I know, There is a way to indent the first line ONLY. Also to indent the entire paragraph besides the first line. What I'm looking to do is to indent the 2nd line ONLY, to the length of the first word in the first line.

Second line indent

  • Hi Davidg, welcome to GD.SE and thanks for your question. Could you please post that picture using imgur (integrated in the edit tools). That url doesn't look like something I'd like to click, making your post look a little like spam. Thanks! If you have any questions about the site, have a look at the help center or feel free to join us in Graphic Design Chat once your reputation allows you to (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site!
    – Vincent
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 14:58

3 Answers 3


I don't believe there is a setting to do this in InDesign but there are 2 work arounds.

1) Use text wrap on an invisible box

text wrap on a box


2) Line break + Tab

line break and tab

  • Thanks @AndrewH Option 1. would be great for a 1 or 2 paragraphs, but not for an entire book. Option 2. I wont be able to calculate the width of the first word from the above line, when doing many paragraphs.
    – Davidg
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 15:38
  • @David This should be scriptable. First make an object style which has its anchored object settings set to “Above line”, with “Alignment” set to “Left” and “Space after” set to negative leading (so if your text is set at 11/14 pt, set leading to -14 pt). Then in a script do something like this: For each paragraph in the document with the relevant paragraph style(s), 1. Select first word + following space; 2. Get the horizontalOffset of the end of the selected text; 3. Insert a blank, anchored frame with height = ¹⁄₂ your leading (e.g. 7 pt) → Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 22:51
  • → and width = value from step 2; 4. Apply the object style you made at the start to the inserted frame. That should give you the same effect as AndrewH’s option 1, but automated. Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 22:52

I think the answer you are looking for is here: http://indesignsecrets.com/creating-dropwords-indesign.php

enter image description here

There are a lot of steps but basically:

  1. make a character style for your drop word, keeping in mind that you'll need to adjust the font-size a lot and add a baseline shift. For 12pt text, you can start with setting the text at 4pt with a baseline shift of 14.5pt, and fine-tune it later
  2. Make paragraph style with a dropcap of 2 lines and 3 for characters and apply the character style to the dropcap

  3. Duplicate/repeat paragraph styles for each word length, 2-letter words, 4-letters - up to as many letters as you think you'll need. You don't need a 1-letter style, as you need to account for the space after the word, so 2 is the smallest style you'll need.

  4. List item

Apply each style to a paragraph as needed


4b. Go to FindChangeByList under Window-Utilities-Scripts, then Application-Samples-Javascript

  1. Choose Reveal in Finder and now for the complicated part:

Inside the FindChangeSupport folder, create a backup of the “findchangebylist.txt” by changing its name to something like “findchangebylist_orig.txt,” then duplicate it and give the duplicate a different name, such as “findchange-dropwords.txt”.

Now you need to edit that findchange_dropwords text file. You must use a text editor that cannot apply any formatting (I use TextWrangler on the Mac). Get rid of all the find/change queries in there, and replace them with your own. Your query should search for every place where a paragraph style such as “dropword” is applied, and then change it to a different paragraph style based on the length of the first word.

So, for example, this crazy code below will search for 3-letter first words and apply the “dropword3” style (which, remember, actually applies a drop cap of 4 letters, so that it includes the space after the word):

grep {findWhat:"^\\w{3}\\s", appliedParagraphStyle:"dropword"}
{appliedParagraphStyle:"dropword3"} {searchBackwards:false,
includeLockedStoriesForFind:false, includeLockedLayersForFind:false,
includeHiddenLayers:false, includeMasterPages:false,
includeFootnotes:true, kanaSensitive:false, widthSensitive:true} //3 letter first word

You need a line like this for every paragraph style you’ve created — you just need to change the names of the paragraph styles and the length of the word. (The length of the word is the part that says \w{3} — that just means a 3-letter word)

When you’re done, save the text file and run the script by double-clicking on FindChangeByList.jsx in the Scripts panel. Because you renamed the original findchange text file, the script won’t know which one to use, and it will ask you. Choose the new one you made, of course, and click OK.

  • Hi Christy, could you please explain a bit more what we'll find behind the link you provide and why it answers the question? That way, your answer is still of value in case the link breaks at a later time. Link rot is the main reason we really dislike link-only answers here. Thanks for your effort and keep contributing!
    – Vincent
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 15:13

Here is a method using Anchored Objects with Text Wrap.

Draw a small transparent square with approximately the same height as the x-height of your text. Precision doesn't matter here.

Apply Text Wrap to the square. Set it to Wrap around bounding box, set all four Offsets to 0 and set Wrap Options > Wrap To to Right Side.

Cut the square, set the text cursor right before the second word of a paragraph, and paste in the square.

Select the square, right-click it and choose Anchored Object > Options. Set Position to Custom, Anchored Object > Reference Point to the lower right corner, X Relative To to Anchor Marker, Y Relative To to Line (Baseline), X Offset to 0 and Y Offset to the leading of the text.

Now the square pushes away the text and creates the wanted indent.

Optionally, select the square and in the Object Styles panel press the Create new style button and click the newly created style to apply it to the square. This makes it possible to make changes later if needed.

Cut the square.

Open the Find/Change window and switch to the GREP tab. Set Find what to (^.+? ) to select the first word in a paragraph and the following space. Set Change to to $1~C to replace with the found text followed by the clipboard contents (the square you just cut). In Find Format select the paragraph style which you want to apply the second line indent to.

Press Change All to insert a square in all instances of the chosen paragraph style.

The text now have an indentation in the second line. It can be freely edited and manipulated, but of course you need to watch that the anchored objects stay right before the second word of each paragraph.

If many changes are made and new text is added, you might want to remove all the anchored objects before reapplying them. This can easily be done by searching for the anchored object marker with ~a and replacing with nothing.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.