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CorelDraw X5 : Getting Artistic with Text - Formatting Paragraph Text

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5/1/2012 5:56:37 PM
Stepping inside the frame and column formatting of paragraph text, CorelDRAW has extensive options for specifying how lines of text look compared with one another, how tightly characters and words are spaced, and how you want individual paragraphs to separate from each other. The following sections cover the use of the Paragraph Formatting box.

Paragraph Alignment

The Alignment settings on the Paragraph Formatting box affect the spacing for the entire selected paragraph; you can choose the entire paragraph text object using the Pick tool, or choose only pages by highlighting them with the Text tool. Horizontal and Vertical Alignment at the top of this box pertain to the orientation of the language set of the font used; American and European users will want to use Horizontal Alignment.


Below Alignment on the Paragraph Formatting box are controls for inter-line spacing (leading), for how much space should go before or after a paragraph, for inter-character and inter-word spacing, and finally for indent preferences. Note that proper typographical form dictates that separate paragraphs are usually indicated by either a first-line indent or a line space between paragraphs, but not both.

Paragraph and Line Spacing

Depending on your layout, you might choose to separate paragraphs by using the Before Paragraph or the After Paragraph spin boxes, but not both. The spacing between paragraphs is measured by default as the “% Of Char. Height” (percent of the character height), the total height of a character in a digital font, which is not always easy to discern; typically it’s about 30 percent taller than a capital letter in the font. If this proves to be too time-consuming to calculate, you can always choose Points or “% Of Pt. Size” (percentage of point size) from the drop-down list. In the following illustration, 200% of the character height is chosen to separate paragraphs. This is an option you want to experiment with, depending on the typeface you’re using. Anywhere from 125% to 200% can work from an artistic standpoint.

Line spacing is used to let some “air” into paragraph text and is especially useful when you have a font whose ascenders or descenders are unusually tall. You can also use very wide Line spacing to create an artistic effect when starting, for example, a magazine article. It’s been fashionable in layout for several years now to put about 300% Line spacing in the opening paragraph: it lightens the page when using a bold font and also allows the reader to see more of any decorative background.

Language, Character, and Word Spacing

If you’re typesetting, for example, an article using an Asian font, Language spacing will be useful to space non-left-to-right sentences; if not, you have very little use for this option. You can set how much extra space is added to the default inter-character space for the paragraph as a whole by using the Character spacing. The values are a percentage of a normal space character for the current font. You can also modify the inter-word spacing—this has the effect of adjusting the width of the space character. The following illustration shows some adjusted text at right (highlighted), and you can compare the effect to the default paragraph text at left.


Remember the control handles on the bounding boxes of paragraph text. They offer less precision when setting character and line spacing than the Paragraph Formatting box, but they’re quick to use and provide a good coarse view of how your layout is shaping up.

Indentation and Margins of Paragraph Text

You can set the sizes of the indents of the left and right margins, as well as the size of the first-line indentation, just as you do in a word processor. These can be set precisely from the Paragraph Formatting box, or you can set them with a little less precision using the triangular markers on the ruler, which are shown here:

Formatting Tabs

Tab stops for paragraph text can be edited either directly in the ruler or in the Text | Tab Settings dialog, as shown in Figure 1. CorelDRAW supports left, right, center, and decimal tabs, just like most word processors do.

Figure 1. Edit tab stops by using the Text | Tabs settings.

Adding, Moving, and Deleting Tabs from the Dialog

Tabs can be added to the current paragraph in the Text | Tab Settings box by first entering a value in the Tab Location spin box, and then by clicking Add. To set the type of the new tab, choose from the drop-down list associated with the tab. Similarly, you can adjust an existing tab by clicking its position (thus opening the value for editing) and then typing in a new value. To delete a tab, select it in the list, and then click the Remove button.

When you create a new paragraph, unless you have modified the default paragraph style, tab stops are positioned every half-inch. To remove all the tabs, click the Remove All button.

Formatting Tab Leaders from the Dialog

You can choose whether text positioned to any tab has a leader between the tab settings from the Leader Settings box reached by clicking the Leader Options button in Tab Settings. Leading characters are often used in tabulated lists such as tables of contents and menus to join the section titles or menu items on the left with their respective page numbers or prices on the right.

Leaders are usually displayed as a series of dots, but they can be changed to any of the characters shown in the Character drop-down list (unfortunately, you can’t make a leader using a font other than the one used in the paragraph text). To change the leader character, select a Character from the drop-down list. The distance between the leader characters is set with the Spacing setting: this value is the number of space characters to insert between each leader character. A preview of the leaders appears in the Preview box.

Using the Ruler to Set Tabs

To edit tab stops on the ruler, the ruler must be visible (choose View | Rulers), you use the Text tool in selecting the paragraph text, and you click to set or edit the tab stops. To view tab characters in the body of your paragraph text, press CTRL+SHIFT+C (Text | Show NonPrinting Characters).


Before creating new tabs, you should delete all the tabs that are already in place—select Remove All from the Tab Settings dialog.

To create new tabs with the ruler, use the Text tool to select the paragraphs to which you want to add tabs, and then click on the horizontal ruler where you want to add the new tab stop. The type of the tab can be set by right-clicking over the tab. There is also a selector button where the ruler origin usually is when working with paragraph text. Clicking the selector button cycles between the four tab states: left–right–center–decimal. See Figure 2.

Figure 2. Tab stops can be edited directly on the horizontal ruler when editing.

To move a tab, drag it to its new position on the ruler. To delete a tab, drag it off the ruler and into the workspace. To change the type of a tab, delete it and create a new one of the correct type, right-click it in the ruler, and select a new type from the pop-up menu, or change its type in the Tab Settings dialog. Tabs cannot be added to artistic text.

Here’s a practical example of the value in knowing how to set up tabs: create a folding menu design, and then create paragraph text with menu items and their corresponding prices on the same lines (make up anything you like; have fun here!). Here’s how to create a dot leader so the guests can see the prices at far right easily, based on the menu items at far left.

Picking Up the Tab

  1. With the Text tool cursor inserted in the body of the text, choose Text | Tabs.

  2. Create a tab at the end of the line, just short of the end of the paragraph frame; give it the Right tab property.

  3. Unfortunately, you can’t have a decimal leader and a regular text leader on the same line of text, but this, for the most part, is okay. With most typefaces the decimal in the price column will line up fairly evenly with a leader tab in place on lines. Click Leader Options.

  4. Choose a period as the character, or if you want something fancier, you might try a single right-pointing angle quote (“>”; ALT+155) if your font supports this character.

  5. Set the Spacing for the leader character. Notice that your document updates live, so you can preview how your dot leader looks before clicking OK.

  6. Click OK and the menu will certainly look more appetizing after applying your newfound typographer’s skills.

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