Watch the Video Tutorial

Indents

Tabs and indents are useful for setting spacing in blocks or lines of type. It’s important to know when to use which.

Indent settings are meant to be used along margins.
indesign-negative-first-line-indent
Left indents move the text away from the margin. Negative indents make the text hang.

Indent settings are used to push text away from the margins. You can push the whole paragraph away from the margin, or you can do fun stuff as shown above. You can enter negative values to make text hang.

I’ve seldom found a use for right indents on paragraphs. It happens, but rarely.

Tabs

Tabs are flexible spaces used within blocks of text, not at their edges.

indesign-regular-tabs
Since a tab is a flexible space, there's no need to use more than one at a time.
multiple-tab-characters-wrong
Avoid using more than one tab character.

Rather than hitting the Tab key repeatedly, just use one, then set its width in the Tabs ruler.

Fancy Tabs

You can also do fancy stuff like lining up a specific character to a tab.

indesign-tabs-align-on
See how you can align a on a specific character with a tab.

In the text above, the dollar amounts all line up on the decimal mark. This makes rows of money values much easier to read. You can actually align a tab with any character, using the Align On field in the Tabs panel. On the right, all the @ symbols line up.

indesign-tab-leaders
A leader is a character that repeats itself where the tab character is.

Above, I’ve typed a Space character, then a period in the Tab panel’s Leader field. You see that the periods repeat as long as the tab is. I’ve made them lime green by applying a character style to the tab.

Formative Activity

You’ll complete a single-page layout for a Mac Mini. The sheet has indented text and bullet lists.

indesign-macbook-sell-sheet
This is what your page should look like, with the included paragraph styles.

Consult the provided PDF file to guide the construction of the page layout.