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Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Lesson 30 of 34

Character Panel

Erica Gamet

Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Erica Gamet

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Lesson Info

30. Character Panel


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1 Class Introduction Duration:01:51
2 Document Set-Up Duration:15:39
3 Panels Duration:11:46
4 Toolbox Duration:08:22
5 The Adobe® Workspace Duration:05:17
6 Shortcuts Duration:05:33
7 Saving Files Duration:05:37
8 Guides Duration:12:42
9 Text Frames Duration:08:13
10 Shapes, Fill and Stoke Duration:07:43
11 Arranging and Modifying Shapes Duration:08:31
14 Pencil, Smooth and Erase Tools Duration:05:46
15 Strokes and Arrows Duration:13:33
17 Placing Graphics Duration:08:05
18 Placing PDFs Duration:04:22
19 Placing Multiple Files Duration:06:14
21 Specialty Frames Duration:05:52
22 The Links Panel Duration:21:34
23 High Quality Display Duration:06:48
24 Clipping Paths Duration:13:08
25 Transparency Duration:09:41
26 The Gap Tool Duration:03:55
27 Color & Swatches Panels Basics Duration:16:38
28 Eyedropper Tool Duration:10:03
29 Gradient Swatches Duration:05:31
30 Character Panel Duration:23:38
31 Paragraph Panel Duration:15:09
32 Spelling & Autocorrect Duration:06:42
33 Text Frame Options Duration:08:10
34 Printing and Exporting Duration:16:16

Lesson Info

Character Panel

We're going to input text. We're going to import some text as well. And we're gonna look at what makes up character styling and paragraph styling, paragraph attributes and character attributes as well. So, first we're gonna start out with the existing letter that we have here. And I can see that I have text in a text frame, and again, I can see that that's a text frame because of the import and the outport. So text, if I were going to thread it amongst frames to have a long continuous story, text would come in on the upper left and would export or exit in the lower right as well. So again, I make sure that I have a text frame. Obviously, I have text in this one, so it's a little more obvious, but sometimes we need to know what we're working with before we have anything in there. So how did we get this text in there? Well, maybe we went ahead and entered it in here. So, to do that, we need to create a text frame, and then we can just start typing text in there. So in this case, I'm just...

