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Chapter 4. Type > Styles

Styles

When you think about the text in your publication, chances are good you’re thinking of each paragraph as being a representative of a particular kind of text. You’re thinking, “That’s a headline, that’s a subhead, and that’s a photo caption.” Chances are also good that you’re thinking of those paragraphs as having certain formatting attributes: font, size, leading, and indents.

That’s what text styles do—they bundle all those attributes together so you can apply them to text with a single click. But there’s more—if you then change your mind about the formatting, you can edit the style, and all the text with that style applied to it (that is, “tagged” with the style) is reformatted automatically.

Once you’ve created a text style for a specific kind of text, you’ll never have to claw your way through the Character palette or Paragraph palette again to format that text. Unless, of course, you want to apply a local formatting override to your styled text, which you’re always free to do.

Global versus Local Formatting. We just mentioned “local” formatting. What are we talking about? The key to understanding text styles is understanding the difference between style-based formatting and local formatting.

Local formatting is what you get when you select text and apply formatting directly, using the Character palette or the choices on the Type menu. When you apply formatting using text styles, on the other hand, you’re applying “global” formatting (that is, formatting specified by the selected style).

You can tell if there’s local formatting applied to a styled paragraph by looking at the Paragraph Styles palette. Click the Text tool in a styled paragraph, and you’ll see a “+” before the style name if the paragraph contains local formatting (see Figure 4-54).

Figure 4-54. Styles and Local Overrides


Plus What? When you see that the text you’ve selected in a styled paragraph contains a local override, how can you tell what that local override is? It’s easy—choose New Style from the Paragraph Styles palette menu (or Option/Alt-click the New Style button in the palette), and InDesign displays the New Style palette. Look at the listing of attributes in the Style Settings list at the bottom of the palette—it’ll say “<stylename> + next: Same Style +” (where “<stylename>” is the name of the style applied to the paragraph) and a list of formatting. The items in the list are the local formatting (see Figure 4-55). Now you can click Cancel (or press Command-period/Esc) to close this dialog box without actually creating a new style.

Figure 4-55. Local Formatting? What Local Formatting?

What does the “+” mean? To find out, choose New Style from the Paragraph Styles palette menu.


Wrong Style Order. Paragraph and character styles should appear in alphabetical order in their respective palettes. Sometimes, though, the palettes get confused and list them in a near-random order (probably the order in which you created the styles, which is silly). This happens most often when converting InDesign 2 files. If that happens, just edit any style (even making the tiniest change). When you click OK, InDesign should reorder the styles properly.

Styles Are More than Formatting. When you apply a style to a paragraph (which we call “tagging” a paragraph with a style), you’re doing more than just applying the formatting defined by the style. You’re telling InDesign what the paragraph is—not just what it looks like, but what role it has to play in your publication. Is the paragraph important? Is it an insignificant legal notice in type that’s intentionally too small to read? The style says it all.

The most important thing to remember when you’re creating and applying styles is that tagging a paragraph with a style creates a link between the paragraph and all other paragraphs tagged with that style, and between the paragraph and the definition of the style. Change the style’s definition, and watch the formatting and behavior of the paragraphs tagged with that style change to match.

If and when you start using XML to mark up your text (see Chapter 7, “Importing and Exporting”), you’ll find that using text styles becomes really important.

Character Styles

By now, most of us are used to the idea of paragraph styles, which give us a way to apply multiple paragraph formatting attributes to an entire paragraph with a single action. (If you’re not familiar with paragraph styles, we discuss them in the next section.) Character styles are just like paragraph styles, except that they can be applied to ranges of text smaller than an entire paragraph (and, obviously, they lack paragraph formatting features, such as alignment). Applying a character style to a text selection establishes a link between that text and the definition of the style—edit the style, and the formatting of the text changes.

Use character styles for any character formatting you use over and over again. Run-in headings, drop caps, and special ornamental characters are all good candidates for character styles. Each time you use a character style, you’re saving yourself several seconds you would have spent fiddling with settings in the Character palette or the Type menu. It might not seem like much, but saving a few seconds several hundred times a day can add up.

Creating Character Styles. The easiest way to create a character style is to build it “by example” (see Figure 4-56).

1.
Select some text that has the formatting you want in your character style.

2.
Hold down Option/Alt while clicking the New Style button at the bottom of the Character Styles palette (or just select New Style from the Character Styles palette menu). InDesign displays the New Character Style dialog box.

3.
At this point, if you want to create a relationship between this style and another character style, you can choose that style from the Based On pop-up menu (see “Creating Parent-Child Style Relationships,” later in this chapter).

4.
Now give your style a name. You can also assign a keyboard shortcut to the character style—the key used must use a modifier key (Command, Ctrl, or Shift and a number key from the numeric keypad; NumLock must be on to define the shortcut).

