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Format characters

  1. InDesign User Guide
  2. Get to know InDesign
    1. Introduction to InDesign
      1. What's New in InDesign
      2. System requirements
      3. Common questions
      4. Use Creative Cloud libraries
    2. Workspace
      1. Workspace basics
      2. Customize your workspace in InDesign
      3. Toolbox
      4. Set preferences
      5. Properties panel
      6. Touch workspace
      7. Default keyboard shortcuts
      8. Undo edits and manage History panel
      9. Document recovery and undo
    3. Generative AI
      1. Text to Image
      2. Generative Expand
      3. Generative AI FAQ
  3. Create and layout documents
    1. Documents and pages
      1. Create documents
      2. Work with parent pages
      3. Work with document pages
      4. Set page size, margins, and bleed
      5. Work with files and templates
      6. Convert PDFs to InDesign files in InDesign (Beta)
      7. Create book files
      8. Add basic page numbering
      9. Number pages, chapters, and sections
      10. Convert QuarkXPress and PageMaker documents
      11. Share content
      12. Understand a basic managed-file workflow
      13. Save documents
    2. Grids
      1. Grids
      2. Format grids
    3. Layout aids
      1. Rulers
      2. Align and distribute objects using rulers
      3. Measure objects using the Measure tool
  4. Add content
    1. Text
      1. Add text to frames
      2. Threading text
      3. South-East Asian Scripts
      4. Arabic and Hebrew features in InDesign
      5. Create type on a path
      6. Bullets and numbering
      7. Glyphs and special characters
      8. Text composition
      9. Text variables
      10. Generate QR codes
      11. Edit text
      12. Align text
      13. Wrap text around objects
      14. Anchored objects
      15. Linked content
      16. Format paragraphs
      17. Format characters
    2. Typography
      1. Using fonts in InDesign
      2. Kerning and tracking
      3. Scale and skew type
      4. Apply color effects to type
    3. Format text
      1. Format text
      2. Auto Style text
      3. Work with Style Packs
      4. Tabs and indents
    4. Review text
      1. Track and review changes
      2. Add editorial notes in InDesign
      3. Import PDF comments
    5. Spell check and language dictionaries
      1. Check spelling, autocorrect, and dynamic spelling
      2. Create, add, and manage dictionaries and words
      3. Change dictionary preferences
      4. Duden dictionary
    6. Add references
      1. Create a table of contents
      2. Footnotes
      3. Create an index
      4. Endnotes
      5. Captions
    7. Styles
      1. Paragraph and character styles
      2. Map, export, and manage styles
      3. Object styles
      4. Drop caps and nested styles
      5. Work with styles
      6. Leading
    8. Tables
      1. Format tables
      2. Create tables
      3. Table and Cell styles
      4. Select and edit tables
      5. Table strokes and fills
    9. Interactivity
      1. Hyperlinks
      2. Dynamic PDF documents
      4. Buttons
      5. Forms
      6. Animation
      7. Cross-references
      8. Structure PDFs
      9. Page transitions
      10. Movies and sounds
    10. Graphics
      1. Understand paths and shapes
      2. Draw with the Pencil tool
      3. Draw with the Pen tool
      4. Apply line (stroke) settings 
      5. Compound paths and shapes
      6. Edit paths
      7. Clipping paths
      8. Change corner appearance
      9. Frames and objects
      10. Align and distribute objects
      11. Linked and embedded graphics
      12. Integrate AEM assets
    11. Color and transparency
      1. Apply color
      2. Use colors from imported graphics
      3. Work with swatches
      4. Mix inks
      5. Tints
      6. Understand spot and process colors
      7. Blend colors
      8. Gradients
      9. Flatten transparent artwork
      10. Add transparency effects
  5. Find and replace
    1. Find and replace text
    2. Find and replace fonts
    3. Find and replace glyphs
    4. Find and replace using GREP expressions and queries
    5. Find and replace objects
    6. Find and replace colors
    7. Search options to find and replace
  6. Share
    1. Save and access cloud documents
    2. Organize, manage, and share cloud documents
    3. View and manage versions in cloud documents
    4. Common questions about InDesign cloud documents
    5. Share and collaborate        
    6. Share for Review
    7. Review a shared InDesign document
    8. Manage feedback 
  7. Publish
    1. Place, export, and publish
      1. Publish online
      2. Publish online dashboard
      3. Copy, insert graphics
      4. Export content for EPUB
      5. Adobe PDF options
      6. Export content to HTML
      7. Export to Adobe PDF
      8. Export to JPEG format
      9. Export HTML
      10. DPS and AEM Mobile overview
      11. Supported File Formats
      12. Export and import User Settings
    2. Printing
      1. Print booklets
      2. Printer's marks and bleeds
      3. Print documents
      4. Inks, separation, and screen frequency
      5. Overprinting
      6. Create PostScript and EPS files
      7. Preflight files before handoff
      8. Print thumbnails and oversized documents
      9. Prepare PDFs for service providers
      10. Prepare to print separations
  8. Extend InDesign
    1. Automation
      1. Data merge
      2. Plug-ins
      3. Capture extension in InDesign
      4. Scripting
  9. Troubleshooting
    1. Fixed issues
    2. Known issues
    3. Crash on launch
    4. Preference folder read-only issue
    5. Troubleshoot file issues
    6. Unable to export InDesign file to PDF
    7. InDesign document recovery

