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Five Adobe InDesign CS5 Tips in Five Days: Tip 2 - Format Text in Multiple Frames

By  Apr 13, 2010

Topics: Design, Adobe InDesign

The Formatting Affects Text button, one of the smallest and least documented features in Adobe® InDesign®, is barely visible next to its silent partner, the Formatting Affects Container button. (They’re just below the Stroke and Fill boxes in the Tools panel.) The Formatting Affects Text button doesn’t do much, but if you know how and when to use it, you can save time and spare yourself from a lot of manual text formatting. Here’s a common scenario in which this button is useful.

Let’s say you need to change the appearance of multiple frames. You can do so by simply selecting them and then modifying stroke and fill attributes, applying corner effects, and performing transformations like rotation and scale. If you then switch to the Type tool, any changes you make to character or paragraph formats are applied to all text in selected text frames. However, if you make stroke or fill changes in this situation, the changes are applied to the selected frames rather than the text within the text frames. This is where the Formatting Affects Text button comes to the rescue. If you choose it, any stroke and fill changes you make are applied to the text instead of the frames.

Here’s how to use the Formatting Affects Text button:

1. Use the Selection tool to select some text frames that contain differently styled text. Notice that the Formatting Affects Container button is selected by default in the Tools panel.

2. Modify the frames (that is, the containers) by applying a stroke or fill, a transformation (rotation, scale, shear, and so on), or a corner effect.

3. Choose the Type tool, choose a font from the Font menu in the Control panel, and then choose a font style. (Note: The Font and Style fields are blank if the selected frames contain different fonts and styles.)

4. Modify other character and paragraph formats. Each change you make is applied to all text in all frames. (Your changes can cause text overset depending on the nature of the changes and the size of the frames.)

5. Click the Formatting Affects Text button and then make stroke and fill changes.

The Formatting Affects Container and Formatting Affects Text buttons work the same when table cells are selected. If Formatting Affects Container is selected, stroke and fill changes are applied to the borders and backgrounds of the selected cells. If you choose Formatting Affects Text, stroke and fill changes are applied to all text within the selected cells.