gonna go ahead and delete this paragraph just to show you that maybe we started entering text and then we need to finish up entering text here. So we put our cursor inside the text frame, and again, if we don't have anything in the text frame, I'm gonna delete that really quick, I can have a text frame selected. And just by double-clicking on it, my cursor now becomes a blinking cursor, and it's ready to accept text, and I can start typing in here. So, I'm gonna go ahead and start with the greetings, and then I'm gonna go ahead and enter, let's actually do greetings, and hit enter and continue to enter the text in there as well. I'm gonna actually just back up and put back in everything that we had in there. So I'm just undoing till I get there. There we go. So, let's pretend that I typed all that in there just right now. So that's one way to get text in there, is we create a text frame and then we start entering text in there. But we probably get text from somewhere else, so we might bring in text from, say, we get something emailed to us, and we're going to copy that text and paste that in there as well so we could do that. So maybe we've selected the text from somewhere else, and maybe in this case, it's just this other paragraph that's here. So I'm gonna go ahead and copy that and come back. And they just added a bunch of new stuff they wanted us to put in here inside this letter. And so I'm gonna go ahead and just copy and hit paste, and then it's ready to sign her name. She's Kate Harris, and she's CEO of Cybus Systems. We'll put that in there. So now, I have that text ready to go, and before we start, before I show some other ways to get text in here like importing text, I wanna take a look at what makes up the styling for each of these, for every text that's in here. So we've got character styling and paragraph styling, and they kind of do a lot of the same things, but they handle different parts of the text that's in here. So for instance, when we work with character styling, we need to have certain characters selected, so we just select a specific text. In this case, I just click and drag across the text that I wanna select. I'm gonna zoom in a little bit here, so we can see it a little bit closer. And I wanna open up the character panel, or I can use the character styling in the control panel, so the character formatting controls here. So, I click on that and then I can see all the different stuff that applies to individual character styling, or I can open up my character panel if I reset my workspace here really quickly. My character panel is here. I'm gonna pull that off, and I'm also going to pull the paragraph one off as well and sort of put it aside down below here. So, to start with, I'm working like I said on character attributes, so I need to have some text selected to do that because it needs to know which characters I'm affecting. So everything that we put in the character panel we can work with individual characters on, whereas stuff that we set in the paragraph panel, we only have to have our cursor in the paragraph, and then it affects the whole entire paragraph across the board. So let's go back and select this text, and I'm gonna come over to the character panel. And the first thing I'm gonna choose is what font I wanna use, what font I want this particular character, these characters to be in. So I'm gonna go ahead and use the pull-down menu to start with. So I can pull down the menu here, and it looks like a lot, and there is a lot of options here. I'm actually gonna pull this up a little higher so we have more to work with here. And the first thing I can do is click this little TK, and this is type kit. So if I click on the type kit little icon, it only shows me type kit fonts. Now, type kit fonts are fonts that you use through the type kit service, which you have access to if you have one of the Creative Cloud subscriptions. And if you have any of the paid subscriptions, you'll have this available to you. And the nice thing is that if I'm working with somebody else who I need to send off this document to, and I've used type kit fonts, and I know they have creative cloud, I know they have access to the exact same fonts. Otherwise, if I'm using non-type kit fonts, I have to make sure that they actually own or have license for those other fonts as well. So that kind of gets into a difficult situation when you need to make sure they have the same fonts. So I prefer to use type kit for most of it. Also, if I'm presenting to people, and I'm doing demo files I can hand off those files knowing that I used the type kit fonts and that anybody else using Creative Cloud also has access to those. But by turning this on, I can see only my type kit fonts, which is really nice. So I can see that those are loaded through type kit, and if I don't see something and I wanna add a type kit font, I can click on the add fonts from type kit button, and that's going to launch the type kit service. So it's going to launch your browser, open up type kit, and from there, we can choose a font that we might want to use. So I'm not gonna go too much into type kit. I'm just gonna use whatever is here. Just pick one that I like and say okay, let's go ahead and choose this one here. So when I click on this, it tells me that there's two fonts in my plan that I can use. Those are the two I can look at, and I decide I like this one, and I can go ahead and sync it or unsync it if it's already been synced. This one's already been synced, so let's just go ahead and click that and make sure that it is synced for sure. Then when I jump back to end design, and it might not always be instant, sometimes it takes a while for it to catch up, but it should eventually show up in there for you. We have it already in here, and there's the Gastromond, so I'm gonna go ahead and choose that. And now I know like I said that that is a type kit font, and that that will be available to anybody that has a type kit subscription or a Creative Cloud subscription. Otherwise, you might be using some other fonts. I'm gonna choose to deselect that and look at some of the other font options that are there. I've got the TT, that means that that's a true type font. And the O is an open type font. And most of my newer fonts are actually open type, and the type kit ones are also open type as well. Type, or open type fonts, just have a lot more options available to them, a lot more stuff usually built in. The other sorting I can do on my fonts is that I can show my favorite fonts only. So if there's fonts that I use a lot, I can put a little star next to them. Everyone has a hollow star, but I can make it solid star and say that's one of my favorites. So I come in here and decide that new one's my favorite, and Museo's my favorite and Palatino and Gotham also. So now, when I choose by my favorites only, those are the only ones that show up in the menu. So if there's ones you use all the time, mark them as your favorites so you don't have to scroll through the whole menu to try and find them. So I'm gonna go ahead and turn that off and bring everything back and unfavorite these guys. All right, so we can go ahead and do that as well. All right, so we can choose, and anything that's up at the top here, these are the most recently used ones, which is nice that that appears at the top, meaning that I don't have to, again, scroll through the bottom trying to find them. The other thing I can do if I don't know what fonts and I don't know where they come from and I haven't used them before or not sure they're one of my favorites, I can go ahead and select the