One of the things I always do when I pitch up somewhere new is get my preferences set up on InDesign. This helps me get the best looking type I can from the program before I go in and start tweaking.
So here’s a list of the things I do. Make sure you do these with no actual document open. If you do have one open it will only affect that document.
1. With the type tool selected go to the control bar and change the tracking from ‘metrics’ to ‘optical’. Legend has it that Erik Spiekermann was once asked how he goes about kerning his new fonts. His response ‘I use the optical spacing in InDesign and go from there.’ If it’s good enough for Erik then it’s good enough for the rest of us. It’s a great starting point for headlines and an absolute must for bodycopy.
2. In the paragraph palette deselect ‘hyphenate’. It’s always best to avoid hyphens, but if you need to, put them in yourself.
3. In the same palette click the options arrow in the top right and select ‘adobe single-line composer’ instead of ‘adobe paragraph composer’. I just don’t like the paragraph composer feature. I like to go in and make my own line breaks to achieve the best feel and this just confuses the hell out of me.
4. In the story palette click ‘optical margin alignment’. Why wouldn’t you? There might be a 1% chance you wouldn’t want this feature.
5. Under preferences > Units & increments, I always change the bottom value, kerning/tracking to 5/1000em. This gives me greater subtlety when kerning my work.
I’m sure there are loads more tips out there but this gives me a good base to work from. Let me know if you have any others.