I am working on a book of poems. I need to make sure that the (left aligned) text running within each page is centred on the longest line. As far as I am aware there is no mechanism for doing this automatically in InDesign and besides, the optical centre will always be different from the actual centre.

So I need to manually add an indent to every page to indent the text until it feels centred on the page. My problem is that some of the stanzas/paragraphs run between two pages which each need different indentation. I can only apply indent to a whole paragraph, meaning it will affect the beginning of the paragraph on one page and the end on another. If the second page requires a different indent this means the end of the paragraph that has run over from the previous page will indented correctly for the previous page and not the current page or vice-versa.

Is there any sensible solution to this problem?

In the following example, the paragraph in red runs over both pages, but each page requires a different left offset.

enter image description here

  • I don't understand what it is you're trying to do here. How would you centre left-aligned text on the longest line (in fact, how would you centre left-aligned text at all)? What does that mean exactly? Could you add a screen shot with an example to show what you mean? Aug 13, 2017 at 13:25
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I've added a diagram. It is quite a common thing in poetry. If you look at (most) poetry books you will see this approach. Aug 13, 2017 at 13:57
  • You can script this.
    – joojaa
    Aug 13, 2017 at 14:34
  • This question was also asked on the Adobe Forums. See cross post at forums.adobe.com/thread/2370094 Aug 13, 2017 at 21:41
  • 1
    @PickleRick FYI centring is the British spelling (as the rest of the post uses)
    – Cai
    Aug 13, 2017 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


As joojaa’s comment says, this is scriptable. If your book isn’t too long and you don’t mind doing it manually for each page, though, this is probably an easier way.

It seems to me what you’re looking for is a way to centre the entire block that the text falls within, while maintaining the text itself left-aligned. The easiest way to do this would be to simply make the containing text frame the same width as the longest line on the page.

For example, starting off with a page like this (poetry courtesy of this page):

Starting out

If you select the text frames, you can adjust their widths to be the same as the longest line of text they contain. Since this is all poetry and there is no paragraph composing going on, I’ve made all my text here “No Break” in the paragraph style—that way, instead of manually dragging the side of the text frame to make the frame the right width, I can simply double-click on the width handle, and it auto-fits the frame width to its content (= the longest line):

Resizing the frames

Now it’s just a matter of centring the text frame on the margins (or the page, if you prefer):

Centring the frames

And then you have things centred on the page without affecting the text alignment in each frame.

All centred

  • (It appears that future versions of InDesign will allow adjusting position as an option when defining an object style. If and when that happens, the last two steps in this procedure won’t be necessary: you can simply make sure that your master page text frame has an object style applied which defines its horizontal position as being centred on the page/margins, and it should automatically move when you resize the frame. If auto-fitting frame width to content becomes a functioning part of object styles too, which seems possible, an object style could potentially do it all for you.) Aug 13, 2017 at 16:16

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