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I'm wondering if there is a better way to set up this type of layout where the headings are in the left column, and the body copy is in the right column. Currently I am using a separate text box for the headings, but as the text reflows, there is a lot of manual re-adjusting to the position of the text boxes.

I tried using First Line Indent and keeping everything in one box, but then headings get messed up when they extend to the next line.

Any editorial pros out there want to share some tips?

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  • "then headings get messed up when they extend to the next line." Do you mean when your headings require more than one line? I'm thinking anchored objects might be useful here...
    – curious
    Mar 18 at 15:40
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As mentioned in a comment, this could be achieved using Anchored Objects. I've written an answer about that here. But if your design is as simple as you show on your screenshot, it can actually be achieved only using paragraph styles in one single text frame.

Edit: I've realized that this method only works in a single text frame. If the text flows to another text frame, the body copy ends up in the left column. I will look into fixing this if possible.


Make one single text frame that has the width of all columns (your grid shows 6 columns, but you only seem to use 3). Select the text frame, right-click it and enter Text Frame Options. Under the General tab, set the Number of columns to 3 and the Gutter to whatever you want.

Your text must be in one continuous story. You'll need 4 paragraph styles to achieve this layout:

The Heading style has no special settings. It's important though that Span Columns > Paragraph Layout is set to the default "Single Column":

The Body style is for the main body text. It must have Span Columns > Paragraph Layout set to Span Columns and Span set to 2 columns:

The First style is for the first paragraph of body text. It must be Based On the Body style and have one additional setting. Keep Options > Start Paragraph must be set to In Next Column:

Finally we need the Breaker style to end an article. This might annoy some people, as we need to have an empty line. It can also be Based On the Body style with one additional setting. It must have Span Columns > Paragraph Layout set to Span Columns and Span set to All columns:

This style can be used to control the space between articles. If you want no space, you can set the Leading to 0.

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    Clever! Very clever indeed. Sort of gridbox placement meets InDesign. Mar 18 at 23:49
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, thanks! That Breaker style annoys me a little, but I don't think it can be avoided.
    – Wolff
    Mar 18 at 23:58
  • Actually, couldn’t you avoid it by setting the Heading style to start in next column as well? Or would that move the heading to the second column and wreaking complete havoc? Mar 19 at 0:22
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, I'm afraid it's the latter. 💥
    – Wolff
    Mar 19 at 0:31
  • A bit hacky, but you can set the Body style to span all columns with a left indent equivalent to the first column + gutter (also making sure that the First style isn’t based on the Body style). That would achieve it, though of course you’d have to update the style if the frame/column changes its width… (Also, don’t have headings longer than the first paragraph with this hack, or there’ll be gaps.) Mar 19 at 0:44
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Depending on your setup or how many of these pages you've got, a table setup could be easier to keep under control and that can also spread across multiple pages.

Just need two columns, drop everything left and right, and then customize the formatting & spacing of all cells in one go, apply styles in one go, etc.

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