A foundation course in typography

Category: InDesign

Classes 9 & 10 – Using the InDesign Pen Tool; Working with Character & Paragraph Styles

During these class times we learned how to use the PEN TOOL in InDesign and create type on a path. After an in-class demo, the class had an opportunity to experiment with the type on a path. The PEN TOOL in InDesign is very similar to the one in Photoshop and Illustrator. Once you learn to control the curve, it is easier to master to tool. The more you use the tool, the better you get with it. For help, here are a few videos:

How to Use the Pen Tool in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign


Correct Way to Format Type on a Path with InDesign

We also spent time working on a layout of a chapter from the book Alice in Wonderland. While using this text, we explored paragraph styles and character styles.

Using InDesign, we also took a look at how to digitally control tracking. We were able to see what happens when tracking is too tight or too loose. We also took a closer look at what happens when we use justified text alignment. I discovered that one of the advantages of using justified text is that it can save space when a lot of text is used. We also saw a disadvantage that is awkward or bad word spacing that creates too much white space in paragraphs. Sometimes we see streams of this white space, which we call rivers (rivers of white space).

typography rivers

The red lines indicate rivers in this text sample.



  • rivers (rivers of white space) = gaps between words which appear with text justified on both right and right edges. In paragraphs, when these gaps of space line up the appear to create a stream.
  • readability = how easy the text is to read
  • legibility = how easy it is identify text.
  • cap or uppercase = capital letter of the alphabet [example: ABC]
  • lowercase = small letter of the alphabet [example: abc]
  • all caps = all capital letters
  • small caps = small capital letters set at the height of the lowercase letters
  • type styles = modified variations of a typeface, such as italic, bold, condensed, extended/expanded
  • visual hierarchy = the arrangement of elements on the page according to their order of importance


Homework – Due Monday, Oct 17, 2016

Since we will not meet this week, I’m including a video assignment with the required reading assignment.

InDesign Help

During the last class we explored several different things in InDesign—using paragraph and character styles, creating drop caps, and type on a path. I’ve added a collection of videos to help you if you need a refresher with any of these features and topics.

How to Create InDesign Paragraph Styles


How to Make InDesign Drop Caps


Setting Text Vertically in InDesign


Type on a Path Tool Adobe InDesign