How to fix text variable Running Headers from squeezing in one line and expand them to double lines in Adobe InDesign?

If you are the one working with long documents such as Annual Reports, Offer Booklets, Tenders and Proposals you would already knew how to setup Running Headers in your master pages.

The problem I came across is basically when the first header in the page is too long and when the Running Header picks it up, the characters will get compressed in just one line like the image below:


The solution I found for this issue is to define new type of Running Headers based on Character Style and nest them on the paragraph style used to format all header’s instances. So we will tell the Running Header to show the first few number of words in one line and the rest in the next line.

Lets do it together:

I assume you already have a list of headers formatted by a paragraph style. In my document the paragraph style I used for my headers is called “Head 2” and my Running Header will show the first instant of this on top of the page.

1. Creating the Character Style

First Go to Character Styles panel and create two Character Styles. Let’s name these character style as “Head_Char1” and “Head_Char2”. Don’t worry about applying a font, color or any type of formatting to it. You can leave it blank since it won’t be used to design your headers (that’s already done with the “Head 2” paragraph style);


2. Nesting the Character Style

Now let’s go to the Paragraph Styles panel. Click twice on the “Head 2” style or click on it once and choose Style Options on the panel menu. The Paragraph Style Options box will open. On the left menu click on Drop Caps and Nested Styles. On the Nested Styles box click on the New Nested Style button. A line with many editable lists will appear.

The Nested Style will be used to insert the character style in all instances of the “Head 2” style. To do that you must click on the “[None]” list and choose the “Head_Char1” character style. Let the list “through” as it is. At the numbered box choose the quantity of words that the running heading will contain. This number is depend on the size of the font you used for your Running Header. For my document 7 worked very well. Then, select the last list and choose “Words”. Click on OK. Create another nested Style for choose the “Head_Char2” character style and chose 6 words and “through” from the lists.

Now all headers with the “Head 2” style will have two Nested Styles Defined as “Head_Char1” and “Head_Char2” character style through their first 6 words.



3. Create the new variables

Go to Type > Text Variables > Define and create a new variable by clicking on the New button. The New Text Variable box will open. Name the variable “Head_Line1”. On the Type option choose “Running Header (Character Style)”. Select the “Head_Char1” character style on the Style options. Then choose the “First on Page” option on Use. Click on OK. Create a new text variable, now with “Head_Line2” as its name and with the same configurations, except that you must Select the “Head_Char2” character style on the Style options.




4. Create the Masters

First create a new Master page and put all elements that you need from your main body master page, give it an appropriate name such as “Long Running Header”

In your Running Header at the top insert in this box the text variable “Head_Line1” (Type > Text Variables > Insert Variable). Insert a paragraph break after this variable by typing it like normal text. Now insert the “Head_Line2” variable in the next line. Apply the master page only on those pages that the Running Header has compressed in your document otherwise you will get empty second lines or unwanted characters.



That’s it! All your long headings will show the first 6 words in the first line and the rest in second line. Remember that you can format these headings appearance with their own paragraph style. It won’t interfere with the variables.


Note: the featured image is from Wikipedia.


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