The Complete Guide to InDesign® Styles

Lesson 6/8 - Uses of Object Styles


The Complete Guide to InDesign® Styles


Lesson Info

Uses of Object Styles

- [Erica] There was a question about highlighting and I found the file that had the highlight in it so I just thought I'd throw this in there really quickly just so you can see. So this is still more text styles before we jump into object styles but I do have these highlighted words that are here. I've got a green highlight, a pink highlight. I do have a yellow highlight, I just need to select that and say yellow highlight and it's highlighted. This one is my favorite though it's called redacted. So I basically can redact anything that I need. I don't want anybody to see what's going on. We're going to redact all that information that's there. But in those what I have inside each of those highlights for instance the yellow highlight is I have an underlined set up, it's in the yellow highlighter color. It's offset by a little bit. It's really thick and it's solid line. So basically it's an underline that's there if I select this here and I look at my character styling I can see that it'...

s underlined with the 16 point, just a yellow color that I created and again it just sits back behind it. I can change the thickness of that as well, if I highlight that color. I can change how thick that highlighting is. It's just a character style that sits on top of it. It gives you that look of the highlighting. That was a question that came in, I just want to make sure that that got addressed. So that's there. Some fun styles that I created. All right. But then what we're going to do is we're going to jump into object styles. So what object styles do is they kind of do what paragraph styles and character styles do, only it's for obviously objects on the page and those objects are different frames. So basically it can be a graphics frame. It can be a shaped frame that we've created. It can be a text frame itself. So the actual frame structure as opposed to the text that sits inside it how that frame is structured so that could be things like columns of text. So something along the lines of this sidebar that's down here. I can change that and suddenly have it be three columns instead of two columns. Same thing with the text here. This is just set up with a style. So we build them kind of the same way as we do text styles. We, or at least when I do them, I create an object and then I put whatever information in there I want it to have, for instance with the sidebar, I might tell it it's three columns. It's got the purple background. I also have some offset around it. Hopefully you can see that. So it just says, you know, don't put the text right to the edge of the frame because I have a color there and I'd like to just give it a little bit of breathing room that's there and everything that I set up in that can go into the styles. What's different with an object style as opposed to a paragraph style is when we create a paragraph style any styling that we have done anything down to the smallest little you know what type of kerning we've used or anything like that, that gets fed into the style. With an object style, we don't necessarily have to feed in all of that information into that style. So the reason we might not want to is because we just cared that it had three columns and it had this purple background but we don't care that it has some weird thing that we're not even using or that we are not even aware of that's been fed into that. So we can tell it just to ignore that. And I'm going to show you what I mean by that. So I'm actually going to open up this style that we have here. So this text frame that's here under the object styles, and again if the panel isn't open and you don't find it off to the side in your workspace go up under the Window menu and for all the styles they are under this sub menu called Styles. If you're working with an older version it might just be sitting out loose because they do rearrange where these menus sit all the time and create sub menus and sub-sub menus. So just look for it. It will be in this Window menu somewhere. So I've got my object styles there. I'm going to actually pull this off to the side so we can actually see all of our styles together, got to make some room here. And you've noticed it has three column text is the name of the style. Now I have these two little icons over here. This text 1 and this graphics 1. And what happens when you create a new document, we'll start from scratch with a new one. This is what your object style panel looks like. You've got none. We saw that with the text styles. None is always good for, I like to call it The Terminator. Anytime I've got styles and I've forgotten what I've built on top of other things I can say none, strips out any styling that we might have done, starts us from scratch again. But I do have two basic styles in here as opposed to just one, like with the paragraph styling. So I have a basic graphics frame and a basic text frame and these little icons just mean that this is what the default is for this document and the great thing is I can assign a default to something else so if I jump back to that newsletter one you'll notice that the default is actually sitting on this three column text frame and that means every time I create a new frame I will automatically