Enhance your design projects by learning character formatting in InDesign, leading to better readability and visual impact.

Shift baseline of specific text

Use Baseline Shift to move a selected character up or down relative to the baseline of the surrounding text. This option is especially useful when you’re hand-setting fractions or adjusting the position of inline graphics.

Baseline shift values applied to text

  1. Select text.
  2. In the Character panel or Control panel, type a numeric value for Baseline Shift  . Positive values move the character’s baseline above the baseline of the rest of the line; negative values move it below the baseline.

  3. Go to Edit > PreferencesUnits & Increments > Baseline Shift to change the default baseline shift increment.


To increase or decrease the value, select the Baseline Shift box and then select the Up Arrow or Down Arrow. To change the value in greater increments, select Shift + Up Arrow or Shift + Down Arrow.

Make characters superscript or subscript in a non-OpenType font

  1. Select text.
  2. Select Superscript or Subscript in the Character panel or Control panel. A predefined baseline shift value and type size are applied to the selected text.

  3. Go to EditAdvanced Type preferences to change the default size and position.

The values applied are percentages of the current font size and leading and are based on the Type Preferences settings. When you select text, you can't view these values in the Baseline Shift or Size boxes of the Character panel.

Apply underline or strikethrough

The default weight of an underline and strikethrough depends on the size of the type.

Apply underline or strikethrough

  1. Select text.
  2. Select Underline or Strikethrough in the Character or Control panel.

Change underline or strikethrough options

Creating custom underlining is especially useful when you want to create an even underline below characters of different sizes, or for creating special effects, such as background highlighting.

Before and after adjusting underlines

  1. From the Character panel menu or the Control panel menu, choose Underline Options or Strikethrough Options.
  2. Do any of the following, and then click OK:
    • Select Underline On or Strikethrough On to turn on underline or strikethrough for the current text.

    • For Weight, choose a weight or type a value to determine the thickness of the underline or strikethrough line.

    • For Type, select one of the underline or strikethrough options.

    • For Offset, determine the vertical position of the line. The offset is measured from the baseline. Negative values move the underline above the baseline and the strikethrough below the baseline.

    • Select Overprint Stroke when you want to make sure that the stroke doesn’t knock out underlying inks on a printing press.

    • Choose a color and tint. If you specified any line type other than solid, choose a gap color or gap tint to change the appearance of the area between dashes, dots, or lines.

    • Select Overprint Stroke or Overprint Gap if the underline or strikethrough will be printed over another color, and you want to avoid errors that can occur with printing misregistration.


To change the underline or strikethrough options in a paragraph or character style, use the Underline Options or Strikethrough Options section of the dialog box that appears when you create or edit the style.