Figure 4-56. Creating a Character Style

InDesign defines a new character style based on the formatting of the selected text.


When you create a character style, InDesign does not automatically apply the style to the text you selected in Step 1.

QuarkXPress Users Beware. InDesign’s character styles are really different (and we think more powerful). In QuarkXPress, a character style always defines all the character formatting of the text—font, color, size, and other attributes. InDesign’s character styles, however, are defined by differences between the character formatting of the selected text and the default character formatting of the surrounding text. In InDesign you can create a character style defined as “+Size: 18, +Color: Red” which, when applied to a word, changes only its size and color, and retains all other underlying formatting.

This is actually a good thing—it means you can create character styles that affect some, but not all, of the attributes of a selection. It’s different from the way that every other application defines character styles, and it takes some getting used to.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when defining character styles in InDesign.

  • If you’re building a character style based on example text (as we suggested earlier), InDesign only picks up the formatting differences between the text you’ve selected and the paragraph style applied to the paragraph. For example, if the underlying paragraph style uses the font Minion Pro Italic, and the text you’ve selected uses the same font, the Font attribute of the character style will not be defined automatically. If you want the font to be part of the character style definition, you can add it once you have the New Character Style dialog box open (select the font from the Font pop-up menu in the Basic Character Formats tab).

  • If you want your character style to be defined by every attribute of your text selection, you can use the CreateCharacterStyle script (it’s on your InDesign installation CD, inside the Scripting folder in the Adobe Technical Information folder). Or you can create the character style from scratch (not from example text), specifying the font, size, color, leading, and all other formatting.

  • Clicking the New Style button in the Character Styles palette creates a new character style based on whatever style was selected in the palette. It doesn’t open a dialog box.

  • If you want to “undefine” an attribute in a character style (maybe you accidentally picked up the “Times” font when you didn’t want the Font attribute to be defined at all), select and delete the current value (see Figure 4-57).

    Figure 4-57. Undefining Attributes

Applying Character Styles. To apply a character style, select some text and click the character style name in the Character Styles palette, or press the keyboard shortcut you assigned to the character style (see Figure 4-58).

Figure 4-58. Applying a Character Style

To remove the character style and apply its formatting as local formatting, select the text, then hold down Option/Alt and click No Character Style.


Again, applying a character style changes only those attributes that are defined in the style. This can cause grave confusion and hairpulling if you’re used to the way QuarkXPress does it. If you apply a character style that applies only the underline type style and color, for example—InDesign leaves all other character formatting as is (see Figure 4-59).

Figure 4-59. Character Styles Affect Only Defined Attributes


To remove a character style from a text selection, click No Character Style in the Character Styles palette. Note that this does not change the formatting of the selected text—it simply applies the formatting applied by the character style as local formatting. This is sometimes useful when you want some text to be formatted using the formatting of a given character style, but you don’t want it actually linked to that style (because you know the style definition might change). Selecting No Character Style breaks the link between text and its style definition.

If you want to remove a character style and reset the formatting to the publication’s default formatting, hold down Option/Alt as you click No Character Style in the Character Styles palette.

Editing Character Styles. The great thing about styles is that you can always change them later, and those changes ripple throughout your document. To edit a character style, hold down Command-Option-Shift/Ctrl-Shift and double-click the character style name in the Character Styles palette. InDesign will display the Modify Character Style dialog box.

All of the other methods for editing the character style—doubleclicking the character style name, or selecting the character style and choosing Edit Style from the Character Styles palette menu—apply the style before opening the dialog box. This means that the only time you can use these methods safely (that is, without applying the character style) is when your cursor is in text that has been formatted using the character style.

Remember—clicking a character style in the Character Styles palette when you have no text selected sets the publication default—the next time you create a text frame, the text in the text frame will be formatted using that character style.

So get used to using Command-Option-Shift/Ctrl-Shift-doubleclick. It’s safer.

Redefining Character Styles. Editing a character style through the Modify Character Style Options dialog box works fine, but is kind of boring. For quick changes, try this: Find some text tagged with the character style you want to redefine and apply local formatting to it (change it to the way you want the style to be defined). A “+” will appear next to the character style name in the Character Styles palette. Next, without deselecting the text, press Command-Option-Shift-C/Ctrl-Alt-Shift-C. InDesign automatically redefines the character style based on the selected text (see Figure 4-60).

Figure 4-60. Redefining a Character Style

Apply local formatting to an instance of the character style you want to redefine.


Alternatively, you can select the text and choose Redefine Style from the Character Styles palette menu. But the keyboard shortcut is more fun.

