How to Apply Optical Margin Alignment in Adobe InDesign

In Brief...

Optical Margin Alignment creates hanging indents on letters like A, V, W, Y, and punctuation, so that the beginnings of lines in a text frame appear flush. It is one of the finer points of typography aesthetics. The following four steps show how to apply Optical Margin Alignment.


  1. Notice how the lines of text in the examples of the quoted paragraphs appear ragged on the left, as if the text was out of alignment. This is because of the white space built into the character mapping of the font.
    Ragged Left Alignment of Text in Paragraphs

  2. To create a more pleasing left alignment, choose the text frame with either the Selection Tool or Type Tool, then go to the Type menu and choose Story.
    Story Option in Type Menu

  3. In the Story Panel, check Optical Margin Alignment.
    Story Panel

  4. The alignment can then be fine-tuned further by adjusting the point size in the Story Panel until the desired effect is achieved.
    Text with Optical Margin Alignment

Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical, and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her class. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint to produce a fully-developed and cohesive brand identity.