Art and Design

Adobe Max: Typography for Print *and* Digital

Bookmarked InDesign Type and Layout for Print and Digital (Adobe)

Learn how to use type and layout in InDesign to elevate the look, credibility, and impact of your layouts for both print and digital designs.

Choosing type for screen

  • avoid large differences between the thick and thin parts of the letters (stroke modulation)
  • x-height (relative type of lowercase characters)
  • avoid light typefaces
  • check if typeface has screen version
  • check glyphs

Typeface resources

Combining type

  • use serif and sans serif versions of same family, look for families with many weights and styles
  • go bold and look for max contrast between style and weight (e.g. heavy sans serif with lightweight serif)
  • go all in on one typeface, use other elements like casing, italics, indents, spacing, and decoration to differentiate
  • look for typefaces designed by same person / foundry

Adjust layout from print to type

Look at new page ratio (e.g. iPad 4:3 – width:height)

Change unit to pixels

Edit > Adjust Layout

  • Can do calculation in the width box: [height in pixels]/3 * 4 to convert to 4:3 aspect ratio – divide by 2 if spread
  • Reduce margins and make uniform (if spread could make inside margin half)
  • Set bleed to 0
  • Check box to adjust font size

Make sure “auto-fit” box is checked for images so they adjust with resize

Export > EPUB fixed layout

  • Spread control: convert spread to a landscape page

Composition and type flow

Preferences > Composition: check H&J Violations (hyphenation and justification) – useful for improving spacing with justified type

Type > Story > check optical margin alignment – allows punctuation to overflow bounding box (set type to same size as body type)

Use GREP style to deal with short single-word lines

  • create character style with “no break” checked
  • GREP style = .{#}\r (any string of # characters that occurs at the end of a paragraph – 8 is recommended)

Fix widows by adjusting tracking in previous paragraph with short last line, to pull the type up by one line

  • Preferences > Units and Increments > Kerning/Tracking – set to 1
  • Never set tracking to more than -10 to keep it unnoticeable

Structuring your document

Layout > Create Guides – set gutter to the same as the leading of body type

View > Grids and Guides > unlock column guides to allow uneven sized page columns

In addition to layout grid, use a baseline grid (document-wide layout grid) to keep type

  • Preferences > Grids > relative to top margin, increment should match leading (or be related to leading, such as half of leading), turn off “grids in back”
  • Paragraph styles > Indents and Spacing > Align to Grid > all lines (apply to body paragraph and other paragraphs you want)

Object > Text Frame Options > Baseline Options > match increment to baseline grid, check “use custom baseline grid” and set relative to top inset, change start to desired value (e.g. 10 lines down would be 10 x leading of 12 = 120) – use infrequently

Create object style to be able to apply to other frames

Inline graphics: make sure leading in paragraph where you’re pasting it is set to “Auto”

Typographic flair

Stylistic sets – allows you to choose alternate OpenType glyphs consistently in a block

Character > OpenType > Stylistic Sets

Knockout text: check knockout group and adjust text to opacity 0%


W: show guides

Alt-left arrow: reduce tracking

Cmd-shift-hyphen: add discretionary hyphen (disappears if text reflows and it’s not needed)

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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