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#29 Using Paragraph and Character Styles

When formatting an entire document, you're certainly not expected to remember and consistently apply the hundreds of paragraph and character formats InDesign provides. Instead, you can create paragraph styles and character styles to apply multiple formats to text with a single click or keyboard shortcut. And, if you change a format in a style, it's changed everywhere the style is used. For example, you can change a font in a style and it will automatically change throughout a document. Using styles has so many benefits in terms of speed and consistency that you'd never want to work on a long document such as a book, magazine, or newsletter without them.

Creating Styles

Paragraph styles apply to entire paragraphs and include both paragraph formats and character formats. Character styles, on the other hand, specify only character formats and are applied to highlighted text. Character styles are useful for special formatting within a paragraph. For example, corporate stock symbols in body copy are often formatted to stand out through the use of small caps, a sans serif font, and maybe a different color. You create paragraph and character styles in the same way, but from different palettes.

Generally, the best way to create styles is to first format sample text that includes all the different styles you will need for a document, such as heads, subheads, indented paragraphs, paragraphs with no indent, bulleted lists, and so on. Then, use the formatted text as a basis for the styles.

To create a style:

  1. Using the Type tool, highlight formatted text.
  2. Choose Type > Paragraph Styles or Type > Character Styles.
  3. From the palette menu, choose New Paragraph Style or New Character Style.
  4. In the Paragraph Style Options dialog box ( Figure 29a ) or the Character Style Options dialog box, enter a name for the style.
    03_29a.jpg

    Figure 29a The Paragraph Style Options dialog box lets you specify a name, shortcut key, and formatting for a new paragraph style.

  5. To apply the style using a keyboard shortcut, click in the Shortcut field and press the shortcut keys you want to assign. Generally, it's best to use the modifier keys and the numbers on the keypad as shortcuts.
  6. All the formatting options are already set according to the formatted text as summarized in the Style Settings area. Click in the scroll list at left to display panels of options and change any of the formatting.

If you're not working with formatted text, you can create a new style by clicking the New button at the bottom of the Paragraph Styles or Character Styles palette. This creates a new style in the palette called Paragraph Style 1 or Character Style 1. The number reflects the creation order. Double-click the new style to name and modify it.

Applying Styles

Applying styles is easy: Select the text and click the style name or press its keyboard shortcut.

  • To apply a paragraph style, click in a paragraph or highlight several paragraphs with the Type tool. Click the style name in the Paragraph Styles palette ( Figure 29b ) or press the keyboard shortcut shown for it.
    03_29b.jpg

    Figures 29b and 29c Click style names in the Paragraph Styles palette (left) and the Character Styles palette (right) to apply them to selected text.

  • To apply a character style, highlight text with the Type tool. Click the style name in the Character Styles palette ( Figure 29c ) or press its keyboard shortcut.

Occasionally, a paragraph's formatting may start to "wander" from the formatting specified in its paragraph style. For example, you might track in text to make it fit in a frame, only to have the text cut later. Any formatting that does not match the style is called an "override." To force a paragraph's formatting to match its original paragraph style, select it and choose Clear Overrides from the palette menu. You can also Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click a style name. Note that this does not remove character styles applied within the paragraph.

Modifying Styles

To change the formatting specified in a style, you can double-click the style name or select the style name and choose Style Options from the Character or Paragraph palette menus. Or, as a shortcut, reformat some of the text in the style, and then choose Redefine Style from the palette menu. The Character and Paragraph palette menus also provide options for duplicating, deleting, importing, and exporting styles.

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