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How to Set Alignment and Indentation in iBooks Author

By Galen Gruman

iBooks Author provides formatting options for paragraphs that help you control alignment and indentation in your e-book; these options apply to the entire paragraph, no matter what text you may have selected in it. You can apply most of the paragraph formatting in the Text inspector and its four panes. To open the inspector,

  • Click the Inspector button in the toolbar.

  • Choose View→Show Inspector.

  • Press Option+Command+I and then click the Text icon button (the T icon).


You can also apply alignment and indentation by choosing Format→Text or by using keyboard shortcuts, and you can apply alignment, line spacing, and lists via the Format bar.


Most text in a book is aligned to the left margin, but it can also be aligned to the right margin. When aligned only to the left margin, the text is left-aligned or ragged right; when aligned to both margins, it’s justified. Text can also be right-aligned to just the right margin or centered between the two margins.

You can align paragraphs in a variety of ways:

  • Choose Format→Text and then choose Align Left, Center, Align Right, or Justify from the submenu.

  • Use these keyboard shortcuts:

    • Align Left: Shift+Command+[

    • Center: Shift+Command +

    • Align Right: Shift+Command +]

    • Justify: Option+Shift+Command +

    The iBooks Author menus for these options display Command+| rather than Shift+Command+, Command+{ rather than Shift+Command+[, and Command+} rather than Shift+Command+]. Apple assumes you realize these characters need the Shift key pressed.

  • Click one of the four alignment icon buttons in the Format bar or in the Text inspector’s Text pane.

A related control is indentation, for which iBooks Author provides three types that can be used singly or together:

  • Block indent: Moves the entire paragraph in from the left margin. You typically use block indents to set off extended quotes (called block quotes) or in outlines to show relative levels:

    • Choose Format→Text→Increase List Indent Level or press Command+], to indent the text. Each time you do this for a text selection, the text is indented farther.

    • Choose Format→Text→Decrease List Indent Level or press Command+[ to decrease the indentation. Each time you do this for a text selection, the text is moved farther to the left.

    You can also use the Indent Level icon buttons in the Text inspector’s List pane. You don’t need to make the paragraph into a bulleted or number list to apply block indents.

  • Paragraph indent: Specifies a left and/or right indentation for a paragraph in terms of points. In traditional publishing, this is the usual mechanism for specifying block quotes. You set this indent in the Text inspector’s Tabs pane.

  • First-line indents: Specifies how much the first line of a paragraph is inset from its left margin, in points. You set this indent in the Text inspector’s Tabs pane.

Typically, you use a first-line indent only when your paragraphs have no extra space before or after them. The reader usually needs just one visual cue, not two, to let him know when a new paragraph has begun.