text that I wanna affect, put my cursor into the font box here and just use my up and down arrow keys, and it'll actually scroll through the fonts for me and show me all the different options available. So I can just visually pick one, and this is how I pick a lot of my fonts because I don't necessarily know what they're called. And if you notice, when we are looking in the pull-down menu, it has the word sample, but it's kind of small and you can't change the size. But also, it's not a very good word to grab a font by. Usually, you wanna look at things like Qs and Rs and lower case As, so this does have that at least. But that's usually what we look at to try and choose a font from. So the word sample is maybe not the best word there. So this sometimes is the best. Select the text, use the up and down arrow keys, and then it actually shows you what that's going to look like in that font. So, let's put this back to what we were using here, the Nimbus Sans, Light. Let's put that back, and I'm just gonna start typing. And I just type in NIM, and then that shows up as there. So, Nimbus Sans Light. And we set that back to the way we had it. And then the other things that we can change right away are the font size. So we can come in here and choose a different type size, and again, it's only going to affect the text that we have selected. It is going to affect at some point the spacing between the lines because we have this large font that we're suddenly trying to cram in with the smaller leading that's here. And the leading is what's next, and you notice it's in parenthesis, and that just means that it is originally set to auto. And then the value is being added based on the point size. The auto is automatically 120% of the point size, so if I have 10 point here, I get 12 point leading. So I can leave that as is, or I can instead, bring this back to that 15 point. I can change my leading to an entirely different size instead of letting it just sit on auto. Now, it's only changing the leading, the line that it's on and the line before, so you notice it just created a lot more spacing here. So, if I were to select more text, say down here, and I changed the leading there, it's going to change that line spacing between each of the lines or in front of each of the lines that I have selected. All right, so I can change that. By leaving it on auto, and I can type auto back in there if I want to, by leaving it on auto as this text changes, and I'm gonna select all of this text and put it back at 12. When I do that, then the leading changes with it instead of saying that same amount. For instance, if I set this leading to 14, looks fine with 11, but if I make this bigger and bigger, obviously that 14 point leading is no longer gonna work for me there. So I'm gonna set this back to 12 and auto. Let it figure it out for me. But again, with it in parentheses, I can tell that that's set to auto. The next thing is kerning, and what the kerning does is it looks at the amount of spacing between each individual pair of letters. So it's looking at how the spacing between the B and A works, and the A and the S, and the S and E. And it's looking at each of those, and it's assigning a value to it. And by default, you have metrics turned on. Well, I tend to have optical kern turned on simply because metrics basically looks at how a font is built and says there should be this much spacing between each of the letters, but it doesn't take into account what those letters actually look like and what their shapes are. So, it's kind of a clue here in the icon that that's how, it looks at how maybe, like in this case, the V and the A can kind of nest together. And so, an optical kerning will actually take into account how this letters are shaped and how they might fit together better. We might not have seen much difference between the optical and the metric, but we can kind of see how it moves a little bit. So optical, I turn on. And again, everything that we create here, and everything that we've really done throughout the course when we create colors and we create shapes, and in this case, we're doing text effects, every time we do that, we can set that like we did the preset when we created a new document. We can actually set that into a style. We're not gonna cover that in this course, but just know that all those little pieces that we're putting together, we don't have to do every time for everything we create. We can take this and build it into a style, so next time we just click a button, and all this information is automatically force-fed into that. So just keep that in mind that styles are something that you're going to want to move on to fairly quickly because it's going to automate your work and make your work a little easier to make sure it's consistent as well. All right, so that's optical. So I turn on optical kerning when I have no document open at all, which then becomes the default behavior for all new documents and all new text that I create from there. So I know my optical is always turned on. The next thing is tracking, and tracking is sort of like kerning in that it spaces out individual letters, but it does it across the board. So, in this case, I have all this text selected. Let's actually take the whole first sentence here or two, I guess. And we're gonna come in here, and we're going to use this tracking. And I'm just gonna use the up arrow keys. And I can go ahead and space out all the tracking across the board. Now, it doesn't look great here, right? Because it's in this long string of text, and it just looks like there's too much air, or we call them rivers of white floating down between all of these words. So that doesn't look great. In fact, I'm gonna reset this back to zero. And again, we can put in a value or choose the pull-down menu for that as well. But sometimes you might wanna do that. So you might wanna come down here, and we have Cybus Systems as the name of our document. I'm gonna come over here, just this new document over here, and I'm gonna type in Cybus Systems. And maybe we'll put Cybus in caps and systems in lower case. And we want this to be maybe bigger and bold, so we'll choose a different face that's there. But I want systems to take up the same amount of width as the word Cybus. So here, I might play with the tracking and just track this out until it takes up that same amount of space. And it doesn't look bad on something like that. This is a logo or something that's gonna go ahead with a logo. We're even gonna move up the leading a little bit. So we can see we're playing with that, and something like a logo isn't a big deal or a letterhead little icon that we want for that. But when we're working with lots of text like this, adding the tracking in there looks a little ridiculous, but it is something you will use from time to time. Ones that you probably should avoid, in fact, I'm gonna go ahead and, let's actually use the Cybus Systems that's here because we might use it in a case like this but not inside text in, say, a CEO's letter. So I'm gonna come in here, and these next two options are your vertical and your horizontal scaling. And when I change the vertical scaling or the horizontal, let's actually just jump this up with a new number, it stretched it, but it really deformed it. It's not like using a tall or a wide, or I'm sorry, a tall or a condensed font where if we want it to be, to look tall and thin, we would want a font that's actually built like that. Instead of taking something like this, if I really exaggerate it, you can see that I've just stretched the letters and that looks