Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics


Lesson Info

Paragraph & Character Styles

I feel like I need a drum roll or something because we're gonna talk about character and paragraph styles. All right, here we go. I'm gonna create a new document, and I'm going to work with styles. Now we've worked with object styles so at least the concept of that is the same except now we're going to work with text. When I create- Or actually maybe I should say why I create text styles, why are you going on about styles anyway, Erica? Well, because we've seen that automating thing's is huge. I don't wanna sit and do all this stuff- We talked in the intro portion and if you've been using text for any time in InDesign, you know that there's a lot of little things we can do to the paragraph and the character, we did little things with hyphenation and hyphenation sliders. I don't wanna do that to every paragraph. I just wanna do it once, set it and forget it, that's what I wanna do. So I wanna put that information in there, I wanna save it as a style, not only so I don't have to do it ag...

ain, so that I know that every paragraph of body text style in my entire document looks the same, and then when the client comes back, and I swear to God I've had clients do that, can you make the type a half a point bigger? Half a point. Half a point, do you know what a half a point looks like? No, you don't. But I'm gonna make it half a point just because you asked, right? But I don't wanna have to make everything in there a half a point bigger, I wanna go into one place, my style that says body text, and make it 11.5 points instead of 11 points, right? So we make it a half a point bigger, and everywhere I have that style applied, changes, that's what I wanna do. And styles, like I said, I forget object styles sometimes until I've gone too far, I do not forget text styles. Text styles are like make them now because otherwise you'll have 18 text frames and you'll forget which one was the original one and it's just ugly. So what I do when I create styles, again, I create the text, and then I say boom, that's my style and make it. I'm not gonna sit there and go today I'm going to make a style that is 11 points with 13 point heading, I don't know. I'm gonna make it look pretty, and then I'm gonna fix it, right? I don't know what it's gonna be like. So I'm gonna use the text frame, and I'm gonna create some text. So generally, I just throw in my placeholder text using my keyboard shortcut that we created, F2 for that, if not it's under the type menu. And I'm just gonna fill some text in there. And you've got two different types of styles: paragraph styles and character styles and I'm gonna pull both of these off and I'm gonna work with paragraph styles first. I kind of liken it to building a house, and I've been using this analogy for a while and I joke that I still don't know how to build a house but I do know how to do styles. But when you see a house built, they kind of have things in common, right? A house has a foundation, has some framing on it of some kind, you know, usually wood, we'll put some wood framing up, and that's kind of the same, even though these houses are all gonna look different, they kind of have that, it's kinda the base in this foundation. That's what your paragraph style is. And then when we go back to the house analogy, each room or each floor or each item that we work on on the house has something different, like in each room we have a different color on the wall, different decor, and that's what gives each room it's style, it's character, so that's where your character styling is. So basically, your paragraph style says, this is what the paragraph mostly looks like. What gets a little confusing is one of the things that it looks like is here's the font, here's the leading, here's the size. Wait a minute, we had that in the character panel, that sounds weird. Well, that's kind of what the paragraph looks like, that's part of that foundation. And then we might say, well this word needs to be italic and this one needs to be bold and this one needs to be green. That's kind of little- the little character that we're adding on each. So each little word that we want to be different will be a character style on top of that. So you create your paragraph style, and you put character styles on top of that. So when I say this is body text, that's a paragraph style because I want basically my whole paragraph to look the same. There might be some words that are exceptions to the rules, and that's what character styles are for. So I've got this- I've got two paragraphs here, which is good so I can see the difference. I'm gonna set anything that I want in here. So I kinda like the way it is, maybe I'm just gonna make it a little bit... Maybe a different font. And even though we're working in paragraph styles and I said you only have to have your cursor in a paragraph for that, because we're also putting font information, we need to have at least one character selected. So I'm just gonna select a random word in here, or maybe I'll select the whole paragraph, I don't know, just depending on how I'm feeling, and I'm gonna change this. Let's change this to Palatino, we'll change it- Palatino regular and I'm just gonna make it a little bit bigger so we can see it. So I decide yep I like the way it looks, it's left justified, I might even do- We were talking about originally, when we were talking about paragraphs, we said don't put returns. Hard returns there so let's delete that return. But I do want some extra spacing in there. So I'm gonna go to the paragraph button that's up here and tell it let's add a little bit of space afterwards so that looks good, so all our body paragraphs will have some break in between, so a little bit of space in between. And, I'm just gonna go ahead and select some text randomly and I'm gonna say great, that's what I want my paragraph style to start with. I might tweak it, but right now that's good. So I'm gonna go over here to the new style button and hold down the option or the alt key and select that, and I'm gonna call that body text. And I'm gonna come down here and look at these options and I'm gonna leave these as they are, we're gonna change those in a minute. But I can see that it says, it's no paragraph style, which is the base, plus next, same style, we'll look at that in a minute as well, it's Palatino, 22 point, bold, space afterwards, anything else I have. If I had that optical kerning turned on, I don't have that set as a preference here. But normally I have