InDesign Secrets
Illustration by John Hersey

060 Automating Find/Change with the Find/ChangeByList script


InDesign Secrets

with David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción

Video: 060 Automating Find/Change with the Find/ChangeByList script

You know face it, a lot of what we do in InDesign is tedious monkey work, you know, especially when we are having to clean up files that other people give us. I want to show you how there is a free script that comes with InDesign that can save you so much time in doing this kind of monkey work and even if you're an old, jaded InDesign user who knows all about this script, I think you're going to learn couple of new tricks that you didn't know before. So let's start by importing a typical Word document that an editor might give me for formatting in my layout.
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  1. 3m 58s
    1. 183 Borrowing preset art paths from Illustrator and Photoshop for fresh frame looks in InDesign NEW
      3m 58s
  2. 51s
    1. Welcome to InDesign Secrets
  3. 8m 19s
    1. 180 One-sided custom strokes for image borders
      2m 45s
    2. 181 The fastest way to find missing links
      2m 53s
    3. 182 Start a document on a left-hand page
      2m 41s
  4. 15m 21s
    1. 176 Quickly empty out an InDesign document of text and images
      3m 41s
    2. 177 Add a font from Typekit in CC
      4m 35s
    3. 178 How to hide the content grabber donut
      1m 51s
    4. 179 File naming for healthy EPUBs
      5m 14s
  5. 15m 35s
    1. 172 Making a character style change only the tint of your text
      2m 27s
    2. 173 Editing table set up from the keyboard
      4m 40s
    3. 174 How to sort text in InDesign
      2m 34s
    4. 175 Making captions easy (ignore text wrap object style library item live caption)
      5m 54s
  6. 12m 59s
    1. 169 All about All Caps (change case open type option)
      4m 36s
    2. 170 Batch convert InDesign files to IDML and other formats
      2m 35s
    3. 171 Fun with placeholder text
      5m 48s
  7. 11m 52s
    1. 166 Creating blank entry spaces on forms
      3m 53s
    2. 167 Creative uses of the Slug area
      4m 45s
    3. 168 Change the UI languaging in InDesign CS6 and CC
      3m 14s
  8. 21m 11s
    1. 161 Keeping page numbers on top of master items
      3m 55s
    2. 162 Adding automatic currency symbols in a table cell or before text
      3m 50s
    3. 163 Make a pop-up footnote for your ebook
      3m 48s
    4. 164 Deleting tabs at the beginning of paragraphs and applying a paragraph style
      3m 10s
    5. 165 Five InDesign Presentation tips
      6m 28s
  9. 19m 54s
    1. 157 Sharing swatches (PS/IL/ID and ID to ID)
      3m 36s
    2. 158 Convert rounded corners to editable paths
      3m 15s
    3. 159 Convert local formatting to character styles
      5m 14s
    4. 160 Sort an index by page number
      7m 49s
  10. 16m 58s
    1. 153 When InDesign ignores your leading values
      4m 5s
    2. 154 Extracting images from a Word document
      3m 42s
    3. 155 Uncommon uses for Quick Apply
      6m 2s
    4. 156 Uncovering InDesign's magic font folders
      3m 9s
  11. 28m 47s
    1. 148 Cropping with paste into
      5m 18s
    2. 149 Using vertical justification to spread out text in a frame automatically
      5m 16s
    3. 150 Rotate text inside a frame, or the frame around the text
      2m 30s
    4. 151 Looking at snippets vs. libraries
      6m 49s
    5. 152 Import a folder full of pictures, one per page
      8m 54s
  12. 19m 0s
    1. 144 Lay out a front back and spine for a book jacket
      6m 12s
    2. 145 Ghosting area of image behind text
      2m 53s
    3. 146 Make a transparency mask in InDesign
      3m 45s
    4. 147 Using preflight to find common document errors
      6m 10s
  13. 22m 35s
    1. 139 Faking bold and italic when the font family doesn’t have one
      5m 2s
    2. 140 Keeping the same scale size when updating or relinking to images
      3m 9s
    3. 141 Inserting glyphs
      6m 42s
    4. 142 Building richer, bolder color gradients
      3m 7s
    5. 143 Finding the right font with InDesign’s font menus
      4m 35s
  14. 21m 28s
    1. 135 Fitting text to a specific size
      4m 45s
    2. 136 Quick tips for making a small PDF file size
      6m 9s
    3. 137 Sharing presets, workspaces, and custom shortcuts sets
      5m 17s
    4. 138 Making a multi-level numbered list
      5m 17s
  15. 17m 21s
    1. 131 Changing the shape of polygons and starburst as you draw or afterward
      4m 17s
    2. 132 Contextual text and images that you only want sometimes visible
      4m 55s
    3. 133 Creating nav points in a movie
