Text Runaround In InDesign

Recently, a cor­re­spon­dent at Yahoo’s Graphic Design Resource Group asked a ques­tion about text runaround in InDesign. The ques­tion­er, a long-time QuarkXPress lay­out artist, want­ed to know where runaround was in InDesign, but could­n’t find it. Coming from a Quark expe­ri­ence, this is under­stand­able. Despite the fact that Quark and InDesign do, in the main, the same things, in terms of ter­mi­nol­o­gy they are both very dif­fer­ent in spots, and this is one of them.

What Quark called text runaround, InDesign calls text wrap.

Specifically speak­ing, what Quark called text runaround, InDesign calls text wrap. And, in wide diver­gence with Quark, it is not avail­able through a CMD-B(CTRL-B) key­board short­cut to the text frame’s mod­i­fy prop­er­ties dia­log. With InDesign, Adobe actu­al­ly evolves this ele­men­tary func­tion to a new lev­el by giv­ing it a palette of its own with quick access to its sev­er­al pow­er­ful functions. 

What fol­lows is a basic roadmap to the Text Wrap palette-how to get there, and what to do with it once you’ve arrived. 

First, when in InDesign, check to see if the palette is already dis­played in your col­lec­tion. If not, there are two ways to make it appear: first, by menu (In InDesign 2 do Window>Text Wrap, and in IDCS do Windows>Type & Tables>Text Wrap). There is a key­board short­cut, which in both ver­sions is the same (Mac CMD-OPT-W, Win CTRL-ALT-W). 

The palette presents all the text wrap options in an upfront, icon-driven way. The top five but­tons gov­ern the sort of text wrap used (None, Around Bounding Box, Around Object Shape, Jump Object, and Jump to Next Column); a check­box at the end of this row allows the user to invert the text wrap, or to bring the text inside the graph­ic rather than keep it off. The four data entry box­es below gov­ern text inset or out­set, this being the actu­al amount of dis­tance between the text and the image (inset is spec­i­fied by inputting a neg­a­tive num­ber, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for the image to over­lap the text). 

IDCS Text Wrap Palette
The InDesign Text Wrap Palette, which per­forms what Quark users know as ‘text runaround’. Along the top are the five kinds of wrap available.

The low­er half of the palette pro­vides con­trols for work­ing with the Around Object Shape wrap­ping option, and is only active if that option is select­ed. The chief fea­ture is a drop-down, which con­tains the fol­low­ing options: Bounding Box, which wraps based on the import­ed objec­t’s height and width; Detect Edges, which uses InDesign’s auto­mat­ic edge detec­tion to deter­mine the wrap bound­ary; Alpha Channel, which allows choos­ing among alpha chan­nels that may have been in saved in the image dur­ing cre­ation ; Photoshop Path, which uses any paths that may have been saved with the image; Graphic Frame, which uses the frame’s bound­aries to spec­i­fy wrap; and Same as Clipping, uti­liz­ing what­ev­er may be set in InDesign’s Clipping Path options dialog.

Wrap Palette with Contour Options dropdown
Selecting “Around Object Shape” acti­vates the bot­tom sec­tion of the palette, which pro­vides this drop down menu.

The inset/offset is also graph­i­cal­ly change­able. This is a par­tic­u­lar­ly pow­er­ful aspect of Text Wrap. With the Direct Select tool active, click­ing on the box caus­es the text wrap bound­ary to appear; it looks like a very fine path, and can be read­i­ly found and iden­ti­fied by the han­dles. Not only does it look like a path, it can be han­dled like one and, with the pen tool, points can be added and sub­tract­ed and con­vert­ed from cor­ner points into Bezier points for just about any shape the design­er desires. 

Text Wrap requires per­haps a bit more of a learn­ing curve than Quark’s runaround fea­ture, but that learn­ing pays off in a fea­ture that pro­vides more con­trol and pre­ci­sion in its features.

About the author: Samuel John Klein is a free­lance graph­ic and web design­er in the process of being unleashed on an unsus­pect­ing world. Email con­tact and exam­ples of work can be found at The SunDial Earth Station.

Pariah Burke

Author, consultant, trainer, guru: Digital Publishing, ePub, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark. Empowering, Informing, Connecting Creative Professionals™

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14 Responses

  1. GeekAustin says:

    You’ve saved our mar­rage and quite pos­si­bly… my wifes eter­nal soul! The wife is a dyed in the wool Quark user being forced to design in InDesign for one of her clients. We both work from home, and she began curs­ing like a sailor. Something about chang­ing ter­mi­nol­o­gy between prod­ucts and Adobe is full of $#!+. Well… I quick­ly and eas­i­ly Googled the offend­ing func­tions to find your site. Hats off to you for offer­ing such a valu­able service! 

  2. Glad I could help! And I get two more things to add to my skill set as well!

    Though mar­riage coun­selor and spir­i­tu­al guide may look a bit strange in the old C.V.

    Seriously, though, if there’s any addi­tion­al how-to sub­jects you feel we could cov­er, please feel free to suggest!

