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Chapter 4. Type > Selecting and Formatting Text

Selecting and Formatting Text

Generally, when you want to change the formatting of some text, you have to select it with the Text tool. However, there are two caveats to this statement. First, because paragraph formatting (which we’ll discuss later) always applies to an entire paragraph, you don’t have to select every character in the paragraph before applying it—you can simply place your text cursor anywhere in the paragraph.

Second (and more interesting) is that you can apply text formatting to text frames you’ve selected using the Selection tool or the Direct Selection tool. When you do this, InDesign applies the formatting to all of the text in the text frame, including any overset text. InDesign won’t let you use this method to apply formatting to text frames that are linked to other text frames. Tired of using the Text tool to select and format every photo caption on a page? Use the Selection tool to select them all and apply your formatting—it’s easier, and it’s quicker (see Figure 4-1).

Figure 4-1. Formatting the Text in Text Frames

Use the Selection tool to select the text frames you want to format...

...and apply formatting. InDesign applies the formatting to all of the text in the text frames. That’s all there is to it. In this example, we‘ve changed character attributes (font, font style, and leading) and paragraph attributes (alignment).


The ability to apply formatting with the Selection tools is very powerful, but it’s also slightly dangerous. Let’s say you set a single character to Zapf Dingbats somewhere in your text frame. If you select the text frame using the Selection tool and then apply a new font, every character—including that dingbat—gets changed.

The only warnings that InDesign gives you that some of the text in the selected text frame uses a different font are: the Font field in the Character palette is blank, and the Font submenu (under the Type menu) has hyphens next to each font.

Hiding the Highlights. When you select some text to apply formatting, InDesign highlights it. This can be annoying if you’re making a change that requires you to see what the text looks without the highlight (such as changing the text’s color). You can get around this problem in two ways. You can open a new window on the publication (choose New Window from the Arrange submenu, in the Window menu); the new window can display the same text but without the highlight. The second method is to hold down the Command/Ctrl key, hover the cursor over the text frame until you see the corner and side handles, and then click on the text frame. As long as you hold down the mouse button, the text will not be highlighted.

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