Tthere is one feature of InDesign CS5 I think has to be among the most requested that I come across regularly; ‘straddle heads’ (as I’ve always known them, anyway) are headlines and perhaps bylines that span columns. InDesign CS5 allows you to span columns and also split them simply by selecting text and choosing the option you want from a drop-down. here are a couple of examples that will show you how to use it.

Splitting text

Here we have a single story in a single-column text box.

Select the text, then locate the Span Columns button in the control strip…

or if you have got the Paragraph panel open choose ‘Span Columns‘ from the panel menu…

Choose the number of columns you’d like your text split into…

and the text splits into two sub-columns. Below shows the same technique applied to a list inside a block of text.

Spanning Columns

Here we have a text box which is split into two columns (cmd-B on the Mac, ctrl-B on the pc to access the text frame options)…

select the headline text, then choose Span 2 from the Span Columns drop-down…

and the text now spans two columns.

Fine Tuning

If you want to modify the gutter (space between columns) or add some space-before and space-after values, then you’ll need to select span columns from the paragraph panel menu or the control strip panel menu (as far on the right at the top as you can go, usually) then choose Span Columns… from the context menu (shown below).

From there you’ll have the options as shown.

Advanced Tip: Span columns can also be set as part of a paragraph style!

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