Traditional centering looks like this:

Lorem ipsum dolor
    sit amet

I'd like subheadings to be "upside down" or narrow at the top:

 Lorem ipsum
dolor sit amet

I'd like to avoid placing a forced line break to make this happen. Is there a way in InDesign CS5 to put the "remainder" text at the top of the paragraph rather than at the bottom?

Edit: I could have jury-rigged around this problem if CS5 would indent the first line on both the left and the right... but it doesn't.

3 Answers 3


It is possible with the paragraph property Balance Ragged Lines, but the required value for this is – strangely – not available in the regular User interface. The interface only allows a yes/no, but the Scripting Interface reveals there are actually more choices available to the formatting engine:

BalanceLinesStyle.FULLY_BALANCED    Balances lines equally.
BalanceLinesStyle.NO_BALANCING  Does not balance lines.
BalanceLinesStyle.PYRAMID_SHAPE Prefers longer last lines.
BalanceLinesStyle.VEE_SHAPE Prefers shorter last lines.


The UI Off setting corresponds to BalanceLinesStyle.NO_BALANCING and the On to BalanceLinesStyle.VEE_SHAPE, so the default indeed seems to prefer a longer first line.

If you run this one-line Javascript with the text cursor inside the paragraph to change, you can see it toggles around to prefer shorter first lines instead:

app.selection[0].balanceRaggedLines = BalanceLinesStyle.PYRAMID_SHAPE;

And if you check the paragraph overrides, you can see it is actually recorded as "... + balance: pyramid shape".

Do note that the rule "make the lines as evenly long as possible" still prevails, and so this will still favor

Lorem ipsum
dolor sit amet


Lorem ipsum dolor
sit amet

It may work for other texts, though.

  • I decided to delete my previous comment, which contained considerable gratitude and unfiltered disbelief that the Adobe coders would use a checkbox rather than a dropdown. THANK YOU! This works fabulously.
    – JBH
    Dec 1, 2018 at 3:39

For headlines/subheadlines a vertical triangle with the narrow line at the top:

A Headline Which Must Be
Broken Into Two Lines Due to Length

... or a middle-weighted block

A Headline Which
Must Be Broken Into Three Lines
Due to Its Total Length

.... are actually best in my opinion.

Theres no direct way, I'm aware of, to tell InDesign to reverse line length.

You'll have to use a soft return (Shift+Return), which will maintain applied styles to all the lines. Or a hard line feed (Return), which will break any style into separate applied instances.

In either case, a line feed needs to be manually input.

  • I was really hoping this wasn't the case. There are hundreds of subheadings....
    – JBH
    Dec 1, 2018 at 0:19
  • Well, that's why you earn the big bucks :) For some things, there's no alternative but to roll up your sleeves and do it.
    – Scott
    Dec 1, 2018 at 0:41

From Paragraph Style Options check Balance Ragged Lines

enter image description here

  • 1
    Regrettably, this does not work predictably. Rather than forcing the remainder text to the top, it's simply auto-margining to better balance the remainder against the body of the text. Whether or not it flips the remainder text to the top appears to be luck of the word-length draw.
    – JBH
    Dec 1, 2018 at 0:18

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