that, it would probably tell me that if I have some old- Or some open type characteristics, it would also put that in there. So there might be a bunch of stuff in here. Doesn't matter, I made it look like I want and I said that's what I want. I want to apply that style to the selection and there's a new option here. This only if you're in 2015 I believe, the August update, add to CC library. So I'm gonna actually deselect that right now. And we'll talk about libraries in just a little while. So I'm gonna say okay, I'm gonna turn that off, you can leave it on or not. I'm gonna try that. So now it says body text. So now I know that's what body text needs to look like. So I'm gonna select all of my text and say, yep, that's all body text. So everything looks exactly the same. And then I realize I don't really like that. That's not great, I don't really like that font. So I'm gonna select just something in there or all of it, it doesn't really matter. I'm gonna select some text, and I'm gonna go ahead and let's change that to Futera. And as soon as I did that, I get this little plus that says, well you've got some overrides. Sometimes it will tell you what your overrides are, sometimes it says mixed or many or whatever because there's so many things you've done. In this case, I've just changed the font. Well I've got two options, I can either option alt click on that and it will reset it back to the Palatino, or I can say well that's really what I want it to look like so in that case, I right click, or control click on it, and say redefine that style. And every place I have that style assigned- Let me actually delete some so you can see that second paragraph that's there. We can see that that continues to change. So everywhere I have that changed in my document, body text has now been updated. Does that make sense so far? So that's how I make my paragraph styles. My character styles are a little different. When I create a character style, I tend to make sure nothing is selected and then I- 'Cause I don't want anything being force fed. If you have something selected, and you create a new style, it ultimately takes the styling and feeds that into the style, and I don't want that. So I want my character styles to be as simple as possible. You can only have one character style applied to any character. So if you have one called bold and one called italic, and you want bold italic, you have to create a third character style called bold italic. So you can't, like, layer them up. You can have one paragraph style, one character style, and that's it. So I have nothing selected, so when I go into character styles, here's where I'm going to do the exceptions to the rule. So I'm going to create something called bold, one that's called, let's do italic, and let's do one that's say, a color or something different. So I'm going to click on the 'new' button, I'm gonna option or alt click on that actually, and I'm gonna come in here, and we'll just call it italic, and right now if we look down here we can see that there is nothing applied, there's absolutely no information in this style. I'm gonna come over to basic character formats and I'm gonna come over to font style, and I can either type italic or I can choose from this incredibly long list of styles and this is based on all the fonts I have, because some of 'em have numbers in front of 'em, some of 'em, you know, we have things that are called extra bold, ultra bold, you never know. So I'm going to find italic here and just say italic and we go back to that general, and I can see it's italic, that's all that's applied, and I don't have anything selected so I don't usually have that on. And I'm gonna deselect that. I've gotta turn that off- There's a way to turn that off. I can't remember- I think you have to go into the library, I just figured it out the other day, how to make it the- the default so that it- I don't have to uncheck it every time. I'll try and remember what that is. So let's say okay. 'Cause it was driving me crazy for about a day. All right, so I have that there, and I can come in and choose individual fonts and say italic now, you notice it just turned pink. Why did it do that? I don't have, apparently, a feature- a standard book ital- or a feature standard italic. Well, so there's a problem right there. But actually, it shows why I made a style just called italic. If I had one- If I had made this Palatino, and I made the italic style Palatino italic, and I changed the font, well all my italic ones would still be in Palatino italic. I like it to be simple so it's italic. Well, when I change the body text to something else, it will apply the italic on top of it. And if you're missing it, in this case it will say you don't have that font installed. So at least I know that. So I'm gonna go back and change body text. And to do that, I'm just gonna come in here and I can either right click on here and say edit, or I can choose it from the panel menu I'm gonna say edit body text and I'm gonna come in here and I'm gonna change this to Palatino because I know I have a lot more to choose from. When I change that to Palatino not only did it change everything to Palatino but where I had the italic style applied, it put italic on top of the Palatino. Does that make sense? And because I have Palatino italic available to me, then that's what actually is showing up in here. So now when I select all this, I don't have overrides anymore. If I just manually did that- Let's just take this word usually and manually italicize it I'm gonna use the command shift I, keyboard shortcut to italicize it. And I did it but now I get that plus 'cause it says hey that one word that you have there, is italicized. But if instead I come in and say apply the character style italic, that plus goes away and that's what we want, we don't want those overrides there at all. I wanna make sure that every time something is different, I either have a paragraph style, if it applies to a whole paragraph, or a character style if I'm just selecting individual characters and making changes. Let's make one more or we'll make two more actually. We'll make a new character style, and we'll call this, let's call it green, and the only thing I'm gonna do is change the color to green say okay and then I can come in here and say this is body text, obviously, but it's also green. If I wanted one that was green italic, new character style, and I assign green and italic. All right, I'm gonna do one more. You'll notice I'm not putting font information in there, again because I don't want it to have the font