Create text frames

Text in InDesign resides inside containers called text frames. (A text frame is similar to a text box in QuarkXPress and a text block in Adobe PageMaker.)

There are two types of text frames: frame grids and plain text frames. Frame grids are the kind of text frames specific to Asian-language composition in which character emboxes and spacing are displayed as grids. Empty text frames in which no grid is displayed are plain text frames.

Like graphics frames, text frames can be moved, resized, and changed. The tool with which you select a text frame determines the kind of changes you can make:

  • Use the Type tool  to enter or edit text in a frame.

  • Use the Selection tool  for general layout tasks such as positioning and sizing a frame.

  • Use the Direct Selection tool  to alter a frame’s shape.

  • Use the Horizontal Grid tool  or the Vertical Grid tool to create a frame grid.

  • Use the Type tool  to create a plain text frame for horizontal text, and the Vertical Type tool  to create a plain text frame for vertical text. Use the same tools to edit existing text in a frame.

Text frames can also be connected to other text frames so that the text in one frame can flow into another frame. Frames that are connected in this way are threaded. Text that flows through one or more threaded frames is called a story. When you place (import) a word-processing file, it comes into your document as a single story, regardless of the number of frames it may occupy.

Text frames can have multiple columns. Text frames can be based on, yet independent of, page columns. In other words, a two-column text frame can sit on a four-column page. Text frames can also be placed on master pages and still receive text on document pages.

Note:

If you use the same type of text frame repeatedly, you can create an object style that includes text frame formatting such as stroke and fill colors, text frame options, and text wrap and transparency effects.

When you place or paste text, you don’t need to create a text frame; InDesign automatically adds frames based on the page’s column settings.

When text is pasted, a plain text frame is automatically created. You can also create an empty plain text frame manually and input text.

  • Do any of the following:
    • Select the Type tool , and then drag to define the width and height of a new text frame. Hold down Shift as you drag to constrain the frame to a square. When you release the mouse button, a text insertion point appears in the frame.

    Dragging to create new text frame
    Dragging to create new text frame

    • Using the Selection tool, click the in port or out port of another text frame, and then click or drag to create another frame.

    • Use the Place command to place a text file.

    • Using the Type tool , click inside any empty frame. If the Type Tool Converts Frames To Text Frames option is selected in Type preferences, the empty frame is converted to a text frame.

Move and resize text frames

Use the Selection tool to move or resize text frames.

Note:

If you want to move or resize a text frame without switching from the Type tool  to a selection tool, hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS), and then drag the frame.

Move a text frame

  • Using the Selection tool, drag the frame.
  • Using the Type tool, hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) and drag the frame. When you release the key, the Type tool is still selected.

Resize a text frame

  • Do any of the following:
    • To resize using the Type tool , hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS), and drag any frame handle. If you hold down the mouse button for one second before you begin dragging, the text will recompose while you resize the frame.

      Note: If you click the text frame instead of dragging it, you’ll lose your text selection or insertion point location.

    • To resize using the Selection tool , drag any of the frame handles on the frame’s border. Hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) to scale the text within the frame. (See Scale type.)

    • To quickly fit the frame to its content, use the Selection tool to select the text frame, and double-click any handle. For example, if you double-click the center bottom handle, the bottom of the frame snaps to the bottom of the text. If you double-click the center right handle, the height is preserved while the width narrows to fill the frame.

      Tip: You can also double-click a handle on an overset text frame to expand the height or width to fit all text in the frame. If a text frame includes more overset text than can reasonably fit on the page, the text frame isn’t resized.

    Double-click handle to resize text frame
    Double-click handle to resize text frame

    • To fit the text frame to the content, select the frame using the Selection tool, and choose Object > Fitting > Fit Frame to Content. The bottom of the text frame fits the contents of the text. If a text frame includes more overset text than can reasonably fit on the page, the text frame isn’t resized.

    • To resize using the Scale tool , drag to resize the frame. (See Scale type.)

Use text frames on master pages

When you start a new document, you can select the Master Text Frame option so that an empty text frame is placed on the document’s default master page. This frame has the column and margin attributes specified in the New Document dialog box.

Follow these guidelines for using text frames on master pages:

  • Set master text frames when you want each page in your document to contain a page-sized text frame into which you can flow or type your text. If your document requires more variation, such as pages with different numbers of frames or frames of different lengths, leave the Master Text Frame option deselected, and use the Type tool to create text frames on masters.

  • Whether or not you select the Master Text Frame option, you can add text frames to a master page to act as placeholders. You can thread these empty placeholder frames together to establish a flow.

  • Flow text into master text frames using the same procedures you would use with frames created on document pages.

  • If you need to type text in a master text frame on a document page, hold down Ctrl+Shift (Windows) or Command+Shift (Mac OS) as you click the text frame on the document page. Then click in the frame using the Type tool and begin typing.

  • You can use Smart Text Reflow to add or remove pages automatically as you type and edit text. By default, when you type text at the end of a threaded text frame based on a master page, a new page is added, allowing you to continue typing in the new text frame. You can edit Smart Text Reflow settings.

  • If you change the page margins, text frames adjust to the new margins only if the Enable Layout Adjustment option is selected.

  • Selecting the Master Text Frame option does not affect whether new pages are added when you autoflow text.

Change text frame properties

Use Text Frame Options to change settings such as the number of columns in the frame, the vertical alignment of text within the frame, or the inset spacing, which is the distance of the margins between the text and the frame.

Before (left) and after (right) setting inset and creating two columns in a text frame
Before (left) and after (right) setting inset and creating two columns in a text frame

Note:

If you need to use the same text frame properties for multiple text frames, create an object style that you can apply to your text frames.