have a three column text frame so instead of making it basic and having to tell it each time three column, if I know that a majority of what I'm going to create is a three column text frame then I might as well make that my default and everything I create will have that. So in this newsletter one that we have styles already set up just to show you how that works before we pull apart what we created. I'm going to create a new page. I'm going to use the keyboard command W to bring on my...everything that's there. I want to see it in normal view mode, I want to see all my guides and everything and when I create a new text frame as soon as I choose the type tool it jumps to this three column text because I've told it that's the default style that I want to use. So now when I draw out a text frame it automatically has those three columns so you can't really see it I'm going to move it off a little bit just so we can see that we actually already have that split into those same three columns that fit the layout that I set up for this page. So the page has some guides set up so it automatically has three columns but the text frames I have to actually tell it, put those three columns in there. So that's built into that object style. So I move that back. And again I can change it so that I can say okay actually next time I would like two columns to be the default so maybe now I'm going to do a bunch of two columns or I decided I never use the three columns, let's make two columns the default. To do that I can just drag this little T down to there so now anytime I create a new frame on this page and I'll do it to a different size so we can actually see the difference, I can come in here and see that it's a two column by default and it's got the same amount of gutter. It doesn't matter how wide I make this text frame or how narrow, it's automatically going to split it into two columns with the amount of gutter that I have set up in that style. So to set those items up we do it just the same way we did with paragraph styles is create something first and then tell it what goes in there. So I'm going to create an entirely new document that has nothing in it and I'm going to create a new frame and I'm going to use a graphics frame in this case to start with and then we'll work back to text frames. So I'm going to create a rectangle and I am going to just give it a color, come over here to my swatches and I'll grab a color, we'll just make it green. I actually wanted the fill to be green so I'm going to swap those. So I'm just going to fill that. And now of course my basic graphics frame has a plus on it telling me that I've done some override because I took the basic one that was there which was the black stroke, no fill. And now I've said I've done something new to it. So in this case I'm going to go ahead and create a whole new style option or I'll click on the new style button at the bottom and I'm going to call this green. I'm not going to call it green rectangle because it doesn't really care the rectangle here, the rectangle is not built into the style. Any new shape that I create, any filled shape will automatically have this there. So let's just call it, I'll call it green shape or green box and if we're going to make this into a sidebar we would make it a text frame and probably call it text frame but in this case it's just a green shape. So now I can make that the default shape so even if I decide to start with say an ellipse I can draw this out. Let me undo that really quick. If you notice I told it green shape was the default text frame. That's not what I wanted, I wanted the default graphics frame so I pull that down. So now when I create a new shape even if it's a different kind of shape it automatically has that default shape that's in there or the color that we set up for that. And again because it's a style, if I decide to change this shape by double clicking on it, and we'll call it blue shape. Now in this case I would probably change it if I just knew it was a shape but I wasn't sure what color I want it to be. I might call it colored shape and then that way I don't have to keep changing the name so that it matches the color I change it to and then I need to change the color to it. So I'm coming down here and just choose a color. So go ahead and find the color which is fill and I click on that. So even though I have these checked I have to actually select each one to get to the item it is that I'm trying to change and if you noticed there's a lot but I'm going to tell you why that doesn't necessarily matter in just a second. But I'm going to click on fill. We're going to change this to a blue shape and say OK. So now that change, so this one I never assigned to that particular shape. I created it from that but forgot to tell it, apply that to the selection, so I need to change that. So anyway that's the shape just like we have before, I can make any changes that I need to. But one thing that we can do when we're working inside an object I'm going to double click on this, you noticed almost everything up here is selected. In fact by default, paragraph styles is not selected and it doesn't really matter at this point because we're not using a text frame but basically it's saying that everything that's checked has to match. So if I were to change something like text wrap on one item and