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I'm using InDesign CC trying to format for an academic journal-style article. My problem is with consistent leading.

I have a text frame, and in Baseline Options I set Offset to: Cap Height.

At the start of the frame I have text 'Part One', which aligns correctly, cap height to top of baseline. It's in an 11-point font.

However, two lines down I get to my body text in a 9-pt font. And the caps do not reach the top of the baseline.

Why doesn't the 9-pt font hit the baseline? The leading is 15 pts and the baseline is 15 pts. Why can't I get my baseline setting to apply consistently for all text? I have different paragraph styles throughout - headlines, body text, block quotes. I'd like all of these to align to the baseline the same way.

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    Nothing should reach the baseline above, the bottom of the text should align to the baseline and that's it. How would different sized fonts align to the top & bottom of evenly spaced lines? Unless I'm misunderstanding your question. – Cai Feb 21 '16 at 16:21
  • @CAI - Baseline Options lets you align text to the baseline five different ways: Ascent: The height of the “d” character in the font falls below the top inset of the text frame. Cap Height: The top of uppercase letters touch the top inset of the text frame. Leading: Use the text’s leading value as the distance between the baseline of the first line of text and the top inset of the frame. X Height: The height of the “x” character in the font falls below the top inset of the frame. Fixed: Specify the distance between the baseline of the first line of text and the top inset of the frame. – Ho Chi Chi Feb 21 '16 at 20:03
  • This is an InDesign question and not about the meaning of the word baseline - because whatever of the above five settings you choose, different font size seems to throw it off at some point. – Ho Chi Chi Feb 21 '16 at 20:06
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    If your talking about what I think you are, you are misunderstanding what that option sets. It offsets the text from the top of the text frame, that's it, it doesn't affect the rest of the text at all. And the meaning of baseline is very important to the question if you're misunderstanding what it means. – Cai Feb 21 '16 at 20:10
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First Baseline Offset

The First Baseline Offset option of the text area does exactly what it says, affects only the first baseline of the text frame. It essentially shifts the entire contents of the text frame by whatever offset you set.

...which aligns correctly, cap height to top of baseline.

That isn't what's happening, it is aligning to the top of the frame. Nothing to do with the baseline.

You can see below, I have a document set up with a baseline grid, a text frame with text of various sizes (without align to grid set). If I set the first baseline offset to Cap Height, it appears as if it is aligned to the baseline grid because the frame is aligned with the grid. If I move the frame, the text is no longer aligned with the baseline grid.

enter image description here

enter image description here

Align to baseline grid

I'd like all of these to align to the baseline the same way

As I said above, the text area first baseline offset option doesn't really align anything to a baseline. If you want to align all your text to a baseline you need to set that in the paragraph style. You do this under Indents and Spacing -> Align to Grid -> All Lines.

enter image description here

The document I have has a baseline grid set for the whole document but you can set a custom baseline grid for a specific text frame in the text frame options. As long as the paragraph style for the text has Align to Grid set then the text will align to that baseline grid.

enter image description here

Update

Based on your comments that you have multiple text frames set with a Cap Height first line offset. If your first text frame begins with an 11pt font and the second begins with a 9pt font, the offset will be different as the offset is based off the Cap Height of the font on the first line of that text frame, not the first line of the story. If you want the same offset for each frame, set a fixed offset. Since you said everything has the same leading and you want everything aligned to that, set the offset to leading and everything will align. You can see the difference illustrated in the following images:

enter image description here enter image description here

You said the text becomes misaligned even in the same text frame. If that is the case and everything has the same leading, there must be some other spacing set somewhere, probably paragraph before or after spacing. You need to set these either to 0 or a multiple of your leading. You can see the difference in the following images:

enter image description here enter image description here

  • This is informative - and I thank you - but not altogether new. Yes, the option applies only to the first baseline and its relation to the top of the frame. But what's the point of that if not to make the rest of the text follow suit? My problem is that once set, with leading = baseline, the leading still somehow gets shifted later on. If I start e.g. with Ascent or Caps Height, though the text is always 15 pt leading, on the next page it might be 1 or 2 pts off. Again despite the fact that it's been consistent leading throughout. So it's something I'm missing in InDesign. – Ho Chi Chi Feb 22 '16 at 19:09
  • The issue is having two text frames, for example, both with First Baseline set to Caps Height, with consistent 15-pt leading throughout - somehow coming out of alignment. I understand that aligning to baseline grid will solve the problem but by forcing a design choice that I'd rather not make. For me the issue is: how can text come out of alignment despite leading being consistent and text frame first baseline offset the same? I'd rather understand this issue and address it directly than dodge by aligning to baseline. And BTW, the problem occurs even within the same text frame. – Ho Chi Chi Feb 23 '16 at 16:45
  • If you have more than one text frame with different paragraph styles on the first line but offset set to Cap Height on both, they don't have the same offset as the offset is based of the first line fonts cap height. – Cai Feb 23 '16 at 21:52
  • Also, "...aligning to baseline grid will solve the problem but by forcing a design choice that I'd rather not make" But thats the exact design design decision you have made, you do want everything aligned to the baseline grid, that's what your question is. – Cai Feb 23 '16 at 21:54
  • Your first reply above is helpful - the second one is not. First line baseline offset gives 5 choices, and under some conditions that means you can align your text (all of it) to the baseline one of five ways under some conditions. My original question was about those conditions. You decided to educate me on what a baseline was instead. However, you've added an update which speaks to the question. There's no before or after spacing, and all the leading's consistent. I'll investigate further. But the point about Caps Height I think is dead-on. I'll call this question answered. Cheers. – Ho Chi Chi Feb 24 '16 at 22:28

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