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Apologies right off the top—I'll try, but I might not be able to describe my conundrum as clearly as I'd like (I've worked alone for too long and have lost some communication skills I'm afraid). Here's my situation: long, complicated book project—on many pages I've got multiple text entries, broken up by graphics, photographs, graphs, etc.
It's easy for me to align all these text entries on the left (using the alignment tool), but I'd also like to align them on the right. My method has been to separately drag the margins of each text entry box to the same place, or as close as I can get to the same place, as the text entry box above or below. But... is there a way for me to do something like this to multiple text boxes at the same time?
It seems to me that I can't select a number of text boxes and align them on the right, because that would mess up the (more important) alignment on the left. So... can I somehow select a number of text boxes and get any boxes that don't extend far enough to the right to extend to a common point on the right?
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I'm not sure I follow your exact practices here, but it sound as if you are missing some key InDesign features (that are actually common to most similar tools).
If you are putting all the text in individually-placed text frames, you might be missing the ability to create a single text flow that breaks between pages and text frames. (If all of your text is small, discrete paragraphs or short descriptions, doing them individually is fine.)
ID also has a whole toolbox of alignment and layout tools and features. You can lay out the base structure of your pages using Document Setup and Margins and Columns. You can have multiple base pages (called Parent pages, formerly called Master pages) and apply any of them to each page for different layout purposes.
You can also set guides (vertical and horizontal lines), a text 'baseline' grid, and an overall document grid to help position elements, with varying types of "snap" so that objects jump to precise locations as you move and scale them.
If ANY of this is new information, you might find it useful to find a few good basic tutorials on ID, starting with document setup and then basic page layout. These features will really, really speed up clean layout. And, I think, the answer to your basic question about text alignment should have an answer in there somewhere. If not, ask again with more details about what you're doing and how.
"If you are putting all the text in individually-placed text frames"
Yes, I am doing this. I have to, I'm afraid. I then use the Align tool (vertical line on left, two horizontal boxes, representing text, on the right) to align all my text paragraphs on the left margin. That works very well. But I would also like all my text frames to end at the right at exactly the same place. The problem is, these text boxes are different widths (because of my use of graphics and photos within the body of everything), so I can't use the Align Right tool (that would align everything beautifully on the right, but mess up the alignment on the left). What I'd like to be able to do is to group select all my text boxes at with the click of my mouse, or whatever, extend them all out—or shorten them all up—to exactly the same place.
I'm sorry. I wish I could get Google Translate to decipher all of this into a more comprehensible description. The bottom line is that I'm pretty good at eyeballing this kind of thing, and I can individually drag each text box to approximately the same place at the right, so it's not a big big problem. I just have a feeling that there's a simple solution out there.
Thanks for your help,
Unless there's some twist I am not getting, this is a simple job for both the page layout (margins) and for guidelines (which you can position on each page, or on a Parent page so that they show on all document pages. And if you turn on Document Grid, set it to a useful scale for your layout, and snap to that, positioning things is still "freehand / eyeball" but with the added help of snapping to alignment points like margins, guidelines and the grid.
You can also position things freehand, then touch up the numerical size and position in the top bar.
Look at the options in View | Grids & Guides.
And just because I'm not clear on your skill level with ID... you do know that you can align text to the right? Would setting a paragraph to right-align achieve the effect you're aiming for?
James, all of this sounds very promising. I will check it out! thanks very much!
(p.s. my skill level with ID is, I'd say, poor but... I'm totally fine with many of the basics. It's amazing what I can do even with the little that I'm good at. I use InDesign just as a hobby, no deadlines, etc., so I don't really mind doing things the slow way. But yes, I'd love to resolve some nagging questions, this being my main one).
I know I can align paragraphs on the right, but my problem with that is the paragraphs are then 'unaligned' on the left (and it's more important that they stay aligned on the left).
I'll play around with your guidelines suggestion. thanks again.
Um, then what you want is the "Justified" alignment, which squares up both margins. There are three options that do different things with the last line if it is not of precise length to fill the space.
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Show us some screenshot(s) of what would you like to achieve.