I decide suddenly there needs to be text wrap say on this item here. So I'm going to add some text wrap really quick, I'm not even worried about because we don't have any texts but once I do that, that shows an override. And so what you have in an object style, you have the choice to say I don't care if it has a text wrap or not, either way it fits the object pattern that I've decided should have. So I don't want to see just because I decided to add text wrap to one item on here to one of these shapes, I don't want to have to create a whole new one that's called blue shape with text wrap to avoid getting this override. So what I can do instead is when I define an object style I can come down here to text wrap and instead of the check being on I can click it once and it gets this little dash. Those are your choices. So basically what that says is it doesn't care if there is a text wrap or if there isn't a text wrap, it means just ignore it. I don't really care. So now when I say that I now don't have that override anymore. This one doesn't have a text wrap, this one does. Both of them are perfectly fine because I've told it I don't really care. So when you're creating for instance a text frame, one of your options is paragraph styles, and by default that set to not care. But I generally build my paragraph styles into my object style. And we're going to do that in just a second as well. So basically it works the same. I set up a style usually or set up an object, I put in all the information that I need and then I tell it make an object style out of that and you can make it the default if you want. You don't have to. You could leave the basics as the defaults but again you set up which one you want for a default text frame and which one is your default shape frame and it just makes it easier if you're going to create several of the same thing to change your default to that one that's there. Let's make a text frame in here. So in this case I'm going to create a text frame, I'm going to go into text frame options which is up under your Object menu. I know this sounds weird because we're working with text and text frame but we're actually working with the structure of the frame so that's an object. So I'm going to come down to text frame options and in this case this is where I can change the column. Now you've got a lot of choices with columns, I'm not going to go into them here but look into these, you can tell it flexible with so you tell it how much it has to be maximum. So you can say like maximum three columns wide and as you continue to make your text frame bigger it will add columns so that you never get a column wider than whatever your maximum is. In this case we're sticking with a fixed number. I want to say there's three columns and anything else that I want to do if I decide that I need a little bit of spacing, for instance the sidebar that we did let's go ahead make that actually. So I can put it all in here or I can style it and then save that as a style later. So right now I'm going to go ahead and put in the column number and let's put it in a little bit of extra spacing and we should be able to see that. I've only got it in the top here, let's make sure this is on. If you do that then when I make a change here it ripples through all four of those, makes all the settings the same. So I'm going to do that. We can kind of see that the cursor is moved in. I'm going to say OK to that. So now I've got a little bit of inset and I can see that as well so that my text never hits the edge of that frame. And then maybe let's give it a color in the background. So let's go to my swatches and we'll go to blue. Let's give it a tint. We'll give it 20%. And I also want to be able to grab that 20 percent again so I'm going to hit Option really quick and it will create the 20% of that blue color that's there. So I kind of like the way that looks. But I also want to, I want to be able to use the header, or I always want to know that when I have a sidebar I want it to have a sidebar header and sidebar text as well. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to combine what we learned in the paragraph styling and I'm going to bring in some paragraph styles from a different document and I can build those into my object style. So I'm going to say load all paragraph styles. And I'm going to go find the one that we have. We've got that newsletter that we have the sidebar in there and I'm going to go ahead and just open that newsletter. It's going to open in the background and what I want to bring in is I want to bring in sidebar headers for sure. I'm going to uncheck all these, sidebar headers and sidebar text and the first paragraph of a sidebar as well. So bringing all those, those three come in so I don't have to rebuild those and what I can do is I can come in here and I'll just put, this is the header and I'll put that in my sidebar headers. Let's see if that shows up or I'm going to actually change the color just slightly because it's conflicting with the color of the paragraph style that I'm using. So let's come in here, let's actually choose bright purple and we'll do like 5%, perfect. So we'll do that. And again I'm still just styling it and it's making changes to the basic text frame in a minute. I'm going to save this as an object style. So we'll bring this in here. I have header, let's