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Petar Petrenko

Superscripts, Subscripts and Small Caps

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Please, add in "Preferences" an option to control the size and position of super- and subscripts and the size of the small caps.


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In InDesign it is a preference setting (I usually make it them bigger). I wonder how smooth it would be to use char style instead... considering sub/superscripts are usually already inserted in manuscript (yeah, smart use of find/replace will handle this). Style would be smart as I often prefer to use also semibold instead of regular.

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Putting these sort of settings in Preferences would make two ‘dangerous’ assumptions:
* that every font would look okay with the same settings;
* that every document that was typeset with previous settings would still look okay when viewed/edited with the new settings.

Character styles are – once they’ve been created – just as quick and easy to apply as the normal sub/superscript function but they have the extra advantages of:
* being adaptable to different fonts/purposes;
* being ‘locked in’ to the document at the time it’s saved.

Having said that, I can’t find a way to automatically add a small horizontal offset to the sub/superscript text, which would be nice in some cases (tracking is only usable when you have more than one character selected).

I haven’t looked at small caps since I don’t use them other than for playing around.

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5 hours ago, GarryP said:

I can’t find a way to automatically add a small horizontal offset to the sub/superscript text

Yeah, something like "horizontal offset" feature.


Windows 10 x64 Pro
Dell Inspiron 7559 i7
Intel Core i7-6700HQ (3.50 GHz, 6M )
16GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600MHz (8GBx2)
1TB HDD + 128 GB SSD Hard drive
UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife LED- Backlit Touch Display
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5

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6 hours ago, GarryP said:

Putting these sort of settings in Preferences would make two ‘dangerous’ assumptions:
* that every font would look okay with the same settings;
* that every document that was typeset with previous settings would still look okay when viewed/edited with the new settings.

InDesign has these settings in Preferences and they are on a per-document basis, so the change you make would only apply to your current open document.

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This is an interesting discussion, and I agree that something could be done better than it is. Of course, one can generally achieve what is needed via character styles**, but I think there is room for improvement. In Publisher as it is today, if I did not like the size or position of a superscript, I would create a character style that changes size and/or baseline position, and then I would apply this character style by a find/replace operation.

Besides the slight inconvenience to manually apply the style (whether find/replace or otherwise), there is this further disadvantage. Imagine a run of text that already needs a character style (let’s say “emphasis”), and that text contains a superscript. Now in addition to your “superscript” character style, you need an “empasis+superscript” style that combines emphasis with the desired look of the superscript. This is not the end of the world, mind you, but I do think it invites improvement.

InDesign allows setting a global superscript size and position in the document preferences, which is probably where Petar is coming from. I agree with fde101 that it really doesn’t exactly belong in preferences, and I agree with Garry’s point that the disadvantage is the “dangerous” assumption that “every font would look okay with the same settings.” I believe that InDesign is currently superior to Publisher in this one respect, because it does offer the global preference in addition to the character style method that one must use in Publisher, but I think there is room to 1-up InDesign.

Before going on, I should point out that preferences in InDesign are different than preferences in Affinty. In Affinity, they function like preferences usually do in other apps, in that they are application settings. In InDesign, they are generally document-level settings. That approach has its merits, but I think on the whole I am not an advocate of that approach. It does mean that in this case, setting a global superscript size would be true for the whole document (not the whole app), and it is saved as part of a document. So Garry’s other “dangerous assumption,” namely “that every document that was typeset with previous settings would still look okay when viewed/edited with the new settings,” while true if added to Publisher’s preferences, are not true in InDesign, because those preferences travel with the document.

Document-level preferences aside, InDesign does assume a document-wide setting is sufficient, but what about multiple fonts in the same document? Can we assume that one setting would fit all scenarios in a single document? Often, yes, but in those cases where it doesn’t work that way, then we’re back to the same character style workaround. It is as fde101 has said: this is inherently a character style attribute.

I think we can come up with better. Here’s my proposal. I do think it should be a character style attribute (also in paragraph styles of course). But I do not mean to create a special character style just for superscripts. Rather, I think the InDesign-style settings would go well in the Position & Transform portion of the Publisher character styles, like this mockup below. Then one would not need a separate style just for superscripts, but rather it would be coherent with the rest of the text.

superscript_proposition.thumb.png.d776134acba47904e05854dba965e114.png

 

**Except horizontal offset. I have personally never needed something like it; I wonder how often others might need it. Size and vertical offset—those I have used, and not infrequently.

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QXP & ID have both global and document-only settings. In either if changes to anything, preferences or text styles, etc., are made without an open document then those changes are global. With an open document, changes apply only to that document. 

The preference setting Petar is referring to only affects non-OpenType fractions. It has no affect on fractions set via the OpenType feature. 

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6 hours ago, garrettm30 said:

I think the InDesign-style settings would go well in the Position & Transform portion of the Publisher character styles

Thanks, that is exactly what I was trying to imply with my post earlier but evidently didn't spell out clearly enough.

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