Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

Running Header Text Variables in Adobe InDesign CS4

  • Print
  • + Share This
Michael Murphy tells you everything you need to know about running text header variables in Adobe InDesign CS4.
This chapter is from the book

Running Header Text Variables

The text variables feature introduced in CS3 can generate and insert text wherever a variable placeholder is inserted. Most text variables are generated from information about the actual document, like the file’s name, creation date, and modification date. The running header variable, however, is entirely style-driven.

Like TOCs, running header text variables track the text in a document that uses a particular style, collect that text, and deliver it elsewhere. Their behavior differs from TOCs in three distinct ways:

  • Running headers can be generated from both paragraph and character styles.
  • Multiple running header text variables can exist in a document. Typically, they’re set up on master pages and can potentially appear on every page in a file.
  • The text generated by a running header text variable changes based on the variable’s location relative to the styled text it tracks. In other words, a variable that appears at the top of page 4 only looks for styles used on page 4.

The most basic example of a running header is a dictionary or glossary, where the header helps readers quickly determine how close they are to the word they’re looking for. The page headers reflect the first word defined on the left page and the last word defined on the right page (Figure 9.9).

Figure 9.9 Dictionary page headers establish the range of words defined on a given spread.

In the example in Figure 9.10, each definition has a bold character style called “Term” applied to the term being defined. The document’s left and right master pages have text variables inserted in the page header (Figure 9.11). Each variable “watches” the text that flows through the document pages for specific occurrences of the “Term” character style applied in each definition. The variable in the left page header watches for the first instance of the character style on the left page, and the variable in the right page header watches for the last instance of the character style on the right page. The text found with that style in those locations is used to populate the variable in the respective page’s header (Figure 9.12).

Figure 9.10 A character style applied to the dictionary term.

Figure 9.11 The dictionary’s left and right master pages with variable placeholders.

Figure 9.12 Styled text detected on the page and “reported back” by the variable.

As additions, deletions, or other changes reflow the text in the document, the variables in the header automatically update to present the current first and last instances on the spread.

Creating Running Header Variables

To add a variable to a page, you must first define the variable. InDesign has nine different variable types, but this section exclusively discusses the two style-related variables: Running Header (Character Style) and Running Header (Paragraph Style). As their names suggest, the former is generated from text to which a particular character style is applied, and the latter is generated from text styled by a paragraph style.

Continuing with the example in Figures 9.9 through 9.12, here are the steps for creating the dictionary’s left page running header:

  1. From the Type menu, choose Text Variables > Define to access the Text Variables dialog (Figure 9.13).
  2. Figure 9.13 Text variables are added to or removed from a document from the Text Variables dialog.

  3. Click the New button to access the New Text Variable dialog.
  4. Choose Running Header (Character Style) from the Type pull-down menu. The dialog changes to reflect options specific to this kind of variable (Figure 9.14).
  5. Figure 9.14 Option for a Running Header (Character Style) variable.

  6. Select the character style to be used by the variable from the Style menu, which includes all available character styles in the document. You can also create a new character style by choosing New Character Style at the bottom of the list.
  7. From the Use menu, select either First on Page or Last on Page (Figure 9.15). For this example, First on Page is the appropriate option for the header on the left page.
  8. To wrap “static” text around the variable, enter text in the Text Before or Text After fields; each of which has a pull-down menu of special characters available to it. This is similar to how specific text is included before the number in a numbered list (see Chapter 7, “Drop Caps, Bullets, and Numbering”). In this example, neither is necessary.
  9. Figure 9.15 Select which instance of the character style to assign to the variable.

  10. In the Options area, fine-tune the presentation of your running header in two additional ways:
    • Delete End Punctuation. You can delete any ending punctuation in the text to which the selected character style is applied by selecting Delete End Punctuation (Figure 9.16). In this dictionary example, each definition term is followed by a period, which also has the “Term” character style applied to it. With Delete End Punctuation selected, that period does not get included in the header.
    • Figure 9.16 Punctuation and case-changing options.

    • Change Case. Optionally, you can choose Change Case to change the case in which the variable presents the text. This is not the same as choosing between normal and all caps as a character-level formatting option, which can’t lowercase text that’s specifically typed as uppercase. The options here actually change the case of the text regardless of how it’s typed. Text Variables is the only InDesign feature that supports these case-changing options in a dynamic way.
  11. Name the style, click OK in the New Text Variable dialog to close it, and then click Done in the Text Variables dialog.

The right header variable would be created in the same way except you would choose Last on Page in step 5 instead of First on Page.

Inserting a Running Header Text Variable

After your variable’s parameters have been defined, you need to insert a placeholder for what will populate that variable. Running headers are so named because they typically appear on the page header and run through the entire document. This makes a document’s master page(s) the most likely place for the variable to be inserted.

To insert a running header text variable, place your text cursor in a frame at the position where the variable should be inserted and choose Text Variables > Insert Variable > Your Variable Name from the Type menu (Figure 9.17).

Figure 9.17 Inserting a text variable.

A variable inserted on a master page will appear as the “pure form” of the placeholder, which is the variable name enclosed in angle brackets (<Running Header-LEFT>, for example). Variables inserted on a document page show up already populated by the text to which the nearest instance of the targeted style has been applied.

Regardless of how many letters and words make up the variable’s name, the variable placeholder is a single character. No portion of it can be selected, only the entire variable. You’ll also notice, on close inspection, that it’s surrounded by a hairline box the same color as the guides of the layer where the variable exists (Figure 9.18).

Figure 9.18 A thin outline box indicating a variable on a master page.

If the style designated to populate a variable is not applied to any text in the document, the variable on the document page will be an empty zero-width character (Figure 9.19). If the style is not used on the current page, the variable will search backward as far as it needs to go until it finds the nearest prior instance of that style in the document. In that event, the text that’s found—however many pages back it may be—will populate the variables on all page headers until the style is encountered again later in the document.

Figure 9.19 An unpopulated variable with hidden characters showing.

Formatting a Variable

Any paragraph or character style can be applied to a variable. However, since a variable is a single character, regardless of how many words populate it, the formatting will apply to the whole variable. Nesting and other sophisticated style options are not supported within the variable.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020