Freeze Composition

Warning: Bad Typography ahead! 😉

Although it’s always the best practice to let InDesign do its thing and give you the best typographic results that it can, there are times when you might want to “freeze” the composition of text. Here’s a few examples:

  1. You are moving a document between different versions of InDesign where they have improved the text engine and you get different line breaks.
  2. You have an obstinate client who insists that lines need to break “just so” and not move.
  3. You are replicating an existing work, and the line breaks must match.

I’m sure there are more horrible scenarios, but these three come to mind… ;0

To deal with these (bad) situations we crated this small script which freezes the composition of the selected text by using the no-break attribute and soft returns. It also allows for scaling of the glyphs (ugh!) in case you add additional text to the line. (I can’t believe I’m writing this!) 😛

You can download the script from here. (But please use carefully, and don’t blame us for the results!) 😉

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  1. Zev says:

    Whoa, this is drastic! Wouldn’t a script that would compare the documents in the two versions of InDesign be better? For example have the user run one script in CS3 that would write a file of the last word of every page or every frame of every page and then open the file in CS4 and the user would run a script that would compare the file that was written from the CS3 script with the CS4 document?

  2. Harbs says:

    Yes. If the sole purpose was to compare the composition of two documents, that would be a good way of doing it. This is more of a multi-purpose hack to freeze the composition once you know it shouldn’t change.
    I wrote this after hearing one time too many that there’s another program (which will remain nameless) 😉 “which is so much better” because it freezes the text composition…

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    Harbs, I tried running your script on a few sample paragraphs and found that in certain cases it adds empty lines. I think it’s because it adds a line break even to lines that already have a line break.

    I actually have a few clients that would rejoice at such a script as this for certain problem children projects. Would it be too much work to tweak the script so it wouldn’t add double line breaks?


  4. Harbs says:

    Hi Anne Marie,

    Good catch. The script was a quick-and-dirty one… 😉

    I’ve improved the script to check for existing line breaks, and skip those lines.

    I’ve also added checking for hyphenated words, and it’ll skip any lines which end in hyphenated words as well. This will very often not keep the appearance on those lines. The other possibility would be to insert a dash at the end of such lines instead.

    Which way is better? Maybe an option for both?

    Either way, the new version is available form the same download location.

  5. Anne-Marie says:

    Okay … I tried the new one, and yes *please* adjust the script (if it’s not too difficult) to add a hard hyphen and a line break when it detects an autohyphen. When I ran this version, it created a line in the middle of my sample paragraph that looked like a freak of nature! LOL The line was scaled, squeezed, jammed in there … though none of formatting fields indicated anything was wrong. If I replaced the soft hyphen with a hard hyphen and ran the script again, everything was fine.

    Thanks for tweaking this! I know you just did it quickly, but like I said, I think it’d be really useful for many folks. (If it works out, can I write about it on IDSecrets?)

  6. Harbs says:


    I changed the script to insert a hard hyphen to replace the soft hyphens. You should now see no change in the text in those situations.

    And, yes feel free to write about it on ID Secrets. :)

  7. Anne-Marie says:

    thanks … testing it now.

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