bring this over here. Our panels are invading here. I'm going to come here and say header and then I also have the first line and you noticed when I hit return, it switched the first pair of sidebar. That's because in my sidebar header I've told it next style is first paragraph sidebar which is great. And then when I hit return, this is the text about our volunteer. All right, so we'll say that. So we have that set up and then I'm just going to go ahead and fill the rest of this with placeholder text, just so we have some text to look at. So now I can see what my sidebar is looking like, so a really big sidebar, I realized that. Let's just cut it off right there and we'll make this a little bit smaller I'm just going to even this frame up till we get three nice fairly even columns. So I've got that all set up, I've got the header, I've got the columns. I've got a little bit of breathing room and I'm going to just hit my W key so I can kind of see what that looks like. That looks good. Maybe we'll put a little stroke around it. So let's give that a color as well. We'll do that bright purple. Perfect. I think that looks good as a sidebar. I want to save that over and over again. So when I click on that, again this is basic text frame, I want to create a whole new text frame from that. So let's do that, OPTN or ALT+click on the new and I'm going to call this sidebar. But what I want to make sure is where it says paragraph styles it says it doesn't care. Well for me the sidebar is all about the text so I want all my text to always be the same. Again, this style might be an object style that is a text frame but you might not care or you might not know what kind of text is going to go in there so you might leave this unchecked but for me I definitely want to check it and then I want to select it so I can actually see what's over here and I want the first and it's always going to be the first one. Obviously we have multiple ones but the first one is sidebar headers and we do want it to apply next style because we built in all that next style pattern that's there. So I'll say OK, so that's all built in. And now I want to go ahead and... Did it give it one? I wanted to OPTN or ALT+click on that. I don't know why it didn't do it. Well, we got the sidebar, sorry. The one thing I didn't do was tell it apply the sidebar styling so now I have. So I've got that there, I can even tell it that that is the default text frame so let's slide that down. Now the sidebar is the default. Even if it's not the default, we can create text really quickly. If I grab some text from here, I'm going to copy this. I'm going to paste it just here by itself and I don't want it to be the sidebar, let's say none. Again we stripped it all out. I'm going to paste this text in there. I also don't want this to have any styling whatsoever. Just to start, maybe we just copied and pasted it from somewhere and this is how we were given the text. We've got this frame. We've got some text in there and now we need it to do something. Well, if I click sidebar automatically everything is completely styled for me. I've got this, the sidebar header as the start. I've got the sidebar first paragraph and then the sidebar text for the rest of it. It's in three columns. It's got some breathing room. It's got the colors on the fill and the stroke that we need as well. So you can see hopefully how doing object styles is huge. And like I said the only real difference with object styles is that it automatically wants to throw in everything into it. But you can tell it what you care about and what you don't. So for instance for me I tend to uncheck or use the dash check I guess is what it's called, come in here and tell it, I don't care about this I don't care about this. For instance you have a lot of different effect choices and maybe you don't care if there's an effect at all. Maybe sometimes you're going to put a drop shadow on it and sometimes you're not. So by default these are off so these give you the option of being off or on, or the I don't care mode but you can tell it absolutely no drop shadow. Now if I tell it that and then I do put the drop shadow I will get an override, it will show me that. So that's actually kind of cool because I might want to make sure that there is no transparency ever. Right? So I'm going to delete this and say just I don't want any transparent effects and I don't want them...if they do show up, I want to see that in the overrides, I want to be able to know that. So there's a lot of different options that you can have because the object style includes frames and text frames as well so you've got some text specific options up here and you've got some frame structure options and then you also have things like the effects and when you're working with effects whether this is in the effects menu or here. You can do an effect across the board for the entire object or for the stroke or the fill or that text individually. So keep that in mind as well. You might say on the fill, you do care if there' know, whatever, if there's...I'm sorry, if the fill has a different color or something like that so you can play with all those individual things. Everything that shows up over on the right side, these are things that live in other panels elsewhere. For instance, the text frame all this stuff, these are the four tabs of the