Using Consistent InDesign Styles

It is important within a multi-page document that similar elements are consistent and bring continuity to the entire document. It can be very time consuming to set all of your styling manually throughout a document, particularly if you decide later on that you want to change some element of the design. You would then have to go back through the entire document and make the adjustment to every instance of that element. Image if you are working on a 100 page book and had to make a change on every page. You would waste a lot of time trying to make manual adjustments.

To account for this InDesign has built in style options for objects, characters, and paragraphs. You set the styles, apply them throughout the document and then have the ability to quickly and easily make adjustments once that fix themselves throughout the entire document. If you are designing multiple pieces that need to have a similar look and feel you can also import styles between documents to save time and ensure that all of the styling remains consistent on each different document.

To create a new style (of any type)you will need to go to that style’s toolbar panel. In the bottom right-hand corner of the panel there will be a “Create new style” icon.

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Object Styles

WINDOW > STYLES > OBJECT STYLES

So far we have been discussing the different shapes of objects you can create and the types of media you can insert. Object styles define how the object, or frame, is formatted, not the the media within it. You could define an object style and then apply it to a text object or image object and the same effects would be applied.

After you create a new object style, you will need to double click on it to make adjustments to the properties. On the first screen there is a box to name the object style. You can name it anything you wish that will remind you of what the style will do.

At the bottom left of the object style pale there is a checkbox labeled Preview. Make sure this box is always checked so that you can live preview the adjustments you are making. It will save you time instead of needing to make an adjustment, click OK, preview the adjustment and then edit the object style again.

On the left there are different sections for attributes and effects that can be applied to the object. For purposes of running through the different I’m going to set up an object style for a pull quote that might be used in a newsletter design.

  1. Fill: you can choose a background color for the object.
  2. Stroke: where you can choose the color of the stroke, the thickness, and the type.
  3. Stroke: Below is the option to set the stroke joint and corner options. You can have squared joints or curved joints. You can also use this to add graphic elements to the start or end of a line.
  4. Paragraph styles: you can choose a preexisting paragraph style to always be applied to an object. For example, if you wanted to have a pull quote area that you used throughout the document you would likely want to always have the same text styling but also have the object have a background color. Applying the paragraph styles to the object save you from having to apply both an object style and a paragraph style. With one click you would apply both attributes.
  5. Text Frame General Options: here you can set a number of columns within a single option and also add padding within the object, or spacing between the text and the edge of the object. You can also set how you want the text to align vertically.
  6. Text Frame Baseline Options: won’t use
  7. Text Frame Auto Size Options: If you know that you always want an object to be set at a specific size regardless of the amount of content within you can set the auto sizing here.
  8. Story Options: won’t use
  9. Text Wrap & Other: Using the same example of the pull quote, you may want to always have text wrap around an object. You can set here how that will wrap and the amount of space to leave around the object.
  10. Anchored Object Options: won’t use

Character Styles

WINDOW > STYLES > CHARACTER STYLES

Character styles apply to selected portions of text within a paragraph. For example, you might have a sentence that needs a single italic word. You could set up a character style to apply to that single word (and other individual words or phrases throughout the document).

Just like with object styles you will need to first create a new character style and then double click on it to make adjustments to its properties. Again you will find a box to name the style for future reference and a preview checkbox to view your adjustments in real-time.

On the left there are different sections for attributes and effects that can be applied to the object.

  1. Basic Character Formats: you can set the different character formats of font family, sizing, leading, case, etc.
  2. Advanced Character Formats: won’t use
  3. Character Color: You can set a particular color for the characters
  4. OpenType Features: won’t use
  5. Underline Options: If you want text to have an underline you can set very specific styles for that here.
  6. Strike through Options: if you want text to have a strike through you can set very specific styles for that here.
  7. Export Tagging: used for creating non-print pieces like ebooks and HTML pages.

Paragraph Styles

WINDOW > STYLES > PARAGRAPH STYLES

Paragraph styles are similar to character styles except they apply to entire paragraphs, not just individual words within the paragraph. If you highlight a selection of words within the paragraph and apply the paragraph style it will still apply to the entire paragraph. Paragraphs are defined by when you hit a hard return, i.e. the return or enter key on your keyboard.
Just like with the other styles you will need to first create a new paragraph style and then double click on it to make adjustments to its properties. Again you will find a box to name the style for future reference and a preview checkbox to view your adjustments in real-time.

On the left there are different sections for attributes and effects that can be applied to the object.

  1. Basic Character Formats: you can set the different character formats of font family, sizing, leading, case, etc.
  2. Advanced Character Formats: won’t use
  3. Indents and Spacing: you can set how you want the paragraph to align and also how you want space around the paragraph to be set.
  4. Tabs: You can set the size of tabs
  5. Paragraph Rules: the rule is a line that would go above or below a paragraph. Like with the stroke you have options to set the weight, color and type.
  6. Keep Options: defines how many lines remain together to prevent a single line from being separated from the paragraph on another page or column.
  7. Hyphenation: options to be specific about when and how words are hyphenated.
  8. Justification: options to be specific about when and how lines are justified
  9. Span Columns: If you are using columns in your object you can set how the paragraphs will work within those columns.
  10. Drop Caps and Nested Styles: Allows you to make styles for setting drop cap letters within paragraphs
  11. GREP Style: these styles create formulas for automatically applying character styles within paragraphs. For example, you could set all words that have an apostrophe to be italic. It’s not likely you will need to use these.
  12. Bullets & Numbering: can set options for ordered or unordered lists and define the characters used for the bullets
  13. Character Color: You can set a particular color for the characters
  14. OpenType Features: won’t use
  15. Underline Options: If you want text to have an underline you can set very specific styles for that here.
  16. Strike through Options: if you want text to have a strike through you can set very specific styles for that here.
  17. Export Tagging: used for creating non-print pieces like ebooks and HTML pages.

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