Why do some characters not align fully left in InDesign

In this example I have a very large heading set in Neutraface Display Titling, and as you can see the capital H is indented compared to the capital S. This kind of thing seems to happen with a variety of fonts, does anyone know why InDesign won't align the left sides correctly? Is there anything as a typesetter / graphic designer I can do about it? 

Image can be viewed here.

Comments

  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 197
    edited March 18
    In my example, the top is InDesign's standard alignment. The bottom is their optical alignment ( Select the text, then head to Window > Type & Tables > Story. Then check or uncheck the Optical Margin Alignment box. )


  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 350
    Thanks Cory, I think maybe what I'm trying to say is I wish the edge of the glyphs lined up when set huge like this. I can a similar complaint with the text frame from sitting on the top of the glyphs like it does to the baseline. It means manual correction is often needed and that just adds time to projects with lots of headings :-)
  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 197
    edited March 18
    Are you saying you'd like the furthest left point of every glyph to abut with the left edge of the text frame, ignoring the built-in sidebearings of those glyphs? If so, that would destroy the optical alignment and cause, in this instance, the H to appear further to the left than the S.

    However, I do agree that the default alignment and even InDesign's adjusted optical alignment don't work perfectly for headlines. At text sizes, the alignment is great, but at larger sizes, further manual adjustments are sometimes necessary. I've noticed this being especially problematic when a headline needs to align with a column of text immediately beneath it. In those cases, I've often needed to move the text frame containing the headline a few points to the left.
  • The issue is the left sidebearing, as Cory Maylett pointed out. Even if Adobe were to adopt a fix for it, it would never cover all of the circumstances you might encounter, any more than even the most refined kerning table can accommodate every need. Here is the way you can adjust it: add a space before the first character in the line(s) you wish to adjust at the left, select the space, then add negative tracking until the letter is where you wish to see it. You can also use this method to place the character outside the text box, if you so desire. We call this "professional typesetting."

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,347
    The other method is make the two lines separate paragraphs and to inset one of them slightly. Of course, depending how you want the text to align to other graphic elements, you might need to shift the whole text block slightly to compenate for the inset.
  • Mike WenzloffMike Wenzloff Posts: 101
    Gotta say, with this text as in the screen shot, I'm not seeing much of an issue. Mostly it's an optical illusion--which many/most will see differently. The /H in the example is inset into the upper curve of the /S perhaps a tad far with the optical setting. However, it all depends in part as to what follows that heading and its point size.

    I've used both Scott-Martin's and John's methods before in ID. But ID's story/frame-wide setting is crude.

    QXP has a "better" method. One can create hanging character sets, adding any character and an amount to make them hang. These hanging sets are then attached to p.styles. Affinity Publisher uses a similar method.

    If one just fully hangs the /H to the frame edge, it looks far worse than the slight inset of the /H to the upper curve of the /S as it now does. The /H still needs to line up where it does naturally or just a tad closer to the frame edge.

    Better still, the /S needs to hang out of the frame a bit with the left side of the /H near the frame edge...again, depending on what follows and its point size.
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 350
    @Scott-Martin Kosofsky no need for the snark. I’ve been typesetting for 20 years and have used both yours and John’s methods many times. That is precisely the point of my post. We are in 2022 and the professional software we use does not allow this function, so hacks and workarounds have to be used, each with compromises in time and workflow or cascading issues down the line. 

    @Cory Maylett yes I want the outlines lined up. For super large text like this I find it more pleasing, especially when other design elements on the page are using the same vertical line. 

    @Mike Wenzloff as noted above, in this setting and use case, I prefer all the outlines lined up, I don’t want the overshoot. For smaller set type I totally agree about optical compensation 
  • Mike WenzloffMike Wenzloff Posts: 101
    @Eris Alar

    Technically, that text string cannot line up. Well, it can, but does one line up the /H to the /S's tail or the upper left side?

    I think of those choice as aesthetic choices. ID ought to allow such choices.

    There is at least one article with a script in its comment section that supposedly align the first letter against the frame edge. The article itself has a "trick" to also do it. With multi-line headings, each line would need to be a separate paragraph...however, with using the main article's dropcap method, it would just happen. Though I haven't tried it.

    https://creativepro.com/removing-space-along-left-edge/
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 350
    @Mike Wenzloff the idea is to achieve the same result as if I converted the text to outlines and aligned left, but with the benefit of the text being editable and ideally something easy to replicate across many deliverables.
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 350
    @Mike Wenzloff haha that article is from 2008, this issue has been around so long. It is annoying Adobe has not got a setting for it
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,241
    @Eris Alar OK, I understand your goal... But it won’t *look* aligned consistently if you do that.

