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Upset about overset text in InDesign?

You’ve worked hard on an InDesign layout, and are about to send a PDF to the editor for review, and this Warning dialog appears, telling you there is overset text on page 1.  Whether there are 1, 2, 3 or more overset text frames on the page in question doesn’t matter to this warning dialog.

Warning dialog, with 'there is overset text on these pagesL 1." listed

So you might find yourself going back to Page 1, fixing the first overset text frame you find, only to find the Warning dialog pops up once again when you try to PDF the document.

If you’re using InDesign CS4, there is a much easier way to navigate to the each and everyone of the overset text frames: InDesign’s Preflight comes to the rescue! And… its out-of-the-box set-up in InDesign CS4 already locates Text Overset.

Let’s look at how we can work with this feature to find all occurrences of overset text and fix them before sending out a PDF.


InDesign enables live preflighting for all documents out of the box, using the [Basic] profile. You might have noticed the green or red circle icon in the status bar in the lower left corner of your document window.

Preflight options in the status bar in InDesign, with pop-up menu to access the preflight panel and define preflight profiles

You can access all the preflight tools from the Status bar (or else from Window > Output > Preflight) . The “Enable Preflight For All Documents” option in the status bar indicates that live preflighting is indeed enabled for each InDesign document. You can disable that if needed, and opt to preflight a document on a needs-only basis, by enabling the “Preflight Document” option.

Prefight panel with Profile: [Basic] set as working profile

To see which errors are picked up by the working Preflight profile, choose Preflight Panel from the status bar. The default active profile is [Basic]. If this profile is not your active profile select it from the drop-down menu. The document I’m checking contains 2 Text errors.

Clicking the arrow in front of “Text” to expands the error-log, and displays a sub-menu of errors, grouped by error-type. Expand each error-type  to see each occurrence of that error in the document.

Preflight with Text / Overset expanded and displaying links for two overset text occurrences.

Each individual error contains a link marked by the page-number. Click this link to jump to the problem item in the document. After each issue has been fixed InDesign’s Preflight should give you the green light 🙂

InDesign's preflight status in the status bar giving the green light to indicate no errors in the document.

You’re now ready to create that PDF with the assurance there is no overset text anywhere in your document.

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  1. nellbern nellbern
    February 21, 2014    

    I love your tutorials. Is there any way to check for overset text on on Master pages. Preflight is not catching overset

  2. Melissa Melissa
    May 9, 2013    

    Thank you so much for your help.It has been a lifesaver

  3. shailesh shailesh
    May 2, 2013    

    @Cari Thanks alot.. it worked! 🙂

  4. May 1, 2013    

    @Shailesh, it means you are trying to open an InDesign document that was saved in a later version of InDesign, than the one you are using. Ask the person sending you the files to File > Export them to InDesign Markup Language. then you can open the .IDML file in InDesign CS4 or higher. — Cari

  5. shailesh shailesh
    April 30, 2013    

    @Hello Cari.. how you doing?

    again i’m in little trouble 😀 can you please explain me what is .RPLN plugins are? these extensions are not allowing me open files. Need help!

  6. Shailesh Shailesh
    March 21, 2013    

    @Cari. Hey I found the problem area. There was little difference between Paragraph Styles. Have sorted it by applying same attributes to the styles of both documents. Anyways, thank you very much for your guidance! – Shailesh

    • March 21, 2013    

      Excellent, glad you got it sorted Shailesh 🙂

  7. Shailesh Shailesh
    March 21, 2013    

    @Cari.. I’m using CS5. Both documents have their own master pages but with same page size and margins. Has it anything do with Paragraph Styles or some other default settings?

  8. March 20, 2013    

    @Shailesh. Which version of InDesign are you using? I’m wondering if your master text frame associated with Master Page is different when you move the pages around? Sometimes that cases frame sizes to change, which could result in overset text. — Cari

  9. Shailesh Shailesh
    March 19, 2013    

    i’m creating a book with 2 different files with same specifications.. (only difference is one file is of color & another one has b/w pages .
    but when i move pages some overset text error appears for moved pages..can you please help me out to avoid this overset text error?

  10. February 24, 2013    

    @Jessie Ensure your screen mode is set to Normal, and also from the Type menu select Show Hidden Characters. If you can navigate to the text frame that has overset text (by clicking on the little blue link in the Preflight panel), but still don’t see the overset character, try viewing the text in the Story Editor (Edit > Edit in Story Editor), A red line is positioned next to the overset text. It might just be a spare return character you are looking for.

  11. jessie jessie
    February 21, 2013    

    i’m in CS5 and it says i have overset text and I can not find it at all on the page. I adjusted text boxes and deleted info nothing works.

  12. October 20, 2011    

    @Jack you will still be able to see the ‘Errors’ using Preflight panel (as the rest of this write-up describes).

    To reset your dialog warnings.:
    Go to InDesign Preferences : General and click the Reset All Warning Dialogs button

  13. Jack Jack
    October 19, 2011    

    There will be one check box in the warning dialogue box ‘Don’t show again” if i checked once in the document how can i bring it back? Please help. . .

  14. July 7, 2011    

    Thanks. Explained the situtaion to me in just 30 seconds. Another 2 minutes to solve the document issues.
    Great explanation and also good tips from other readers.

  15. Nancy Krause Nancy Krause
    April 6, 2011    

    Excellent! thanks for the tips.

  16. Cari Jansen Cari Jansen
    October 1, 2010    

    @Eddy, thanks for adding that note Eddy, great initiative.

  17. September 30, 2010    


    if you want to have more capable live preflight profiles for Adobe InDesign, VIGC (the Flemish Innovation Center for Graphic Communication) has published a free set of live preflight profiles, including tutorials explaining multiple preflight checkes, among which the overset text, but also the lesser known transparency blending space.

    You can download them for free: (you will see a registration form, but it’s not mandatory).

    The different profiles that we have assembled, are geared towards the same market niches as the PDF creation and PDF preflight profiles of the Ghent PDF Workgroup ( E.g. magazine ads, high quality sheetfed cmyk, …

  18. Glock Glock
    July 10, 2010    

    I too am a noobee

    Thank You for a very helpful and necessary explanation. I wish ID was as clear and intuitive to use as your tutorial. I mean big red arrows pointing to the MINUSCULE link for the error would when one opens the pre flight panel/error log would suffice. They could use an idiot button so those users that were not idiots could choose to shut off the obnoxious red arrows…..I on the other hand, am not so lucky…
    I now have my happy little green dot back.

  19. Amir Mortel Amir Mortel
    May 5, 2010    

    Hi Cari,
    This was very much helpful for me. I’m a newbie. Thank you so much for this.

    • Cari Jansen Cari Jansen
      May 5, 2010    

      Hi Amir,

      You are most welcome. I’m glad the tip was helpful.



  20. Cari Jansen Cari Jansen
    April 23, 2010    

    Hi Joel,

    Thank you for the kind words 🙂


  21. April 22, 2010    


    Thanks for a lucid and helpful post on this very important ID function. Understanding how to preflight your documents can save users from a ton of worries at the other end. And your graphics (love those big arrows!) are super clear.

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