Deleting character styles. To remove a character style, press Command-Shift-A/Ctrl-Shift-A to deselect everything (do this so that you don’t accidentally apply the character style to text), then select the character style and choose Delete Styles from the Character Styles palette menu (or click the Delete Style button in the palette).

What happens to the text you’ve tagged with that style? Note that InDesign does not give you an option to replace the style with another one (as QuarkXPress does). The formatting you applied throughout your document using the character style does not change in appearance, but becomes local formatting.

Paragraph Styles

Paragraph styles encapsulate all text formatting—both paragraph formatting and character formatting.

Creating Paragraph Styles. The easiest way (in our opinion) to create a text style is to format an example paragraph using local formatting, then create a new style based on that paragraph (see Figure 4-61).

1.
Select a formatted paragraph.

2.
Display the Paragraph Styles palette, if it’s not already visible (press F11).

3.
Choose New Style from the Paragraph Styles palette menu (or Option/Alt-click the New Style button) to open the New Paragraph Style dialog box.

4.
Enter a name for the style in the Style Name field. You could leave the name set to the default, but we think it’s better to enter a descriptive name—“heading 1” is quite a bit easier to remember than “Paragraph Style 6.”

You can also assign a Next Style (see “Next Styles” later in this chapter) and a keyboard shortcut to the style—the shortcut must use a modifier key (Shift, Command/Ctrl, Option/Alt, or some combination of the above) and a number key from the numeric keypad (NumLock must be on to define the shortcut).

5.
Click the OK button.

Figure 4-61. Defining a Paragraph Style


When you’re done, InDesign adds a new paragraph style. The style definition includes all the character and paragraph formatting applied to the first character in the selected “example” text.

That’s all there is to it—you’ve created a paragraph style. InDesign does not apply the style to the selected paragraph, so you’ll probably want to do that now (see “Applying Paragraph Styles,” below).

If you work by the hour you might prefer to create a style by using the style definition dialog boxes, rather than basing your style on an example.

  1. Choose “New Style” from the Styles palette menu. InDesign displays the New Style dialog box.

  2. Work your way through the dialog box, setting the options as you want them for your new style. When everything looks the way you want it to, press Return/Enter to close the dialog box.

Creating a style this way is a little bit more awkward than simply basing a style on an example paragraph, but some people prefer it. We’ve met at least one person who likes setting tabs “without all that pesky text in the way.”

Applying Paragraph Styles. To apply a paragraph style, select a paragraph or series of paragraphs (remember, you don’t have to select the entire paragraph to apply paragraph formatting—for a single paragraph, simply clicking the Text tool in the paragraph will do) and click a style name in the Paragraph Styles palette (see Figure 4-62). Alternatively, if you’ve defined a keyboard shortcut for the paragraph style, you can press the shortcut.

Figure 4-62. Applying a Paragraph Style

Select the paragraphs you want to format (remember, you don’t need to select the entire paragraph).

Click a style name in the Paragraph Styles palette. InDesign applies the paragraph style to the selected paragraphs.


When you simply click a paragraph style to apply it, InDesign retains all the local formatting, so italic text remains italic. The one exception to this rule is when every character in the paragraph has local formatting—that stuff always gets removed.

To remove all local formatting as you apply a paragraph style, hold down Option/Alt as you click the paragraph style name. Any formatting applied using character styles is retained.

To remove all local formatting and remove formatting applied by character styles, hold down Option-Shift/Alt-Shift as you click the paragraph style name.

To remove a paragraph style from a text selection, click No Paragraph Style in the Paragraph Styles palette. Note that this does not change the formatting of the selected paragraphs—it simply applies the formatting applied by the paragraph style as local formatting. As we said in the “Character Styles” section, you can think of this as breaking the link between the paragraph and the style definition.

To remove a paragraph style and reset the formatting to the publication’s default formatting, hold down Option/Alt as you click No Paragraph Style in the Paragraph Styles palette.

Editing Paragraph Styles. To edit a paragraph style, hold down Command-Option-Shift/Ctrl-Alt-Shift and double-click the paragraph style name in the Paragraph Styles palette. InDesign displays the Modify Paragraph Style dialog box, in which you can change the various character and paragraph attributes.

As we said earlier, all of the other methods for editing a style (you can double-click the style name, or select the style name and choose Edit Style from the Paragraph Styles palette menu) apply the style to the paragraph you’re in (or, if the cursor isn’t in text, this becomes the default style you’ll get next time you create a text frame). So it’s really worth using the Command-Option-Shift/Ctrl-Alt-Shift keyboard shortcut.

Redefining Paragraph Styles. The easiest way to create a paragraph style is to base the style’s definition on the formatting of an example paragraph. The easiest way to update the style definition? The same. Here’s what you do (see Figure 4-63).

