Use this simple InDesign trick to sharpen up your text on posters, magazines and books.

This easy-peasy tip is the secret weapon of professional typographers, and will impress your designer friends without a doubt!


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1. What is Hanging Punctuation?


There are a couple of tricks up the sleeve of a professional graphic designer or typographer to make their text formatting look particularly spectacular, and Hanging Punctuation is one of them.

Hanging Punctuation refers to the shifting of small punctuation marks, such as apostrophes and commas, and elements of characters, such as pokey serifs, to outside the normal boundaries of a block of text.

Without applying hung punctuation, paragraphs of text can appear visually uneven, and not seem completely symmetrical or straight. Typographers know that hung punctuation is a subtle but incredibly effective technique for achieving an ultra-professional look in their designs.


2. InDesign to the Rescue: Optical Margin Alignment


You can achieve the hung punctuation effect with next-to-no effort by using InDesign’s handy Optical Margin Alignment function.

Take a look at this magazine spread for the article Spirit of Adventure.

indesign hung punctuation optical margin alignment messy paragraphs typography

Hmm, OK, it’s looking alright; but that apostrophe at the start of the first paragraph sure is taking up a lot of space.

Head up to Window on InDesign’s menu, and go to Type & Tables > Story. This opens up a little-know panel called the Story panel, and in this panel we have an option called Optical Margin Alignment.

indesign hung punctuation optical margin alignment messy paragraphs typography

Just take a look at the difference it makes. Here, we have no Optical Margin Alignment applied.

indesign hung punctuation optical margin alignment messy paragraphs typography

Ta-dah! With the text frame selected and the Optical Margin Alignment checkbox ticked, that great big apostrophe is shifted to outside the boundary of the text frame, and the whole body of text on the rest of the article is subtly shifted; with punctuation marks and serif elements pushed to sit outside the line of the text.

indesign hung punctuation optical margin alignment messy paragraphs typography

Doesn’t it look so much nicer?

indesign hung punctuation optical margin alignment messy paragraphs typography

And it’s as simple as that!

indesign hung punctuation optical margin alignment messy paragraphs typography

Try to get in the habit of applying Hanging Punctuation to any design where you’re dealing with longer paragraphs of text—guaranteed it will make a world of difference to the quality of your typography.

To pick up some more typography tricks and access our library of InDesign articles and tips why not pay a visit to our InDesign tutorials page?


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