terrible, so we don't really wanna do that. We might five or 10% something like that for a logo, but again we don't wanna do that in a letter or something like that. Same thing with the horizontal width, we don't really wanna do that either. It's kind of stretch it out and looks deformed. If you want wide letters like that, there are plenty of type styles that have a wide type face to them, so use that. One thing we might use, if I jump back over here to the letter, is we might use something like a baseline shift. So I'm gonna select just this word no, and I'm gonna come over here to this next item, which is baseline shift. We're gonna take this. All the text sits on a baseline, and we're just gonna move it off the baseline, either up or down. And again, I wouldn't have done it in a line of text like this, but maybe you want just a couple different words to sit in different places inside some text. Maybe we want this one to move down just a little bit. Maybe we're making some really artsy poetry, or we've got a children's book, something like that where this would be perfectly acceptable. So we just have it so that it's sitting off the baseline a little bit. Maybe we just want a word to be, part of a word to be up like that, something like that. Again, I wouldn't do that in something like this, the letter, but just to kind of give you an idea of what's out there, I'm gonna reset all of this, the baseline shift back to zero. And zero just puts it all back on the same exact baseline. One of the other things that we wouldn't use often along with the scaling is this, which is skew or false italic. And basically that's a good way to imitate italic, but again, it's just really tweaking the letter forms. Although in this case, that one doesn't look too bad. It gives you just a little bit of a tilt without tweaking the letters too much. But it is false italic, so if you can, and you actually have the italic available to you, use it. One of the places you might use it is if you have a script, and you want to italicize that. Let's bring in a script here. Let's grab this guy here. And we wanna italicize it because maybe someone else has italicized it elsewhere. Sometimes with the scripts, you can get away with it a little bit more simply because they're a little bit more freehand drawn. So when you do skew it, it's not so obvious. I can come in here and skew that, and I skewed that 10% or 10 degrees, and that doesn't look too bad at all. So again, those are kind of iffy uses. You know, you are deforming the letters, but if it's a logo or something like that, that might be the look that you're going for, and that's okay. And the last one in the character panel is that we wanna make sure that the language is set to the language that we're using, and in this case, it's whatever I installed with InDesign. When I did InDesign, it asks you a language, and I put in English USA. But what that does is that it tells it what dictionary to use when it's spell checking. So if you wanted to spell check, or you don't want it to spell check, and you're using your English dictionary for spell checking, you can select all the text here and then tell it that this is in a different language. So, let's go ahead and put it in Spanish 'cause now I know that when I'm running spell check, it will automatically skip over this. Now, if I do tell it that that's Spanish, and I decide to use the Spanish dictionary for spell check, it will check this, and it will ignore everything that is not labeled as Spanish. So I'm gonna put this back to English before I forget. So again, that should be set by default, and the only time you'd use it is if you do want it to ignore something in spell check or if you type something in another language, and you wanna make sure that that's in the proper language as well. It's also going to hyphenate it properly depending on the language that you use because it's going to grab that information from that dictionary. All right, let's jump back to the letter over here. And a couple other things that are in the character panel menu is if you are working with open type, I said that there is actually more options available to you on open type, we can come in here and we can choose things that we wanna show depending on the font that we're using. And we have to make sure that it is an open type font, and it is because it's a type kit font, so it's open type. But if I come back here to open type, I can choose things that are only available to me, for instance, built-in fractions. So I know that there are built in fractions in this particular font because it's not in brackets. In brackets, it means there's nothing available in this particular font. But I know that fractions are there. That way if I type a fraction, I know that it will automatically style it as a fraction for me. So even though I typed three slash four, it automatically knows that that is a fraction for me there. So, again, that's open type feature. So if it's not an open type font, you might not see it actually stylized as a fraction. So there's a lot of different things in the character panel, and depending on if you have open type fonts or not, you may or may not have access to those features. Also, this is where we set the different titling, whether it's small caps, all caps, superscript, et cetera. So if I wanna put that something is first, let's actually get rid of this. This is not fractions here. So I can come in here. Let me take that off. It think that it's a fraction. Let's turn that off, fractions, there we go. But I might want this to be superscript, so I can come in here and just say superscripted. And by choosing that, it automatically makes it smaller and shrinks it up, but it doesn't change the font size, right? So it's 12, but it's whatever percentage superscripts are set to be in this particular font. So again, that's some other things that are listed in the character panel. There are a lot of things in there. There's underlines, strike-through. In fact, I'm gonna show you one thing. If I select some items, and I wanna underline it, I can come up here to the underline button and just click underline, so it's just this guy up here. But I can undo that, and if I want to play with some other options, I can hold down the option or the alt key and click on the underline. And now I have a lot of different options, not just turn it on, but what type of line do I want to be the underline and how thick do I want it to be. So I can have it thicker than I would normally have it. So I come in here and just actually make this a little bit thicker. I can even change the color of the underline. By default, it wants to make it the same color as the text, which is good. If you change your text color, your underlines will change with it. But I can change to a different color. And it didn't change the color. I don't know why, but it didn't. But I can choose that option. Text colors, let's choose orange. There we go. (chuckles) And I missed the one, but that's all right. You get the point. Those are all listed also in the character panel menu, or like I said, up here is just a repeat of what's in your character panel. So that's pretty much everything in character. I'm gonna go ahead and, get rid of everything that we just did here, and I'm gonna kind of bring this back. Let me reopen my character panel, which I closed up and lost here. Let's grab this. So I wanna make sure that I have 11 point, and it's auto, and I'm gonna stick with the optical kerning. No tracking, none of that. Great, so everything is pretty much the same. Then I can pull open the paragraph panel.

