Why Only Align First Line?

As an addendum to the anchored frame tip, I also wanted to point out the usefulness of another under-used InDesign feature, Only Align First Line to Grid.

As the name implies, it’s meant for those of use who are not gridphobic, and who want some flexibility in how our paragraphs work with a document grid.

In the case of this layout, the marginal notes need to align with the text to which they refer. However, the point size is smaller, and so is the leading of those paragraphs. In this situation, what I want to do in order to make the layout look good, I’m going to define the style for the marginal notes so that only first baseline of the paragraph aligns to the document grid, not the rest of the paragraph. This will enable me to keep the layout looking neat and precise, without forcing me to use too loose of a leading for the notes in order to make the first line align with the body grid.

Before the advent of this feature in InDesign, a fair bit of manual tweaking was required in order to create this effect. Now the Only Align First Line to Grid feature makes it easy.

As you can see in this screen shot, the first line aligns to the baseline grid, but the paragraph still uses its own leading setting for the rest of the paragraph.

You can apply the Only Aign First Line to Grid feature from the Style definition dialog box in the Indents and Spacing panel.

Applying this feature guarantees that my first baseline will snap accurately to the document grid, and enables me to speed up my layout process.

3 Responses to Why Only Align First Line?

  1. Klaus Nordby says:

    Yup, I know about this little neatoid feature. But I’m usually so uptight about doing my layouts on the same global baseline that I opt for a looser leading on the smaller callouts — and that often looks elegant, in fact. But maybe, just maybe, you might sloooowly convince me to loosen up a bit.

    [TC: start experimenting with it and see what you think. In the case of this layout, it didn’t make sense to use the same point size and leading for the marginal outline. It would would not have worked well at all. In a situation like this it’s enough (unless you’ve got some sort of typographic OCD , observed most often in some urban regions of Switzerland) to snap only the first baseline to maintain the sense of visual order and structure. The marginal outline needs to be set in a smaller point size and leading (it looks and works better that way), but aligning the first baseline effectively “hangs” it from the grid in a way that works with the rest of the design. This feature just makes it easier to work with a grid in this way.

    And once you’ve successfully taken baby steps with Only Align First Line (and dealt with the angst that will inevitably result from the first couple forays) then you can begin experimenting with the dark magic of the frame based grid feature which will enable you to work with multiple grids in the same document…which for some is really going off the rails and into the typographic heresy of poly-gridism, but which I think opens up a lot more design opportunities.]

  2. Klaus Nordby says:

    Yes, Tim, I know about frame based grids, and I shall, one of these fine days, take my first unsteady steps on the road to heretical poly-gridism. Thanks for being my heretical guru. 🙂

  3. Lukas834 says:

    Klaus, in the beginning you can try a little semi-poly-gridism – let both of your baseline grids match in some point.

    For example in my recent design I use 9,5/13,5 for my main text, and 7/9 for my additional text. Both baselines (9 and 13.5) meet every third line. That gives you more flexibility still looking elegant – and you can use Allign First Line feature 🙂