Finesse Your Type with Three Great InDesign Scripts

Dan Rodney describes himself as a designer, instructor, web developer, and all-around nice guy. This certified Adobe Instructor/Expert is passionate about technology and has written several time-saving scripts for InDesign for both Mac and PC that will make your typesetting life faster and easier. Using the scripts is easy, and you do not have to know how they work or how to create them. Just install and run them with a simple double-click. Here are our favorite three scripts from Dan:

Quotes to Foot & Inch Marks

One of the many challenges when setting type is to get the quotation marks, apostrophes, and primes (inch and foot marks) set with the correct glyphs. This usually begins with making sure the quotation marks and apostrophes are typeset using typographer’s quotes (smart quotes). Some folks use Find/Change for this, but what often ends up happening is that the primes used for measurements are accidentally converted to smart quotes. The fix for this usually requires proofreading and manually converting any instances back to proper foot or inch marks, which is both time-consuming and tedious.

The Quotes to Foot & Inch Marks utility makes this easy. It eliminates having to do numerous search and replace actions, doing the work for you in one double-click. Just select the text that contains the quotes you want to be converted, double-click the script and bam! You have foot and inch marks! I love this script as it eliminates the annoying task of manually converting any smart quotes to primes with a fast and elegant solution. Plus, the price is right – it is FREE! Dan Rodney says, “this is such a simple script that I couldn’t see charging for it. I hope it can save you some time and hard work. Enjoy!”

The Quotes to Foot & Inch Mark script quickly and easily converts smart quotes to primes for any measurement.

The Quotes to Foot & Inch Mark script quickly and easily converts smart quotes to primes for any measurement.

Proper Fraction

If you find yourself setting lots of fractions with fonts that don’t have the built-in fractions you need (or you don’t have the capacity to create them on-the-fly), this script will make your life a whole lot easier. Proper Fraction Pro works with any font and can format all fractions in an entire document, story, or selection in just seconds. Just select a fraction, such as 2/16, double-click the script, and you get a properly styled diagonal fraction. Proper Fraction Pro can apply OpenType’s fraction formatting directly to fractions, avoiding issues such as whole numbers being mistakenly formatted as fractions. If you’re not using OpenType fonts, don’t worry. Proper Fraction Pro will still produce great-looking fractions for TrueType or PostScript Type 1 fonts.

This time-saving script creates good-looking fractions with even color. Scaled-down fraction characters typically appear lighter than surrounding characters. Proper Fraction Pro strokes the numerator and denominator for a more balanced thickness and a better-looking fraction. You can easily control how the script formats your fractions in the Pro version’s Preferences window. You can also apply kerning to control the spacing of the numerals or the slash/fraction bar. These settings can even be applied to a specific font for the ultimate in control. Proper Fraction comes in both the Lite version which is a free download, as well as Proper Fraction 2 Pro ($70) for the heavy-duty user who wants total control of how their fractions look.

Proper Fraction Pro converts any random horizontal fraction to a diagonal one. You can even use kerning to open up the spacing of the numerals, as I did in the example above.

Proper Fraction Pro converts any random horizontal fraction to a diagonal one. You can even use kerning to open up the spacing of the numerals, as I did in the example above.

Widow Fixer

One of the banes of typesetting is those pesky widows, or very short lines that can appear at the end of a paragraph. InDesign doesn’t have an easy way to fix those single words on their own line. The low-tech solutions most people use (forced line breaks, Shift-Returns, non-breaking spaces, etc.) are time-consuming and can lead to problems later if the text reflows.

Widow Fixer is an easy way to fix widows throughout an entire document with just a few clicks. Using nested GREP styles (which you don’t have to understand to use this script), Widow Fixer tells InDesign to avoid breaking the last space in a paragraph, so the two last words must stay together. You simply choose which paragraph styles to fix, and Widow Fixer handles everything else.

Unlike many solutions that stop working if the text is changed and reflowed, GREP styles work constantly. Regardless of how many text changes are made, once Widow Fixer has done its job, you don’t have to worry about it again. Widow Fixer’s GREP style was specially crafted to ensure it works regardless of punctuation and special characters, unlike some other solutions.

Widow Fixer eliminates single word widows by disallowing the last word space in a paragraph.

Widow Fixer eliminates single-word widows by disallowing the last word space in a paragraph.

Installing the Scripts

Installing these scripts is not difficult, and will just take a minute or two, so don’t let it scare you away. Detailed instructions come with each script, but here are the basic steps:

  1. Open the Scripts panel via Windows > Utilities > Scripts.

    To install any of these scripts, first locate the Scripts Panel folder via Window > Utilities > Scripts.

    To install any of these scripts, first locate the Scripts Panel folder via Window > Utilities > Scripts.

  1. In the Scripts panel, you’ll see Application and User folders. Scripts can be installed into either folder, but only users with admins rights can install scripts into the Applications folder. If you’re not an admin choose the User folder. With one of the folders selected, at the top right of the panel go into the menu and choose Reveal in Finder (Mac) or Reveal in Explorer (PC).
  2. You should now see a Scripts Panel folder. Drag the script files/folder into the Scripts Panel folder and it’s installed!
  3. Switch back to InDesign and you’ll see the scripts listed under the folder where you put them. To run a script, just double-click it.

    Once installed, the scripts are visible and ready for usage, as shown above.

    Once installed, the scripts are visible and ready for usage, as shown above.

If you’re using an old version of InDesign like CS3 or CS4, the process is slightly different, so follow the instructions that come with the scripts.

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Posted on: March 15, 2017

Ilene Strizver

Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer, writer and educator specializing in all aspects of visual communication, from the aesthetic to the technical. Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, 4th edition, has received numerous accolades from the type and design community. She conducts her widely acclaimed Gourmet Typography Workshops internationally. For more information on attending one or bringing it to your company, organization, or school, go to her site, call The Type Studio at 203-227-5929, or email Ilene at info@thetypestudio.com. Sign up for her free e‑newsletter, All Things Typographic, at www.thetypestudio.com.

4 Comments on Finesse Your Type with Three Great InDesign Scripts

  1. Aren’t the before and after images flipped in the prime marks example?

    • No, they are correct, Joe. The left shows the smart, or typographer’s quotes, which are incorrect for measurements. The right shows the correct use of primes, which are technically typewriter, or straight quotes in this particular font. Ilene

  2. I am blown away. This will be HUGE for the type of stuff I put together. Thank you! (Incidentally, for some reason, inch marks cannot be copy/pasted for me with InDesign. They always turn into typographer’s quotes when pasted?) There’s also a tricky keyboard command to do these when typing, but incorporating it is not exactly fluid.

    Looking forward to Creative Pro week. Thanks for all you do!

  3. Dan Rodney is the Man! (as well as being an all-around nice guy). These are great!

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