Class Description

Learn Basic Design Skills.

Adobe® InDesign CC® is the industry's go-to tool making for layouts that combine images and text. Learn the most efficient way to work with this indispensable software in Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners with Erica Gamet.

In this beginner-friendly class you’ll learn how to:

  • Navigate the Adobe InDesign CC workspace
  • Work with text, images, and color
  • Export and Print

Erica will show you how to execute layouts that include text, graphic elements, and images. You’ll learn basic design skills you can use to create professional-looking magazine layouts, newsletters, flyers and more.

If you want to take charge of your graphic design, Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners with Erica Gamet will get you started.

Level: Beginner, No prior Adobe InDesign experience required.

Don't have Adobe Creative Cloud yet? Get it now and save 20% so you can follow along with the course!


Adobe InDesign CC 2018



Fantastic course. I have used Illustrator and photoshop, but learned when under tight deadlines. We are going to begin using inDesign to publish a more extensive multipage newsletter, and I wanted to build a better knowledge foundation of this tool, rather than just diving in. The course was comprehensive and I feel that I'll be able to make a better product after taking the course.


Have loved Erica since I was a baby designer. She is a great educator, and even though I have been using ID for about 8 years, I just changed from CS6 to CC. This was a great refresher as well as a mental upgrade to new options and effects.

Gilbert Beltran

I enjoyed these classes. Learned the Indesign toolbox and picked up a few smart tricks. Erica is great at keeping up the pace and being very clear and easy to follow.