information and then when the body text changes to something else, all my italics are still in whatever the original font was. But sometimes, the exception to the rule is the font. Maybe I want the first character in my style to be in Zapf Dingbats or something like that. I want a little arrow pointing to the first- And if you're looking at my sample textbooks that I have, I think I have a little pen tool that I use now in there. And so I have that set as a character style and my character style is Zapf Dingbats. So that's it, I'm gonna come in here, say, let's call this Zapf, and I'll come in here to the basic character formatting, and I'll choose the font family, and actually I don't really thing I have Zapf, but I do have Webdings, we'll use that. Close enough. I don't think- Oh I do have Zapf Dingbats. All right, so we'll do that. And that's the only thing that's different there. We'll say okay, and now if I select the first word or whatever, I can do that and say that's Zapf Dingbats and so now I have that in that particular font. Again, that's the exception to the rule, now would I do that there? No. But I might do this: I come in here and put a three or something like that and that first character needs to be Zapf Dingbats so now I have a little check box at the beginning. Now I can automate that as well, I can automate it into my charact- paragraph style that says the first character is automatically in Zapf Dingbats, I can do that as well, and that's actually what I did in my workbook. But I need to tell it, I need to put a three, that means I need to type three at the beginning of my paragraphs as well to do that. But I can build that in there, and we'll do that, actually. We'll do some nested styles. Also, I wanna create a couple more paragraph styles, right now I just have body text. So what I wanna do is I wanna create a headline and I'm gonna call this- We'll just call this chapter header or something like that and that's actually just what I'm gonna type here. But what I'm gonna do is assign body text to it. So I'm gonna assign body text right now, but what I wanna do is create a whole new paragraph style that is based on body text. That's why I assign body text first because again I've got some styling in here if I option or alt click on the new style, it says based on body text, so it's already filled in for me. So now it says body text, plus what? What do you wanna do to that? Well I think it should be bigger, so we'll make it 36 point and I also think it should be bold. So now it's based on body text. I probably should've given that a name. We'll call it header. I just didn't give it a name. So now it's based on body text and the reason for that is if I change body text to Times or Palatin- Oh, I'm sorry, it's already Palitino, Trebuchet or something like that, everything else will change. So if I right click on body text and I change that font to Trebuchet, let's just change it to... Let's see if I have all the fonts for that. It automatically changed because that is based on that. So I would create a third one that would be like a by line or a chapter head or whatever. I'm just gonna have a header and a sub head. I'm gonna base everything usually back on body text. Other things I might have that are based on body text are things like body text with bullets or body text with narrower margins or something like that for a pullout quote, you know I might have that. So I'm gonna base it on body text, I'm gonna assign body text, make all the changes I want to and it's gonna tell me wait a minute, you made changes to that, do you wanna override it? No, but what I'd like to do is create a new style based on that style. Does that make sense? All right. The other thing that we can do, I'm gonna actually- Let's go back to page one on that, I wanted to build in this nested style. Actually let me show you one other things first. Just kinda makes sense to do it in this order. I have what's called next style, so I want to create one more style, I'm gonna create this- We'll call this author name. So we'll do that. I'm gonna base it on body text also, but I want it to be slightly bigger than body text and I like it to be italic. So again, it says you have an override, what do you wanna do? Well I wanna create a whole new style based off of that. We'll call it author, and everything's already built in, right? So now I have header, author and body text and they're all based on body text. But what I wanna do is I wanna know that when I create a new docu- or a new list of text, I always want it to go header, author name, body text I want it to be in the same order over and over again and I can do that by basing it on a style. So I'm just gonna type out chapter head and then author and then text and actually, we'll do text and we'll fill with placeholder text so I have some more stuff here. So let's actually do that. So I have that and I realize I want to have it cascade so when I type a chapter head it automatically changes. So I can- I'm gonna type this here twice actually, I'm gonna retype it and we'll see what happens when we're working with it. What I wanna do is say on the header style, so I want to right click and say edit header, I wanna tell it what the next style is when I hit return, does it switch to something else? So after header, I might want subhead. In this case, author was the next thing. So now it says body text, next is author, and there's some differences that- where it varies from body text. Again, if I change body text, if I change anything but the- whether it's bold or italic and the size, it will update. But if I change the size or boldness of body text it won't because that's kind of where I've already done an override on that, does that make sense? It will only- It will- anything that's in common to start with, will continue to stay common. Any changes I've made will remain. So we have to kinda keep an eye on that and sometimes I have to write these out what's based on what, especially when I get eight or 10 different body texts going I'm like what does each thing mean? I've totally forgotten. But anyway, I told it that's what's next, and then in author, gonna right click on that as well, and say that the next style is body text. And then I'm gonna look at body text, so you have to have them already defined and then you can go in and make the edits to 'em. And in body text, I'm gonna leave it as next- Or, same style because when I hit return, I think I might need more body text. I don't know how many returns I'm gonna hit before it switches to something else. So I can say