      4m 31s
    4. 134 Adding effects to your rule above and rule below
      3m 38s
  16. 22m 44s
    1. 127 Making automatic jump lines
      6m 52s
    2. 128 Turning off allow pages to shuffle in order to separate facing pages
      3m 40s
    3. 129 Dealing with parentheses around text size
      4m 19s
    4. 130 Make a fill in the blank label for contracts and forms
      7m 53s
  17. 23m 24s
    1. 122 Allow text frame to resize with text
      2m 43s
    2. 123 Mapping Word styles to InDesign styles
      5m 48s
    3. 124 Make two automatically threaded text flows
      3m 36s
    4. 125 Saving for Web in InDesign
      6m 7s
    5. 126 Numbering rows in a table
      5m 10s
  18. 13m 49s
    1. 119 Making alternative body text styles for fast typesetting
      5m 3s
    2. 120 Making InDesign patterns with the free PatternMaker
      3m 45s
    3. 121 Creating pull quotes the easy way
      5m 1s
  19. 13m 56s
    1. 116 Selecting text with the InDesign keyboard dance
      2m 0s
    2. 117 Including a total page count in your page numbers
      6m 19s
    3. 118 Making a custom arrowhead
      5m 37s
  20. 21m 53s
    1. 111 Packaging images on the pasteboard
      3m 32s
    2. 112 Automatically updating figure references for books
      6m 9s
    3. 113 Adding Tool Tips to your form fields in InDesign
      3m 21s
    4. 114 Setting poetry, flush left, center on longest line
      3m 54s
    5. 115 Use bookmarks to navigate long documents in production
      4m 57s
  21. 18m 25s
    1. 107 Using the same keyboard shortcut for two different commands with the Context feature
      5m 22s
    2. 108 Making a text highlighter
      3m 33s
    3. 109 Updating an interactive PDF without losing work done in Acrobat
      5m 30s
    4. 110 Adding custom text at the beginning of each line automatically
      4m 0s
  22. 25m 3s
    1. 103 Converting text to outlines the right way
      4m 30s
    2. 104 Turning InDesign into a speed demon
      8m 31s
    3. 105 Working with MiniBridge
      5m 45s
    4. 106 Customize your QR codes
      6m 17s
  23. 16m 34s
    1. 099 Aligning Objects tips and tricks
      5m 10s
    2. 100 Applying corner options to any shape
      2m 17s
    3. 101 Converting footnotes to endnotes with a free script
      4m 49s
    4. 102 Making tab leaders pretty
      4m 18s
  24. 24m 41s
    1. 095 Managing changing pages with primary text frames
      5m 23s
    2. 096 Secrets of the Info panel
      7m 31s
    3. 097 Surprising ways to do a word count
      5m 29s
    4. 098 Placing an object where you want it with an object style
      6m 18s
  25. 30m 33s
    1. 089 Three great Object Styles for any designer
      8m 1s
    2. 090 Choosing alpha channel image transparency
      2m 25s
    3. 091 Adding and reading metadata for InDesign files
      3m 25s
    4. 092 Adding ALT tags to your images
      6m 59s
    5. 093 How to Place & Link a text frame's text but not its formatting
      7m 4s
    6. 094 Setting the baseline position of a caption
      2m 39s
  26. 17m 58s
    1. 085 Using Illustrator to create InDesign gradient swatches
      4m 49s
    2. 086 Building a simple grep style to change character size
      3m 45s
    3. 087 Exporting a grayscale PDF
      3m 16s
    4. 088 Three ways to cheat text outside of its frame
      6m 8s
  27. 28m 38s
    1. 081 Creating a custom cross-reference format
      13m 53s
    2. 082 Putting different-sized pages on a single spread
      3m 7s
    3. 083 Formatting prices with nested and grep styles
      6m 21s
    4. 084 Checking out the Gridify tricks
      5m 17s
  28. 19m 17s
    1. 077 The secrets of formatting objects with Find/Change
      6m 36s
    2. 078 Using ruler guides: 10 great tricks
      5m 3s
    3. 079 Converting a clipping path to a frame
      4m 24s
    4. 080 Adding a drop shadow to a single word inside a frame
      3m 14s
  29. 31m 18s
    1. 073 Working with sets in the content conveyor tool
      10m 40s
    2. 074 Running text along the top and the bottom of a circle
      3m 51s
    3. 075 Creating a list using the Table of Contents feature
      3m 25s
    4. 076 Quickly threading frames together and unthreading frames
      13m 22s
  30. 29m 32s
    1. 069 Ten uses of the Story Editor
      11m 39s
    2. 070 Moving an object: Ten ways!
      7m 18s
    3. 071 Understanding optical margin alignment (and the quote trick)
      4m 23s
    4. 072 Changing the shape of any frame with the pen tool
      6m 12s
  31. 17m 53s
    1. 065 Customizing the story editor preferences
      6m 10s
    2. 066 Setting the size of text exactly with this free script
