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When to Use Paragraph Rules

If you were asked to recreate this design, what tool/s would you use to create the line under the article header "SAMPLE TITLE"?

It’s really situational but as a best practice, you should try using paragraph rules when working with copy. It keeps everything consistent and clean. How many times have you had to add or remove copy from your layout where it reflows everything?

1. Header text box, line, body text box?

If you’re using the Line tool to draw a stroke as an object, instead of paragraph rules, it will be time consuming to rearrange and reposition the rules you've placed under your headers. This will create inconsistencies and more room for error.


2. One text box, line anchored?

If you’re using an anchor, repositioning may not be much of a problem because it will probably flow with the edited copy but it’s glitchy and could break as missing text if it re-rags into a connected text box that is not as wide as your rule. It could just create problems for you that you don’t need to be worrying about. I might be biased but I don't like using anchors as much unless I have to anchor an icon that goes with a certain paragraph. It's really a pain when working with wide objects, in my opinion. As you can see, if you adjust the text box to be less wide than the line, it does not adjust with the text box. It's really annoying, unless that's the effect you are looking to achieve.


3. Use paragraph rules?

Yes! You're on the right track. It's a good design practice especially when you're working on a newsletter, booklet, brochure or any series of text frame containing a story. The rule is to use paragraph rules when it's part of your text.


Follow these 3 easy steps to creating clean text boxes using paragraph rules in Adobe Indesign:

  1. Set your spacing preference between the header and the body copy. This will set the spacing between where the paragraph rule will sit. Make sure you account for the height of your rule when setting up this spacing. I usually like to control that using the space after paragraph tool. 
  2. While your header is selected, click the menu icon at the top right corner of your paragraph window. Click paragraph rules or you can also use the keyboard shortcut (command+control+J). Add your preferred rule weight and color. There are also spacing and more options to play around with if you need it.
  3. Actually it was that easy, only 2 steps really. You’re done!

Why does it matter?

Here's the difference between using the Line Tool vs. Paragraph Rule. When you add a copy, reflow will be so much better and easier on you. Paragraph rules will maintain the measurements you've set for the distance between your header and copy. It's a great tool that can help your work efficiency.

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