oct 2011 - 11:20pm
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You mean the 'Balance ragged lines'?

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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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
Joined: 16 Oct 2011 - 11:20pm
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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.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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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