      3m 28s
    3. 067 Using Gravity to simulate perspective
      3m 15s
    4. 068 Fixing the overflowing text frame problem in EPUBs
      5m 0s
  32. 23m 54s
    1. 061 Embedding images
      7m 44s
    2. 062 Adjusting leading inside a paragraph
      4m 47s
    3. 063 Placing one InDesign file inside another
      3m 58s
    4. 064 Creating bookmarks for PDFs
      7m 25s
  33. 29m 16s
    1. 057 Text wrapping
      6m 54s
    2. 058 Inserting pages: Understanding the Pages panel
      4m 20s
    3. 059 Copying paths between Illustrator and InDesign
      5m 14s
    4. 060 Automating Find/Change with the Find/ChangeByList script
      12m 48s
  34. 35m 12s
    1. 051 Five things that should be in every new file
      5m 19s
    2. 052 Forcing EPUB page breaks with invisible objects
      6m 21s
    3. 053 Understanding component information
      6m 39s
    4. 054 Creating running heads using section markers
      4m 16s
    5. 055 Making a font with InDesign using the IndyFont script
      5m 20s
    6. 056 Finding where that color is used
      7m 17s
  35. 23m 41s
    1. 047 Specifying an exact amount of space between objects
      5m 17s
    2. 048 Fixing last lines that are too short
      8m 16s
    3. 049 Creating web graphics from your InDesign artwork
      7m 20s
    4. 050 Using “No Language” to suppress unwanted hyphenation, spell-checking, and smart quotes
      2m 48s
  36. 21m 30s
    1. 043 Formatting fractions correctly
      8m 11s
    2. 044 Fixing unwanted hyperlinks in an imported Word file
      5m 57s
    3. 045 Inline graphic tricks with invisible paragraphs
      4m 21s
    4. 046 Ensuring the first line of every chapter starts in the same spot
      3m 1s
  37. 29m 36s
    1. 037 Updating a linked table without losing formatting
      5m 18s
    2. 038 Creating electronic sticky notes
      4m 49s
    3. 039 Moving master page items to the top layer for visibility
      2m 48s
    4. 040 Five guide tricks that will impress your coworkers
      6m 18s
    5. 041 Letting InDesign add the diacritics
      4m 21s
    6. 042 Using single-cell table cells for custom paragraph formatting
      6m 2s
  38. 28m 19s
    1. 033 Importing a custom dictionary
      7m 8s
    2. 034 Changing document orientation and page size
      6m 45s
    3. 035 Numbering instead of using auto page numbers
      6m 23s
    4. 036 Setting story order with the Articles panel
      8m 3s
  39. 37m 59s
    1. 027 Creating running heads using variables
      5m 1s
    2. 028 Live Caption tips and tricks
      8m 3s
    3. 029 Making professional drop caps
      10m 37s
    4. 030 Making two-state buttons in interactive documents
      5m 5s
    5. 031 Moving pages from one document to another
      3m 15s
    6. 032 Wrapping bulleted text around a curve
      5m 58s
  40. 23m 50s
    1. 023 Using layer comps in Photoshop files to show alternates in InDesign
      4m 19s
    2. 024 Adding custom HTML tags to EPUB/HTML exports
      5m 32s
    3. 025 Tracking down type issues with the composition highlighter
      8m 13s
    4. 026 Managing your InDesign panels
      5m 46s
  41. 21m 34s
    1. 019 Using multiple windows for comparisons
      3m 35s
    2. 020 Putting images on a stroke
      5m 23s
    3. 021 Making your own motion path
      5m 43s
    4. 022 Copying objects between Illustrator and InDesign
      6m 53s
  42. 23m 8s
    1. 015 Aligning numbered lists by decimal points
      3m 9s
    2. 016 Running a script
      9m 33s
    3. 017 When text disappears from a text frame
      6m 18s
    4. 018 Preview and Presentation modes (changing color etc.)
      4m 8s
  43. 25m 19s
    1. 011 InDesign's Easter eggs
      5m 0s
    2. 012 Three cool GREP styles everyone can use
      7m 35s
    3. 013 A field guide to special characters
      8m 2s
    4. 014 Trashing the application preferences to solve weird behaviors
      4m 42s
  44. 26m 6s
    1. 007 Selecting through and into objects using cmd-click and Select Above/Below
      5m 46s
    2. 008 Some great tips and tricks for the Swatches panel
      9m 40s
    3. 009 Saving down for backward compatibility with INX and IDML
      5m 54s
    4. 010 Using the INX and IDML formats to fix problems
      4m 46s
  45. 23m 26s
    1. 003 The indispensible Quick Apply feature
      5m 29s
    2. 004 Customizing the Links panel
      6m 53s
    3. 005 Magically building graphs with the Chartwell font
      7m 43s
    4. 006 Using the Eyedropper tool to pick up character or paragraph attributes
      3m 21s
  46. 9m 6s
    1. 001 The hidden "auto-expand text" feature
      5m 51s
    2. 002 Letting InDesign do the math for you
      3m 15s

