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I'm not entirely sure what this feature is called, but I'm doing something which depends on perfectly consistent lengths of strings of text, and I need to turn it off.

Sometimes InDesign makes tiny adjustments to tracking/kerning or break positioning to minimise the ugliness of text breaks.

For example, here's a string of characters, followed by a line with the same string with one extra character, followed by another line with the same string of characters with one more added:

enter image description here

InDesign is doing something that is causing the characters on the second line to have very very very slightly tighter tracking, so that they fit, and is breaking the third line somewhere other than the necessary place, so that if it was a broken word it would look less ugly than having one lone letter.

Normally, that's great, exactly what any typographer would recommend. But for what I'm doing here, I need to turn this off and have it wrap text in the most "dumb" way possible, making no such adjustments or calculations.

What is this, and how do I turn it off (ideally, just for one character style or paragraph style)? I've already got Kerning on the appropriate character style set to None and hyphenation turned off. I've also tried Ignore optical margin.

Must be in InDesign; if version is relevant, I'm using CS6.

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    I was curious about this too. I suspect it has to do with Adobe's Paragraph Composer. As you said, for typography this is probably the best choice. Maybe switching to Adobe's Single Line Composer may serve your needs. I'll have to try this myself. helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/text-composition.html More info at that link (See Adobe Single-line Composer) – johnp Nov 18 '15 at 12:04
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I believe you’re looking for the Justification settings in your Paragraph Style options (you can set them individually per paragraph, but in most cases, it makes more sense to do it in paragraph style settings):

Paragraph Styles Justification settings

Play around with the settings until you get them the way you want them. If you don’t want any tweaking to take place at all, you would need to set all three values under Word Spacing to 100%, Auto Leading to 100%, and then fiddle around with which type of Single Word Justification and Composer gives the best result.

(It’s not clear to me whether you’re looking for a way to make InDesign wrap text when it gets too long, but without adding a hyphen, or if you just want it to hyphenate, regardless of what the hyphenation ends up looking like. You’ll probably have to tweak your Hyphenation settings as well to get it to hyphenate as you want in the latter case; and I’m unfortunately not aware offhand of a way to make it simply cut off excess characters to the next line.)

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    This definitely helped! "Adobe Single-line Composer" is dumb enough for my needs - a few minor attempts at smartness still in where it chops the line, but dumb enough :-) I always thought the justification settings were for justified text only – user568458 Nov 18 '15 at 12:33
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    They are of course most noticeable for justified text; but even with left-aligned text, InDesign will use compression down to the Minimum values given here as a means of producing better composition. So it does affect non-justified text as well, just only ‘downwards’ (towards the Minimum values), rather than both ways, and the effect is less visible than with justified text. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 18 '15 at 13:55
  • @user568458 I actively loathe Paragraph Composer. I'm the bloody typesetter here, InDesign; don't tell me how I want my paragraph to rag. – Lauren Ipsum Nov 18 '15 at 14:03
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    @LaurenIpsum Wow, that’s rather strong feelings for an inanimate feature. ;-) Personally, I like the Paragraph Composer: it does an impressively good job most of the time, and the time spent overriding it to tweak individual paragraphs is incomparably minuscule compared to the time I’d have to spend tweaking every single line of a 600-page book manually. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 18 '15 at 14:07
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Your mileage may vary, obviously. I have spent the time tweaking the book and felt happier about it. – Lauren Ipsum Nov 18 '15 at 18:43

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