Preventing widows and orphans within InDesign

Thursday, 2 May 2013

⚠️ This is an old post

It's possibly been exported and imported from at least three different blogging platforms over the years. That probably means, at best, there are broken images and links. If the post is technical in nature, any advice is probably out of date and irrelevant. Or it is really old, it was the wafflings of a teenager with too much time on his hands working out what blogging is… If it is the latter I would probably cringe if I re-read it. But it's here because it's part of my past, not my present.

You've been warned! Onwards…

Before you think I am writing about women who have lost their husbands, or children without parents I want to stop you there. Widows and orphans is a term used within design used to describe text that overflows into different pages or columns badly.

The Chicago Manual of style defines them as this:

Widow: A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the rest of the text.

Orphan: A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page/column or a word, part of a word, or very short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph. Orphans result in too much white space between paragraphs or at the bottom of a page.

Basically they look bad and should be avoided.

After doing a bit of hunting around I discovered that Adobe InDesign has a very handy method of avoiding them. In the text box you want to adjust press Ctrl + Alt + K (Cmd + Opt + K on a Mac) and you get a very handy dialogue box. From there you can adjust the minimum number of lines of text per page. InDesign handles the rest.

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