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How to auto squeeze text in a line in indesign

New Here ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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I am laying out the residential pages for a directory. Each page has 2 columns, and naturally there are many names that can't fit on one line. After I bring in all the names and apply the character and paragraph styles, there are many names that don't fit on one line, so I manually go through each page and adjust the tracking and kerning of those names. 

Is there a smarter way to automatically make each listing fit on one line?

I'm attaching a blurred image so you can get the idea.

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

Yes, of course - script would be only 1st step. 

 

And even if you can automate "only" 50% - it's half the time saved...

 

But then, with a right script - you can speed up your work even more - if you won't have to use mouse to select the problematic instances... 

 

You could use just keyboard - use arrows to switch between those problematic instances - and use keyboard shortcuts to do something - squeeze more in any specific way - but you save time on mouse clicks... 

 

I've done something like

...

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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Unfortunately, only through custom script.

 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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As RT says, there's no inherent, 'AI-y' way to do this; some tasks just demand something like wetware.

 

But it would be much more efficient if you used child styles with one or two levels of tighter tracking etc., assigned to shortcut keys. That make sense?


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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quote

As RT says, there's no inherent, 'AI-y' way to do this; some tasks just demand something like wetware.

 

But it would be much more efficient if you used child styles with one or two levels of tighter tracking etc., assigned to shortcut keys. That make sense?


By @James Gifford—NitroPress

 

Good point - but it's still a lot of manual work...

 

Script would just go through Paragraphs collection, check how many Lines is in the Paragraph and condense text.

 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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But probably not condense things "perfectly," meaning an  even closer visual review would be rquired— harder to spot a badly-squished name than two lines — and a manual fix would still be needed for some number of the "fixed" entries.

 

I've done directories and listings, and unless you're lucky enough to be working with constrained data (part names no longer than X characters, etc.) I don't think there's any simple way to avoid having to review every page and touch up the outliers. Having a few automated tools to do it would speed things a lot (over anything like manually selecting text and applying overrides, which is bad practice anyway).

 

But it would take a very sophisticated script to analyze a foldover line and apply just the right amount of squeeze to get the text on one line with minimum visual distortion. I'd just consider manual touchup — a one-and-done operation, for most projects — not just the only workable solution, but the best all-around one.

 

But there are some script wizards who can do truly amazing things, so.


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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But script can color-code amout of squeezing - so it will be much easier to spot very problematic situations...

 

Also, script could modify different params - in user defined order:

- scale,

- tracking,

- spacing,

 

in predefined ranges - including mixing.

 

So, for example, let's say each option can be done in 5 steps - 1st could be tracking - if it fails - then tracking can be set to 1st step of the range, then scale can be done in steps, then spacing, etc.

 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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Just an additional $0.02 here. Squishing the text can, as noted, get very ugly; why not scale the text down a bit to get it to fit instead?

It's going to have to be done manually anyway so if you had no break to the style, it should be a piece of cake to find the outliers and apply a different style.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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Yeah, not to be repetitive, redundant and reiterative, but as there's next to zero chance of successfully making this a fully automated process, a streamlined/assisted manual review and touchup would cover all the bases in the most efficient and "best outcome" way.

 

Or... you could play Ellis Island agent and just shorten any name that doesn't fit your standard typography! 🙂

 

(Not to propagate the urban myth here... no immigrant names were ever changed by US immigration.)


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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Yes, of course - script would be only 1st step. 

 

And even if you can automate "only" 50% - it's half the time saved...

 

But then, with a right script - you can speed up your work even more - if you won't have to use mouse to select the problematic instances... 

 

You could use just keyboard - use arrows to switch between those problematic instances - and use keyboard shortcuts to do something - squeeze more in any specific way - but you save time on mouse clicks... 

 

I've done something like this few years ago for the Polish Patent Office - as part of a bigger solution - there was a lot of few rows tables - and columns there had to be resized individually to better fit contents - reduce number of rows, same as on this case - script allowed user to use up/down arrows to switch between tables - and left/right arrows to resize columns. 

 

WAY quicker than constantly switching using mouse... 

 

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People's Champ ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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I think the correct answer is to allow some names to flow on to 2 lines.

If that's not possible, I think there is a built-in InDesign way of doing this, as follows:

(1) Presumably each line in the directory has a paragraph style (the same one for all) applied to it.

(2) In the para style definitions, enable "No Break", to make sure that the entire paragraph is always on a single line.

(3) In the Justification settings, set the minimum values of word spacing, letter spacing, and glyph scaling to something quite small (say 40%, -20%, 50%, respectively).

You should now find that InDesign automatically squishes all the names to fit on one line.

If the name is long, this can get ugly quite quickly. But if that's what is needed, I think it's the way to do it.

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Guide ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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Ariel is right!

 

To adjust the layout, the Script used in this video plays Justification Settings fine adjustmennts until I get what I want!

 

 

(^/)  The Jedi

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Community Expert ,
Jan 30, 2024 Jan 30, 2024

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Hi @FRIdNGE,

It would be helpful if you share atleast a curtailed version of your script so that users can learn from it and if someone needs the proper version then they can contact you. Just a screengrab of your excellent work would not help users much.

-Manan

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