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InDesign CS4 Tutorials | InDesign Secrets
16h 13m Intermediate Aug 25, 2011 Updated Mar 26, 2015

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks,, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.

New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at

David Blatner Anne-Marie Concepción

060 Automating Find/Change with the Find/ChangeByList script

You know face it, a lot of what we do in InDesign is tedious monkey work, you know, especially when we are having to clean up files that other people give us. I want to show you how there is a free script that comes with InDesign that can save you so much time in doing this kind of monkey work and even if you're an old, jaded InDesign user who knows all about this script, I think you're going to learn couple of new tricks that you didn't know before. So let's start by importing a typical Word document that an editor might give me for formatting in my layout.

Now this layout right now is just one-page document. It's empty. I do have some starter Paragraph and Character Styles. Now we're going to go to File > Place and find this document. I'm going to turn on Show Import Options because we're going to remove the Styles and Formatting, but preserve local overrides, which is how I recommend you import all of your Word documents unless you already have a very slick and working style-to-style relationship with your editors and your InDesign file.

If you can do that, then that saves a lot of time, but most of the time that's not going to happen. So you get rid of all the wonky Word formatting but preserve local overrides like the occasional bold and italics, so you don't have to reapply those. Click OK and we'll place it. Now let's zoom in here and see this beauty and all of its glory. As you can see they helpfully tried to align columns with multiple tabs. They did not learn the trick about using the first- line indent instead of tabbing. To create a first-line indent, they're telling us this is a very common magazine and other publishers, for the editors to put a little code when they say we give our designers coded Word files or tagged Word files.