    Of course the real problem is that the appearance of being aligned isn’t a matter of simply doing the math right—it is partly size-specific (which Adobe offers the option to try to compensate for), and also partly a matter of individual perception.
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 350
    @Thomas Phinney for very large settings I feel it looks nicer then having indents and overshoots. I guess InDesign can already detect edges in placed objects for text wrapping needs, so why can’t it detect edges in type for alignment options? That is the crux of my issue. And aside from preferences around how it looks, the fact many users want it or have developed workarounds to achieve it says to me it’s something people want. 
  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 197
    There's room for opinions on what looks best, of course, but I don't recall encountering someone with a preference for lining up the extremities in lines of stacked type. I have to assume a lack of demand is why Adobe doesn't include it as an option in InDesign.

    The example below shows your preferred alignment on the left. On the right is InDesign's optically adjusted vertical alignment. Although not perfect, Adobe's adjustments, at least to me, are clearly better at making the alignment appear even and balanced.

    Would you also prefer the removal of vertical overshoots from headlines, as in making an S or an O the exact same height as an E or an H?


  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 350
    edited March 21
    @Cory Maylett  I usually only desire it when it's 1-3 lines, and very large, compounded by the presence of other design elements in the same vertical line. So while I probably not usually do it with the 6 lines in your sample, I do actually prefer the one on the left, it looks way neater and nicer to me. I should also add, I don't use the InDesign optical alignment function, mostly because I don't want parts of the type going out of the text frame. 

    Regarding "I don't recall encountering someone with a preference for lining up the extremities in lines of stacked type" the link Mike shared shows someone wanting it, as does the existence of the techniques Scott and John shared earlier. There are times when a designer will want it, and I feel a lot more designers want it but don't share it on forums etc, they just compensate manually or complain to co-workers. Obviously I hav Eno hard evidence for this, just a perception. 
  • Filip BlazekFilip Blazek Posts: 14
    edited March 21
    @Eris Alar I suggest a workaround. Insert a space before the beginning of each line, I use hair space, (you have to insert line breaks as well), place a cursor between the space and the first letter and change the tracking to a negative value. This way you can manually adjust left margin for headlines without the need of a separate frame. 
    Affinity Publisher has the feature you request, it is possible to remove left sidebearing, but the results are not always good as mentioned above. 
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 350
    @Filip Blazek thanks, yes the space trick has been mentioned, and I already know of it and have used it, the intent of my post was to find out why these hacks are still needed.

    Regarding Affinity Publisher, I own it but had not used it yet as I am so familiar with InDesign. Taking a quick look, do you mean this setting (image below), if yes, it seems to be for specific kerning of certain glyphs, not something that detects the edges/outlines of the glyphs. But interesting to see, I wonder if Adobe will put something similar in InDesign eventually.

    Mike Wenzloff said:
    @Eris Alar

    Technically, that text string cannot line up. Well, it can, but does one line up the /H to the /S's tail or the upper left side?

    I think of those choice as aesthetic choices. ID ought to allow such choices.

    There is at least one article with a script in its comment section that supposedly align the first letter against the frame edge. The article itself has a "trick" to also do it. With multi-line headings, each line would need to be a separate paragraph...however, with using the main article's dropcap method, it would just happen. Though I haven't tried it.

    https://creativepro.com/removing-space-along-left-edge/

    I just realised that the drop cap settings already detect the edge or ignore the side bearing, so that exactly the feature I want, but applied to the first letter of each line without the need for breaking each line. But, now I know about this, I will absolutely try it out. It is still introducing extra manual work and complexity in creating the extra paragraph styles etc, but could still be handy. Sorry it took me so long to see from your post. 
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,846
    A font fix:
    Make a font with all left sidebearings zero, and adjust the rest of the spacing via kerning.
    There could be an app for that, which would work in a font editor, or a layout application.

    Another font fix:
    An OpenType feature which substitutes alternate zero-left-sidebearing glyphs for the first character of a line, using the <ignore> method. (This is how the <swash> feature may be used for swash caps.)
  • There are OpenType features (lfbd/rtbd) that are designed for optical alignment on the left/right. Few fonts offer them. Few apps support them. Even if they were more widespread, adjustments like these are size-dependent, complicating matters. I have compiled a list of related infos and research on a Glyphs forum topic.
  • @Eris Alar I am afraid in Affinity you have to use Drop Caps and break every line, sorry for confusion. And yes, I miss the feature you described very much.
    The individual setting of Optical Alignment in Pubisher is actually very helpful and could solve this problem as well (but you’d have to define % for each glyph).
  • Mike WenzloffMike Wenzloff Posts: 101
    Just a note. Since the beginning, Affinity Publisher does support the OT Features lfbd/rtbd. APub ignores the opbd feature.



  • I actually agree with Eris that the left version looks a lot better. Especially the transition from A to E in the right example just looks like a mistake to me.

    This kind of problem especially bothers me with glyphs that have negative sidebearings on the left, such as a J or j. In such cases, you even run the risk of part of the letter being cut off by accident (something I have also seen happening in printed materials a couple of times). 
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