okay. Now I can start over here and I can say okay let's start with header, and I'm gonna type header, and then I'm gonna hit return and when I do that it's gonna automatically switch to the author that's here I'm gonna hit return here, here's my text I didn't make any changes, I just kept hitting return but it's saying next, next, next. And that's great if you're entering the text, but what if you're given the text and you need to format it? What I need to do is grab chapter head, the author and the text, and I would need to grab all the way to the end of the text and if I had- Let's say it repeated at the end of this, let's say this actually says chapter afterwards, and actually I have a hard return I need to get rid of, don't I? Nope, I don't. Okay. So let's say this is where chapter head starts again and author I would need to only grab from here to here I'd have to do each section separately. But think about if you got given text information for like a directory or something, name, address, email, and you wanted each line to look a little different you could grab each person's information and run this automatically and it will change. So I select everything once through the rotation, right? Grab that, go to the first one in the rotation, which is header, we're gonna right click on that and tell it apply header, then next style. And I can also clear overrides if I want. So I'm gonna say next style. So that will switch it to author and then author kicks in, it also has the next style applied to it, so I just say apply header, then next style, then as soon as I do that, boom, it's already formatted for me. I would have to go to the next group that's here, I have to just find where it is, and I would grab this and then I would say apply header then next style. So just keep adding that and adding that. Does that make sense? That's how we automate that there. Let's go to the page where we had- Thought I had some here, do I not have it? Nope. Just page three. All right, so I'm going to- Is that back on page one? I wanna go where we went and put in this little item here I wanna make a change so that the first character of my paragraph, my body paragraph, let's say, or maybe I have another one based on body, and this one's called body- I have one like in my workbook, I've got one that's my body text, but then sometimes it has a little pen next to it, it's kind of like a little tip, you know, like here's a little tip. And so, I have it called tip paragraph and it's based on body except that it has one difference, and that the first character is automatically in Zapf Dingbats. So I'm gonna do that here inside this body text. So I can either make a change here, or I can change it inside the body text field. So I'm gonna just go into body text in here, and I'm going to go into what's called drop caps and nested styles so I'm gonna go ahead and choose that and I'm gonna come down to nested styles, so basically in nested styles, I'm telling it this is what it changes to next, next, next so I'm gonna come in here and say new nested style and I'm gonna tell it what character style so this is in my paragraph style called body text and in that I'm going to nest a character style inside of it and I set this instead of me having to select each thing it's gonna automate it. I'm gonna tell it use the Zapf character style and my choices here, I know it doesn't really look like a menu, but it is, you click on it, it's a pull-down menu, either up-to or up-through something. Let's do up-through, we can do the first, second, third, whatever, and this also says words and there's also a pull-down menu so I could do character, but I can also put specific characters in there if I want to as well. But I can say so it's Zapf up-through the first character and if i click off on here, we click the preview and move this out of the way a little bit, we can see that the first character is now Zapf Dingbats I can change this and say let's make the first five characters Zapf Dingbats. Obviously we don't wanna do that in that case, we'll want that back to one. So we'll say okay. So now, this paragraph- and this is in body text or I could've created a new one so every time there's body text you notice it did the same thing here, but for whatever that character was, it doesn't exist in Zapf Dingbats. I'll type in a different character, a six, and it gives me an X. So again it takes that first one and changes that. Where that comes in handy is if you have something like a program where you have someone's name and title and that's gonna keep repeating. like I said, I do a lot of play programs, so a lot of times we have- Let's do like a John Q actor, and he is the leading man, and I'm just typing this all out and let's put he is pleased to be in the show. All right, so we have that, and we assign body text to it. Now when I do that, of course, we have that problem, we don't want that, that's right, I'm gonna change that. I'm gonna go into body text, we're gonna edit that. We're gonna come back to drop caps and nested styles and I'm gonna take this style and delete it. And what I want, is I want a new nested style, I want it to be- I was gonna make it bold, but I guess I'll make it green 'cause that's what I have. You can create a new character style from here but they still haven't fixed the bug that when you do that it doesn't work from within here if you don't create them first. Green through the first- Now I don't know for through the first word, I don't know how many characters his name's gonna be, you know, he might have a name like Cher, he just has one, you know, I don't have any names. So I'm gonna tell it up to the first and because I have para- or parenthesis around the titles, that kinda tells me this is where it stops and changes the nested style. So up to the first opening paragraph is now green, you can kinda see it's changing color here, but I've got a new nested style. I wanna create an italic style up through the first closing parentheses when I do that and move that out of the way, you can see that now would italicize that and then after that it becomes whatever body text is supposed to be. Does that make sense? Space it like that and now because that's a style when I hit return it starts all over again so I'm just typing, I'm not changing anything, I'm just typing Suzy actress and I put a parenthesis, leading lady so I didn't have to do anything it was just built into that style so I have the character styles in there. So if it's a pattern like that, it's gonna always appear. You can go ahead and automate that as well.

Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® enables you to create rich documents and layouts that combine graphic elements, images, and text. Advance your design skills with Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics with Erica Gamet.

In this class, Erica will help you tackle complex design projects and share best practice techniques in Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud®

You’ll learn how to:
  • Manage multi-page documents and use master pages
  • Automate your workflow and save time
  • Select character and paragraph styles
You’ll learn about advanced exporting options and she’ll offer tips on taking advantage of the extensive selection of assets in the Creative Cloud® Libraries.

If you’ve mastered the basics are are ready to advance your design skills, don’t miss Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics with Erica Gamet.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Recommended prerequisite: Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® for Beginners

Software Used: Adobe InDesign CC 2015.1



  • As an absolute beginner to InDesign, I purchased both of Erica's classes and man was she helpful. I highly recommend this course to anyone unfamiliar with the software to give them some great footing. Thank you Erica and thank you Creative Live!
  • I am using Erica's videos to supplement my "Classroom in a book series" on Indesign. The beauty of this is that I can go through the sections of the book and when I get to something, like Master Pages, that I can't quite follow I jump to the video. I gain the understanding I need by listening and watching Erica and then go back to the book and finish the project with a lot more under my belt. The book gives me real examples to complete but does not give me that "personal" touch. Thanks Erica for being my personal coach. This has worked perfectly.
  • This was really helpful, although *very* fast paced! But gave me a lot of great ideas to take my InDesign use to another level. Thanks!