The Low End Mac Mailbag

Pages Line Spacing, Subscript Problems, and Printing Booklets

Dan Knight - 2007.10.08

Line Spacing Problem with Pages

From Jim Stephenson:


I don't use Pages, but using high-end page layout programs I've sometimes run into similar problems, and usually it's due to accidentally having the wrong types of line breaks at the end of some lines. Imported text is especially prone to this.

In a multi-line paragraph, lines usually end in one of three ways...

  1. Most lines don't have user-specified breaks; they just flow and break naturally at the end of lines.
  2. Some lines may end with "hard" breaks (paragraph breaks). These signal the end of the paragraph, and sometimes result in extra space being inserted to separate it from the next paragraph.
  3. Some lines may end with "soft" breaks, which are user-specified breaks which indicate you want a break there but it's not the end of the paragraph, so no extra space should be inserted below it.

Weird-looking text can occur when paragraphs contain accidental combinations of hard breaks and soft breaks, causing inconsistent spacing.

Imported text seems prone to this, for some reason.

When you get weird line spacing, select the menu item which will make the invisible formatting characters visible, so you can see where line breaks are inserted and what kinds they are. Make sure that paragraph breaks occur only at the end of paragraphs.

Hope this helps,


Thanks for writing. This was text I'd typed in myself, so I know there were no weird breaks. I'm beginning to wonder if some software engineer at Apple thought that creating the equivalent of kerning (adjusting the space between characters for best visual appearance) for line spacing would be a good idea....


Jim replied:

"This was text I'd typed in myself, so I know there were no weird breaks."

Okay . . . but speaking as a professional graphic designer who does complex type formatting every day, I'd recommend that you always double-check the line breaks in situations like this.

There may be nothing wrong with them, but it's the first thing you should check.

View > Show Invisibles

A paragraph break looks like a backwards letter "P"; a soft break looks like a backwards arrow.



Thanks again. I worked on publishing for 8-1/2 years, most of that as a book designer using Quark XPress and FrameMaker, all of those project imported from Word, all of them proofed and corrected and massaged in Word before the editors even got them to us, and every project still ended up with things that needed fixing. I got pretty good at finding and fixing problems. :-)



I worked on publishing for 8-1/2 years...

Sorry, I didn't know your background.

The reason I suspected line break problems is that I run into that problem fairly frequently in my work (using Quark and InDesign), especially with imported text, but it sounds like you've already checked that out.

By the way, I'm fairly new to your site and enjoy it. :)



I don't make a big deal of my book design background, as I now do almost all of my publishing online. In fact, it was working as a book designer that I worked my way into a Mac IS position, which paved the way for creating Low End Mac.


Exact Line Spacing in Pages


Your correspondent "Claessens" couldn't find exact line spacing in Pages 2 because it isn't there. That's right, it took Apple three tries to get this feature - standard in decent word processors since ca. 1990 (cf. MacWrite II), as well as in TextEdit since at least 10.3 - into Pages. And it's still well-hidden in Pages' Byzantine working interface. As with many other oddities in OS X (oddities for anyone used to working in the classic Mac OS, as I have since 1988), I figure it just didn't occur to Apple's current NeXT-veteran software staff to include it, perhaps until enough people complained (I filed a bug report - my first ever - re Pages 2) to get their attention.

Andrew Stone's Create, formerly a NeXT app now ported to OS X, is an interesting case in point: it has a lot of nice features, and I was thinking of moving to it for my formerly PageMaker work, until I discovered that it too lacks exact line spacing (last time I checked, anyway) - despite that, it's marketed as a page layout app. I can only guess that exact line spacing was just never thought of as necessary in the NeXT environment.

I don't have time at the moment to (re)compose a critique of Pages, so I'll refer you (assuming you're interested) to several lengthy posts I've done in the last year.

As I said, I've really wanted to like Pages, but every time I've tried it, it's been a disappointment: bloated, slow, hard to figure out, buggy. Even on my MacBook Pro, using Pages feels like wrestling with a large piece of complicated furniture; I wouldn't even try it on PPC.

Remember when an impressively capable app fit on a floppy disk? What happened?

I don't entirely understand why developers/publishers so often seem to have to create entirely new apps from scratch, with entirely new learning curves, rather than simply improve on the already excellent app they have, whose user base already knows it well. Maybe it's just the need to sell us a whole new program for big bucks - although as I recall AppleWorks 6 was a rewrite-from-the-ground-up of v.5, with no upgrade path, which nevertheless built on v.5 rather than replacing it with something different.

Pages is a "replacement for AppleWorks" only because AppleWorks users simply have no other choice. Yeah, AW will run in OS X - but for how long? It's already significantly slower in Rosetta on my MacBook Pro, and its habit of crashing immediately if I don't remember to switch from my usual Unicode keyboard to the old US keyboard is really annoying. And, without the anti-aliasing of real OS X apps, it's ugly on-screen. Etc., etc. But there's really no replacement for it; even if draw, paint & database apps are added to iWork, it'll still lack AW's integration.

