InDesign’s hidden gems: our top 5 for wrangling text

Designers #ShineOn 💎

Adobe InDesign is no stranger to shortcut keys. Did you know at last count there was over 400 of them defined from a possible 1300? That’s some serious shortcuts if you can remember them – AND you can define extras of your own.

Ncis millie bobby brown episode - AMAZED- wow- OMG - surprised
So many shortcuts!

We’ve boiled down our top 5 shortcuts related to text with the premise our team had to find them AMAZING and rarely discovered.

Being able to quickly wrangle text is a designer’s superpower.

1. Quick apply

Style your text at lightning speed with quick apply – have your character and paragraph styles set up first, then you can quickly apply them to your selected text using command + enter.

Adobe InDesign_QuickApply- Clarity like never before - Hyperlink - Minor Heading - Body
Quickly view and apply a style to selected text

2. Tracking & leading

Select your text, then use option + arrow keys (or alt + arrow keys) and you can adjust the tracking (left & right arrows) and leading (up & down arrows).

Extra tip: You can adjust the increments of these adjustments in InDesign Preferences.

Adobe InDesign_Tracking- Clarity like never before-adjusting tracking and leading
Adjust tracking: option + left/right arrow keys

3. Add columns to your text box

If you draw a text box and then realise you’d like it to have columns, hold the mouse down as you’re drawing and tap the right arrow key to add as many columns as you need – and they’ll be linked already too!

Adobe InDesign_Add columns to your next box- shortcut - designers - draw a text box
Hold the mouse down + tap the right arrow key to add columns

4. Indenting paragraph text in lists

Bulleted and numbered lists always more pleasant on the eye when copy is indented neatly under the bullet. There is a simple solution to achieve this quickly: after adding a bullets/numbers style to your paragraph, put your mouse cursor into the first line and press command + \ . The text below will fall into line.

Adobe InDesign screenshot - Indenting_Paragraph text in lists - text neatly under the bullet
Command + \ will indent paragraph lines in bulleted lists

5. Balance ragged lines

For those not familiar with the term, ragged means not aligned along a margin (the opposite of ragged is flush or justified). You can create your own keyboard shortcut for this which is particularly useful for centered headings and pull quotes, and helps with widows in paragraph text.

Balance ragged lines is a great feature of InDesign but it doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut – but, you can create one:

  • Go to the Edit menu and choose Keyboard Shortcuts
  • In Product Area and select Panel Menus
  • Highlight Paragraph: Balance Ragged Lines… then assign control + command + B for example as the New Shortcut.
Adobe InDesign screenshot - Balanced Ragged Lines - shortcuts - centered headings and pull quotes
It’s worth assigning a keyboard shortcut for balancing ragged lines