When editing designers’ source files in InDesign, I also noticed a few common typing errors that should be avoided.
1. Use hyphens, em dashes, and en dashes properly.
A hyphen divides a compound word, such as “post-Colonial.”
An em dash indicates a break in thought—what was I talking about? (Unfortunately, my blogging tool shortens em dashes, so you’ll just have to imagine a longer dash.) An em dash is also used to indicate an open end date, such as “Peter Baxter-McGill [1964—]” or an open-end date, such as “19—.” There’s no reason to create a dash using two hyphens (–) in InDesign.
An en dash is used to indicate a range of numbers, such as “35–44.” It also indicates a link between geographic references and routes, such as the Mason–Dixon Line and Oakland–San Francisco. It’s also used for joint authors, such as “Kvern–Blatner” and for the minus sign. (Unfortunately, it looks like my blogging tool converts en dashes into hyphens. Oh well.)
Some people prefer using the en dash – instead of the em dash – in the middle of a sentence because it looks better than the em dash. If you take this approach, make sure you add a nonbreaking space (Type > Insert White Space > Nonbreaking Space) before the en dash so that the dash doesn’t start a line.
2. Use discretionary hyphens to break words.
If you don’t like the way InDesign composes text and decide to break up a word with a hyphen, use a discretionary hyphen (Type > Insert Special Character > Hyphens and Dashes > Discretionary Hyphen). A discretionary hyphen is also known as a “soft hyphen” or “optional hyphen.” It’s visible only if it breaks the word at the end of a line. If you just add a hyphen, you may end up with “Spam- alot” in the middle of a line.
3. Use quotation marks and prime marks correctly.
Use straight quotation marks (" ") when you’re typing code. The rest of the time use curly quotation marks. In InDesign, you can change a preference setting to determine which quotation marks are used. You can read more about it in the Use quotation marks Help topic.
Use the prime mark (′) to indicate feet, arcminutes, or minutes of time. It looks like a slanted apostrophe. Use the double prime mark (″) to indicate inches, arcseconds, or seconds of time. Some fonts include the prime and double prime marks. Use the Glyphs panel to insert these marks. If the font doesn’t have a prime or double prime mark, insert the straight quotation mark, and italicize it.
4. Use Space After and Space Before instead of paragraph returns.
Novice InDesign users control paragraph spacing using the Enter key. This frequently causes problems, especially with blank lines at the top of a frame. The better approach is to control paragraph spacing with paragraph styles. The Space Before and Space After settings are found in the Indents and Spacing section. You can also use the Control panel to change Space Before and Space After values of individual paragraphs.
5. Watch for widows and orphans.
A widow is the last line of a paragraph that winds up all by itself at the top of a column or page. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph that lands all by itself at the bottom of a column or page. Designers sometimes also refer to the single-word last line of a paragraph as either a widow or an orphan. Some people call this a “runt.”
Did I miss anything?