I have in mind a project to produce a PDF/printable version of an out-of-print book that I want to share with friends; rather than Pages, I'm going to try it in NeoOffice, which, though somewhat slow and still unattractively Windozey in many respects (though the developers have done a really impressive job with it), seems to be no worse than Pages and offers the to me huge advantage of working in open formats (.odf), which I plan to move to as much as possible in future.

The undeserved fate of my two favorite classic Mac apps, AppleWorks and PageMaker, leaving me with a pile of documents that can't be accessed easily - i.e. not without buying yet more software (the bloated and much-inferior-in-usability Pages, and the way overkill and grossly expen$ive InDesign) which I assume will also be killed off in their turn for reasons having nothing to do with quality or usability, creating yet another pile of inaccessible docs - has thoroughly soured me on proprietary formats.

Open formats, like open-source software, are created and maintained by the people who use them, who have therefore a real interest in maintaining their usability into the future - exactly the opposite of the incentive driving commercial publishers, who need you to buy a whole new app next year to keep their revenue up.

For this reason, I plan to move to Scribus for the work I've (still) been doing in PageMaker (the 'Pismo' PowerBook is a great OS 9 machine); though probably overkill for my needs (though I'll probably get deeper into it as I learn it), and still in development and far-from-finished especially in its Mac version, it's developed and maintained by its own real users, and constantly improved in response to users' requests and needs; and, of course, its format is open. (And, though I acknowledge this is minor point, when doing page layout I much prefer to work in traditional graphic concepts like leading and points, instead of "line spacing", etc.)

And, if I ever learn any programming, I'd like to contribute somehow to these and other open source projects, which I hope will be the future of computing. I'm tired of corporate ethics (i.e. none but arrogance and profit) - including Apple's - dominating the computer world.

Well, enough rant for this morning; gotta get back to work - setting up a Lombard PB with OS X and wireless for an impecunious user. I figure, when the economy totally collapses (coming soon to a former Republic near you, courtesy the New World Order), my skills in keeping alive old computers will really come in handy.

(BTW, since you're using a Yahoo address, I assume you're aware of how Yahoo messes up weblinks in email; I haven't found any way to fix this. So if any of the weblinks in this email don't work, you'll have to copy, paste and repair them.)

Thanks for a great website; I read it every day.

Andrew Main


Thanks for writing. Yes, the integration within ClarisWorks/AppleWorks was amazing. Microsoft never came close, and the iWork suite is a far cry from what I'm used to when still using AppleWorks on a daily basis.

Thanks goodness Apple offers a 30-day trial of iWork. It's nice enough and modern, but there's no way I'd spend money for it. I'll stick with AppleWorks until it stops working.

Yes, Yahoo does some weird things, like ripping URLs apart and downloading files that somehow lose their extensions, leaving you to figure out whether it should be a .zip, .sit, or something else. Frustrating, but I'm used to it - and used to being locked out of the newest version of Yahoo Mail because I prefer Camino to Firefox and Safari.

A lot of our likes and dislikes have to do with familiarity. I like the way I've always worked, so I have little incentive to move beyond Claris Home Page, AppleWorks, Photoshop Elements 3 (which took some time to get used to after Photoshop 5.5, which replaced 4.0), and GyazMail (which is much closer to Claris Emailer than OS X Mail).

Interesting, isn't it, how much of our reference software as "old timers" was created by Claris!


Line Spacing in AppleWorks

From Erik Toft:


When you use subscript (like 2 in H2O, where the 2 should go below the base line) in AppleWorks 6.2.7, the line below gets pushed further down. I don't think it should, but it does. Word for Win doesn't lower the next line. To me it seems, that Pages (that I don't have on my low-end clamshell) follow Apple's standard rather than Windows' (which I prefer in this case).



You're right, and in a lot of programs (including browsers), subscripted or superscripted(like this) text does this. I'm not sure it's a Mac vs. Windows thing, as Word for Mac works the same way as Word for Windows. The solution in AppleWorks is to specify line spacing in points rather than lines.

As far as HTML goes, I've created style sheets so that superscripts and subscripts look better on Low End Mac than they would otherwise.

.superscript {
.subscript {


Free Booklet Printing Software

From Matt Berger:


I also have the need to print booklets from time to time.

The solution I found was free, easy, and available directly for download from the Apple website: Create Booklet - PDF Service 1.0

About Create Booklet - PDF Service

A booklet is a staple of pages that is folded in the middle to be used like a book. This means the pages have to be re-sorted before printing and two pages have to be shrunk onto one. Create Booklet does that for you, and as it is a PDF Service, you can do it directly from the print panel. Additionally you get the Automator Action that is used in that PDF Service.

Works fine using Word OS X; will be trying it with NeoOffice as well. The only caveat is that the margins need to be adjusted to get the look and feel you want; I'd say for light text chores the default settings will work fine, but for me - I print catalogs that are pretty heavy in text - I ended up tweaking until I got the look I wanted.

You've probably already gotten this tip, but just in case.



Thanks for the info and the link. I received some info about CocoaBooklet, but this is the first I've heard of Create Booklet - PDF Service 1.0.

I'll be sure to try it the next time I have a project like this.


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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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