Change the case of type

Change case using Type menu

  1. Select text.
  2. Go to Type > Change Case and then select from UPPERCASE, lowercase, Title Case, or Sentence case.

Change text to All Caps or Small Caps from the Control panel

The All Caps or Small Caps commands change the appearance of text, but not the text itself. Conversely, the Change Case command changes the case setting of selected text. This distinction is important when searching or spell-checking text. For example, suppose you type “spiders” in your document and apply All Caps to the word. Using Find/Change (with Case Sensitive selected) to search for “SPIDERS” will not find the instance of “spiders” to which All Caps was applied. To improve search and spell-check results, use the Change Case command rather than All Caps.

Anne-Marie Concepcion provides an article about small caps at Small Caps vs OpenType All Small Caps.

InDesign can automatically change the case of selected text. When you format text as small caps, InDesign automatically uses the small-cap characters designed as part of the font, if available. Otherwise, InDesign synthesizes the small caps using scaled-down versions of the regular capital letters. The size of synthesized small caps is set in the Type Preferences dialog box.

Before (top) and after (bottom) setting BC and AD in small caps to complement old-style numerals and surrounding text

If you select All Caps or Small Caps in an OpenType font, InDesign creates more elegant type. If you’re using an OpenType font, you can also choose All Small Caps from the Character panel menu or the Control panel. (See Apply OpenType font attributes.)

  1. Select text.
  2. Choose All Caps or Small Caps in the Character panel menu or in the Control panel. If the text was originally typed in all caps, selecting Small Caps will not change the text.

Specify the size for small caps

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences > Advanced Type (Windows) or InDesign > Preferences > Advanced Type (Mac OS).
  2. For Small Caps, type a percentage of the original font size for text to be formatted as small caps. Then click OK.

Change capitalization

  1. Select text.
  2. Choose one of the following in the Type > Change Case submenu:
    • To change all characters to lowercase, choose Lowercase.

    • To capitalize the first letter of each word, choose Title Case.

    • To change all characters to uppercase, choose Uppercase.

    • To capitalize the first letter of each sentence, choose Sentence Case.


The Sentence Case command assumes that the period (.), exclamation point (!), and question mark (?) characters mark the ends of sentences. Applying Sentence Case may cause unexpected case changes when these characters are used in other ways, as in abbreviations, file names, or Internet URLs. In addition, proper names may become lowercase when they should be uppercase.

Apply ligatures to letter pairs

InDesign can automatically insert ligatures, which are typographic replacement characters for certain letter pairs, such as “fi” and “fl,” when they are available in a given font. The characters that InDesign uses when the Ligature option is selected appear and print as ligatures, but are fully editable, and do not cause the spell checker to flag a word erroneously.

Individual characters (top) and ligature combinations (bottom)

With OpenType fonts, when you choose Ligatures from the Character panel menu, Control panel menu, or in-context menu, InDesign produces any standard ligature defined in the font, as determined by the font designer. However, some fonts include more ornate, optional ligatures, which can be produced when you choose the Discretionary Ligatures command.

  1. Select text.
  2. Choose Ligatures from the pop-up. Alternatively, you can use Character panel menu or the Control panel menu to choose Ligatures.

Assign a language to text

Assigning a language to text determines which spelling and hyphenation dictionary is used. Assigning a language does not change the actual text.

  1. Do any of the following:
    • To apply the language only to selected text, select the text.

    • To change the default dictionary used in InDesign, choose the language with no documents open.

    • To change the default dictionary for a specific document, open the document, choose Edit > Deselect All, and then choose the language.

  2. In the Character panel, choose the appropriate dictionary in the Language menu.

InDesign uses Proximity (and WinSoft for some languages) dictionaries for both spelling and hyphenation. These dictionaries let you specify a different language for as little as a single character of text. Each dictionary contains hundreds of thousands of words with standard syllable breaks. Changing the default language does not affect existing text frames or documents.

You can customize language dictionaries to ensure that any unique vocabulary you use is recognized and treated correctly.

How dictionaries affect hyphenation

A. “Glockenspiel” in English B. “Glockenspiel” in Traditional German C. “Glockenspiel” in Reformed German 

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