  1. Pick any paragraph tagged with the style you want to change, and apply local formatting to it (a “+” will appear next to the style name in the Paragraph Styles palette).

  2. Choose Redefine Style from the Character Styles palette menu (or press Command-Option-Shift-R/Ctrl-Alt-Shift-R). InDesign redefines the style based on the selected paragraph.

Figure 4-63. Redefining a Paragraph Style

You can use the Context menu to edit, duplicate, and delete character styles. To do this, point at a character style, then hold down Control (Mac OS) or right-click (Windows) to display the Context menu.


Next Style. If you’re typing in InDesign, and the paragraph you’re in is tagged with the “Heading” style, you probably don’t want the next paragraph to be tagged with “Heading” too, right? You can force InDesign to automatically change the subsequent paragraph style with the Next Style pop-up menu in the New Paragraph Style or Modify Paragraph Style Options dialog box (see Figure 4-64). For example, if you want the subsequent paragraph to be “BodyText,” then choose “BodyText” from the Next Style pop-up menu.

Figure 4-64. Next Style

In this example, we have set the Next Style option for each paragraph style to automatically apply the paragraph style we want when we press Return/Enter.

The wonderful thing about the Next Style property is that all of these paragraph style assignments take place as we type; we never have to reach for the Styles palette. When we type a carriage return at the end of a paragraph formatted using the “para1” style, InDesign switches to the “para” paragraph style (the body text style for this text).


Note that this only works if the insertion point is at the end of a paragraph when you press Return/Enter. If the insertion point is anywhere else, you’ll simply break that paragraph in two, and both new paragraphs will have the same style as the original one. In other words, this feature is intended to be used while you’re typing, not editing or formatting. That said, it certainly can come in handy once in a while.

Selecting Unused Paragraph Styles. Choose Select All Unused from the Paragraph Styles palette menu to select all paragraph styles that are not applied to any text in the publication. Typically, the only reason you’d want to do this is to delete them all.

Deleting Paragraph Styles. To remove a paragraph style from your document, first deselect everything (press Command-Shift-A/Ctrl-Shift-A), then select the style name in the Paragraph Styles palette and choose Delete Styles from the palette’s menu (or click the Delete Style button at the bottom of the palette). InDesign deletes the style.

Unfortunately, InDesign won’t give you a choice of how to handle paragraphs already tagged with that style (as QuarkXPress does). Instead, when you delete a paragraph style, InDesign simply assigns No Paragraph Style to the paragraph, and changes the formatting of each paragraph to local formatting. In the meantime, if you want to replace one paragraph style with another throughout a document, use the Find/Change palette (see Chapter 3, “Text”).

Paragraph Styles and Nested Styles

As we mentioned in the discussion earlier in this chapter, nested styles really come into their own when combined with paragraph styles. Remember all of the work we did to set up the nested styles in our example? Now imagine putting all of that formatting power into a paragraph style. Imagine applying it with a single mouse click. Again, we think this stuff is very cool (see Figure 4-65).

Figure 4-65. Adding Nested Styles to a Paragraph Style

This raw text has been dumped into the document from a spreadsheet or database. Formatting a catalog full of this text would be very tedious, even if you used nested styles as local formatting. If you add the nested style definitions to a paragraph style, however, you can apply massive amounts of formatting with a single mouse click, as we’ve done here.


Creating Parent-Child Style Relationships

One powerful feature of InDesign’s character and paragraph styles is the ability to base one style on another, also called parent-child relationships (see Figure 4-66). You can base a style on another one by choosing a style from the Based On pop-up menu in either the New Style or the Modify Style dialog box (this works for either character or paragraph styles).

Figure 4-66. Using Based On


For example, in this book, there are body text styles for paragraphs that follow headings, paragraphs that are in lists, paragraphs that have run-in heads, and so on—but they’re all based on one “parent” paragraph style. If we need to make the text size a half-point smaller, we could edit the parent style and the change would ripple throughout the book.

When one style is based on another, InDesign keeps track of the differences between the base style and the new style. Let’s say you have a style called “Head1” and it’s 18-point Futura with a 3 pica left indent, and a style called “Head2” that’s based on “Head1,” except that it’s 12-point Futura. The difference between the two is the point size. If you change Head1’s font, color, or anything except its point size, the edit ripples through to Head2. Nothing happens if you just edit the point size of Head1 because the “point size link” is broken between the two styles.

Later, if you edit Head2 so that it has the same point size as Head1, then that link is reestablished, and changing Head1’s size will ripple through to Head2.

By the way, if your text cursor is in a paragraph when you create a new style, that paragraph’s style becomes the “based on” style. If you don’t want your new style to be based on anything, make sure the Based On pop-up menu is set to No Paragraph Style.

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