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Align text

  1. InDesign User Guide
  2. Get to know InDesign
    1. Introduction to InDesign
      1. What's New in InDesign
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  3. Create and layout documents
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      11. Edit text
      12. Align text
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      16. Format paragraphs
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  5. Find and replace
    1. Find and replace text
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Align or justify text

Text can be aligned with one or both edges (or insets) of a text frame. Text is said to be justified when it is aligned with both edges. You can choose to justify all text in a paragraph excluding the last line (Justify Left or Justify Right), or you can justify text in a paragraph including the last line (Justify All). When you have only a few characters on the last line, you may want to use a special end-of-story character and create a flush space.

Justify Left (left) and Justify All (right)


When you justify all lines of text and you are using the Adobe Paragraph Composer, InDesign shifts text to ensure that the paragraph has consistent text density and is visually appealing. You can fine-tune spacing in justified text.

When you set center or justify for text in a frame grid, the text will no longer align exactly with the grid. You can also specify paragraph alignment for all the paragraphs in the frame grid.

  1. Select text.
  2. Click one of the Alignment buttons (Align Left, Align Center, Align Right, Left Justify, Center Justify, Right Justify and Full Justify) in the Paragraph panel or Control panel.
  3. (Optional) Click Align Towards Spine or Align Away From Spine.

    When you apply Align Towards Spine to a paragraph, text on a left-hand page is right-aligned, but when the same text flows onto (or if the frame is moved to) a right-hand page, it becomes left aligned. Similarly, when you apply Align Away From Spine to a paragraph, text on a left-hand page is left aligned, while text on a right-hand page is right aligned.

    In vertical frames, aligning to or away from the spine has no effect, since text alignment is parallel to the spine direction.


If you want the left side of a line of text to be left-aligned and the right side to be right-aligned, position the insertion point where you want to right-align the text, press Tab, and then right-align the rest of the line.

Align paragraphs to a baseline grid

The baseline grid represents the leading for body text in a document. You can use multiples of this leading value for all elements of the page to ensure that text always lines up between columns and from page to page. For example, if the body text in your document has 12‑point leading, you could give your heading text 18‑point leading and add 6 points of space before the paragraphs that follow the headings.

Using a baseline grid ensures consistency in the location of text elements on a page. You can adjust the leading for the paragraph to ensure that its baselines align to the page’s underlying grid. This is useful if you want the baselines of text in multiple columns or adjacent text frames to align. Change settings for the baseline grid by using the Grids section of the Preferences dialog box.

You can also align only the first line of a paragraph to the baseline grid, allowing the rest of the lines to follow the specified leading values.

To view the baseline grid, choose View > Grids & Guides > Show Baseline Grid.


The baseline grid is visible only if the document zoom level is greater than the view threshold setting in Grids Preferences. You may need to zoom in to view the baseline grid.

Align paragraphs to the baseline grid

  1. Select text.
  2. In the Paragraph panel or Control panel, click Align To Baseline Grid  .

To ensure that the leading of your text does not change, set the baseline grid leading to the same leading value as your text, or to a factor thereof.

Align only the first line to the baseline grid

  1. Select the paragraphs you want to align.
  2. Choose Only Align First Line To Grid from the Paragraph menu or Control panel menu.
  3. In the Paragraph panel or Control panel, click Align To Baseline Grid  .

Create balanced headline text

You can balance ragged aligned text across multiple lines. This feature is especially useful for multiline headings, pull-quotes, and centered paragraphs.

Before and after applying Balance Ragged Lines to the title

  1. Click in the paragraph you want to balance.
  2. In the Paragraph panel or Control panel, choose Balance Ragged Lines from the menu.

This feature takes effect only when the Adobe Paragraph Composer is selected.

Create paragraphs that span or split columns

You can make a paragraph span across multiple columns in a text frame to create a straddle head effect. You can choose whether a paragraph spans all columns or a specified number of columns. When a paragraph is set to span across columns in a multicolumn text frame, any text before the spanning paragraph becomes balanced as a result.

You can also split a paragraph into multiple columns within the same text frame.


Paragraph spanning and splitting multiple columns

A. Heading that spans columns B. Split column 

Span a paragraph across columns

  1. Place the insertion point inside the paragraph.

    You can also make this feature part of a paragraph style, such as a heading style.

  2. Choose Span Columns from the Control panel menu or a Paragraph panel menu.

  3. Choose Span Columns from the Paragraph Layout menu.

  4. Choose the number of columns you want the paragraph to span from the Span menu. Choose All if you want the paragraph to span across all the columns.

  5. To add extra space before or after the span paragraph, specify Space Before Span and Space After Span values, and then click OK.

Split a paragraph into columns

  1. Place the insertion point inside the paragraph.

    You can also make this feature part of a paragraph style, such as a heading style.

  2. Choose Span Columns from the Control panel menu or a Paragraph panel menu.

  3. Choose Split Columns from the Paragraph Layout menu.

  4. Specify the following options, and then click OK:


    Choose the number of columns you want the split the paragraph into.

    Space Before Split / Space After Split

    Add space before or after the split paragraph.

    Inside Gutter

    Determine the space between the split paragraphs.

    Outside Gutter

    Determine the space between the outside of the split paragraphs and the margins.

Align or justify text vertically within a text frame

You can align or distribute lines of text in a frame along its vertical axis to help keep type vertically consistent among frames and their columns.

You can align text to the top, center, or bottom of the frame using each paragraph’s leading and paragraph spacing values. You can also justify text vertically, which evenly spaces lines regardless of their leading and paragraph spacing values.

Vertical justification—Bottom (left) and Justify (right)

Vertical text alignment and justification is calculated from the baseline positions of each line of text in the frame. Keep the following in mind as you adjust vertical alignment:

  • The top of the frame is defined as the baseline of the first line of top-aligned text. The First Baseline Offset option in the Text Frame Options dialog box affects this value.

  • The bottom of the frame is defined as the baseline of the last line of bottom-aligned text. Footnote text is not justified.

  • When the Align to Baseline Grid option is applied to paragraphs with Top, Center, or Bottom alignment, all lines will be aligned to the baseline grid. With the Justified option, only the first and last lines will be aligned to the baseline grid.

  • If you adjust a text frame’s Top or Bottom Inset values in the Text Frame Options dialog box, you change the location of the first or last baseline, respectively.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • With the Selection tool, select a text frame.

    • With the Type tool , click in a text frame.

  2. Choose Object > Text Frame Options.
  3. In the Vertical Justification section of the Text Frame Options dialog box, choose one of the following options in the Align menu:
    • To vertically align text down from the top of the frame, choose Top. (This is the default setting.)

    • To center lines of text in the frame, choose Center.

    • To vertically align lines of text up from the bottom of the frame, choose Bottom.

    • To evenly distribute lines of text vertically between the top and bottom of the frame, choose Justify.

  4. If you choose Justify and you want to prevent the leading value from becoming disproportionately larger than the paragraph spacing value, specify a Paragraph Spacing Limit value. The space between paragraphs is expanded up to the value you specify; if the text still doesn’t fill the frame, the space between lines is adjusted until the frame is filled. The paragraph spacing limit value is applied in addition to the Space Before or Space After values entered on the Paragraph panel.
    Paragraph spacing limit set to zero (left) and 1 pica (right)


    Be careful about vertically justifying multi-column text frames. If the last column contains only a few lines, too much white space may appear between the lines.

  5. Click OK.

An easy way to adjust the Paragraph Spacing Limit value is to select Preview, and then click the up or down arrow next to the Paragraph Spacing Limit value until paragraph spacing appears to be balanced with leading.


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The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

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The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online