text frame dialog box. So when we did CMD or CTRL+B that's where all that information comes in. All right. So anything that we could possibly put in there we can stylize as part of the style. We can set up a default frame that's there. And again we can do things like we can we've taken a nested character style, we've taken a character style, we've nested it into a paragraph style. We can take that paragraph style and nest it into an object style. So it's like style-ception we've got, just filled everything within the other styles that are there. So always be keeping in mind, be like OK, I know that in the sidebar I want, like for instance when we did the bio text where we had someone's name and then their title in italics and then the rest of the text, I could build that into a style in my text. Every time I know that it's time for me to create a list of all these people and their titles, I can create a text frame even if it doesn't look any different. It's got one column, no inset anything special, no color even like show it off as something special. But when I put that in there and I automatically start typing it will automatically already use that bio text which has the character styles nested within it. So again they all build on each other and then I can change things like the character style down the road and it will change throughout all my styles and it will update through my object styles as well. So again always be thinking about how they interact with each other how this kind of...I kind of think of it as like a pyramid. You know, I don't ever actually draw it out and think of it that way but I'm always trying to keep track of that in my head and organize my styles in my document. So it kind of flows with that same cascading pyramid where something starts here and everything flows down and all the changes flow because that's what we're trying to do, is we're trying to get it so that we're not doing extra work. You know, we might do a little bit in the beginning but then later when it comes time to do this again six months down the road I don't have to remember what styles I used or anything like that. You know, what did I use? What font did I use in the sidebar? Well it's already there, it's built into that style and it's going to be in this document that when I create a whole new one I can be like, well I used those same styles in such and such document. I can go and pull those styles out. I can do the same thing with the object styles is that I can tell it to import those from elsewhere. So if I'm in my object styles and I've got my object styles panel menu, I can go ahead and load those object styles just the same way. I go and grab them from an InDesign file, an existing file and it brings in those, it will tell me if I have conflicts just the same as with the character and paragraph styles. So that's kind of object styles. A lot of it is very similar to paragraph and character style so not a lot of new stuff to learn, just some different oddities that are there but hopefully you can start to see where you take what you learned in text styles and how you build those into an object style and how you might use those in your documents down the way. I'm going to see if we have any questions at all. - [Man] Sheryl just typed, my mind is thinking text object styles could be used to build a calendar. - To build a calendar? Yeah, absolutely. Or table styles which is what we're going to do next. And actually there's a script, it used to be free. It used to be free. If you use it commercially it's not free, called Calendar Wizard and it actually creates styles using paragraph styles. I think it has object styles, possibly table styles altogether but it builds calendars for you and you just type in what dates you want and it does it but then when you want to make changes you definitely need to know the object styles and paragraphs styles for that.

Class Description

When working on page layouts for brochures, publications, catalogs or annual reports, it’s essential to create a logical workflow. Whether you work in print, digital, or a mixture, mastering text and object styles in InDesign is a necessary skill. Styles will speed up your design process and result in consistency and better looking work. Erica Gamet is an Adobe Certified Expert and in this class she teaches you how to master styles, including: 

  • What styles are and why you should use them 
  • Setting up paragraph, character and object styles 
  • Headers, subheads, bullets, numbering, pull quotes and more 
Erica shares with you in a practical format how she works with styles and what it takes to master them. if you don't know how to use styles, you're missing out on an important feature that saves you time (and money). Using styles is an industry best practice, and you owe it to yourself to master the art and science of using them.

Software Used: Adobe InDesign CC 2017


a Creativelive Student

Another amazing class Erica. I'm going to have to purchase the one because it's so much cool content I didn't know.


Lots of good information to make using InDesign efficiently. Thank you for this!

DOlores RUsso

You are the consummate online teacher! And as you know, teaching teachers is the worst ever...and I can I honestly say (as a photoshop teacher) , I love how you are so organized and you just keep going. We are focused!