Currently when I am creating headings, subheadings and body copy I am using a hard return to move the text onto a new line. I understand that a hard return is an indication of a new paragraph so probably not the best to use for headings and subtitles as they are not paragraphs?

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Also I am using space after for paragraphs to format the space between them and I understand that using hard return once is okay to indicate the beginning of a new paragraph.

Just needing some clarification on this :)

  • 2
    One can apply space after/before to headlines and sub-headlines as well.
    – Scott
    Nov 5, 2021 at 6:16

2 Answers 2


Generally you have two separate things

  1. Style of your document
  2. Semantic data of your document. (in other words the text and structure - what style gets applied where)

Now you have to avoid encoding part of your style into the semantic al data. This means that if you ever need to change the style you now have 2 separate things to consider. While this sounds like a academic pursuit its is not something you might encounter, you will eventually encounter this problem if you work enough with page layout.

Now the end of paragraph separates self containing elements. So a heading and a subheading is two different paragraphs. But avoid breaking things up because it disrupts your ability to style.

You should however never have a empty paragraph anywhere. Doing so mixes the separation of the 2 things in way that just makes your life unnecessarily problematic. Though there are situations where you must take matters into your own hand and do it regardless. But only do this as last resort and last pass of workflow. But this kind of situation is not one of such cases.


In InDesign (any version of it), anything that ends in a hard return is considered a paragraph, and can have a specific paragraph style applied to it. Yes, this also applies for single-word headers and subheaders.

Even a single number like, if you type "5" and hit return, you have created a paragraph, even if it only includes a "5" as content. Even if you make it a huge font size and it renders as a huge, bold "5", InDesign still treats this as a paragraph, as long as it ends in a hard return.

So yes, hard returns are 100% the proper way to end a header and subheader, regardless of their length.

Try to avoid adding multiple hard retuns, instead use space before & after under paragraph styles to adjust spacing.

Tip: you can hit CTRL+ALT+I to show hidden characters and this makes it easier to check where you have returns, soft returns, spaces, tabs, etc.

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Even if you type "1 enter 2 enter 3 enter" and so on, you are still creating distinct paragraphs and those blue hidden characters will show you where each paragraph ends.

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