Newbie here!

I am creating a family cookbook and using the opportunity to learn InDesign. With Paragraph Styles, my most recent pain-point has been adding "space before" and "space after" certain styles. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't - I compare each of the Paragraph Styles to see what is different between the 2, and they are exactly the same (minus things like character formats, shading, rules, etc.).

I have searched Google and see that often the problem is:

  • "Space Between Paragraphs Using Same Style" is not set to "Ignore"
  • The field is set to "Align to Baseline Grid"

Attached is a screenshot of one paragraph style (Called Heading) giving me trouble, and both of these settings are not the culprits. These values are pulling from the Paragraph Styles.

enter image description here

I am not sure where else to look or what else to try. I have spent hours toggling within the Paragraph Styles and Text Frame Options with no success.


  • Hi there and welcome to GDSE! Please just include your screenshot in the question (copy/paste it in or click the Image button). I followed your link and it took about two minutes to load! I was expecting a video, but it was just a screenshot it seems.
    – Wolff
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 20:03
  • Hi Katie, just so you're aware.. I intentionally "quoted" the image (via the >). This ensures the image itself is not attributed the standard CC-By-SA creative commons licensing all images uploaded to Stack get attributed. -- Basically, I was ensuring the image remained out of the creative commons licensing. There was a reason for the > :)
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 20:42
  • 1
    I hear you @Wolff and have pasted the screenshot, thanks!
    – Katie R.
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 20:42

3 Answers 3


Space Before/After only works for multi-line text which is all in the same text frame. Or across separate, threaded, text frames.

It will not work for separate, unthreaded, text frames.

If you want the headline to use space before/after, it needs to be part of the "instructions" below it, in the same text frame.

It's actually quite common for new users to create too many unnecessarily separated text frames. If you can do things with the least amount of text frames, editing in the future can often (but not always) be easier.

  • I can see the lack of multiple lines being my issue. This book is 160+ pages and growing, so the paragraph styles are saving me time, and I wanted the before-and-after spacing to create uniform spaces between elements. I kept the elements separate because of the separate styles, but I realize now that I can put the separate paragraph styles in the same text box to use the spacing. Is that a solution you would recommend?
    – Katie R.
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 21:20
  • Hi Katie, yes :) The fewer text frames possible, the easier things generally get when editing. It's easy to just tweak spacing in a style and everything with that style then updates, as opposed to needing to move 160 different text frames the same distance across 160 pages.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 21:22
  • .. and you can have as many different Paragraph or Character styles in a single text frame as you want. If there's even a limit, I've never hit it.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 21:31
  • @KatieR. Very generally speaking, one text frame is enough for most pages. If the layout in your screenshot is representative of the basic template of the book (header + 2 lines full-width, then a section with a narrower left and broader right column, then a grey-background box, I would do it all in one frame, because then you can just have your recipes as continuous running text, threaded from page to page, and the height of the different ‘blocks’ will adjust automatically. You should be able to make this layout with one frame and eight paragraph styles. Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 21:52

That page looks pretty good for a newbie!

What you are probably missing:

  • Space before/after have zero effect if every paragraph is punched into a separate text frame.
  • Space before/after behave differently when text is stuck to the baseline grid, which overrides space/before after settings.

What you should be doing:

  • Use single text frames, one left column, one right column. Don't break each line into a separate text frame.
  • Be aware that the Baseline Grid is a tricky, kind of advanced setting, and if you decide to use that, it can affect your paragraph styles in a number of ways.
  • Make sure you understand the difference between a text frame, and a paragraph. In your image, you select a text frame (Directions), but the highlights in red are NOT text frame properties, they are paragraph-level properties. So the highlights in red refer to the text "Directions", not to the blue box containing the text "Directions".

You can achieve consistency on this by creating an object style, which allows setting of Inset spacing, and in this case you can set the Style with Top Inset spacing required. Then you can apply the object style to all frames at the beginning of the chapters.

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