InDesign Shorts: Tip #17 - Creating Leader Lines (2023)

InDesign Shorts is a recurring series to help everyone of all levels master the ins and outs of the program and become more efficient designers. Got a burning InDesign question? Drop a comment below orjoin the LinkedIn group for more.

How do you style your table of contents? Chances are, you probably use traditional leader dots (the line of periods between your text and the page number) to keep things clean and help draw the reader’s eye to the correct section and location they need to find in your document.

In Word, creating this dotted line is essentially automatic. In InDesign… not so much. I’ve seen these dots added as actual lines drawn and meticulously sized and placed between the text and page number, or manually added in by holding down the period button until the text lined up. (Don’t worry – I’ve been guilty of this too.) No matter how carefully you adjust either of these methods though, something inevitably feels off.

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Not to worry! There’s actually a quick (though not intuitive) method for having InDesign do all the work of adding in those leader dots for you.

To add leader dots to your table of contents:

  1. Add the section name to a text box.
  2. Add a tab and then a number (i.e. the page number) after the section name.
  3. Highlight the text that you want to add leader dots to.
  4. Open Type > Tabs in the menu.
  5. Click anywhere along the ruler and drag the arrow to the desired location (you’ll see the number move on the page).
  6. To add the leader dots, click in the box next to the location box (the blank one on the right) and add a single period. Then click in the other box or hit ‘enter’ and InDesign will add the leader line to your text.
Rachelle Ray2021-01-22T11:56:49-07:00

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