Once you have set up your grid in InDesign, there are two choices for setting columns of text using the grid as a guide: manually with text running across multiple text frames (option A) and automatically with the ‘number of columns’ tool (option B). I suppose there’s no right way to do this, but it was interesting to see which options people used when I asked the question on twitter. Of the responses I got, seven people used option A; four, option B; and one person switched between the two depending on the situation. Now I know that’s not very scientific but I’d just like to explain my reasoning for using option A.
I use manual text columns for two reasons. Firstly, it was the way that I was taught at university by highly experienced tutors, and secondly, it gives you as typesetter, greater control over text layout. Sometimes a layout calls for text placing that isn’t simply three columns of text at equal height, as seen in this example:
As above, the layout may work best with shorter, ‘leader’ columns, in order to help the viewer’s eye flow through the passage of text. In this case option A is far more helpful, allowing complete control over text column height, without ‘cheating’ and creating white space with line breaks. It quickly enables text to be moved around quite flexibly. It helps variation to be achieved throughout spreads – essential for a pleasant reading experience. Perhaps most importantly it gives the designer the feeling of having complete control over the text. Interestingly, option A gave me slightly neater ragged lines, although was slightly longer.
The case in which I might use the automatic column tool, is when setting small pieces of supplementary text – for example a ‘chef’s tip’ side-note in a cookery book. The particular instance in which it might be useful is the ‘balance columns’ tool, which, as it suggests, makes the columns throughout that text frame a more harmonious height suitable for a small amount of text (F).
Examples C and E show unbalanced text in both manual text frame columns (C) and automatic columns (E). Now making the text column heights harmonious is far easier using automatic columns (as in example F) because example D involves fussy tweaking of column sizes.
In one experiment, the psychologists asked a group of Christian students to give their impressions of the personalities of two people. In all relevant respects, these two people were very similar – except one was a fellow Christian and the other Jewish. Under normal circumstances, participants showed no inclination to treat the two people differently. But if the students were first reminded of their mortality (e.g., by being asked to fill in a personality test that included questions about their attitude to their own death) then they were much more positive about their fellow Christian and more negative about the Jew.
The researchers behind this work – Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski – were testing the hypothesis that most of what we do we do in order to protect us from the terror of death; what they call “Terror Management Theory.” Our sophisticated worldviews, they believe, exist primarily to convince us that we can defeat the Reaper. Therefore when he looms, scythe in hand, we cling all the more firmly to the shield of our beliefs.
This research, now spanning over 400 studies, shows what poets and philosophers have long known: that it is our struggle to defy death that gives shape to our civilization. (…)
The psychologists, psychiatrists and anthropologists who developed Terror Management Theory have shown that almost all ideologies, from patriotism to communism to celebrity culture, function similarly in shielding us from death’s approach. (…)
In one now classic secular example, the researchers recruited court judges from Tucson in the USA. Half of these judges were reminded of their mortality (again with the otherwise innocuous personality test) and half were not. They were then all asked to rule on a hypothetical case of prostitution similar to those they ruled on every day. The judges who had first been reminded of their mortality set a bond (the equivalent of bail) nine times higher than those who hadn’t (averaging $455 compared to $50). So just like the Christians, they reacted to the thought of death by clinging more fiercely to their worldview.
“When you have talented young men making music, it’s something. But when they’re all from the one family, well, it’s worth hearing. And what’s more: they’re brothers as well!”—Handsome Boy Modeling School