Monday, July 28, 2008

Modifying styles

One of the best features of InDesign and InCopy is the Redefine Style command found in the Paragraph Styles, Character Styles, Object Styles, Table Styles and Cell Styles panel menus. This often-overlooked command makes updating styles quick and painless by using a "Style by example" approach. Here's how:

1. Select a paragraph to which you've assigned a Paragraph style. Looking at your Paragraph Styles panel, the Paragraph style you've assigned should be highlighted, and there shouldn't be a plus sign next to the name of the Paragraph style.

2. Make some formatting changes to the text. Make these changes using the Control panel or Paragraph and Character panels. When you are finished, a plus sign should appear to the right of the name of your Paragraph style. This plus indicates that you've made some changes to the selected text, and the text formatting no longer matches the Paragraph style. (These changes are called overrides in InDesign-speak.)

3. Choose Redefine Style from the Paragraph Styles panel menu (or press command-option-shift-r (Mac) or ctrl-alt-shift-r (Windows). This will update (redefine) the Paragraph style to match the formatting of the selected text. Of course, all the text throughout the document that is assigned this Paragraph style will be reformatted automatically.

This is a much easier, more direct way to update a Paragraph style than wading through the Style Options dialog box. Keep in mind that this same basic idea also works for Character, Object, Table and Cell styles (but with different keyboard shortcuts).

As you get in the habit of updating styles this way, you may find that sometimes the Redefine Style command is grayed out when you go to select it. This happens if you have a mixture of different formatting options in the same selection. To resolve this, just put your text cursor in between two characters that have the formatting you want to match in your redefined style, and then choose Redefine Style.

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