This is almost always what they are talking about, is they say this is h1, this is a deck, this is an h3, and so on. So what else do we have here? We have instances of periods with two spaces. We have a space hyphen space instead of an en dash. We probably have a couple of dashes instead of an em dash, we have the almost ubiquitous single return, you know double space in-between paragraphs. But a few times apparently they really wanted a lot more space, and so on.

You could of course go to Find/Change > Text, search for a period space space, replace with periods space, so on. You could save these kind of queries searching for two hyphens replacing with an em dash. Let's do that really quick, do a search for two hyphens, change to, and we'll go to an Em Dash which is this funky little code here. You can save each one of these and then run the script; one right after the other, run each script. But InDesign has already taken care of a lot of this for you, in a free script called FindChangeByList.

It has a list of very common find/changes like these two that I just showed you and a few more that's saved in the script, and you can easily edit it. So first let's look at the default script. Go to Window > Utilities in CS6, and I think 5.5. Early versions you might see Automation, and we'll say Script, choose Scripts, it's in the Application Folder > Samples > JavaScript is what I like, right here, FindChangeByList.

All you do is double-click it and would you want to run it on the one story that I'm on or the entire document, all the stories? Well, we'll just say all the stories, since there is only one anyway. It got rid of all of the runs of returns whether there was 1 or 3 or 2 or 4, now there are none. It got rid of spaces in front of paragraphs, it got rid of runs of tabs. What else did it clean up? Look at over here. I love this. It found a space hyphen space pattern and replaced it with an en dash, but it left the actual hyphens intact, as they are meant to be, and replaced the double hyphens with an em dash.

Pretty slick, huh? Now what exactly are its find/changes that it's doing, and can you edit that? Well, of course you can. What this script does is it looks at a text file which is buried in this little folder here called FindChangeList.txt. This you can open in any text editor and edit as you see fit. If you have another find/change that you wanted to do, you can easily add it. If you want to remove one of them, maybe you're a big fan of space hyphen space, you can remove that, so it doesn't change those to en dashes.

To see this file and to edit it, the easiest way is just to right-click on it, so that you see the Reveal in Finder command, or if you're on PC, Reveal in Explorer, and choose it. It's actually here in your InDesign folder, inside Script, Scripts Panel, Samples, and so on. So you could also find it in your own list. Now you just double-click it and it should open up in a default text editing program. Don't let it open up in Word because that might mess it up. Use something like the Notepad or TextEdit, and TextEdit opens up here automatically in plain text format. We don't want any formatting.

Now I will let you redesign your own, but briefly let me tell you what's happening. All these lines in the beginning that start with a double slash are commented out, meaning these are not part of this script. These are like secret notes to the reader. It explains how this script works. It says it was designed for CS4. I find it interesting that they never updated it apparently. Everything that worked in CS4, still works in CS6. So that's good. Here is an example. This script will do a findWhat, find two dashes, changeTo an em dash. Remember that code that we just looked at and changed? And then it has the settings like it's supposed to do includeFootnotes, includeMasterPages.

These are all these icons here, so Include Locked Layers, Included Hidden Layers, Include Master Pagers. That's what those are all about. And then at the end, it ends with a description. So this one ends with Find all double dashes and replace with an em dash. They're more complicated ones. Here we go. So this is the existing list of everything that FindChangeByList does. It finds all double spaces, replaces with the single space. Finds all returns followed by a space and replaces with a single return, so you don't get that unwanted empty space as the first character of a paragraph anymore, and so on.

That's what it does. So if you don't want it to, for example, find the space hyphen space and change to an en dash, Find all space hyphen space, replace with an en dash, then simply double-click that, delete it or cut it and save it. Now what you might want to do though--I am going to undo--is to duplicate your FindChangeList, so that you can experiment with different settings, or at least to take the default one and save it some place. You can save it even in that same folder just give it a slightly different name.

