Saturday, August 30, 2008

When an inline object suddenly changes dimensions...

...after copy-pasting.

We have a cheap advertising option in the classifieds section of the magazine. Simple box 46 mm wide by 31 mm high with a limited choice of colours. Client provides the text, chooses the colour and I paste the approved text into the box on a Pages template. After client's approval the box is copy-pasted into the classifieds section where boxed small ads are mixed with text ads as inline objects. The whole production cycle takes 15 minutes.

But on several occasions I came across an unexpected slight change in dimensions of the small ad box after pasting. When text in the box is sparse it hardly matters. But some people try to cram as much text as possible into the ad box they buy. Which is up to the client of course. And still in one case the telephone number jumped out of the box and in another a compulsory business registration number disappeared after pasting.

It took me some time to figure out why that happened. Instead of 46 mm wide the box would become 45,6 mm after pasting from the small ad template. So when text is crammed very tight the last line or two may be pushed out of the box even when dimensions change only by a fraction of the millimetre.

The cause was in paragraph formattinig. When you paste an object from fixed on the page (floating) as it is in the template into an inline position within its own paragraph, that paragraph follows the formatting of the previous paragraph. So if it was a paragraph with the first line indent, the paragraph with the inline object will have the same indent. As the columns in our classifieds section are the same width, 46 mm, as the small ad box, added indent changed the inline box dimensions.

To avoid this problem I now always check the TABS section in the Text Inspector dropdown menu and make sure there is no indent.

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