White Space Characters

All of these different spacing options can be applied by choosing Type > Insert White Space, or by choosing Insert White Space from the Type Tool contextual menu (Right+Click/Ctrl+Click).

Figure 6.13. Insert White Space.

Figure 6.14. White Space Characters.

Em Space: Cmd+Shift+M (Ctrl+Shift+M)

An em space is a relative unit, equal in width to the size of your type. In 12-point type, an em space is 12 points wide; in 72-point type, it is 72 points. A common misunderstanding is that an em space is the width of an M.

En Space: Cmd+Shift+N (Ctrl+Shift+N)

An en space is one-half the width of an em space.

Flush Space

This adds a variable amount of space to the last line of a fully justified paragraph. A Flush Space can be useful if you want to add space between the last word and an end ornament or if you are preparing a price list and want to push the price flush with the right column edge. In justified text, the space expands to absorb all available extra space on the last line. A caveat: The Flush Space only works when you apply the Justify All Lines option to the paragraph. For that reason, you may be better off using a Right Indent Tab (Shift+Tab or Insert Special Character > Right Indent Tab) to get the same effect.

Hair Space: Cmd+Option+Shift+I (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+I)

One-twenty-fourth the width of an em space. That's pretty darn small. It could be a used as an alternative to a Thin Space.

No Double Spaces, Please

At the risk of sounding like a petty tyrant, I'm going to state the following: There is never an excuse for having more than one consecutive word space anywhere in your text. But wait…I hear you say, surely… No. Never. More than one consecutive space and the Type Police will come knocking.

Here's why: The convention of double spacing after a period is a holdover from the days of the typewriter (remember those?) when fonts were monospaced, that is, all characters had the same width regardless of the shape of the letter, so that an I occupied the same width as a w. The characters were so wide and so open that a single space wasn't enough between sentences.

These days our fontsunless you're aiming for that certain retro typewriter lookare proportionally spaced, which means that each character has a unique width corresponding to its character shape. The word spaces in proportionally spaced fonts are designed to separate sentences perfectly. Putting two spaces after every period undermines our goal of even type color and looks really sloppythe typographic equivalent of going around with gravy stains on your tie.

These days you're more likely to see a typewriter displayed as a piece of retro art than a working typesetting tool, but the double spacing habit persists. Thankfully, the Find/Change function can zap any egregious spaces in less time than it takes to say flibbertigibbet.

Nonbreaking Space: Cmd+Option+X (Ctrl+Alt+X)

The same width as pressing the spacebar, but it prevents two (or more) words, like a name for example, from being broken across a line. In fact, if you have a short line at the end of a paragraph, using a Nonbreaking Space is preferable to forcing a line break with a Shift-Return. If the text is edited or reflowed, you're less likely to end up with a break in the middle of your line. You can achieve the same end by applying No Break to your selected range of text.

Figure 6.15. Without intervention, "Formula One" breaks over two lines (example A). Using a Nonbreaking Space causes "Formula" to hyphenate (example B). Selecting both words and choosing No Break moves the whole phrase up to the first line (example C).

Thin Space: Cmd+Option+Shift+M (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M)

One-eighth the width of an em spacea good choice on either side of an em dash.

Figure Space

Lining numbers in most fonts are of equal width and a figure space is the same width as a number in the typeface. Figure Spaces can be used to help align numbers in tables.

Punctuation Space

A Punctuation Space is the same width as an exclamation mark, period, or colon in the typeface.

Whither the Monospaced Font?

Although monospaced fonts are seldom used these days, they are not all on the unemployment line and are still useful for certain tasks.

Courier is used to indicate a missing font. InDesign can usually simulate the look of a missing font on screen, but it can't do the same in print. Printing a document that contains missing fonts results in Courier being substituted for the missing font. This convention has been adopted by all page layout applications because Courier looks so wrong that you can't miss it and presumably will be compelled to fix it. That said, I'm sure we've all spotted the odd bit of egregious Courier that somehow made it through the editorial and proofing stages and ended up in print.

In instructional manuals, especially computer manuals, Courier is often used to indicate text or code that the user is required to type, although a proportionally spaced "techie looking" font like Letter Gothic is a good alternative.

Line Break (aka Soft Return, Forced Line Break) Shift-Return

Line breaks are essential whenever you want to start a new line without starting a new paragraph. This will avoid creating a new paragraph that takes on the potentially unwanted formatting attributes of the paragraph that it came from.

Figure 6.16. Using a forced line breakShift-Return (example A) to move a broken word down to the next line vs. using a Return (example B), which creates a new paragraph based on the formats of the paragraph it came from.

What's The Point? InDesign's Units of Measurement

When working in InDesign, the best unit of measurementin my humble opinionis Picas and its subdivision Points. The point system originated in the early 18th Century and was adopted as the typographic standard in the United States in the early 20th. They're arcane, nondecimal, seldom used in Europe, but still there's good reason to use them. Basically, there's no getting away from them: Type size, leading, indentation and paragraph spacing are all specified in points. What's more, points allow for the kind of fine-tuning necessary when finessing type. Learn to love 'em, 'cause they ain't going away.

Picas and points in a nutshell:

6 picas = 1 inch

12 points = 1 pica

72 points = 1 inch

1 picas and 6 points = 1p6. Alternatively, it could be expressed as 0p18 or 18 pt.

6 points = 0p6, p6, or 6 pt.

Figure 6.17. InDesign's rulers in picas, inches, and millimeters.


If your measurement is in picas, expressing 6 points as merely 6 would be interpreted as 72 points. 6 points would be typed 0p6 or 6 pt. This probably sounds more confusing than it isyou'll quickly get the hang of it.


In reality, picas and points overlap with other measurement systemsmillimeters or inches (or both), depending on your preference And InDesign allows you to mix your measurements. Whichever unit of measurement you choose, you can type in values in any supported unit of measurement (just make sure you add the mm or the " after the number) and InDesign will make the conversion for you. So, if you're like me and prefer to work in picas, but sometimes like to express the dimension of certain elements like pictures frames in inches, then type "in" after the value.