  3. dan paulus says:

    We’re cur­rent­ly tran­si­tion­ing to InDesign from Quark and we’re expe­ri­enc­ing text wrap issues. Specifically, if we have an image that par­tial­ly spans more than one col­umn, the text in the par­tial­ly intrud­ed col­umn on the left jumps dif­fer­ent­ly than the col­umn next to it. The text is locked to the base­line grid, so both columns are lined up with each oth­er, but the line in the left col­umn wraps one line low­er than the col­umn next to it. Its like it is respond­ing to the left val­ue of the wrap, where­as the oth­er col­umn is respond­ing to the bot­tom val­ue of the wrap. We’ve tried all the dif­fer­ent text wrap options and aren’t hav­ing any luck. Any ideas?

  4. Kay says:

    I am a Quark user adjust­ing to InDesign’s dif­fer­ent way of wrap­ping text. I have found the Text wrap palette and set my text wrap on the graph­ic that I want the text to wrap around. The pic­ture is on top of the text, but the text isn’t wrap­ping around the pic­ture. Am I miss­ing some­thing here?

    Appreciate your help


  5. Kay:

    Could you respond to this fol­low (in email if you want) with more detail? In par­tic­u­lar I’m inter­est­ed in all the set­tings you’re using in your text wrap palette.

  6. Terry says:

    Thanks for clear­ing up an issue that was dri­ving me crazy. I knew that func­tion had to exist in inDesign, but the Adobe tuto­ri­als appar­ent­ly don’t con­sid­er that func­tion worth men­tion­ing. Curious, since that’s prac­ti­cal­ly the pri­ma­ry func­tion of a page lay­out app.

  7. Barry B says:

    Thanks VERY much for this extreme­ly help­ful resource. After Googling to find this sim­ple answer, I CERTAINLY appre­ci­ate the help! Making the switch to InDesign (while still work­ing in Quark) has been pret­ty pain­less, but espe­cial­ly with help like you have giv­en. Thanks VERY much!

    I have some help in find­ing inex­pen­sive pric­ing on just about any item and post free deals on my web­site, http://​www​.thecheap​estlink​.com, in case any­body would like to check it out. Let me know and I’ll find deals for you!


  8. B Jung Nan says:

    Whatever Quark calls it, it’s runaround is the most darned annoy­ing thing I have ever come across. Preferences, no mat­ter how many times I set them, will not let me turn Runaround off as the default. Like a bad dream it just keeps haut­ing me. I work in Quark every day and cuss it dai­ly, the loud­est over Runaround.

  9. Peter says:

    Hey, Jung Nan,


    You need to turn it off when NO doc­u­ment is OPEN. Only then the pref­er­ence applies to ALL NEW documents.
    And make sure you do that for every box type (you can mul­ti­ple select them).

    If that’s your only prob­lem, con­sid­er your­self lucky, I’d love to work with an app where I just see one nuisance.


  10. B Jung Nan says:

    Oh how I wish you were cor­rect that set­ting runaround pref­er­ences when you have no docs open would solve the prob­lem. It does not. That pesky runaround just loves to come back.

    And oh how very much I wish the prob­lem in Quark was lim­it­ed to just runaround. Reality is, how­ev­er, that Quark gives me the runaround in many places (all keep­ing me busy with workarounds).

    Best Regards To All,

  11. B Jung Nan says:

    Will some­one please tell me how to set runaround - OFF as the per­manant default set­ting? Is it pos­si­ble to do this. Help with this will be very much appre­ci­at­ed. I’ve tried doing it with no jobs open. It just insists on default­ing back to runaround on. Please, Help! Thanks.

  12. B Jung Nan:

    Will some­one please tell me how to set runaround - OFF as the per­manant default set­ting? Is it pos­si­ble to do this

    Sadly, this does not seem to be some­thing that has a application-wide default. I gen­er­at­ed a few doc­u­ments and tried it sev­er­al ways, includ­ing going into the Preferences with gun and cam­era to see if I could locate anything.

    The behav­ior of the text wrap you’ll get with­out touch­ing the Text Wrap palette seems to be inher­it­ed from what­ev­er it was you were doing when the appli­ca­tion was last closed or what­ev­er was opra­tive in the doc­u­ment you were edit­ing with that was closed. I got the best results when I checked my text wrap when I closed the app or the doc­u­ment and set it to what I want­ed it to be.

    The text wrap mode of the doc­u­ment seems to over­ride the text wrap mode you have set in the appli­ca­tion before you open that document.

    You might con­sid­er going to Adobe’s site and men­tion it as a fea­ture upgrade for the next ver­sion of InD. They are typ­cial­ly very responsve to such requests..

  13. JKo says:

    We work with lay­ers of colour, text and image box­es with­in one area. Example: large coloured box with text below. So I text wrap the colour box for the low­er text (to be able to shift if need­ed). Now we add text on top of box. To get that to show up you have to turn off wrap. OK no prob­lem - here is the issue .… Now we want 2 images with this top text and need the text to runaround the images, except I had to turn it off for the bot­tom box? Any ideas?

  14. Brandie says:

    We are con­sid­er­ing chang­ing from Quark 6.5 to InDesign CS2 for our pub­lish­ing needs. In Quark, the graph­ic box is auto­mat­i­cal­ly set to runaround. I am look­ing to set the default for the graph­ic box in InDesign to have an auto­mat­ic text wrap (runaround). Is there any way to do this?

    Also I am look­ing for a way to paste a metafile in InDesign. I am able to paste a table from Excel as a metafile with­out los­ing any for­mat­ting using the paste special>metafile fea­ture in Quark. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a way to do the same in InDesign. The only way I can import the table with­out los­ing the for­mat­ting is by plac­ing a PDF of the table.

    Any sug­ges­tions?