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Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

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  • Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

    I am having a problem that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere so I am wondering if I am doing something wrong. I am using InDesign CS3 on a Mac 10.4 with Suitcase managing fonts.

    We create a lot of forms -- they will have:

    with the underscore (shift -) being used as the "leader" to create lines. We do not put any spaces before or after the tabs.

    Some (admittedly very picky) sales reps are complaining because the distance from the beginning of the rule to the word is not exactly the same in all cases. Most recently, when type is done as shown in the above example, the rule starts right after the word "Name" -- but after "City" there is a bit larger space. I have changed the font to different faces and the space may change somewhat but always remains a little larger after City.

    Does anyone know why this happens? Is there a workaround? Does it just look further away because "City" ends with a "Y"> Or am I justified in telling the sales rep to GET OVER IT! (Well, I guess I am never justified in that -- sigh.)

    Any input greatly appreciated.

    Any input greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

    hmm, that is odd behavior.

    My first thought was the difference in the letterbox itself, the y being the one with the most space due to the central leg being further away from the next character so optically it looks further away.

    But, after trying it, it's not that. I noticed that each letter has a different space after the last letter and the leader line.
    I even tried an experiment. I set the copy just as in your example. I noticed the spacing difference right away. Then I changed the letter "Y" to the letter "S" just to see if the space changed, it did not move, it retained the same space as the letter "Y" previously had and did not match the spacing of the letter "S" in the second line.

    The only way I could get it to match in all cases was to either kern or track the individual tabs into the word.
    I used an empty text box as a guide (made it the width of the space between the last letter and the tab leader) and just copied it to the various locations then adjusted the spaces of the other words/leaders with the tracking adjustments.

    Hope you don't have lots of these to do, it could get to be a pain.

    good luck,


    • #3
      Re: Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

      The only way I got it to look halfway decent is to use a "monospace" font. Since the character widths are fixed, there isn't as much difference (if any) in the spaces after the letter and before the leader. There aren't too many monospace fonts out there that resemble normal fonts (most are courier, monaco, monotype corsiva, etc. and look like typewriter fonts) but I was able to find a version of century schoolbook that was monotype and didn't look half bad.

      Edited by: Kevin DeLay on May 28, 2008 9:42 AM
      By the time I walk out of here, I'm going to be a lean, mean, prepress machine...


      • #4
        Re: Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3


        Thanks for doing a test -- helps me to know that I'm not crazy! Kerning makes complete sense -- not sure why I didn't think of it. Great workaround.

        I would still like to know if this is a glitch in InDesign, if it will be fixed in future upgrades, etc.

        Thanks again, Judy


        • #5
          Re: Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

          Not a problem, it's odd but I had noticed the same thing before when I was doing some PDF forms, just didn't give it much thought.

          I think Adobe considers it a "feature", not a bug, LOL.

          having fun with tabs,


          • #6
            Re: Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

            Hi Judy,
            This issue is something I've noticed for years, and kerning is the only solution I can think of. Here's something handy, the keyboard command for kerning: hold down the option key and use the left and right arrow keys.

            p.s. the shortcut is for Mac. For PC it should be something similar...

            Edited by: Lara Smith on May 28, 2008 11:51 AM


            • #7
              Re: Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

              The problem is that the fill character that you're using is not a continuous line, but a series of short ones. You can't break any of the short lines, so it's like working with integers. You can only have 23 underscores or 24 underscores when what you really need is a line that is 23.5675 underscores in length.

              I did some testing, and even with a monospaced font I couldn't get nice results. But try this, instead of using a fill character just underline the tabs. Select the tab and hit the underline icon or Shift+Ctrl+U on Windows - Shift+Command+U on Mac. Also found that you can set this up as a character style.



              • #8
                Re: Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

                excellent! the underlining works perfectly.

                nice detective work.
                By the time I walk out of here, I'm going to be a lean, mean, prepress machine...


                • #9
                  Re: Problems with "rules" when using tabs -- Indesign CS3

                  Wow! Just the info I needed, Rich -- and just knowing "why" makes me feel better --


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