The problem: an InDesign CS 5.5 character style including a strike-out, when used to strike certain out portions of a word, doesn’t always work. The solution is to clear the “ligatures” check box on the “basic character formats” tab of the character style.

When getting ready to publish I newest puzzle book, Cryptic Word Searches, I came across an odd glitch in InDesign CS 5.5. As part of publishing our answers, we use character styles to cross off letters within a word. For example,

Example as expected

We use this to show “hidden words” and other tricks which are part of the puzzle. In the example above, if you take the last three letters of “example”, plus “as” and the first letter of “expected”, you get “please” as the hidden word.

This works most of the time. However, in some cases it wasn’t working, for example:

suffix in greek

The word hidden here is “fixing”, however in InDesign it was appearing as:

suffix in greek

The “fi” in “suffix” was crossed out even though the character style was not applied to it. In other cases, the cross out did not apply when it should have.

The problem always seemed to include the letter “f”.

After confirming that the styles were being applied correctly, I did some experiments and noticed that if a space was added between two letters that weren’t acting correctly, the styles were then applied properly. The final resolution was to completely uncheck the “ligatures” box on the character style. This corrected the problem. It seems that InDesign was trying to bind the letters together and was having an issue with the strike-through. As it’s uncommon to strike out just part of a word, I can see why this is a fairly rare bug.

The InDesign character style dialog 

We used Arial as our font, it’s likely that other fonts would not have demonstrated the problem.