What are the best tools available in InDesign to control left aligned body copy so that you avoid unattractive line endings and paragraph shapes?
I have a lot of text to work with and would like to automate at least some of the process so that I am not having to do it all manually (tracking, kerning, soft returns etc.).
Also, is it best to avoid relying on hyphenation?
I have fairly short column widths and a fair few long words.
The answer to both questions depends on your personal experience with the software and with the font you are using. Some font families will not give ideal results with every option ID gives you.
Personally i would try using Balance Ragged Lines under your body copy paragraph style properties. This will even out long and short lines to a more compact looking paragraph flow. However its not perfect and some manual adjustments could be needed, also in my experience some clients will find this ‘look’ unusual and could ask for a normal flow of text.
Also personally i will usually avoid hyphenation, especially on a large volume of text since this sometimes needs proofing and that ofcourse involves additional time.