So if you chose FindChangeList.experiment or mine or custom, then when you run FindChangeList script, it won't find that. It will only look for this one. You can edit the script, so it finds any FindChangeByList.txt script if you wanted to, but that's a little beyond what we want to do. Let me show you a couple things that you can actually add that you might not realize. For example, I am going to--well what I usually do is I just copy an existing one, either a text or a GREP and then I paste at the bottom. Let's say that we want to find all instances of that was written with a capital L, which actually is against their brand guidelines, and we want to replace it with, which is lowercase.

Now because we're talking about cases, we have to include case sensitive. In Find/Change, we're talking about this guy right here, Case Sensitive. But Case Sensitive is not included in any of these attributes, so we can just add it ourselves. So I am going to click right in-between here, and following the same pattern starting with a lowercase and then every word is uppercase, I'll write caseSensitive and then we want true, right? True means on, false means off, true and then I'll put a comma space.

So now I am following the patterns. Oops, you see what I did? I added the wrong one. Well, I guess it's not going to do any harm. Let's get it out of there. Cut, I want to put it over here. It makes no difference like what order you put it in, I have found, there we go. So now it's in the one and we don't need that, we'll just delete that. I usually replace those comments with just the word comment, so you don't have to bother with that. So I'm saving my changes here. And then I'll jump over to InDesign. Now I have saved my change to the actual FindChangeList script. Let's test it.

So I'll say and I'll just run it again, Document. Even more! Here's another cool trick. You can have it format, not just find/change, but you can apply formats, just as you can with Find/Change. Now it gets somewhat more complicated as we go. But let's say that every time that was mentioned in the text, we want a Character Style applied to it, let's say bold. So how do you that? In the changeTo, in-between these curly spaces, this is where you add your formatting and to apply a Character Style, you type and you always end these with a comma after the quote, so comma space appliedCharacterStyle:"bold, right, it has to be exactly how it's written in the Paragraph or Characters Style.

If you are doing a Paragraph Style, you would say appliedParagraphStyle. That's all. Let's try it. Save it, come back here, let's start again. This was Lynda, right? We will run this again. Now here's an example for this particular document that I want you to take a look at. I saved it. Let me go to Open Recent > FindChangeList-custom, because I thought this is a perfect use for this.

Usually, if you are a designer and you are running Find/Changes on a Word document, given to you like this, you have to apply the h1 style here and then go through the Find/Change and delete every instance of a bracket h1 closed bracket throughout the document and you have to do that for every so tagged "paragraph", right? Well, FindChangeByList can do that for you. Here's what I did, down here. It's a regular text FindChange. You're looking for the text string h1, you want to change it to, now I started by saying nothing, but it left h1 in there.

So maybe there is some another solution, but what I did was I just replaced it with a space and we'll fix that right up, you'll see in a jiff. And then I said and apply the Paragraph Style Chapter to h1 because we don't have a style called h1, we have one called Chapter. And I did the same thing, deck should be intro2 and h3 should be Subhead. All right, so let's get these out of here and copy them to my FindChangeList. Here we go and save it, I am pressing Command+S or Ctrl+S, come back here.

Let's start again, shall we? Let's delete this, tuck you guy, tuck you over there, we will place the Word document, everything is set correctly. There it is in all of its horrible glory and now we open up the Scripts Panel and double click FindChangeByList.jsx with all of our customization. It looks like I have one little error here with Deck. I'm not quite sure, let's try and see what that was.

Oh, I didn't put a capital D, aha! Yeah, so it has to be exactly as it's written in the Paragraph and Character Styles. So I'll save, come back here, just run it again and also before I run it again, I want you to notice, remember how we replaced the found codes with a space? So now all these paragraphs start with a space? Well, you simply run the same script again, because remember one of its fixes is to remove the space that starts a paragraph. So I am going to fix it. It fixes at this time, but not this one. We can just hit Delete before the first one, there we go.

So there is our Deck and our Chapter head and the Subhead. With all the FindChangeByList, think of how much time this can save you. Check it out.

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