  1. Using the Selection tool , select a frame, or using the Type tool , click inside the text frame or select text.
  2. Choose Object > Text Frame Options, or hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and then double-click the text frame using a selection tool.
  3. Change text frame options, and then click OK.

These text frame options are available when you’re defining an object style for text boxes. See Object styles.

Add columns to a text frame

You can create columns within a text frame by using the Text Frame Options dialog box.

Note:

You cannot create columns of unequal width in a text frame. To create columns of unequal width or height, add threaded text frames side-by-side on either a document page or a master page.

  1. Using the Selection tool, select a frame, or using the Type tool, click inside the text frame or select text.
  2. Choose Object > Text Frame Options.
  3. Specify the number of columns, the width of each column, and the spacing between each column (gutter) for the text frame.
  4. (Optional) Select Fixed Column Width to maintain column width when you resize the frame. If this option is selected, resizing the frame can change the number of columns, but not their width.
    Fixed column width
    Fixed column width

    A. Original 2‑column text frame B. Resized with Fixed Column Width deselected (still 2 columns) C. Resized with Fixed Column Width selected (4 columns) 
  5. (Optional) Select Balanced Columns to make text even at the bottom of a multi-column text frame.
    Before and after balancing columns
    Before and after balancing columns

Change text frame inset spacing (margins)

  1. Using the Selection tool, select a frame, or using the Type tool, click inside the text frame or select text.
  2. Choose Object > Text Frame Options.
  3. In the Inset Spacing section on the General tab, type the offset distances you want for Top, Left, Bottom, and Right. (Click the Make All Settings The Same icon  to use the same spacing on all sides.)

If the frame you’ve selected has a non-rectangular shape, the Top, Left, Bottom, and Right options are dimmed, and an Inset option is available instead.

First baseline offset options

To change the first baseline options of a selected text frame, choose Object > Text Frame Options, and click the Baseline Options tab. The following options appear in the Offset menu under First Baseline:

Ascent

The height of the “d” character in the font falls below the top inset of the text frame.

Cap Height

The top of uppercase letters touch the top inset of the text frame.

Leading

Use the text’s leading value as the distance between the baseline of the first line of text and the top inset of the frame.

X Height

The height of the “x” character in the font falls below the top inset of the frame.

Fixed

Specify the distance between the baseline of the first line of text and the top inset of the frame.

Min

Select a minimum value for the baseline offset. For example, if Leading is selected and you specify a minimum value of 1p, InDesign uses the leading value only when it’s greater than 1 pica.

Note:

If you want to snap the top of the text frame to a grid, choose either Leading or Fixed so that you can control the location of the first baseline of text in text frames.

Set baseline grids for a text frame

In some cases, you might want to use a baseline grid for a frame rather than for the entire document. Use the Text Frame Options dialog box to apply a baseline grid to a text frame. When you set up a baseline grid for a text frame, note the following:

  • The document baseline grid doesn’t appear behind or in front of text frames that use their own baseline grids.
  • If Grids In Back is selected in Grids Preferences, then frame-based baseline grids take precedence over document-based baseline grids. If Grids In Back is not selected, then document-based baseline grids take precedence over frame-based baseline grids.
  1. Choose View > Grids & Guides > Show Baseline Grid to display all baseline grids, including those in a text frame.
  2. Select the text frame or place the insertion in a text frame, and then choose Object > Text Frame Options.

    If you want the baseline grid to apply to all frames in a thread (even if one or more threaded frames do not include text), place the insertion point in text, choose Edit > Select All, and then apply the baseline grid settings in the Text Frame Options dialog box.

  3. Click the Baseline Options tab.
  4. Under Baseline Grid, select Use Custom Baseline Grid, and do any of the following:

    Start

    Type a value to offset the grid from the top of the page, the top margin of the page, the top of the frame, or the top inset of the frame, depending on what you choose from the Relative To menu.

    Relative To

    Specify whether you want the baseline grid to begin relative to the top of the page, the top margin of the page, the top of the text frame, or the top of the text frame inset.

    Increment Every

    Type a value for the spacing between grid lines. In most cases, type a value that equals your body text leading, so that lines of text align perfectly to the grid.

    Color

    Select a color for the grid lines, or choose (Layer Color) to use the same color as the layer on which the text frame appears.

Note:

If you can’t see the baseline grid in a text frame, choose View > Grids & Guides > Show Baseline Grid to make sure that baseline grids aren’t hidden. If the baseline grid still doesn’t appear, check the threshold for viewing baseline grids in the Grids section of the Preferences dialog box. To see the grid, you might need to zoom in on the frame or reduce the threshold level.

Determine word and character counts

  1. Place the insertion point in a text frame to view counts for the entire thread of frames (the story), or select text to view counts only for the selected text.
  2. Choose Window > Info to display the Info panel.

The Info panel displays the number of characters, words, lines, and paragraphs in a text frame. The position of the insertion point within the text frame also appears.

Working with additional languages

You can assign languages to different text. Assigning the appropriate language to text is especially useful for spell-checking and hyphenating. (See Assign a language to text.)

If you need to work with Asian text, special versions of InDesign are available for Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean. These versions let you create layout grids and frame grids for composing multibyte characters, and they include a number of features for formatting multibyte text, along with additional fonts.

Similarly, a special version of InDesign is available for formatting Middle Eastern languages, such as Hebrew, Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu, that use right-to-left text formatting. This version is called InDesign ME.

For more information on purchasing InDesign ME or an Asian-language version of InDesign, see the Adobe website.

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