Dealing with threaded text and overset text in InDesign is a constant pain when working with files produced in many languages.
Some target languages will have radically more or less text than the source language when you get the translated file, and that might impact the document’s layout and require you to have to fix various issues here and there.
We, InDesign users, are often very busy and sometimes we prefer to deal with issues when they come up.
However, there are strong reasons to “program” your layout to “host” a shorter or longer textual content.
Working on the base language document (before going to translation) is the right choice because:
- You understand the language and the context perfectly
- You only have to edit one single document
- You’ll have the final documents faster
Once you’ve learned these simple tips, you will be able to create your documents correctly and very easily. You’ll avoid mistakes and meeting deadlines will be much easier.
1. Make the text jump
As illustrated in the picture, we often size text-boxes so that the text from a first box flows into a second one.
This is a very common way of dealing with text, but there is actually a better method.
By using “Column Breaks” you can control your text in a more precise and efficient way.
Columns breaks allows you to:
- edit the text without having to trigger changes to the layout
- replace your text with a shorter text
- replace your text with a longer text
You can insert a “Column Break” in InDesign by pressing
Return in your keyboard or by clicking on
Insert Break Character >
Note: There are more break characters. I prefer to use the “Column break” because it allows you to jump from both a column to another and from a text box to another by using the same character.
2. Scale the text
Vertical and Horizontal scale are two text attributes that you might want to take into consideration to quickly adjust your layout.
Text has many different settings. Most of the time you won’t use many of those settings, so InDesign sets a default value.
The default settings for both the vertical and horizontal scale are 100%.
When you copy translated text into your document (or replace it using Redokun), longer text can overflow the box.
The result can be:
- the dreaded red plus sign – this indicates that part of the text is hidden
- text flows into the wrong box
An easy way to adjust this is by changing the scale of the text with a simple Find / Change:
Make sure that
Find what: and
Change to: fields are empty;
Click on the first icon next to the
Find format: field;
In the window that opens, click on
Advanced Characters Formats;
Horizontal Scale to 100%;
Click on the first icon next to the
Change Format field and set the
Horizontal Scale and
Vertical Scale to a lower percentage (e.g., 90%);
Change All – All the text in your document will be scaled to 90% and should fix the overflow text by taking up less space.
[Advanced TIP] Use a paragraph style
When I create the Paragraph Styles, I generally start from a Style that I use as a base to which I link all my other Styles.
When I am about to finish my document, I set this paragraph to have Horizontal Scale to 130%.
It results in all the text taking up much more space than it should. At this point, I insert “Column breaks” at the end of each chunk of text and resize the frame to contain the correct text before setting the Horizontal Scale back to 100% .
Check this post to learn how to use Paragraph Styles like a pro and download the boilerplate I use for my projects in InDesign
3. Prevent overset text in InDesign
From the two previous tips derive this one. Since the translated text might take up more space than the source one, it’s good to leave some white space at the end of each text box.
As mentioned above, you can use the “Column break” feature to control the flow of your text.
Easily deal with many languages
Redokun was developed with the express purpose of helping InDesign users who are working on multilingual projects.
If your company uses InDesign, then you should definitely give it a try.
With Redokun you can:
- drastically reduce the time spent on getting documents translated
- significantly cut down on translation expenses
- reduce time spent on updates and revisions
Subscribe to the trial and try Redokun for free for 14-day!